13. Scratch Marks and Strangers

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SCRATCH MARKS AND STRANGERSBy HEEdwards

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SCRATCH MARKS AND STRANGERS
By HEEdwards

A dark secret plagues the village of Little Tarmouth. When a man gets too close to the powers at work, he may find himself in trouble as the witching hour approaches.

 When a man gets too close to the powers at work, he may find himself in trouble as the witching hour approaches

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The tinkling of the hanging bell cut off their conversation. As soon as the man's foot fell on the cream floor, a silence overtook the small business. Cashiers and patrons alike paused mid word, their eyes now turned to watch him as he went to get a pint of milk from the refrigerator. Their gazes weren't the curious kind; it was a stare, a cold look of scrutiny.

He quickly went from place to place, collecting what he needed in as little time as possible, forgoing the cashiers in favour of a self-service checkout. Still no one spoke, they barely even moved.

As soon as his receipt appeared, he left the shop in as few strides as possible, the door closing behind him with a sharp squeak. When his eyes happened to slide back to look at the shop front, he could see everyone inside now talking and laughing as if nothing had happened at all.

"Creepy buggers," he murmured under his breath, pulling his scarf up to shield his neck from the harsh autumn bite.

The village streets were ghostly quiet and grey as he made his way home, a chill of unease resting upon his shoulders like a lead weight. No one was out, but he could still feel the stares of the locals on his back as he passed the net covered windows. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the shifting of the white veils and the outlines of squat figures.

He suppressed the urge to run, but his walk took on a rushed quality, his boots hitting the ground with rhythmic thuds, cushioned by fallen leaves. Within his coat pocket, he rubbed his fingers across the polished surface of a stone that he'd found on a walk.

He couldn't stand this place. He hated the locals, the twisting streets, its secluded location. Two weeks in and he still felt as though his every movement was being watched. His neighbours had yet to welcome him, but their attention was still firmly focussed upon his every move.

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