April 2020

So this months short story is what happened as a result of a writing course I took last year with Curtis Brown Creative. Amongst lots of other tuition we were asked to write a suspenseful story. You’ve probably gathered by now that crime, thrillers, suspense are the cornerstone of much of what I write, and this little idea came to me from nowhere. So read, enjoy and if you like leave a comment on Twitter (@catherineyaffe) or over on Facebook (Catherine Yaffe Author) 🙂

She knew she shouldn’t have had that much to drink, but that had always been her problem; never knowing when to stop. She hitched her cross-body bag further onto her shoulder, and attempted to walk more upright, and in more of a straight line.

It had been a good night, sometimes the impromptu ones were the best. God, she was regretting it now though; losing her friends, drinking too much and missing the last bus.

She could still taste the last shot and it was making her feel queasy. She pulled her bag round to the front and rooted inside for some gum amongst all the usual detritus of loose change, odd earrings and ages old credit card receipts. Having stopped walking the chill of the night air caught up with her and she shivered involuntarily, pulling her flimsy jacket tighter.  She found a discarded piece of gum tucked into the bottom corner of her bag; it would have to do she thought. She popped it in her mouth and started to head home. Thank God she’d worn flats to work today, her feet were already aching, and she had at least a mile to go. She looked up, and thought she saw someone up ahead. Her vision was blurred, and the light wind was making her eyes water. She wiped the tears on the back of her freezing hand and diligently strode ahead.

There it was again, she thought, there was definitely someone up ahead. What idiot would be out at this time of night? She quietly laughed at her own stupidity, realising she was one of those idiots. She squinted to see if she could make out any more of the moving black bulk. It appeared to be wearing a black coat and carrying something over its shoulder. She could hear the odd grunting noise coming from it as she walked, and not being the nervous type, she found the sensation of butterflies and goose bumps a little odd as they developed in her stomach and on her arms. The thing had slowed down, she did the same. She knew that she could cross over the road up ahead and take a short cut through the housing estate that backed onto her street.

She felt like the living cliché of every scary story she’d ever read or watched, and smiled wryly to herself, if her mum could see her now.

Crossing the road, she took a short cut through the ginnel and out into the street beyond. She sensed rather than saw that the black bulk was now following her. She slowed down some more, trying to clear her addled brain and debated whether to duck into a nearby garden and let it pass her again. But part of her was a little intrigued; what was it doing out at night, and more importantly what was it carrying? She glanced quickly over her shoulder. It was still there but walking with its head down. She made the split-second decision to dive over the low wall next to her and hide until it passed.

She squatted down, hoping the garden she was hidden in didn’t have light sensors. She held her breath as the bulk approached. It was close enough now for her to catch a glimpse of its face in the nearby street light. Huge staring eyes, a bulbous nose and oh my God what was that smell? She boked as he got closer. A foul smell permeated the air and she sensed it was coming from the black bag he had over his shoulder. It was unlike anything she had smelt before; putrid was the word that sprang to mind. He walked past her hiding spot, and she exhaled. She had to sit down fully to calm herself, get a grip woman, she thought.

She leant her back against the brick wall, the cement and harsh brick piercing her jacket. She was aware of the cold ground underneath her, and the damp creeping into her pores. She couldn’t stay here. She had to move. She listened carefully, no noise. She could no longer hear footsteps. Had he walked past? The smell lingered. Unable to bare the cold any longer she cautiously peeped over the wall..

©2020 Catherine Yaffe – all rights reserved

Brilliant! Full of suspense that grows perfectly to the end and leaves us on a cliff hanger. Is he still there, what’s in the bag?
Concise piece that reads well and is easy to follow – I really enjoyed it.

Course Feedack

I loved the bit about the light sensors, with my luck the garden would have lit up like a beacon!

You really left me hanging at the end, I would be turning pages to find out if he was still there, and what stinking contents were in the bag.

Course Feedback

Very suspenseful with good details grounding the action, starting with that cross-body bag , the discarded gum, and her general sense of bleary unease . And if only she had just stopped and stood still instead…

Tutor Feedback

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