Danger Grange by Wiebo Grobler
A glass with half a bottle of whiskey stood on the table. Jesus. It wasn’t even eleven yet.
“Hey man, thanks for handing in my wallet. I really appreciate it,” Henry said.
“No problem,” the guy replied, his voice like gravel.
The man looked up. Adam Grange. Henry hadn’t seen him since the accident.
“It’s been ages.” Henry slid into the booth.
Now at eye level he could see the years hadn’t been kind to Adam. Bloodshot eyes with a haunted look and sallow face.
“Danger Grange. Wow.”
“Please don’t call me that.” Adam knocked back his whiskey.
“Sorry, old habits. How’ve you been?”
“Bad,” Adam leaned towards Henry, “he’s not gone you know?” He whispered.
“Finlay. He’s trapped in here,” Adam tapped the side of his head, “and I’m trapped in this bottle.”
Finlay drowned when they were in school. Fin couldn’t swim, but they had a truck inner tube to drift on. It took the police divers two days to find Fins body. When the brought him up his arms were outstretched, and his head bowed as if in prayer. His skin was milky white and wrinkled.
Adam said Fin slipped. He tried to find him, but the water was too dark and too deep.
“I pushed him,” Adam said.
“I was trying to scare him. He fell off. I tried to grab him. I think. I can still see his eyes,” Adam rubbed his hands over his face, “those eyes.”
Henry stood up. Time to leave.
“Thanks again, Adam.” Henry headed for the exit.
He could hear Adam’s sobs as he walked away.
Henry glanced at the barman to thank him. Reflected in the mirror behind, Henry saw the pallid white body of Fin, sat next to Adam. Stroking his head.
Judges’ comments on the highly commended story
The multiple layers of Adam being trapped in guilt really worked for me, and the final image is extremely haunting.
A really dark little tale. It’s hard to show character emotion and long term effects and also throw in a scare when the story is as short as this one, but this story has it all. Shiver inducing.