Bollocks / by Danielle Goldstein

“Bollocks,” sighed Spencer as he attempted to wriggle his shoulders free. The gap looked much more Spencer-sized before he attempted to get through it. Now he was pinioned to the ground by a dumb metal door, the aged blue paint of which was flaking onto his back like blueberry dandruff. Lifting his neck as far as he could, Spencer blinked into the darkness of the garage, which was faintly illuminated by an echo of streetlamp coming in through the slim gap between the door and the floor. If he squinted he could make out a wooden chair missing a leg that looked a bit like the ones his mum had around their tiny dinner table. Spencer scoffed at thought of their glorified stool being considered a dining table.
There was also a dirty old microwave with its door hanging open, a few mounds of indistinguishable junk piled left, right and centre, and right at the back of the confined space was a tall, boxy shadow. “That has to be it,” he thought. “Where else could it be hiding?”
“SPENCEEERRRR!” Suddenly jarred from his thoughts, Spencer heard the uncanny howl of his mum. He edged his filthy hands to his face and battered his shitty Casio with his nose until the dim light shone. 11.30pm. Fuck. He was definitely in for a slanging match with the old bat now, but first he’d have to get out. As he considered the manoeuvres he used to get into this state in the first place, Spencer heard footsteps hurrying towards him. These weren’t just any old footsteps; he recognised the creaking sound that the old rubber soles of his mum’s slippers made.
In less than two minutes, the hawk-eyed Ms Langton had spotted her son’s baggy jogging bottoms – sitting stubbornly, as always, well below his waistline – and scuffed, black high-tops protruding from beneath one of the grotty garage doors. She shoved off from the red railings of the balcony and hastened down the wide, grimy concrete staircase. Considering Ms Langton was comparable to a square, at least physically, she was quick on her bulbous little feet, which were sheathed in cracked, mud-coloured Crocs. The rest of her stout frame was swaddled by an oversized off-white t-shirt that came down to her bare, flabby calves and had a crude drawing of a nude dude chasing a naked woman up a coconut tree on the front.
Spencer had shut his eyes and contemplated his fate until something gripped his ankles and yanked him out into the amber-lit carpark. For a split second, as his nose grazed the concrete, he thought it might have been the thing. The creature. The whatever-it-was he’d been scouring the estate for. But as he turned on his back he saw the squat hulk of his mum. Her hands were on her thighs, she was panting like an overheating husky in the Bahamas and boy was she mad. “Not just angry, but mentally deranged,” thought Spencer as he skulked up to their grotty one-bed; his mum jabbing a fat finger at his right shoulder every few steps.
Once in his room, Spencer slammed the door on the batty mare, who was in the lounge pulling out the sofabed. Without saying a word, she had cuffed him on the ear and indicated through the mother of all stares that she wanted him in bed. NOW. Spencer perched on the corner of his mattress and glared at his laptop. He wanted to examine the moped scene again so that he could compare the big, black fuzzball he’d seen loping across the green, but the feeling was only just returning to his right ear and he was worried the glow of the screen under the door would set his mum off again. So instead he laid on top of his covers and stared at the shadows on his ceiling until sleep hijacked his thoughts.
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Squinting at the arms on his football clock, Spencer slowly realised that the big hand was nearing 12 and the little was pointing accusingly at two. “Bollocks,” he croaked, and swung his legs off the bed. He never got undressed last night, so he didn’t bother changing.
Opening his door ajar, Spencer clocked his mum on her back, mouth gaping. She looked dead, but he knew this was how she always slept. He ignored the revulsion bubbling in his stomach and tiptoed over to the kitchenette, where he picked up his rucksack from one of the chairs and chucked in some crisps, a block of cheese, a can of Coke and then swiftly slid out the front door in search of… Well, he wasn’t sure what he was searching for yet.
“Think like a detective,” Spencer told himself as leapt down the stairs two at a time. “What would that ginger bird off the telly do? Probably just annoy a bunch of people who actually knew what they were doing.” He shook his mind clear and decided to begin where he left off. Yesterday he had seen the fuzzball heading towards the garages from his window. All manner of thoughts had begun swirling around his 11-year-old head and before he knew it he was running as fast as he could down to the carpark. Only one of the garage doors was open a crack and he concluded It must have hidden in there. Now as he approached in daylight, all the garage doors were firmly shut. The only difference was the one he’d been stuck under – he was more or less sure it was the same one – was covered in black, oily streaks that led out to the canal. “Is that… could it be… alien blood!?” Spencer grinned and prodded a finger in the substance. Granted, he was no genius, but he was pretty sure this was extra-terrestrial matter. He cautiously sniffed it before wiping it on his jumper and darting after the marks.
Down the ally, past the back of a row of terraces and a couple of barking hounds, Spencer halted on the cusp of De Beauvoir Crescent and blinked at the centre of the road where the tracks stopped. Lying there was something that made the boy’s jaw drop. It was about the size of a fist. Not Spencer’s fist, a real man’s fist. It was grey, like gunmetal, and it was moving! Or at least it was until an Iceland delivery lorry rolled its colossal wheels over the thing. Spencer audibly yelped then promptly coughed to cover his childish reaction. With one grubby hand holding his mouth closed and the other clutching what was left of his hopes, the kid sunk down to the curb and that’s when it happened. That’s when It opened like a flower in bloom and Spencer realised his adventure was just beginning.

Originally published in Shelf Heroes, Issue A