‘BENEATH THE FOOTSTEPS’ by Richard David Lawman

I lay, amongst dust and rubble, pressed up against damp wood. Through tiny cracks came slits of filtered light into what they thought was my grave.  I heard their TV drone and their footsteps thump down. Their explosively bitter arguments of where their next solution was coming from – often of the chemical variety.  I heard the needles loaded and then shot.  Also, their groans, the lifelessness, the euphoria fading to nothing.  I waited for my time to come, the time to break out of the grave they had given me.  Their mistake. They hadn’t killed me after all.  The drug-fuelled murder fest had been nothing more than a beating. Luckily for me, they were out of it before they went to the tool shed.

I don’t remember each moment exactly. Obviously, the memory of how I came to be in their home wasn’t too hard to place.  It was my naivety, the fact I overlooked their darting, mistrustful eyes and ignored my gut to get out of there.  I stayed, a kind visitor, there to help.

“Dig him up!” I heard her say, “Dig him up, I’m hungry!”

“He’ll be off by now, it’s been weeks!” It had been two days. Two days.

“I’m hungry.”

“Fine…” he sighed. The heavy footsteps thudded down again and the room was filled with delighted moans and the smacking of her lips.

I listened as I heard him stomp into the hallway and out the front door.  Wedged between two floor joists that ran the length of the room, I could only shimmy up or down.  Pressing my hands out onto the underneath of the floorboards, I pushed myself across the rough floor, inch by inch.  I had only made it about a foot from my original position when I heard him stomp back in.

He pulled the rug violently from the floor.  The coffee table, laden with overflowing ashtrays, glasses and cups crashed down on top of where I was.  Stale, flat beer dripped down the cracks onto my face.  I heaved a little more and made my way towards the far wall.  He grunted and muttered to himself as he kneeled down and began to work the crowbar into the gaps in the floorboards.  I shimmied faster, faster, not worried by the scrapes and grunts I let out.  Finally, I slid off the living room foundations and hauled myself into a bigger space in another, smaller room.  The crowbar cracked down into the floorboards, the sound of wood splintering, nails squeaking as they became dislodged from their holes.

I was under the pantry – a closed-off room next to the kitchen-dinner.  The floorboards here were more rotten than the ones in the living room and began to crumble damply in my hands as I clawed at them.  Squatting, I was able to push my back up against the underneath of the floorboards here and, timing my heaves with the bangs of his hammer on the crowbar, I finally burst out from my dusty grave.  Dirty light poured into the cupboard as he prised up the floorboard.

“He’s not here! He’s not fuck-, shit, I don’t believe this!” He cried.  More footsteps, more stamping about.  I felt out in the dark and found what I was looking for; something heavy, something hard.

My only way out would be back through the living room.  I wiped my hands on my dusty jeans and made sure of my grip on the curtain pole.  This would be my last stand, two against one. But I had the upper hand, unlike them.  I wouldn’t make the same mistake as they did.  I would check for a pulse before nailing the floorboards shut.

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Richard David Lawman is the chief Writer/ Director/ Producer of ‘The Putty In Your Hands’ production company. He can be found and contacted at  http://richarddavidlawman.com/ andhttp://uk.linkedin.com/pub/richard-lawman/24/966/182

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