June 2017
Winner : Valentine Williams - Get Away From The Window!
Also shortlisted :
Jerry Ibbotson - 97 Seconds
Caleb Stephens - Gone Fishing
C.R. Berry - Ery Mai's Dream

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Get Away From The Window! by Valentine Williams

I know they’re out there. I can hear them.

Sometimes they come close, just to let me know they’re still around. They smile a lot, but it’s a menacing smile, more of a grimace. They mean me harm; I know they do.

Up here on the seventh floor the air is thick and foul, the colour of stale beer. It smells of battery acid. I don’t care. I have to open the window occasionally, at night when they’re not around, to let some air in, or it becomes stifling in here.

The passenger lift has stopped working and I have to rely on my neighbour to bring me food from the shops. How long he’ll be able to do that for I don’t know. He puffs and pants as he wheezes his way up to our landing. Like me, he’s not young. Today he bought me some fresh green beans from the market and I sat with a plate of them, slippery with margarine, on my lap in my usual place by the window and ate them slowly. One of them came close to get a better look, tilting its head this way and that to get a better picture. I waved a newspaper at it, but it knew I couldn’t touch it. It leered at me through the window until I was forced to turn away and continue to eat. I don’t like to do that, because I’d rather know what they’re doing and I can’t see them if my back is turned. There’s one there now, as I write this, butting its head on the glass.

Get away from the window! Get away!

There are two of them out there now and they’re talking about me. Oh, the sideways glances give them away, that and the little mouth movements. Mean little screwed up mouths they’ve got - I hate them.

Now they’ve gone. But they’ll be back. I used to think they lived somewhere on the roof, but now I’m not so sure. After I complained to the management about them they brought a searchlight round and went on to the roof to have a look, but they didn’t find anything. Every time I complain about them now I get these funny looks and they listen very politely and say they’ll look into it, but they never do.

They’re out there again now, five of them, butting the glass and grimacing at me. I remember, years ago, a young man on a bus took his trousers down and pushed his bottom out at me. Mooning they called it. I felt it was an affront and I wanted to stuff his trousers down his throat. It’s the same feeling now. I hate them.

Bang! The biggest one is trying to butt the glass with its head. It’s very persistent.

Get away from the window!

No good. There’s one more trick I can try – it scared them off before for a while. Let me fetch the hand mirror. It was Lorna’s mirror. She used to sit and hold it up to look at herself and then brush her long dark hair slowly, methodically, with a sweep of her arm, up and down. I can picture her doing it. Let me see. If I hold it up like so, then all it can see is itself. Brilliant! It gives me a real perverse pleasure to do this. It’s dodging back and forth, but I’m following. Where it goes I go. Back and forth, up and down. Nearly caught me out but not completely. It’s getting tired of this game. It’s dropping down out of sight. My arm is aching. I’ll draw the curtains for a while and hope it doesn’t come back.

The curtains were made by Lorna, not long before she died. I feel her presence as I draw my hands across the curtains and close them. There’s no peace, even with the curtains drawn. I can hear them bumbling their way around the glass, bumping the window. I think I’m going mad.

I’ve noticed something strange about the window-sills, where they’ve been. They’re pitted with small craters. I can even see some holes. They’re trying to get in all right. The windows are old, like the flats, but the glass is solid enough, fixed to a frame with big screws.

There’s one now, right up against the glass, its black fathomless eyes taking in all the details of my room.

Get away from the window!

My neighbour tells me I live too much alone. I’m talking to myself. Perhaps it’s true. I hate them. But sometimes I think they’re the only company I’ve got. I do tend to shout a lot when they won’t leave me alone. Lately their numbers have increased.

Go away! Clear off!

I bang the glass, trying to frighten them. They tip back into the void and zoom off, while others take their place.

It’s Monday morning and I’ve had a strange communication from the management. A white envelope came through the door. Inside was a letter saying that someone was coming to carry out necessary repairs to my flat. He’s here now. Gary, his name is. He’s a smart little chap, very polite. He replaced my kitchen tap and looked at the wiring. Then he went over to the window. They were out there, of course, but not close. He didn’t notice them, anyway.

Before I could stop him he’d unscrewed the window and had it on the carpet. Of course I could see them coming. I couldn’t move. I was no help at all. They were right up close, leering and peering.

Get away from the window!

Oh yes, I screamed, but it was too late. They were inside; all over him, everywhere.

He’s lying there now, at my feet, messing up my carpet. They’ve disappeared. I’ve got a feeling they’re inside him, tunnelling around, but I don’t know for sure. I think I see a small dark head poke its way out of his nostril; then duck back inside.

It’s draughty with the window missing.

I suppose I’ll have to report it to somebody.

Copyright (c) Valentine Williams 2017

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