Short Story Competition 2019 – 2nd Place: Old Sparky, by Alexander Sinclair

I never used to drink much.

Only a couple beers here and there (I know you know that I am lying. It’s in my nature).

This thing though, and it is a thing, it grows.

It grows like all things grow and whereas before it seemed fun and made me feel warm, this thing grew and grew and now it’s tearing my fucking heart out.

A bit like you.

You seemed nice and fun.

For a while.

Things gather momentum.

Things grow.

Things spread, like fungus. Like mould.

Seeping into the fibers of other things.

Making them rot.

I never planned for all this to happen.

You think I want to go through your rubbish?

You think I enjoy being stood around in the cold,

My own piss my only source of warmth?

You never see me.

You never feel me staring at your long brown hair flowing onto your shoulders,

Your blue eyes colder than any ice I’ve ever known,

And your perfect tits and your perfect living room and your perfect life without me in it.

You never feel me do you?

What if I came in, would you feel me then?

Let’s just say I came through the back door.

The door I know you leave open for your stupid little dog, so the fluffy piece of shit can relieve itself at its leisure.

It’s ruining your lawn you know.

Patches all over the grass.

Anyway let’s say I crept in through that door, at some lonely hour.

Maybe you’d be asleep. Maybe not.

Would you notice me or would I have to make you?

The Peacock, the immaculate preening Peacock, with his Mercedes,

And his muscles, would he notice me?

He didn’t before.

He didn’t before did he. He only had eyes for you.

It was as if I never existed.

You flushed me like a turd, all I could do was watch,

Watch it all crash and roll and burn, smelling my flesh cook in the wreckage of my life.

He has a wife you don’t know about you know.

I’ve seen them, in my darker more drunk moments. You see,

Sometimes my self is replaced with something different.

Someone different slips in where I used to be.

Someone or something.

An It.

Whatever it is it likes to watch.

It likes to follow.

After a few too many this other, this entity, the thing that’s not quite a person takes the wheel.

I think you saw it.

You smelled it.

I would be coming home from work (the pub) and I would be in good spirits for a while, a real spring in my step, which is miraculous considering your bullshit.

I would be whistling and staggering along and then there would be this itch deep inside my head.

I would see someone sat on the pavement, a jumbled jigsaw of matted beard, brown stained bottoms, some red fingers clutching a soggy cardboard sign, some pathetic plea scribbled on in marker.


The itch would grow and grow, boring through my head.

Before I knew it I would be kicking and punching, froth swinging out of my mouth like a noose.

Sometimes I would do other things.

Sometimes I would wait in the dark with a bottle of something mean, hiding in the shadows outside a busy club and I would watch the beautiful people go about their lives.

I would see all those gorgeous women, bursting with life, glowing with sex, smiling and laughing.

So safe. So much happiness.

Creatures like me didn’t exist in their world.

They wouldn’t see me coming.

Anyway. I didn’t mean for things to happen as they did, but I suppose nothing goes as planned, not really.

I had been late for work.

I couldn’t hear the alarm in my stupor.

I had staggered in, hands trembling, my clothes twisted and speckled with vomit, my eyes a gory red, my hair a sleepless mess.

Terry, the old foreman, the old boy who had known my dad, more uncle than a boss, he took one pitiful look and shook his head sadly.

His voice was thick.

I swear there were tears in his eyes.

I gotta let you go son.

You need help he said.

I couldn’t even argue. I ambled off, utterly defeated.

I went back to my crummy room with the flickering light and threw down my tool belt and began to get really fucked up, slamming down cans with abandon, massacring them, crushing them in my fist and pelting them against the wall.

How far had I fallen I wondered.

Sat there with the winos and the junkies in that crusty hostel.

Wallowing in the pit, right where you wanted me.

I started to think about how I could get at you.

How could I get you to feel something?

Could I shatter those icy blue eyes?

I thought about what you truly loved and how I could use it to hurt you.

And it hit me hard.


The moment I thought of her I knew I wouldn’t be able to control it.

I could feel the entity circling within the great abyss like a shark, feel it slowly rising from the deep like a B movie monster.


The moment your sister laid eyes on me she hated me.

I could feel the resentment ooze out of her like the guts of a squashed slug.

I was trash. Isn’t that what she said?

She had everything I knew I could never have.

That huge house sat there by the green like a castle with the gleaming regiment of cars lined up outside.

And those children.

Those awful children.

That whining American accent they had inherited from their father. Tearing through that house like banshees, babbling incessantly.

Mom! Tommy took my iPhone!

Mom! Make him stop! Mom! Mom! Mom!

My teeth would grind and grind, until I could taste metal.

And then there was the husband. The hotshot from Chicago, reeking of oldmoney, the kind that runs through a family like blood,

A constant look of displeasure on his face, halfway between a grin and a scowl, like he had just caught a whiff of dog shit.

And Christ was he old. He used to nod off at the dinner table remember?

What a fossil.

As much I hated them, your sister was the worst.

Sonya with her tight little mouth clamped into a grimace, her soul slowly dying, despising everything except money which she hoarded like a dragon.

She was everything to you, the very model of success. She had helped raise you when your mum got sick. She was a rock. I can imagine her now at your mum’s funeral, holding your tiny hand, her mouth clamped into that tight little smile as the rain started to fall.

The more I thought of her I could feel the entity gathering strength , feeding from it, a potent charge of malice like electricity running through me, filling me with blackness.

Old sparky I called it.

After the chair they use in America.

When I was a boy, I saw one in a museum.

It hummed with evil. I could feel its pull even then.

All that death, the deaths of savage men and the deaths they themselves had caused had grown and grown until it was a thing all of its own.

It reeked.

The yellowed sign underneath the chair said simply

“Old Sparky”.

I knew I could never be the same. Whatever was in that chair is in me now. It never left me.

As I stood at your sisters door, years on, I knew exactly what had brought me there and I knew it was beyond my control.

I remember standing in the dark for a long time but I don’t remember knocking.

I stood so long I nearly left.

And then I heard footsteps.

A light snapped on in the hallway.

The door opened and then Sonya was there, her hair tied up, a pair of yellow marigolds slippery with soap suds.

She didn’t recognize me at first but when she did she knew.

She tried to slam the door but my boot was already in the jam.

She didn’t scream much.

She didn’t have much of a chance.

We fell into the living room and the kids were on the floor playing with some toys.

They were quiet for the first time I had ever known.

Sonya snatched up a big toy gun from the floor, her eyes desperate, her hair pulled into a deranged coiffure.

She pointed this toy at me, her teeth bared, heaving in desperate breaths.

Put the gun down mom one of the kids said. I looked down and the kids weren’t the monsters I remembered. They were just kids.

Your sister was quite the fighter.

She didn’t go quietly. She was hard to look at after. There was a lot of blood so I rolled her up in a big Persian rug.

The old fart didn’t put up much resistance. He hadn’t really noticed his own death as he napped in an armchair.

The kids. They must’ve thought it was a game because they ran off screaming and hid in the house somewhere.

But don’t worry. They won’t be hard to find.

The house was quiet. I can’t imagine it had ever been so quiet.

I decided to look around.

The TV was huge. The kitchen immaculate. I looked in the enormous fridge and drained a few expensive beers.

I threw the bottles against a big painting. They exploded.

I sat down on the luxurious couch, kicked off my boots and really relaxed.

A long time passed. Hours maybe.

I could see Sonya’s fingers poking out of the carpet.They were going a blue black like old bananas.

I tried to put on the sound system but couldn’t work it. Too many buttons.

The TV snapped on with no trouble but it did a poor job of covering the silence. The silence was becoming unbearable.

Anyway it’s all done now and I can’t take it back. That’s ironic don’t you think? You couldn’t take me back could you?

Despite all this I still love you and I hope you can see that.

Maybe after you read this you will understand the reason why I did the things I did.

Anyway I best be off. I think I can hear sirens.

I will be around.

Whether you see me or not I can’t be sure.

Just take comfort in knowing that I’m there.


Don’t take it too hard.

Lots of love

Old sparky.

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