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In life, the sky's the limit.

In The Gutter, the ceiling is very low.

Jake by Sonia Kilvington

“It’s all your fault, you know that, don’t you?” 

I cast my eyes down quickly, away from his accusing stare. The knife in his fist was still dripping, the blood red, stark and angry against the metal blade. Jake’s face was glowing unnaturally. It looked so unworldly and strange against the darkening desert sky.

The truth, according to Jake, was that these situations were always my fault. And it’s true that I had wanted to stop at the gas station, but I hadn’t even noticed the woman who had spoken to him out of turn. So I knew that this wasn’t related to anything I had said or done. It hadn’t been my idea to follow her in the truck either.

This was the way it worked in our relationship. Jake made the decisions and I took the consequences - it had always been like that, even though I don’t know exactly how it had all gotten started. It had seemed like such a wonderful dream at first, with Jake saying he was going to take care of me forever and always, you know like the song on the radio?

Not that I would have willingly gotten myself into this situation had I known the extent of his sick schemes, but somehow I had gotten lost - in this, in us, and I was too far in to get back out.

The woman on the ground was gasping and gurgling. It was pitiful to listen to that! Her head was smashed in beside the wheel of the truck and she was bleeding all over the place from the knife wound in her chest. She was turning a deep purple color and her last attempt at grasping for air was almost too painful to watch. I felt bad for her, I really did, but I was more afraid of Jake and what he might do, now that he had decided this situation was all my fault.

I guess I didn’t know that much before I met Jake as I hadn’t had much schooling on the farm, but I knew enough to realize that what we were doing was very wrong. But no one had ever paid me that much attention before Jake, and when he rescued me from my pa’s belt on that sun-bleached afternoon.

I had gone willingly and gratefully. To his credit, Jake had never told me, even once, that I was stupid, like my pa kept on saying to me all of the time. But it’s true that I have been very stupid.

The woman on the ground passed right in front of me, and if I get caught it won’t matter what I say, because according to Jake, it was my fault and he will make sure that everyone gets that!

I knew it was useless to try and talk to Jake while he was still in a black mood, so I went quiet and waited to see what he wanted to do next. He cussed me a couple of times and then threw a shovel from the back of the truck and told me to dig deep, even though it was nearly dark.

It’s not like I truly believe him that it was all down to me. But I know that even without pa’s buckle belt, he’s going to make me pay for this in ways so painful, I could never even have dreamed of them, that day I ran away from the farm.

Sonia Kilvington is a journalist, short story writer, poet and novelist. She is as indecisive about genre as with most other things in life, with short stories of noir, ghost, psychological crime and Sci-fi, appearing unexpectedly at Spelk, Pulp Metal Magazine & Near To The Knuckle. She is currently hanging out with some other noir and crime types, in the international collection Exiles.