Every October we focus on literary fiction that is dark, scary, and a little bit disturbing, and we couldn’t be more pleased (and a little creeped out) to present “Hunt and Catch” by Jac Jemc, an unnerving cat and mouse story about a young woman named Emily who leaves her office to find the world slightly off kilter. It begins with the man in the garbage truck… following her. She’s sure of it.
Enjoy this dark and disturbing tale from one of fiction’s best literary horror writers. And don’t forget to read Jac Jemc’s most recent literary horror novel, The Grip of It, out this year from FSG. Happy Friday the 13th.
Emily pushed the keys at a steady rhythm. Having finished her work for the day, she spent her final three minutes typing a string of meaningless letters and numbers. She shut down her computer at exactly 5pm. She gathered her half-eaten salad from the fridge and tried not to make eye contact on her way out the door, avoiding the inevitable invitation to happy hour.
The backdoor of the office delivered her into the alley, a half-block closer to her bus stop. When she glanced in the opposite direction, she spotted a dump truck. The man at the back of the truck pressed the lever to lower the lift and the dumpster landed with a clatter. He spotted her, smiled and waved, like he’d been expecting to see her, like they knew each other, like the moment he’d been waiting for had finally arrived.
Emily felt fear prick her skin, and she took off, walking swiftly in the opposite direction, afraid to look behind her. At the sidewalk, she took a right and wished hard that someone would join her at the stop, but the bus showed up quickly and she boarded, fumbling for her pass.
She spared herself the hassle of politely looking to the back of the bus for another open seat and allowed herself one of the handicapped spots in the front.
A woman looked up and startled at the sight of her. “Aren’t you supposed to be in jail?”
Emily furrowed her brow and shook her head.
The woman, still frowning, said, “Oh, OK. My bad.”
An elderly couple beside her spoke quietly until the old man said loudly, “Even blood has two colors,” and the old woman agreed.
Emily lifted herself from her seat and moved backward as the bus skipped forward. She felt rubber drunk, boneless, moveable.