-what devotion, are you, how deep is your love-
Rolling over in bed, Shaun rose from his sleep quickly and grabbed his phone from his bedside cabinet. He glanced through a single eye, sandwiched between his covers and his pillow, spying the device wearily. He blinked just once as he studied the time, still slightly delirious from his sleep.
2 missed call.
Almost as if he was pulled by an outside force, Shaun forced himself upright on his bed and rubbed his forehead. He glanced to the window and saw the warm glow of daylight trying to flood his room, prevented by his curtains still drawn. Pulling his legs over the bed means he could make progress towards getting up. Josh called first, so Josh got a text first.
sorry man missed your call, sup?
He called his dad next. After 5 rings, he picked up.
“Oh, you’re up now, are you?”
“Yeah, sorry, what did you need?”
“I could do with you not staying up until 2 in the bloody morning. You need to get into a proper routine.”
Shaun growled slightly. “Dad, just… I’ve just woken up. What did you want?”
“You need to feed the dog. Something should come in the mail today that you’d need to sign for.”
“Yeah, yeah, okay. Got it.”
“Oh, and take the dog for a walk as well.”
“I know, dad. I always do.”
“Okay. I’ll be back after 5 tonight. Don’t get into any trouble.”
“Alright, dad. Speak to you in a bit.”
After ten seconds of awkwardly saying goodbye to each other, Shaun rubbed his face and hung up. He checked his phone again and checked the response he had.
nuthin m8 dw bout it lol sorted now
Shaun tapped on his phone a few more times to get a text to him.
okay cool. i’m gonna shower an come over in abit
Shaun blitzed through his morning routine like a man possessed and was showered, changed and presentable in 15 minutes. He made his way downstairs to the sounds of barks and the needy affections of a hungry, jet black labrador-alsatian. Whilst it may not have food, it had Shaun’s face to lick to sate its hunger. He was happy enough to deal with it, easing her down and getting her some lunch.
He poured a glass of juice for himself and necked it quickly and by instinct, went to check to see if any mail had arrived. He knelt down and took a look at a familiar red card, normally left by the mailman to let you know that a parcel that needed signing couldn’t be delivered, and was in the Post Office.
It was a good 10 minute walk to and from, enough to walk the dog and tie it up outside the Post Office. The parcel was a small box, just big enough to be carried underarm, and a brief walk back had Shaun putting it on the dining room table before he popped on the TV for a bit. He didn’t so much walk the dog as go for a jog with it, so it’s burned enough energy that it doesn’t get too bored at home. Button was a patient dog and her and Shaun both loved spending time with each other. Once an hour and a half had passed, Button had settled down enough. Shaun turned off the TV and put on the radio so she had some music, then made his way outside.
Josh didn’t live far away from Shaun and it wasn’t long before he knocked on his door. Three knocks with his index finger. Josh answered in his usually untimely manner and let Shaun in, though he said little as they went upstairs. A few matches on Call of Duty were in order. Shaun unusually had won the majority of their games. Shaun taunted and teased and Josh shrugged off any responses with “must be lucky” or “yeah, you’re doing alright”. Shaun wasn’t quite sure how to respond.
“Oh, uh. I wanted to let you know something.”
“Yeah?” Josh looked a little concerned. Shaun had killed him in-game again, and was just respawning.
“Yeah. I’m, uh. I’m not going into IT in sixth form. I’m going into media studies instead.” Shaun picked up an assault rifle that just dropped from his corpse.
“Oh. Well, okay, cool.” His nonchallant reaction made Shaun sit up a little in his seat. One final headshot had gotten him the fourth win in a row. When Josh went to start the game again, Shaun cancelled it and put his controller on the arm of his chair.
“Are you gonna play?”
“Josh, is everything okay, man?”
Shaun sighed, glancing to the screen and back to Josh. “Look, it’s just. Four wins in a row, you’re not that shit at this game, believe me. You’ve been acting like something’s eating away at you and you’re being quiet. I know you when something’s going on.”
“Hey, nothing’s going on.” His voice bolstered with an active tone. “I mean, thanks for caring and all but nothing’s up.”
“I’m your best friend, you can’t tell me nothing-” Shaun stopped. His passive inhaling turned into a concentrated sniff before he started to look around the room. Josh showed traces of concern as he sat upright. Shaun’s voice was more serious as he stood up.
“…you’ve got weed in here.”
“Shaun, what, no, I-”
“Don’t even tell me that. You’ve got weed, haven’t you?” Shaun’s interruption sliced through the air, and killed any pretences of skirting the issue. Josh got up as well, hands held out, shushing him briefly.
“Don’t shout it, okay? Alright, yeah. Yeah, I have some weed on me.”
“Why do you have weed, man?” Shaun stopped. Josh was about to answer, but Shaun answered for him. “No, don’t answer that, I know why you have weed. But why’d you- Look, it’s not good stuff, man. You shouldn’t do it.”
“Look, I wanted to try some, okay? Nothing wrong with that. I’m not gonna be some dickhead about it. I was hanging out with Ralph and he told me last night he could score me some and he did.”
Shaun stared for a moment, and nodded slowly. “Yeah, I can’t stop you. Nothing wrong with trying it though.” Josh looked like the vice grip on his balls had been released, and almost deflated after letting his breath go.
“Thanks man, thanks. Just don’t tell nobody, okay? I’m not a stoner. I just wanna see what it’s like.”
“That’s fine, man. How much did you get?”
“A gram.” He responded back. They both spoke much lighter, and he’d retrieved a small plastic bag. Sure enough, there was marijuana, though a woefully small amount. He even gave the back a light shake, as if trying to flaunt it.
“A gram, huh. How much did that set you back?” Shaun said, grabbing his controller. He grabbed a mug from the table near them and had a swig of tea.
“Uh.” Shaun instantly picked up on the hesitation and dejection in his voice. “…thirty quid.”
Shaun lowered his drink, and the controller. “Thirty quid, for a gram.”
Josh shrunk into his jacket. “…yeah.”
“Thirty quid for a gram, he’s ripped you off. It’s a tenner for a gram.”
Sounding surprised, Josh questioned “How the fuck do you know how much a gram costs?” before Shaun responded with “My cousin does weed. Don’t tell anybody.”
Josh just nodded slowly.
Shaun had other ideas. He put everything down and stood up, and grabbed his coat hanging from the top of Josh’s open doorframe. Josh realised and stood up, going to put his hand on Shaun’s shoulders.
“Woah, hey, the fuck are you doing?”
“I’m gonna chat with Ralph and get your money back.” Josh tugged on his shoulder, which he didn’t even seem to notice at this point.”
“No, man, no, let him keep it, okay? Let’s not get into any trouble, nobody wants anybody kicking off. It’s fine, Shaun, it’s fine.”
Shaun stopped for that moment, and faced him. He put a hand on his shoulder and spoke, instilling him with the calmness in his voice. “Josh, listen. Nobody’s getting into a fight. I’m going to go over to the precinct where he hangs out, talk to him about it, and get you your twenty back. Okay?”
Josh looked fearful, though he was settling down quickly. He’d held his breath the entire time Shaun spoke.
“It won’t come back to you. I promise. Stay here. Okay?”
“…okay.” He said, nodding.
Shaun nodded, patted his shoulder once and swung his coat around and put it on. Moments of trundling down the stairs and Josh heard the front door open and close. He looked down, washed with powerlessness and sat back down on his chair. He set Call of Duty to first player and started looking for a server, to take his mind off it.
There was a purpose in his stride. Not as fast as somebody on the warpath, not as slow as somebody enjoying the view. Shaun had his hands in his pocket and went down empty streets, making his way over to a small shopping precinct in the area. It was a small section of units with a few takeaways and an indoor part with benches and a photobooth, with a pound store as the most popular of buildings. Outside near the carpark was a patch of grass with a bench, where three young adults were sitting and chatting.
Each of them more or less wore the same clothes; zip up hoodies, tracksuit bottoms, nike trainers, a cap on their heads beneath their hood. One was Indian, the other two were white. One of the other two perked his head up as Shaun arrived, recognising him from a distance. He was trying to grow a goatee, and failing in the process. The other two lads didn’t seem to know him, so the one that did stood up and nodded upwards. Shaun spoke first.
“Alright, Shaun.” His accent was thick, mancurian and clearly a chav. “Ya alright, lad?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” Shaun kept his hands in his jacket pockets for the time being. “Listen. We need to talk.”
The Indian lad had picked up on this and put his hands on his laps. Both of them on the bench were watching intently.
“What’s safe, bruv?” Either he hadn’t caught on or was masterfully pretending not to.
“Yeah, look.” He said, Shaun quickly taking stock of the two other guys. “You sold my mate Josh some weed.”
“Yeah yeah, got ‘im sorted mate. Why, yer’ want some?”
“No.” He said, bluntly. “You sell him a gram for thirty?”
The other two lads sat up a little. Ralph wasn’t as defensive; instead, he looked like he was obviously trying to avoid being caught. “Wha? Nah, nah mate, dinnae rip ‘im off or ‘owt, it was all propa, innit?”
Shaun let out a small breath, taking his hands out of his jacket. His voice was more serious. “C’mon, man. Bullshit.” The other white lad took a stand next to Ralph. The Indian soon followed, as if backing him up. Shaun didn’t seem to mind. “I know you sold him a gram for thirty, so don’t give me that shit, man. I just want the twenty you ripped off from him. Keep the ten, we have no trouble, alright?” He looked to all three of them in turn. “It’s the right thing to do.”
“’the fuck is this guy?” Barked the Indian lad, who had started to look more aggressive now. He slapped Ralph’s shoulder. “The fuck you playin’ at?” Ralph shot him a glance. Before he could interject, Shaun pointed at him.
“Hey, look, this isn’t your business, okay? Me and Ralph are just sorting something out.”
This didn’t have the intended effect. “What’chu just say to me-” He began, only to be cut off by Ralph grabbing him by the shoulder and yanking back forcibly. Everyone but Ralph and Shaun were bewildered as Ralph instantly went into damage control.
“Woah woah woah, lad, a’ight, I’ve got this, chill the fuck ‘owt. Chill out, go sit down bruv.”
He looked incredulous. Fury and confusion didn’t begin to describe him. “’the fuck?!”
Ralph raised his voice, barking straight back. “Go and sit the fuck down, bruv. I’ve got this.”
They locked a stare for second, battling wills for what felt like minutes, before the Indian lad raised his hands in defeat and sat down. Shaun had been watching the entire time; unmoving, simply waiting for it to all boil over. The other lad didn’t even say a word, acting like a bodyguard to make Ralph seem bigger, and backing him up. When it wasn’t needed, he receeded.
Ralph sighed. Relief, mostly. The same sigh one gives after escaping a rabid animal. He dug into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled ball of notes and delicately plucked a pair of tens, folding them in his hand and holding them out for Shaun. He took them and put them in his pocket, not revelling in what just happened, acting professional. He nodded and smiled.
“Thanks, Ralph. You’re a top man. See you later.” He turned to go. Ralph almost managed to turn away to explain but Shaun turned around again and caught him with a “Oh.”, which made him turn to hear it.
“Don’t let this get back to Josh, alright? I can’t stop him smoking weed if he starts, just don’t rip people off man, alright?”
He nodded. That’s all he could do, whilst his pair of mates looked like dogs held back on the leash. When Shaun walked away, all he could hear was them demanding him to explain what just happened. He didn’t hear much from that, not so much as turning around to acknowledge them. He got what he needed and carried back on to make his delivery.
It was more difficult to give Josh the money and tell him nothing was going to happen to him because of it. After reassuring him and almost thrusting the money into his hand. He was relieved to get it back and offered a thanks. Shaun even noticed that he was getting told to fuck off a lot more in Call of Duty, though Shaun had no justification for ‘that noob tube piece of shit, use a real weapon you dickhead’.
Josh would have to live with being blown up a few more times before he sniped him and put an end to it.
Shaun got home around half 6, just missing his tea. His mum scolded him for it but Button was more than happy to stride up and start to ravage his face with licks. Shaun’s dad thanked him for staying up to get the part, though Shaun admitted to him that he had to go to the post office. It didn’t seem to bother him. He got a new wing mirror for the car and that’s all he needed. The rest of the evening went a little slower than he expected, though he felt like an early night would do him some good.
He woke up much earlier than yesterday, a healthy 9:54 on sunday. He was woken up to the call of his dad echoing through the house. “Mum’s looking after nana today, just gonna go fetch the paper. I’m locking the door.” Shaun responded with a grunt as he rolled out of bed, and went to get a shower.
After his shower he dried up and put some clothes on, grabbing his freshly charged toothbrush once he was back in the bathroom and shoved a dollop of toothpaste on it. He stood infront of the mirror on the bathroom cabinet. His eyes were still half open and not even awake, possibly because of the 6 hours of sleep he’d inflicted on himself. He only had a second to realise there was a large bang of an impact to the bathroom window. When he turned to see what was going on, he didn’t get time to process it. The entire wall of his bathroom exploded, the noise similar to a wrecking ball slamming straight into it. Masonry and drywall all exploded inwards and pounded him and the rest of the room from the sheer force of impact. The creature that caused it, the mass of tentacles that took the form of an eldritch beast, careened into him and swept him clean off his feet, as concrete and dust began to rain in and settle in the aftermath.