Cold Shoulder – A Short Story by Maya Greenstrike

Dear readers, I wrote this short story called Cold Shoulder.  If you have time, I welcome your reviews. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

 

The wind tousled 12-year-old Patrick Anderson’s thick, milk chocolate shaded short hair as he skate boarded along the crowded pier of Santa Monica. His sky blue eyes were greedily gulping in all the sights surrounding him. As a meek, shy boy, not at all the sort to be dashing off on daring adventures, and he never had done anything of the sort, he was stunned by the brightly coloured lights flashing constantly on and off in the distance, and dumbstruck by the beauty of the sun melting into the horizon like butter, edging the fluffy white clouds in the starry, navy blue sky with every shade of apricot. The overpowering smell of candyfloss wafted up his nose, and his ears buzzed with the chatter in the humid air as throngs of people travelled along the pier.

 

Patrick swatted away an irritating fly just as he reached the entrance of the game arcade. He pondered the amount of games he could buy a go on with the money his mother had handed him. As he picked up his Velcro trainer clad foot to push the skateboard, Patrick contemplated the life story of the criminal, Claw, who was in every newspaper because of the criminality he used when creating and using Cold Shoulder, (forcing an ice pack onto innocent victims shoulders, and letting the ice shudder excruciatingly painfully through their bodies and freezing them into statues). This man was also the most despised being in the world.

 

Sensing stranger’s eyes sweep over his neck, Patrick spun round on his skateboard like a flamenco dancer in the direction of the eyes, only to see the man he had just been thinking about.

 

The convict was of course wearing disguises, but since he had researched back in time for an assignment from Harvard University on how to recognise any kind of disguise, they were as transparent as glass to Patrick. This was the man in the newspaper, and Patrick could easily picture his face. Jet-black wild, ragged hair, thick, blood red sausage lips, with the bottom lip sticking out much more noticeably than the top in a comical pout, malicious blue and grey ice-cold eyes, melted dark chocolate for skin and blackened stubble on his chin.

 

Patrick’s first concern was that Cold Shoulder would be tried on him. However, the shoulder pads he used when skateboarding would protect him of that, unless Claw decided to yank those off him, of which there was a 50% chance. If this didn’t happen and the criminal, Claw, were to recognise him from the newspapers, (there had been an article about his intelligence), he would know that Patrick was clever enough to identify him, and that Patrick would most likely take him to the police. Unfortunately for Patrick, Claw would much rather kill someone than be taken to the police on account of all his dastardly deeds.

 

Without hesitation, Claw took one glance at Patrick and wrenched him off his firm foothold on the skateboard. Claw had been looking for a new victim of Cold Shoulder, and now he had found one. “You’re coming with me,” he snarled, his malicious growl furiously shaking Patrick’s slight body. The pier being crammed with adults, teenagers, children and beggars, nobody took any notice to anything apart from not being knocked to the floor by the cascade of people. This meant that Claw was unobserved as he dragged Patrick by the scruff of his milk tinted neck all the way to a towering, sinister, stone grey mansion, that had an air about it which clearly stated, “Keep away! The oxygen around this home is venom and functions as barbed wire.” Patrick made a feeble effort to run back to the pier, but the grip on his neck was far too strong. Claw shoved him into the dust infested, peeling paint house, and propelled him up the rickety, wooden stairs and into the attic. He had identified Patrick.

 

Once in the interior of the rain cloud grey attic, which was silent except for the scuffling of coal black rats, Patrick was able to survey his surroundings. The attic was empty, with no windows, and it looked incredibly similar to a cave, the largest likeness being its crinkled and curved ceiling and walls. The musty smell was stifling, and thick layers of dust coated every surface.  The only light came through paper-thin cracks in the door, and with no breeze Patrick was being slowly boiled alive.

 

He was desperate to abscond from Claw, who was obviously kidnapping him to have the liberty of using Cold Shoulder on Patrick to make sure he did not tell the police of the criminal’s whereabouts. He was under lock and key, so the door was by no means a way of escape. Patrick leant his body against the wall in relentless exhaustion, and was astounded when it left his navy blue jeans with a pale, grey mark. Of course! The whole attic was actually chalk, sprayed grey to make it look like stone so it made people think the wall was impentratable and they could not escape! If Patrick only had something hard to rub against it, he would be able to reduce the wall to a thin layer of chalk, break through it and climb down the outside wall to the ground.

 

At exactly that moment, like a boulder, it struck Patrick that he did have something to rub the wall with, the edge of the coins he had been presented to by his Mother for the arcade!

 

Patrick was tenacious, and after approximately an hour of scraping at the chalk, he held his breath and sucked in his cheeks, then smashed through the barrier between him and outside air. Bursting through the wall, he clung onto a dust streaked ledge just as he fell a few centimetres down, only daring to take a second long look at the daunting space difference in between the ledge and the ground. When he did, Patrick gasped and his hands became slicker with sweat than ever as he realized there were no more footholds or handholds apart from the ledge he was grasping.

 

Patrick was petrified to the bone. His heart thudded like a stampede in his chest, his head pounded, and his knees converted into wobbling jelly. Was he going to be able to jump the 18 feet down to dry land? He would have to, if he wanted to get home again. Letting go of his grip, Patrick hurtled southwards, the wind snapping at his cheeks. He landed with a thump that shook the ice in Antarctica, his legs bent.

 

Not leaving himself a moment’s breath, Patrick dashed back home; wary that Claw might start galloping after him if he found out that Patrick had escaped. Once inside his palatial accommodation he skidded into the living room, where his mother promptly engulfed him in a wave of praise about his school report. All her words were silence to Patrick, as he was still recovering from the violent shaking of his shoulders, caused by the panic that had overtaken him only minutes before. After a calming, comforting, languid and leisurely bath Patrick sat upright in his caressing bed that night and made an oath to himself that he would never, ever tell anyone the tale of his escapade, just so there wouldn’t be a fuss.

 

What became of Claw? Well, upon realising Patrick had taken flight he at once dashed to the pier, after having a brain wave that Patrick might have sought refugee from him there. Luck was not on Claw’s side though, for as he stepped onto the vast Ferris wheel so he would have a clear sighting of Patrick, if he were on the pier, rain started thundering down.  Just as Claw got to the peak of the machine, the rain jammed the wheel’s mechanics, so Claw was stuck at its summit. Nobody realising he was there as the wheel was shut down because it was broken, Claw rotted away limb by limb, as did all memories of him.

 

Cold Shoulder – A Short Story by Maya Greenstrike

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