Author’s Note: The draws for September’s Flash Fiction Draw story were a Young Adult story, set in a warehouse, involving a single shoe or boot. Here’s the result.
There Was an Old Woman Who Lived In a Shoe
By Jeff Baker
It was Labor Day Weekend and the Warehouse was closed. All of the Old Town area surrounding it seemed deserted. Scotty and Linc brought the beer, Jo and Laura brought the soda. Chris brought his Dad’s key to the warehouse. Scotty and Laura were making out in the office when they heard the siren. Scotty fumbled for his phone and couldn’t find it. He saw the old clock radio on the desk in the moonlight and switched it on.
The voice crackled from the small speaker.
“Again, we are urging everyone in the city to seek shelter indoors and above all, stay away from animals, including pets. If you’re just joining us, shortly after sunset, packs of roving animals, believed to be feral dogs and cats, began attacking people. Partiers celebrating the holiday were the first targets. The mayor is urging calm…”
“Hey, guys!” Scotty yelled.
“Whaddya want?” Linc’s voice came from the darkened next room.
“You’d better come here and listen to this!” Scotty said.
“Is there a tornado?” Jo’s voice drifted in from the hallway.
“Don’t think so…get back here and listen,” came Linc’s voice.
“It’s something on the news,” Laura said. “Something about roving packs of wild dogs.”
“Hey, where’s Chris?” Scotty asked.
“Probably finishing the last of the beer.” Linc said.
“You guys hear something?” Laura asked.
Scotty heard the scream this time. He jumped up, falling over the wastebasket. In the outer hallway he nearly ran into Jo and Linc, as they rushed out to the main dock of the warehouse.
The four story brick building dated back to 1917 and the old loading dock still had the big wooden door which opened out onto the railroad tracks. Chris’ father remembered unloading crates of produce from trains when he was a kid. Now the tracks trailed into nothing, having been ripped out years ago and the crates were brought in on trucks. Jo and Linc ran up to the big dock door and looked out as the screams started up again. There was a five foot drop to the ground below. Outside in the moonlight they saw Chris cowering against the gate to the parking lot, brandishing a can of beer like a weapon. In the dark pool of shadow in front of Chris the others could see movement. Not quite dogs or cats, but something moved and growled and hissed.
“Chris!” Scotty yelled. Chris turned, his face a mask of pure terror.
Back on the dock, Linc looked around. Jo ran back into the darkness of the warehouse. A moment later she ran back, carrying a tan package of turkey wrapped in plastic.
“Here, open this!” she said. “I found it in the cooler!” A chub of honey-glazed turkey. Scotty’s nail clipper cut open the plastic and Linc grabbed it.
“Here boy! Fetch!” Linc said as he hurled the turkey into the shadow. There was a ravenous tearing sound. Linc jumped down and pulled the terrified Chris over to the dock and pushed him up into the warehouse. He jumped and managed to scramble onto the dock as the snarling and growling became louder. Linc rolled across the concrete floor as Scotty, Laura and Jo slammed and barred the door, just as the ravenous sounds reached the other side.
“You guys okay?” Jo asked.
“Yeah,” Chris managed. “I was sittin’ on the edge of the dock with my beer, trying to get some rock out of my boot and I dropped it down there. I went to pick it up and, and…” he shuddered.
“We’ll grab your other boot later,” Laura said, eying the dock door. “Hey, are the other doors locked? Tight?”
“Yes,” Chris said, calming down but still shaky.
Scotty had ducked back into the office and returned with his cellphone. “Look at what I found,” he said. He started reading from the screen. “Horror on the streets. Vicious creatures prowl cities. Beginning at dusk, East Coast cities were swarmed with creatures attacking men, women and children in the dark. Unconfirmed reports say these are feral animals which have gone berserk for some unknown reason. Speculation puts disease as the cause…” Scotty looked up. “Want me to go on?”
“This started at sunset,” Jo said. “About an hour before sunset in Wichita and it started here. Maybe it will end at sunrise.”
“Maybe,” Chris said. “Maybe not.”
“Let’s stay here for the night,” Linc said. “And when your Dad and the warehouse guys show up in the morning, we’ve got a good explanation for being here…” He grinned. “Sort of.”
“If they show up,” Jo said.
Chris pulled off his remaining boot and stared into it.
“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,” Chris murmured.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is actually a prequel to a story I have synopsized somewhere and need to write. The warehouse was a real place I worked out of in the early 1990s. I think it’s a disco now. (Do they still call them discos?) —–jsb.