Jackson threw his apron into the laundry bin in the staff room. Another day at the restaurant wasted on the same four customers and a new guy who just wanted to use the bathroom. With each day he wondered if he should find a new job before the place closed down, but his boss was always enthusiastic about there being a change. The change that would happen wouldn’t be for the better.
“I’m going home!” Jackson yelled as he walked out the back door.
“Right, see you tomorrow!” his boss called back.
Jackson wandered back to the front of the restaurant and began his walk home. He lived in a quiet neighbourhood, a simple one. It really shouldn’t have surprised him that the most customers he would get would be regulars or travellers passing through town, but he still wished to cook more than the same stack of pancakes and steak dinner every day.
These niggling thoughts bothered him all the way up the block until they were disturbed by the sound of a trash can falling over. The metallic sound of it hit the ground up the road from him and the can began roll down the road. Jackson watched it pass him with a struggling raccoon inside.
Jackson almost laughed if he didn’t walk into someone.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Jackson replied, catching the stumbling person. “I didn’t see you there.”
Jackson kept the woman from falling over and she smiled as her feet wobbled. She was wearing skates and for a brief moment Jackson wondered why he didn’t hear her as well.
“Don’t worry about it, can you give me a push?” she asked.
“Can you push me down the sidewalk, I have trouble getting some momentum.”
Jackson walked behind her as she positioned herself to face down the pavement he walked and he pushed her lower back. With that she began skating away and gave him the thumbs up as she disappeared around the corner.
Scratching his head, Jackson returned to his walk up the road. After a moment the distractions lost their effect and he pondered once more on finding better work. Perhaps moving to the city like his father always suggested, but something in him showed now interest in leaving the small town.
Fingers gripped Jackson’s shoulder and he turned in surprise to see a tall man. He was elderly and bony, skin seemingly hanging in bags off his head. The stranger wore dark gloves, a trench-coat and formal hat. Jackson’s eyebrows raised at the sight of the grim looking man.
“Can I help you, sir?” Jackson asked.
“I am looking for my granddaughter,” he informed Jackson. “Have you seen her?”
“Uh...I only saw a girl with roller skates.”
“That is her. Do you know where she went?”
“I don’t know, down that way I think,” Jackson replied, point the old man back down the road.
“Thank you,” the old man nodded and was about to release his shoulder and leave, but he hesitated, looking back at Jackson. “You didn’t touch her, did you?”
The question was asked aggressively and Jackson suddenly felt incredibly intimidated.
“Uh...no,” Jackson lied. “Of course not.”
With that the man marched off down the road and this time Jackson paused. Was it right for him to point the stranger in the right direction? After all, he was the right age and he seemed harmless despite his stature. Still, when the elderly man turned the corner, Jackson couldn’t help but fear the worst.
With a sigh he decided to walk after the old man. If anything was off he would intervene, but even then he wasn’t sure how. Perhaps he should call the police if something does go bad, but that would take far too long.
The more Jackson thought the more he felt there was no real danger. The woman didn’t seem like she was running away or anything and that old man could have been overly protective. Jackson saw him turn the same corner as the girl and when the old man was out of sight his worries grew.
Jackson jogged up the road and approached the corner to hear a strange sound. It was a curious sound, but it seemed oddly familiar. He felt it too much to turn the corner, so he lead forward and peaked to see where it was coming from.
The old man was laying on the pavement, face down, while the woman from earlier stabbed his back with a kitchen knife. Each plunging strike sank deep in the back of the old man, but he was dead after the first stab. The next strikes were playfully done by the woman who seemed to be enjoying herself.
Jackson’s eyes widened and the only thought on his mind was escape. He chose his steps carefully, making sure his steps didn’t make too much noise as he made his way up the pavement. The stabbing sound, which he found familiar to his work in the kitchen, faded slowly, but never ceased.
“Oh...God…” Jackson began to whisper to himself as he made his way up the road.
He could no longer hear the stabbing noise and decided it was time to run. He leaned forward, raising his knees as he broke off into a straight sprint away from the scene, but began to slow down immensely when he saw what was ahead of him.
It was the same woman, struggling on her roller skates, down the pavement. It was impossible for her to have gone so far ahead of him, but there was no doubt it was her. She wheeled past Jackson and into the fence of the house he was in front of. She turned to look at him.
“Hey, can you give me a push?” she asked. “I have trouble getting up to speed.”
Jackson stared at her, his mind burning.
“S-sure,” he murmured, wondering if he was going insane.
Hesitantly and ever so carefully, he pushed her lower back once more and she was propelled down the pavement, giving him the same thumbs up.
Jackson watched her turn the same corner and began to ran home once more. Soon after, he saw the familiar sight of the old man who held up his hands to stop Jackson. The old man could see the panic in Jackson’s eyes.
“You touched her, didn’t you?”