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a DarkSF short story

by John Argo

why I wrote this shocking story

Time: in the near future…


title by John ArgoBuck spotted the little girl walking alone, and felt a dryness in his mouth that told him he was about to risk more prison time.

She had blonde hair, was about seven, and was walking along the sidewalk toward a strip mall parking lot with supermarket, drycleaners, video store, household robo repair, liquor store, and the like. The setting sun made her hair glow like spun silk.

Buck followed her a while, his van hovering with a whisper of fans, as he studied the situation. From the feelings inside, he knew he was going to take her sexually. After that, he would strangle her, tie a barbell to her ankles, put her in a garbage bag with her clothes, and dump her off a bridge into a river where she would not be found for months, even years.

The little girl walked slowly but purposefully. Perhaps her mother had given her a dollar or two and told her she could have an ice cream. Or told her to pick up a large bottle of soda.

The inside of the van smelled of coffee and cigarettes. In the back were blankets, some pots and pans for cooking out, some towels and soap for washing along rivers. He had some nudie holos, including kid porn. Buck lit a cigarette with trembling hand. He held the cigarette just near his mouth, his eyes hungrier than his mouth, following her every step.

There were four things that could spoil it now. Buck had been through this exactly thirteen times, by his count. He had it down. Number One, she took a different way home, and he lost her. Number Two, she came back with other kids, and that did it. Number Three, she ran the minute he started propositioning her. Number Four, a cop or some smart enough adult came by and spoiled everything for Buck. No matter, he'd move on, find another one. But this looked like an exceptional one. His stomach was in knots, his mouth watered, his groin seemed on fire. He resisted the temptation to just drive by, grab her, and drive off; someone might hear; someone might see and get his license plate number. It was his third time out of prison; next time the judge might put him in for good; he'd better be careful.

There! He could not believe his luck. She came out of the corner drug store with a Popsicle. She sat down on a low wall and licked her popsicle. Buck shut off the engine. The van settled on the street with a barely audible sigh. Buck slid open the side door, exposing a large stuffed tiger with a bandanna and cowboy hat. He stepped carefully out of the van and looked around. Nobody in sight. He knew he was nondescript looking, neither pleasant nor ugly, just this kind of forgettable figure in baggy corduroy pants, dull striped shirt, maybe a wool sweater on a cold day. He had curly gray hair that made him look his age, 45. "Hi," he said, walking slowly up with hands in pockets. "That a grape one?"

"No, orange," she said. She gave it another lick, favoring him sort of sideways around it. There was an orange smear around her mouth, and her fingers looked sticky. She had beautiful dark blue eyes. Buck began to get really turned on. She wore a summer dress that revealed her smooth skin, knobby knees, featureless chest.

"Aren't you cold?"

"A little."

"Can I sit down next to you?"


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Copyright © 2018 by Jean-Thomas Cullen, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.