We used to scour the estate for abandoned cars, joyridden to ruin, dumped, and picked apart by scavengers looking for parts to sell. The longer they’d been there, the more parts they were missing. Stripped down to skeletons, decaying over time like the remains of mechanic beasts. We’d sit in the carcasses, smoke a spliff or two, and try to get them running. None of them ever worked. Then we’d trash them. Throw rocks through the windows, kick off the wing-mirrors, smash the headlights. It was fun.

The last time we did it, Michael decided to take it one step further. He squirted lighter fluid over the seats and set the car alight. ‘Now that’s a hotbox,’ he said as it filled with thick, black smoke. The body creaked and crackled, and the windows blew out in a burst of orange flame. That’s when we ran, scared that it might explode, or the police might come and catch us, elated and beaming with mischief.

The next day all that was left was a burnt and blackened shell. The fire brigade hadn’t even bothered to come put it out, or else they hand’t been called. It was a week or so later that I saw it on the news, the abandoned car we’d burnt. The area was cordoned off with police tape, people in hooded white boiler suits examining the wreckage. I felt a lump rise in my throat. Surely they weren’t doing all this for some petty vandalism.

They weren’t. They had found a body in the boot. This was a murder investigation.


Daily Prompt: Abandoned 


Sweaty Palms

‘Your palms are sweaty,’ she says.

‘I don’t like flying.’ I don’t like palm readers either, they give me the heebie-jeebies, but this little lady seems sweet, and she’s very insistent. Perhaps it will take my mind off of the fact that I’m 30,000 feet above ground in a 200 tonne metal object that could just fall out of the sky at any moment and plummet down, down…

The lady is frowning. ‘They’re getting even sweatier.’ She mutters something inaudible and produces a hanky. ‘I can’t read sweaty palms, they have to be clean and dry.’

There’s something uncanny about her. I can’t place her accent, but that’s not it. It’s something familiar and unfamiliar at once, like the people you encounter in a dream, drawn from experience and memories but pieced together in such a way as to appear new, unknown. Elephants playing ice hockey.

She dries my palm with her handkerchief and traces her fingertip over the creases there. It tickles; tingles. I become aroused.

My palm gets sweaty again and she jerks her hand away from mine. God, she knows I liked it. This is awkward. Shit, I have to sit here for the next five hours in unbearable embarrassment. I feel like a perv. But it’s not like I was coming onto her, she touched me and my body reacted, it’s out of my control.

I muster up the courage to face my shame and apologise. When I turn to her I’m met with a face filled with terror, mouth wide, aghast, eyes brimming with tears.

‘What? What is it?’ Sick dread swells in my stomach. I look down at my sweaty palm. ‘What did you see?’

‘Death,’ says the lady.

The plane lurches violently and we’re falling, falling.


Daily Prompt: Life Line