A frustrated teen goes to a park after being kicked out.
Jake Brill slammed the front door behind him, shaking his head. He took a pack of cigarettes out of the top pocket of his denim jacket and lit one, blowing a steady stream of smoke into the hollow sky. Stars were beginning to burst into life. Jake had always thought people who enjoyed stargazing were being conned.
If they only knew, he thought, turning his face up and straining his eyes, trying to pierce through the vast vacuum that lay between him and the infinite, expanding, ferocious chaos of shattering stars, splintering suns and sizzling supernovas. Jake walked down the garden path, kicked open the front gate and turned left.
Fuck him, he thought. His dad kicked him out about once a week so he had a few ideas where he could kill a few hours. He took one last look at the sky and, upon deciding it wasn’t going to snow, he settled on the park.
He looked a lot like his father in many ways, his broad shoulders and fair hair being the most obvious, their skin and voices the most different. Jake’s father was almost completely tattooed, whereas his skin was clear. There was one tattoo in particular that Jake hated, an 8 ball, which throbbed grotesquely on his throat when he was particularly drunk or furious. In a similar fashion Anthony Brill had a blemished, vandalised quality in his voice, which listed sharply against Jake’s fresher but often equally twisted words.
The park was sharpening across the field, like he was twisting the focus on a pair of binoculars. Jake pushed open the gate with more care than he had handled the one in his front garden. The park was empty. He strode towards the slide, took his phone out of his pocket and started the stopwatch. He set the phone down beside the slide and ran to the monkey bars where he spat in his hands, rubbed them together, and set off. He took the bars two at a time, rocketing across them before scaling the large wooden ship that sailed in the centre of the park. He threw himself over the top and landed with a crash on the deck before dragging himself through a small tunnel and tumbling down the slide. Upon reaching the bottom and while letting out a series of gasps and winces from his fresh bruises he scooped up his phone and stopped the timer. 00:17:08. Jake clutched his face and howled. So close!
He staggered to a nearby bench and collapsed onto it, wiping cold sweat from his forehead. He leant back, his breath and troubles gradually washing back over him. His dad’s ugly face began to leer at him again from the back of his mind and he closed his eyes. In truth, all Jake had done was scratch one of his father’s favourite records. He had said he was very sorry and that he would replace it, however it was also true that Jake had drawn the point of his pocketknife across the album two days ago while his father was at the pub.
He couldn’t help himself. He cares more about them records than he cares about me, Jake thought. Records and pool. Brill Senior was a professional pool shark and hustler who operated in every pub that hadn’t cottoned on to his scheme, which was pretty much every pub in East London. Unfortunately his “job” allowed him to indulge in his other vice: alcohol. After watching his father fall through the front door six nights out of the week before ritualistically beating Jake with his tongue he felt sure he would never touch the stuff.
The moon hung huge in the sky, casting a pale light across the park. Spindly shadows pricked the bank of trees that lined the graveyard behind him. He’d always thought it was weird that a park and a graveyard were right beside each other, but then again maybe the shrill cry of childish delight brought the deceased peace in the after life. If it didn’t he was sure the weed that got smoked here most nights would mellow them out.
Jake plucked the packet from his top pocket once more, removed a cigarette and struck his lighter. As he did a malformed shape loomed a few inches from his face. He slammed his back against the bench and stared at the thing as it swayed in the air. It was a bloated spider, its legs splayed as wide as they would go, swinging from a line of silk that trailed into the canopy of branches above. It was massive, one of the biggest that Jake had ever seen, its abdomen three times the size of its monstrous head. He was convinced he could even see it’s ugly mandibles twitching in the dark.
Jake was inexplicably filled with a disgust that he had never felt. He usually liked spiders very much and found them fascinating, but this one repelled him. It made his face contort with disgust and he slid a few inches along the bench away from it.
But it wouldn’t leave his eye line. It lingered in the corner of his vision; a permanent stain on his horizon, and his eyes kept being dragged towards its waggling legs. Jake took a deep drag on his cigarette and blew smoke at the spider. It swung through the air like a confused pendulum, stretching its legs even further apart as if in surrender.
Then a terrible thought crept into Jake’s mind. He raised his lighter, held it on its side beneath the spider and flicked the wheel. The flame engulfed the small creature and it dropped to the floor with a thud. But Jake couldn’t stop. He crouched down and burned the spider until it was a twisted, smoking mess.
Jake straightened up, drew his coat tighter around himself and left the park.