by Rae Cod
The rain was coming down hard. Pete could hear barking and shouts in the distance. They were looking for him. He could barely see a thing from the dying light of his phone. He had to find shelter.
The smell hit his nose before he came upon the yard. Thick and pungent, it had a slight sweetness to it. The stomping of hooves and the occasional deep, reverberant moo confirmed it: cows. Perfect. He knew how to handle cows, his dad had been a dairy farmer. He found the smell of cow dung earthy and reassuring, much like his early childhood, when his dad was still alive anyway.
He slipped into the barn, hunkered down behind some hay bales and began to plaster himself in the thick, cakey dung. Another fine mess you’ve got yourself into. The rain should dampen his trail and the dogs shouldn’t scent him through this. With any luck he could hide here until morning, then make his escape.
If he got out of this , he would use the money to buy his own dairy farm. He’d live the simple life. Work hard, just like his father had. Stink of cow shit all day long, but it would be an honest smell, maybe it would wash some of the dirt off his hands.
He couldn’t allow himself to dream just yet though.
He leant against the hay bales and tried to make himself comfortable. It was going to be a long night. He patted the breast pocket of his water-proof coat, just to make sure it was still there, before allowing himself to drift into a fitful sleep.
His dreams had the lucid quality of restlessness, as memories from that night merged with imaginable horrors (there weren’t many he couldn’t imagine nowadays), coating him in a sheen of sweat, incongruous to the chill of the night.
His mother, flowing silk dressing gown, gaping loose to reveal a wine-stained under-slip, her pale face so close to his he could smell the sour sweetness of her breath.
‘Where is it Petey? Where’s he hidden it? I know you know, please Petey…just this once. I won’t tell…’Her voice trailed off as she started to cry and Pete watched his nine-year-old self from above, as he went to fetch the tin box that would appease his sobbing mother. He didn’t like it when she cried. She would smile if he took her the box.
He yelled from above for little Petey to stop, but no sound issued from his throat.
He’d had this dream many times before, he knew how it ended.
As his mother pushed the needle into her arm with a relieved smile, he watched as a snake coiled itself around her throat and squeezed, her eyes bulging widely in horror, but not surprise, as she died before his eyes.
A sharp painin his side echoed the pain in his heart and sliced into the edges of his dream as he jerked awake, gasping.
‘Wake up you little shit.’
Alf was standing over him, with a look of such apoplectic rage on his face that Pete wondered if he might be doing a little shit.
‘Calm down Alf, you’ll give yourself a heart attack.’
‘Don’t you tell me what to do you jumped up little…’
‘All on your lonesome?’ Pete asked, looking around for Alf’s cronies.
‘I don’t need backup to deal with the likes of you Petey. Now hand them over.’
Alf jumped back and pulled a gun as Pete sprang nimbly to his feet.
‘Whoa there, Alfie’, said Pete with an easy smile, holding up his hands, ‘you shoot me now and you won’t find them.’
‘Just tell me where they are,’ Alf forced, through a jaw clenched so tight he wouldn’t look out of place with a dummy sat on his knee and his hand up its ass, ‘and I might let you get out of this alive.’
‘Like my Mum?’
An unpleasant smirk twisted Alf’s pockmarked face.
‘That was your fault wasn’t it? Who gave her the stuff that night, eh?
‘She wouldn’t have touched it if she hadn’t met you.’
‘Maybe, maybe not, but whining about it won’t bring her back. Now tell me where they are before I bury you right here. Christ, you stink,’ he added, face twisting in revulsion as he glanced down at his Italian leather shoes, which were caked in mud and shit.
That brief glance gave Pete all the window he needed. He began to hiss loudly.
Alf started to raise the gun,
‘Oi, what the…’
He didn’t get to finish that sentence, as approximately 29,000 kilograms of cattle stampeded right over him. Pete was sure he heard bones cracking in between the bellows of the frightened animals and the satisfying stomping of hooves.
Once the animals had calmed, Pete walked over to the body. The head was unrecognisable, but the torso was mostly intact. He bent down to search the pockets and found twenty grand and a dog-eared notebook.
Only grade-A gangster assholes carry that much money.
He shoved the money in his inside pocket and stood, leafing through the pages of the small, black, leather-bound book.
There were about twenty names in all, written neatly in black cursive. Some guys kept a list of all the people they’d dated, but this sicko kept a list of all the people he’d killed. As Pete scanned the names, he saw his Mum amongst them. Well, at least he admitted it in the end, thought Pete, as he glanced at the unrecognisable, body.
He’d find the families of these people and give them a share of the spoils, the twenty large he’d just found and a cut of the proceeds from the diamonds sitting snuggly in his pocket. Maybe that would be enough to wash some of the dirt off. Then he’d buy that small holding and make sure it stayed clear of fucking snakes.
‘Cows hate snakes, Alf,’ he spat, as he pocketed the notebook and turned to leave.