Tick Tock (Storage Ghosts)

Storage Ghosts

 

Tick Tock

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Grace
closed the cash register drawer and said, “I can’t believe how much money we’ve
made, it’s incredible.”

Her
brother, Frankie, looked over at her from the front door of the shop. “Are you
pleased?”

“Of
course,” Grace replied.

“Well,
you might want to tell your face that, you look as miserable as an empty pint
glass.” Frankie turned the ‘Open’ sign to ‘Closed’.

Grace
folded her arms and studied him. He whistled as he locked the door. He really
was in denial, putting on a cheery show as if nothing was wrong.

He
gave a startled look when he saw how she was examining him. “What?”

“You
know what! Of course I’m pleased that we’ve sold lots of stock today, but you
know why I’m not smiling. It’s not really our money is it? I don’t know why you
insisted on us opening the shop anyway.”

Frankie
gave a nonchalant shrug. “Why shouldn’t we open? It’s our shop, left to us by
our parents, free to do with as we please.”

Grace
threw her arms up. “Why are you ignoring the obvious? You know Eddie Tominski
is going to appear at any moment and take our shop away, and any profits that
we make. I feel like we’re working for him. How can you be so calm?”

Frankie
came round to Grace. “I haven’t forgotten about him. How could I? I’ve still
got the bruises from when his cronies beat me up earlier this week. I’m sure
Eddie will be round to collect on his debt, but until he does, it’s business as
normal.”

“I
don’t like it,” Grace said. “He said he’d be round on Friday to take the shop.
That was yesterday and we haven’t heard a word from him. Do you remember that
cat we had when we were little? That nasty one? It used to catch mice and play
with them for hours until it finally killed them. I feel like one of those
mice. Are you sure he hasn’t been in touch? Don’t lie to me again.”

Grace
stared intently at Frankie to see if he was lying. He held her gaze for a
moment and then looked away. He said, “Fancy a cuppa?”

Grace
prodded him. “I knew it! You are lying. Eddie has been in touch. When, and what
did he say?”

Frankie
sighed and took out his phone. He held it closer to Grace and showed her the
texts that Eddie Tominski had sent him.

“‘Tick
tock’. Is that it?” Grace asked.

“Yep,
he sends them every hour, on the hour. I think it’s supposed to scare me, make
me a nervous wreck or something.”

“Doesn’t
it? It’d scare me, thinking he was getting closer,” Grace admitted.

Frankie
grinned. “I use it like an alarm, to time my day. That’s why I’ve just closed
up, I heard his text coming through and knew it was 1 o’clock. I almost feel
like sending him a text back saying thank you.”

“Don’t
do that! You’ll antagonise him,” Grace said.

Frankie’s
grin grew. “I think you did that when you tried to kill his cronies.”

Grace
looked at the floor. She mumbled, “I wasn’t trying to kill them.”

“Whacking
them with a great big tea pot wasn’t exactly giving them a massage, was it?”

Grace
shrugged and looked back up. “I don’t know what came over me. I couldn’t bear
to see them hurting you like that. I was angry.”

“I’ve
seen you angry before, and that was more than angry! I’m not complaining, you
probably saved my life,” Frankie said.

Grace
gave a weak smile. She had tried not to think of the day that she’d found those
horrible men attacking Frankie. A feeling of immense hatred and power took over
her and she used an old tea pot to hit both men. She winced as she remembered
the cracking sound that had shot out when the tea pot connected with the bigger
man’s cheek.

It
had almost felt like someone had possessed her. She looked up at the shelf
where the tea pot had been standing.

Frankie
followed her look. “I’ve hidden it away. I don’t want any weapons getting into
your hands again.”

He
laughed and Grace tried to laugh too. She’d had an uneasy feeling for days. It
was partly due to waiting for the evil loan shark, Eddie to turn up and take
their shop, but there was something else. It was like expecting bad news. She
knew it was going to be bad news but she didn’t know how bad it was going to
be.

“Crikey,
Grace, you’ve got a look that would turn milk into cheese. Why do you have to
be so miserable?”

“Why
do you have to be so cheerful? There’s nothing to be cheerful about! We’re
going to lose our lovely shop, the only thing that we have left from Mum and Dad.”
Grace’s eyes prickled as fresh tears appeared. When would she ever stop crying?
Surely she’d run out of tears at some point.

Frankie
moved a bit closer. He softly said, “You’re wrong. We’ll always have our
memories of Mum and Dad and, until we lose our minds, we can always think about
them. I’m gutted about losing the shop too but what would happen if we did? Do
you think we’d be out on the streets?”

“No,”
Grace sniffed.

“Do
you think we’d have to resort to eating baked beans every day? You know what
happens to you when you eat too many beans. Pooh!”

Frankie
made a wafting motion with his hand. Grace’s mouth lifted slightly.

Frankie
continued. “We still have money from our storage sales, and if we didn’t, one
of us could become an escort. I’ve heard there’s good money in that. It would have
to be me, of course, I’ve seen how some of our female customers eye me up and
down when I bend over.”

Grace
laughed. “You are such an idiot! As if anyone would pay you to be their escort.
They’d demand a refund within ten minutes.”

Frankie
puffed his chest out and said, “I highly doubt that, young lady.”

Grace
gave him an affectionate push. “You twit.”

There
was a sudden bang on the door that made them both jump.

Grace’s
heart began to speed up, terror flooded her body. “It’s Eddie.”

 

Chapter 2

 

It
wasn’t Eddie. Frankie opened the door to reveal the smiling face of Big Bob.

He
stooped a little as he entered the shop. “Ready to hit the auction?” he asked.

“Certainly
am,” Frankie replied. He tapped his top pocket. “Got all my money here.”

“Just
a moment!” Grace interrupted the cheery banter. “What auction and, what money,
Frankie?”

“The
money that we’ve put aside for our investment,” Frankie gave her a look and
then made a slight indication towards Big Bob as if to say, ‘Don’t embarrass me
in front of him’.

“What
auction?” Grace persisted. “You’ve been to two in the last few weeks, isn’t
that enough?”

“This
one’s a hundred miles away, it’s supposed to be a good one,” Big Bob said. “Do
you want to come with us, Grace? You’re more than welcome.”

Grace
was torn, she didn’t want to see Frankie wasting their precious money, they’d
need every penny of it when they lost the shop. But she didn’t want to be left
here alone in case Eddie turned up. She grabbed her handbag and coat and said,
“I’ll come with you. Are we taking the van?”

She
stepped out of the shop and stopped in her tracks. “What is that?”

Big
Bob stood next to her and proudly said, “My removal truck. She’s a beauty,
isn’t she?”

“How
many storage units are you planning on buying today?” Grace asked.

“A
few, there’s enough room for you and Frankie to put your things in too.” Big
Bob moved towards the driver’s door.

Frankie
grinned at Grace. “Aren’t you going to ask me how many storage units I’m going
to buy?”

Grace
slowly shook her head. “I don’t want to know. How can you think about buying
more stock? Where are we going to put things when Eddie takes the shop?”

Frankie
tapped the side of his nose and said, “I have a plan. You can sit next to Big
Bob, I know you like him.”

Frankie
pulled open the door to the passenger side. Grace hissed at him, “I don’t like
Big Bob in that way! I wish you’d stop saying things like that, he’ll hear
you.”

“You
could do much worse. In fact, you have! Can you manage those steps or shall I
give you a push?”

Grace
glared at him. “Lay one finger on my behind and I’ll wallop you. I can manage.”

She
clambered into the huge cab of the truck and shuffled along the seat. She
looked through the window. “Blimey, I feel like I’m sitting on top of a bus.”
She had a quick look up and down the street. She’d had a feeling recently that
someone was following her.

Big
Bob said, “Are we ready?”

Frankie
climbed in and slammed the door. “Ready.”

Grace
shot a glance at the shop. She should really have nipped to the toilet before
they set off. Never mind, she could wait.

With
a roar like thunder the enormous truck was powered up. They pulled slowly into
the traffic.

“How
long will it take us to get there?” Grace asked.

“Maybe
a couple of hours,” Frankie said. He gave her a secret wink and added, “You can
tell Big Bob all about your latest find. I think I’ll have a nap.” He gave an
exaggerated yawn and closed his eyes.

Grace’s
eyes shot heavenwards as they often did when Frankie was around.

Big
Bob appeared not to have noticed anything, he was concentrating on the road
ahead. Grace swiftly studied his profile. He was a handsome man, if you liked
men that looked like grizzly bears. He was much older than her and she had no
feelings, other than friendship, for him. The fact that he knew her dad when he
was alive made him even more of a friend. Perhaps she could get him to talk
about her dad on this journey?

That
would be lovely but would she be able to listen without crying?

Big
Bob interrupted her thoughts. “So, tell me all about these photos that you found.
Frankie said they belonged to some famous photographer, is that true?”

“It
is.” Grace told him about discovering an undeveloped film in a camera bag that
they’d found in a storage locker. She had them developed and found out that
they belonged to the famous Clive T Arthur. She’d sold the photographs to a
gallery for £10,000. The money was safely in her bank. She quickly looked at
Frankie’s bulging top pocket. She hoped the money was still in her bank.

Big
Bob nodded as he listened to the story. “You’ve got a real knack for finding
the best lockers. I still can’t get over the gold coins that you found in your
first locker.”

“I
must be lucky,” Grace said with a small shrug.

It
wasn’t luck at all, she’d had help from ghosts. The ghosts that were attached
to the items that were in the storage lockers. Grace had helped the ghosts, and
they had ended up helping her. There was no way she was going to tell anyone
that she could see ghosts.

“Tell
me about my dad, please,” Grace asked, hoping to change the subject.

Big
Bob gave a deep laugh. “Oh! The fun we had together when we toured the antique
fairs.”

The
rest of the journey flew by as Big Bob spoke about her father. Frankie’s
pretend snores turned into real ones.

Grace
didn’t cry as she listened, her heart seemed to glow as Big Bob spoke about her
dad. It was obvious that he thought highly of him.

The
truck slowed down. Grace looked up and was surprised to find themselves pulling
into a storage facility area.

She
gave Frankie a satisfying shove to wake him up.

As
soon as Grace jumped down from the cabin she realised she had an urgent
problem.

“I
need the toilet!” she whispered to Frankie.

There
was a look of delight on his face as he repeated one of their mother’s
favourite sayings, “You should have gone before we set off.”

“You
didn’t give me time! Frankie, please! I’m going to burst if I don’t go soon!”

Grace
started to hop from foot to foot. Frankie looked around the area, he pointed
and said, “There’s one over there. Looks like a unisex one though.”

“I
don’t care!” Grace squeaked. She did a peculiar run/walk towards the toilet
block.

A
few minutes later she washed her hands, a smile of relief still on her face.
The entrance door opened. She looked up, still smiling.

Her
smile froze.

 

Chapter 3

 

Eddie
Tominski smiled at her, a slow shark like smile.

Two
men stood slightly behind him. Grace recognised them immediately, they were the
thugs who had beaten Frankie up, the thugs that she had attacked with a tea
pot. One of them was sporting a large bandage on his cheek.

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