by Claire Dean
“Into The Penny Arcade” was originally published as a chapbook by Nightjar Press in 2012 and reprinted in THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR: VOLUME FIVE.
CLAIRE DEAN‘s stories have been published in Beta-Life (2014), Spindles (2015), Thought X, The Best British Short Stories, Murmurations: An Anthology of Uncanny Stories About Birds, Still Shadows & Tall Trees and elsewhere. Marionettes and Into the Penny Arcade are published as chapbooks by Nightjar Press. She lives in Lancashire with her two young sons. She tweets at @claireddean and maintains her web presence at GATHERING SCRAPS.
Your narrator – Eve Upton – would just like to point out that she was framed, it was just an apple tree, and will no one cut a girl a break now?.
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“She walked down the same street every day on her way home from school. There were no houses along there, just old warehouses with boarded-up windows and rubbish-plugged holes. Red brick dust crumbled from the walls and made patterns on the pavement. Greyish-green moss grew in all the cracks.
The lorry hadn’t ever been there before. It was dark blue with no writing on the side. She crossed away from it, walked faster. Her rucksack dug into her right shoulder, textbooks bounced against her spine, her heels snapped on the pavement. There were no other sounds. The street was like a tunnel; the wind sucked her along it.
She emerged into the real world at the other end: cars bombing past, chip shop smell, a mum with a buggy yelling at a kid who was lagging behind.
The lorry was there again the next day. She crossed over. There were girls who got snatched. Men who did things to girls. It would be dark inside that lorry. Was it always going to be there now? Had it moved during the day whilst she was at school, or at night after she’d passed it? And then come back.”