The Bloody Hand
Part I of III
Story by Kate Kreke
– Kate is from Chicago and moved to England to get her Masters in Creative Writing from UEA where she fell in love, procreated, and now lives in rural Devon spending her time trying to convince a four year old that she can’t have naps anymore and has to go to school now.
It was a bright and sunny day. Juan slid the back of the delivery truck shut, making
one of the housepainters jump.
“Sorry man.” Juan waved to the painter up on the scaffolding.
“It’s ok. I’m just jumpy,” he called back.
Juan rang the bell and entered the house details into his hand-held scanner. The machine
informed him he actually had two packages to deliver to this address and he was about to
head back to the truck when the door opened.
“Mr… Death?” Juan slowly raised his head.
The open door gushed cold air and there stood a seven foot tall skeleton in great black
billowing robes with a saggy basset hound at his feet.
“It’s pronounced De’ath.”
Juan involuntarily gulped. “Sorry sir. I know how annoying that is.” Juan tapped his name tag
‘Juan Jiménez’. “I get it all the time.” He picked the box back up.
“Ohhh, is this my new Roomba!? Excellent. The dog has been shedding everywhere.” The
ghostly creature put down his Garfield coffee mug and took the package from Juan. “My
brother-in- law swears by his. Have you seen these? It’s like a robot vacuum. I hate
“Yeah, I got one for my Mom last Mother’s day. She loves it. Now she vacuums every-other-
day instead of every day. Doesn’t trust technology. I try to tell her, ‘Ma rest, let us take care
of you,’ but you know mothers?” Juan felt stupid as he had no idea if Death did know
mothers. He had no idea how Death existed. “I like the paint job.” Juan pointed to the
“Cheers. You know I was worried it’d be too bright a yellow. I mean I know houses down
here are brightly coloured and everything but I was still a bit worried. Still, none of the
neighbours have complained yet.”
Juan couldn’t imagine any neighbours coming over voluntarily.
“My job is just so grim. Ha! – no pun intended. I just want to come home to something nice
“I hear you man.” Juan was about to hand the scanner over to Mr. De’ath to sign. “I’ve got
another package for you, one second.” Juan ran back to the truck and grabbed a very long
and heavy object from the back.
“Oh thank goodness. I’ve been so busy the old one is nearly broken. It’s that little handle
that sticks out on the side. They break off so easily if you’re not careful. It can be really
embarrassing. I almost forgot I ordered that.”
“I tried to drop it off yesterday, but you weren’t in.”
Illustration by Lauren Rothery
Find Lauren on Instagram here.
“Sorry about that. I got all my scheduling mixed up yesterday. I was at the market, day-
before-last, buying some dog treats, and it totally threw me off because I saw this guy who I
knew I had an appointment with but I thought I had messed up the time and place. Turns
out I was right, I caught up with him in Samarra, but it means I stupidly scheduled delivery
while I was out.”
“No problem man. Can I just get your signature on this please?” Juan started to hand over
the machine. “Just put your hand on the screen to sign.” Juan felt stupid again as he said it
and saw Mr. De’ath’s skeletal hands.
“Aw, these bloody hands! So annoying as everything goes to thumbprint recognition or eye
scans.” De’ath pointed to his hallow cavities for eyes.
“I hear you man. My cousin Jim has the same problem. Lost both his hands at work.
Industrial accident making like wooden furniture and stuff. Drives him crazy.”
“Wait, is your cousin Jim Jiménez? Lost his hands, what like, seven years ago?”
“Yeah. That’s him.”
“I know him. Met him through work. He’s lovely. Is he alright after all that? I mean it was a
bit close there.”
“He’s real good thanks. Couldn’t go back to furniture making right away. But he met an
amazing girl – his nurse actually. They’ve got two sweet little girls. “
“He’s a stay-at- home-dad now.”
“Actually starting a little side business at home making furniture now.”
“Aw, that’s lovely. He was so nice. You know it is just so nice to hear. I never get to hear the
good stuff; that’s lovely. Here let me get you my driver’s license, I’ve been holding you up
From his swirling robes De’ath pulled out a wallet and produced an in-date Florida license.
“Perfect, thanks.” Juan punched the relevant buttons and returned the card.
“That’s great. Cheers mate. See you tomorrow.”
“Oh, no! Not that. No. Ha. I, ah just ordered orthopaedic insoles. Next day delivery. These
sandals have no arch support; I mean I don’t have any arches. Sorry, no. Have a good day!”
De’ath waved and shut the door on Juan. He turned to the dog. “I’m such a muppet
sometimes Bertie. Come on – let’s go try this sucker out!” He tapped the box and headed
toward his sun lounge.
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