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Anathema Skin

Anathema SkinHe was watching his mates play basketball in the alley when he heard the sound. He called out, but everyone else was too caught up in the game and hadn't heard. Shaking it off, he returned to the game.

The sound came again. A soft dragging scrape, whispering and echoing off the dumpsters. It raised the hair on the back of his neck and was really starting to get on his nerves.

Leaving his seat on an upturned milk crate, he walked towards the first dumpster. Nothing, but the sound came again, bouncing of the building walls and making it difficult to locate.

Checking the next dumpster again turned up nothing. He pushed the lid back further, its metal on metal squeal was ear piercing but not the whispered scraping, and looked inside. Garbage, but nothing that seemed to match the strange sound.

Walking around the industrial bin, he saw an old Chinese woman seated in the shadow of a rear door awning. She held a strop taut with her foot and was sharpening a large chef's knife. A cloth was laid out beside her, a dozen more knives awaiting her attention.

The boy saw nothing of this, his eyes riveted to the woman's unattended purse. He slid silently along the wall, keeping out of the woman's peripheral vision and snagged the purse in his fingertips.

Before he could run, the old woman uncurled from her labour and, with a speed belying her age, threw the knife in her hand. She resettled herself and returned to carefully sharpening the knives on the strop. The metal on leather making a gentle susurration, in sharp contrast to the boy's strangled gurgling as the blood poured from the knife wound in his throat.


15minuteficletsword #37: chilling