January 22, 2008

The Weeping Maw (1 of 11)

Thread: Mission

The letterbox. Already jam-packed with other pamphlets and junk mail, it was clear that no one lived in this house. The faded fence and the peeling paint confirmed it. He looked inside his hold-all. It was still full of flyers.

Henry tried to force feed one into the letterbox, but it was like trying to feed a dead patient: the leaflet crumpled against the door’s lips, no longer hungry. Folding the leaflet over and over to give it a fighting chance against the existing paper residents didn’t work either. Push, crumple. Push, slide, shuffle, crumple. He released it, hoping it was ensnared anyway; it fell to the sodden, broken stone doorstep.

His tummy rumbled but he was determined to see his flyers through today. Another day bringing flyers back and he’d be out of a job. Mum was so cross when he was out of work. Back to the fortnightly trip down to the dole office, facing either disinterested stares or accusations of being the one and only thief of “taxpayer’s money” until proved otherwise. Lancashire hotpot. Mmmmm. Potatoes. Mmmmm.

He knew his boss was watching him from somewhere. His boss always knew when Henry had discarded some of the flyers into a wheelie bin or a drain. He had to make sure these flyers were delivered to each and every address in his sector. He grabbed hold of the paper gag in the door’s maw and pulled. The mass was jammed in there tight; he increased his grip and leant backwards.

With one final almighty tug, a wad of paper ripped away and scattered into the air, fluttering around him like dazed, dirty moths. He swatted at them, worried they’d stick to his clothing and Mum would shout at him for getting so mucky. But he’d only manage to peel off a surface layer of the paper mass. What he’d revealed was congealed solid, stunk like a skunk, and also pretty nasty.

Henry surrendered.

He looked at his leaflet now wet and dirty on the ground: “Want to earn extra *MONEY*? Phone the number below to take part in an exciting business! All materials supplied! Work outdoors! *EARN* as hard as you work! Get *RICH* through your OWN EFFORT!” The number was that of his boss’ office.

He was delivering leaflets to advertise the job of delivering leaflets. Then he wondered if he had been duped into hiring his replacement.

Henry kicked the door in frustration, grunting. The door swung ajar, creaking like only an abandoned house could.

The stench that erupted from the gap made his eyes water and he tried holding his nose. Horrific. It smelt like urine, lots and lots of urine. Maybe this place had squatters. If they did, he thought, then they really ought to check their mail more often.

He held his nose, but the smell penetrated his defences. He hoped it wasn’t getting into his clothes. Mum would freak out.

Although he had no intention of going into the piss pit itself, he did at least want a peek. He gave the door another feisty jab with his foot and it swung the rest of the way open.

Henry then got out his mobile and called Mum, to tell her about the dead woman he had found.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2156