Crossing Over: Andrew Cull
Exclusive Halloween Fiction
I never saw Tommy again after that morning. He had a closed casket at the funeral, so all I had were my memories of how he’d been before the truck slammed into his bike on the way to the mall.
Before he left we’d been arguing, one of those heated arguments brothers have. It’d been running for a few days on and off. That morning it’d blown up to him pinning me to the wall in the hallway, me trying to lay a punch on him and screaming that I hated him and, when he’d finally dumped me, hard on the carpet, yelling that I hoped he’d die. That morning he did.
In the moment, I’d hated him. He was my older brother, we’d always played rough, but recently those play fights had escalated into something else. It was hard to pinpoint what had sparked the change. Maybe it was a sign we were growing apart. I know I was jealous of his new friends, unhappy that he spent more time with them than with me, upset that they made jokes about me being a “hanger-on”.
Maybe it was me who threw the first real punch, those feelings of being rejected, left behind, bubbling over into anger. I don’t know. I do know that I’d wanted things to go back to how they’d been when we were younger, though.
I had to see a counsellor after Tommy died. Mom and Dad wanted me to talk to someone about how I felt. The counsellor asked me if I blamed myself, thought that maybe Tommy had still been mad, and that that had caused him to ride recklessly on his bike that morning. I told the counsellor that, no, I hadn’t thought that, until she’d just suggested it. She told me to write my feelings down, said that would help. I thought it’d help more for me not to see her again.
Even so, that evening I wrote a note to Tommy. I rode out to the cemetery, and put the note, under a rock so it wouldn’t blow away, on his grave. It said: Why weren’t you looking where you were going, dumbass?
The next day, the police returned Tommy’s clothes and his backpack. For some reason, they returned his bike, too. When Mom saw it she started to scream. It was a mess. A flattened, twisted frame, buckled wheels that wouldn’t turn anymore. One of the inner tubes had burst through the tire and swelled on the outside. Seeing it like that, hanging out through the split when it should have been inside, made me feel sick. Made me wonder what had happened to Tommy that had meant we couldn’t see him before he was buried.
Dad made me help him carry the bike out to the shed. He said we’d put it somewhere where Mom wouldn’t have to look at it. Afterwards, I sat on the back step looking at my hands. They were red where I’d held the bike frame. Dad said it was just rust. Still I couldn’t stop looking at them.
After that, I felt bad about my note. Maybe it had been kind of insensitive. So I rode back out to the cemetery to take it back.
Only it wasn’t there, under the rock where I’d left it. I wondered if the caretaker had found it and gotten rid of it. Seemed like a weird thing to do, but as that was what I was planning to do anyway, I let it go. In fact, I would have left it at that, if it hadn’t been for what happened that night.
About three in the morning, I woke up to what me and Tommy would have called a “sneak attack”: a dirty jab in the ribs while I was sleeping. I fell out of bed, winded and wheezing. The first words out through my gritted teeth were, “What the hell, Tommy?” But, of course, I was kneeling on my bedroom floor alone.
The next day my ribs hurt like hell, and the skin had already started turning purple in a splodge on my side. A splodge about the size of a fist. I wrote another note, and rode out to Tommy’s grave to leave it for him. This one said: Think you got me, huh? Next time I’ll be waiting for ya.
I left the note under the same rock where I’d placed the first one.
That night, I set my alarm for 2:30am. Just like I’d promised in my letter, if Tommy tried for another sneak attack, I’d be ready for him. I faked being asleep, and I waited.
As I lay there in the dark, I thought about that bike tire again, about how it’d been squashed so bad its insides had spilled out. I thought about my rusty red hands, and about how Dad stood, still holding onto the frame of Tommy’s bike after we’d leaned it against the wall in the shed. I thought he wasn’t ever gonna let it go. I didn’t want to let Tommy go, either.
“Why weren’t you looking where you were going, dumbass?” I cried into my pillow. I was doing a terrible job of faking being asleep. It didn’t matter because no sneak attack came that night. Or the next one, or the one after that.
A week went by, and my bruise came out good: purples, yellows, black. It was a real sight. So, I rode up to the cemetery to show Tommy. While I was there, I checked for the note I’d left him after his 3am jab. I was pretty sure the rock hadn’t moved, but the note wasn’t there anymore. I wondered again if the caretaker had taken it. It still seemed like a weird thing to do, but if you’re a caretaker for a graveyard, isn’t it likely you’re a bit weird anyway?
I got some paper and a pen out of my backpack, and I wrote a new note. This one was for the caretaker. It read: Gotcha sucker! And I drew a fist on it, to show I meant business. I slipped it under the rock, told Tommy I’d be back to visit his dumbass soon, and rode home.
After Tommy had gotten hit, I changed the route I rode to school. I didn’t want to cross at the crossing where the accident had happened. But about a month later, I’d come down with a bad head cold, one of those ones that makes you slow and stupid, and it wasn’t until I saw the crossing up ahead of me that I realised I’d gone the wrong way.
Well, to double back was gonna mean I’d be late for school, so I edged up to the roadside and waited for the lights to change. A truck blasted past in front of me. I felt the pull of the wind in its wake, jerking me forward. I planted my feet on the asphalt and held tight on my handlebars. I tried not to think of Tommy’s crushed bike, but it was waiting in the blur of every car that sped past. The light stayed red, like my hands on the back step that horrible afternoon. I gripped the handlebars tighter.
Finally the light changed to green and I pushed off to cross. I didn’t see the car speeding towards the crosswalk.
I was about to step up onto my pedals when, out of nowhere, a punch slammed into my ribs, a jab so hard that it knocked me clean off my bike. I went one way and the bike went another. I slammed down on the sidewalk, and my bike rolled out into the road. A split second later it exploded beneath the wheels of the speeding car. If I hadn’t been so winded, I would have screamed.
I lay on the ground wheezing, wanting to look around to see who had hit me, but I could barely take my eyes off the wreck of my bike, mashed into the road in front of me.
A crowd gathered pretty quickly. Someone called the police. They called Mom and Dad. I sat in the police cruiser and gave a statement. Everyone agreed that I’d been very lucky. If I hadn’t fallen off when I did, they’d be clearing a lot worse than the mangled frame of my bike off the road.
Out the cruiser window, I watched the woman who’d been driving, a mom with her kids on the way to school, crying on the shoulder of one of the police officers.
I didn’t tell anyone about the punch. While I was sitting waiting to give my statement, I’d lifted my shirt up to take a look at my ribs. As I did, I spotted a sheet of paper sticking out of my jacket pocket. I was sure it hadn’t been there when I left the house that morning. I pulled it out, opened it up, and started to smile. It was the note I’d left on Tommy’s grave. Gotcha sucker! With a fist on it.
“You sure did, dumbass.” I laughed. “You didn’t have to hit me so hard, though.” Laughing made my ribs hurt.
Over the next couple of days, the whole story came out. The lady who’d run over my bike swore that the light had been green her way. I knew it’d been green for me. Thing is, more people came forward to back us both up, said they’d seen both sets of lights green at the same time. The town council never admitted to anything (Dad said that would have meant they’d have to pay us out for what happened to Tommy), but that crosswalk was closed and relocated a bit further down the road. Dad also said that we’d never really know if that was what happened to Tommy, too.
I knew. Tommy was looking where he was going that day. I wrote him a note to tell him so. Rode out to his grave, and put it under the rock for him. It just said: I love ya, dumbass.
How would you like to win a fantastic special edition of the brilliant Bones?
BONES brings together four chilling ghost stories by award-winning writer-director Andrew Cull. Four monsters collected in paperback for the first time and all you have to do to win is follow the simple instructions in the tweet below.
Winner will be drawn 6th November. Good Luck!
Photograph credit goes to the incredibly talented @Grumplstilskin3
Winner will be drawn 6th Nov 2020.
— Ki Ki Ka Ka Ke Kendall Reviews (@gjkendall) October 29, 2020
Andrew Cull is an award-winning horror writer and director. He’s the author of the acclaimed story collection Bones. His debut novel Remains is out now.
Please visit Andrew’s Official website: www.andrewcull.com
Andrew’s Facebook page: OfficialAndrewCull
Andrew’s Twitter: @andrewcull
Andrew’s Amazon Author page can be found HERE
Grief is a black house. How far would you go? What horrors would you endure if it meant you might see the son you thought you’d lost forever?
Driven to a breakdown by the brutal murder of her young son, Lucy Campbell had locked herself away, fallen deep inside herself, become a ghost haunting room 23b of the William Tuke Psychiatric Hospital.
There she’d remained, until the whispering pulled her back, until she found herself once more sitting in her car, calling to the son she had lost, staring into the black panes of the now abandoned house where Alex had died.
Tonight, someone is watching her back.
Bones (Special Edition)
This special edition of BONES by Andrew Cull, with artwork by Chad Wehrle, is limited to only 300 copies. A percentage of the sales will be donated to UNICEF.
BONES brings together four chilling ghost stories by award-winning writer-director Andrew Cull. Four monsters collected in paperback for the first time.
‘Did You Forget About Me?’
“He had written to me a month or so before he died. I’d ignored the letter the same way I’d ignored all the others.”
When Cam Miller returns to the town he grew up in he’s heading to clear his estranged father’s farmhouse. He’s also returning to the house he fled 23 years before. There, among the nicotine-stained keepsakes and remnants of a broken life, he’ll come face to face with a horror that has waited all those years for his return.
“It’s you he wants.”
‘Hope and Walker’
“We were both 10. But he was dead. And I sat drawing him.”
Em Walker is just like any other 10-year-old girl growing up in the small, outback town of Hope. That is, except for the fact that her Dad runs one of the town’s two funeral parlours, and the dead have just started speaking to her…
When Hope is rocked by a terrible crime, Em, stubborn, scared of spiders, and with a temper that’s likely to get her into trouble, will find herself thrust into the middle of a dangerous hunt for the truth.
“Being scared’s good,” Grandpa Walker had told me once. “Stops us from doing stupid things.” It hadn’t stopped me.
That summer should have been filled with laughter, with slip n’ slides in the yard, lazy afternoons lying watching ice cream clouds swirling through the blue sky, melting in slow motion. I watched a plane rising high above our house. From the ground it looked completely still, as if it hung suspended in the air, a model on a string. I wished I was on it, I wished I could escape. I was seven and that was the summer death stalked our home.It began with the offerings…
‘Knock and You Will See Me’
“We buried Dad in the winter. It wasn’t until the spring that we heard from him again.”
When grieving Ellie Ray finds a crumpled, handwritten note from her recently deceased father, hidden behind the couch, she assumes that her middle boy, Max, left it there. It has a single word written on it: WHY. But, as more and more letters begin to appear throughout the house, Ellie and her three boys will find themselves dragged into a deeply sinister mystery surrounding her father’s death.“
Dad? I looked down at the scribbled note in my hand, at the words torn into the paper. What had started as a whisper had grown louder, more desperate. The words had been screamed onto the page. Dad? Please. What’s going on?”
BONES. Four Stories. Four Monsters.