Jack was hungry. Very hungry. Mum was still out on the couch and Dad was, well, wherever he was supposed to be. Dinner was clearly not getting done. Jack;s Mum was great at that, not getting things done. Bouncing up the stairs Jack grabbed his trainers (a good pair, from a friend) and headed out the front door with his cry “Bye Mum!” bulldozed by the slamming door.
he lived in the rougher ends, where shopkeeps kept a bat behind the counter and all the big shops had fit, quick-eyed guards. He’d need to get elsewhere.
Stood on the pavement, waiting for his bus (the result of a lucky find on the pavement) Jack doesn’t look well. He’s thin, gangly, a bag of skin filled with bones. Over his body he’s got an old hoody, formally black, close-fitting and warm, now faded grey, stretched and torn.
The shirt beneath he’s had since he was ten. His newest item of clothing are his jogging pants, grey like the hoody, but not faded that way. The trainers, white with blue strips, still look as new as the day he got them, despite being a few years old now (lots of cleaning after many a mad night.)
The bus pulled up, jack stepped on, noticing the menacing black-clad throng at the back. He took the front seat, driver side. He was small and in no shape to fight, especially not one-on-five. The doors closed, the crew at the back started talking and jack relaxed, feeling their attention drift. he liked that. When no one paid him attention. It made him feel comfortable, being ignored. Like invisibility. Like night-time. He glanced out the window at the darkening sky. Not long to wait for night-time, his time. Time of thieves and murderers, so the stupid stories said. The school library was full of dumb books. He’d never got it with heroes in stories. Book heroes, film heroes, they all seemed pretty dense. Why didn’t Thor just throw the hammer at the Bifrost? Couldn’t Gimli or Legolas have gone with Frodo?
The bus rounded a corner and an old lady started shuffling her way to the front. They were near the retail park. Time to go to work.
David was feeling good. Payday had been, he’d been to the pub, passed the drugs test at work (despite a wild and ultimately messy night or two) and now he was on the easy shift here with only three hours to go and still had money in the bank. He didn’t have a desk to lean on, that was for the boss today. Instead he was roving the store with that steady, easy pace that regular exercise brings.
So much light! All the strip lights made jack vaguely aware he was being watched. He’d never have anticipated being scrutinised though as he swept past isle after isle, swift hands darting out and stowing small item after small item as an alternative to dinner. Then he reached the electronics isle and spotted a tiny MP3 player that would provide meals for a week.
Back at home the couch was empty, except for a steady stream of smoke, seemingly springing out the air. The whole flat was silent too, bar that low crying that only the truly broken can cry.
“Dave, boy on aisle seven. Thief.” The message was short and clear. That meant it was easy too. David strode up the central aisle till he reached aisle seven. Bingo.
“Shit!” Swore Jack and bolted, the guard coming up hard on his tail. Being thin and a bag of bones made getting through queues relatively easy though. The guard simply shouted “Move!” and people stepped aside as if making way for royalty. Jack was gone. Gone. That’s what he kept thinking, what he’d always thought when the chase came. He was gone.
“Damn!” Swore David as the boy left the store, wrenching his radio from his belt.
“Subject has left the store, permission to pursue?” He spat into the radio.
“granted. Police have been informed. get a description.” David was still jogging, radio in hand, when he caught sight of the little bastard again. The boy had turned a corner and run right into the car park fence. Nowhere to run now you little urchin, he thought maliciously as he closed the distance at a steady, even jog.
Jack tried one unsuccessful climbing attempt before giving up for good. he was finished. The guard was closing and he was sure he could hear sirens in the distance. he wondered if they had known about all the occasions, like people said, and if they’d do him for those as well. As the white shirt of the guard resolved into the main himself in the darkness, Jack wished for nothing more than to get away, to be ignored, to vanish. As a last-ditch effort he crouched as low as he could (very low indeed, his tiny frame had advantages) and waited, wishing with all his heart and soul that he’d be unseen.
David stopped. Had he drunk more than he thought last night? Lay on the floor in tight bundle were the boys clothes, but no boy. How had he stripped and jumped the fence that fast? Cursing he reached for his radio.
“Subject has left the premises. Clothes have been left on sight.”
“Don’t touch them, the police will examine them. They’re here now.”
Then David heard the unmistakable scrape of shoes on tarmac, turned and watched, dumbstruck, as the clothes themselves simply faded from sight before falling face first to the tarmac, unconscious.
Sometime later, the appearance of a boy from a lamp-post, like something from a cartoon caused a minor fight to break out between some big and rather drunk young men, each of whom accused the other of spiking him. For them, the night was a headache, relived by police station coffee. For David, the night meant an on the spot drug test and a fine for being unfit for work due to exhaustion (the only plausible explanation for a full-blown hallucination without drink or drugs(mysteriously, the CCTV footage for the entire week had vanished before the investigation began).)