The shovel | By: William Chambers | | Category: Short Story - Horror Bookmark and Share

The shovel


Chapter 1
Memories of the digger

The stranded motorist’s hands should have been freezing. He had been shoveling snow
for thirty minutes in below zero weather. His bare hands worked a sturdy scoop shovel. No
plastic snow shovel for this man. This sturdy shovel with a wood handle and metal scoop would
be used for more than snow. This was not his body. These were not his hands. The last time he
had seen his hands they were old with brown spots, blue veins, big knuckles, and pudgy fingers.
These hands before him were young. These hands had smooth skin covering thin, almost bony

The shoveler’s mind was wondering to help pass the time. Thoughts flowed as snow
flew. He often wondered why he was always sent down in a man’s body. He was curious to see
what a woman’s body felt like. Maybe one day he could. He supposed it didn’t matter anyway.
This wasn’t real. Even though the scenario was quite real. His car was stranded in a wooded area
a few miles from town. The snow he was scooping was real. Although he had no real hope of
freeing the car. The person is coming. The person who’s path will be blocked by this car. He was
not real though. The snow and wind did not affect his bare hands. The conditions did not bother
his bare face. This was only a shell he was in. A vehicle. The shell helped get the car stuck,
which he honestly doesn’t remember. The shell helped make this decoy. He commands the shell
just as his hands commands the shovel. A tool. The shell isn’t some poor sap who’s been taken
over by someone from a different place. The shell is just... a shell. It’s a body... energy... a body
in motion that’s used for a time and recycled.

The man couldn’t remember anything. He tried but when the inner eye looked into his
mind it was as snowy as the county road the man was stranded on. The memories he could see
were foreign... like in a different language. The memories didn’t make sense because he spent
his life in America. He was sure of that. This was an American car he was shoveling out. When
he spoke aloud he spoke English. So why do his memories look like symbols he can’t
understand? He supposes time will heal all.

The man didn’t realize it but as he scooped, as he thought of the past, his mind was
discovering more. Soon a steady stream of memories came to him.

What he knew of his past he felt. He was following orders right now. He had his
higher-ups here just as he did when he was alive. He had a job to do. He was an assassin before
and he’s an assassin again. He’s trying to redeem himself. When he was a young man... a boy
really, he joined the military. They took an angry kid and turned him into an instrument of
destruction. They damned him in the process. They damned him to hell. He followed orders all
his life. At first for pride then for profit. Unfortunately while making a profit he was also ringing
up debts. Debts that he could not pay until after death. Purgatory collected.


He came from a place. A nice place. A safe place. This place had many others like him.
People were there who owed a great debt. They had to work it off no matter how long it took. He
wasn’t sure how many times he had been back and he doubted this would be the last time. They
would send you back after your mission and you could sit with your friends in the safe place. All
your memories would return. When you were slated to be sent back down they would wipe the
slate of your mind clean and leave you with just enough to function, dropping you clues along
the way.

The word “sniper” came to him as he scooped. He was one of them. Men with... reach?
Far sight? A sort of a god. He struck down people from great distance. It was a cowards way. He
felt that even back then. He no longer had the convenience of a long range rifle now. His kills
were made with his bare hands. Bare hands an blunt objects.

Fuzzy memories came back of a few jobs he had done. He remembered sitting in a empty
apartment. Things had been arranged by powerful people. This apartment was on the upper level
of a... high building. He sat in his metal folding chair listening to the radio and watching with his
binoculars. He was mostly hidden by a... a... all this detail was too much for him. The basics are
always the same. Hidden, he watched the man on the ledge... porch... patio... something. He was
on his patio which was on the building across the street. He was eating breakfast and enjoying
the great view from such a high place. The wind that sometimes threatened to bull him over
didn’t even bother him. He was a fat man with balding white hair. The man was wearing his...
sleeping clothing and munching away at his scrambled eggs. “Tom... that was my name” he
thought. Tom remembered people nick named the man “Boss Hogg”. He couldn’t remember
why. He was a judge, the Boss. They told him Boss was crooked. Honestly it didn’t bother Tom
either way... he was promised a large some of money and he was going to get it. Tom put the
binoculars down and took a large rifle out of a case. The cross hairs settled directly over boss
Hoggs left ear. There was an explosion when he pull the trigger.

The bad guy.

Things were going well for Clyde. They hadn’t been much trouble. The boy had put up
more of a fight than anticipated. Clyde had to deal with that. The plot was definitely thickening.
This was going to be a very interesting movie. He was the bad guy. He knew it. He felt it. He
loved his part. He was going to be the best bad guy he had ever seen.

Clyde carefully guided his truck though the snow. The road had drifted to about a foot.
The big red chevy rumbled though the snow like a shiny grizzly bear. Sometimes when the snow
bogged the truck down Clyde would feather the gas and the truck would roar forward like an
angry animal. He hadn’t seen a blizzard like this in quite some time.


Since childhood Clyde loved to watch movies. At some point, a time he can’t remember,
he forgot if he was watching movies or actually in one. At first these ideas scared him. When he
was a young boy Clyde was in the grocery store with his mother. She was trying to decide wether
to get the name brand taco seasoning or the seasoning for fifty cents less. His mother never could
make up her mind, even though that bothered him and sometimes embarrassed him he found
later in his life he was troubled by the same affliction. He soon grew bored and began to watch
the people around him. He noticed an older lady walking with her little girl at her side. He
though to himself, “what a good choice of casting... that looks just like her daughter”. Realizing
what just went through his scared him. He jumped as if he’d been slapped. He jerked enough to
take his mother’s attention away from her Taco seasoning. She asked “are you all right?” He
nodded yes while a voice whispered in the back of his head “she’s not a very believable mother,
is she? She’s not a very good actor”. Within years the voice become common occurrence. He
was in a movie. He was sure of it. Clyde wanted to be like his favorite movie actor. The person
no one expects. The person that functions normally in everyday society. The person who is a
genius and always baffles the authorities. He was the serial killer, the arch villain, the bad guy.

He came across the couple a few miles back. The boy had an old oldsmobile. It probably
got stuck as soon as it began to bottom out on the snow. Being a good citizen Clyde pulled over
when the boy flagged him down. The boy was startled at first. Clyde was a big man, 6’-6”, 300
hundred pounds. A giant compared to the boy but when Clyde offered him his “I’m your best
friend smile” and his “perfect” polite English that had fooled so many people before the boy let
his guard down. The boy asked if he Clyde could pull them out. Clyde said he could but the car
would just get stuck again. He offered to take them into town where they could find someplace
warm to stay. “I have no doubt the diner will be open” he offered. The boy shrugged his
shoulders and explained that he wasn’t from around here. He said “my girlfriends dad found out
that his daughter might get snowed in with me and about shit. He must have thought it would be
safer on these roads than with a teenage boy.” Clyde laughed.

He couldn’t believe how well this was going. Clyde could picture the people at home
sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to see when he, the psycho, would strike. Sadly the time
to strike came sooner than expected. He patted the boy on the shoulder. When Clyde did that a
large gust of wind blew his flannel open. The boy seen Clyde’s knife and his hand cuffs stuffed
into a special made belt he sometimes wore when he was trying to make “an interesting show”.

The boy was fast. One second they were standing eye to eye. A stinging cold gust of wind
come up and forced Clyde to blink. When he opened his eyes back up the boy was almost to his
car. Clyde could stride through the snow much fasted than the short legged boy. He grabbed the
boys shirt. The boy spun around with a gun in his hand. Clyde simply batted the revolver out of
the kids hand. Clyde couldn’t help but to laugh as he strangled the kid with his huge right hand.
The boy was running from a man with a knife when he had a thirty-eight. This was a comedy. He
was about to let the boy go when he realized the role change that had just occurred. No longer
was Clyde the bad guy killing some poor kid... now he was... a vigilante. He hated vigilantes,

their roles sucked and they were never taken seriously. This boy had just clusterfucked up his
whole persona. For that Clyde kept choking the boy with his big claw of a hand.

Now for the girl. She hadn’t seen what just happened because the windows of their car
were all fogged up. Even if she could see he doubted she could see too far because of the
blizzard. He dragged the boy over by his rumbling truck and threw him down. He wanted to look
for the gun but didn’t have time. In the process of making a good story-line he almost froze
himself to death. He was shivering terribly as he walked over the passenger side of the idling car
and tapped on the window. The window came down unevenly with the jerks of being rolled
manually. Clyde knelt down to window level and put on his $100 dollar smile which was now on
a numb face. The girl brought his hopes down. She looked like a whore. Straight blond hair,
worn out looking young face, tight sweater, short skirt, face twitching slightly probably from
coke. She sensed something was up. She just knew and he almost got a razor slash to the face
because of it. Instead he ducked out of the way, grabbed her arm and squeezed it until she
dropped to razor to the snow. She was screaming in pain and he though about just crunching her
little whore arm in his hand. But he thought better. Maybe he could still be the villain. Jack the
ripper cut up prostitutes, didn’t he? He could still be a scourge. He yanked her out through the
window and threw her to the snow gasping. He kicked her upside the head. She tried to crawl
away and he booted her again. The third time was finally nap time. Clyde stuffed his new friends
into the back of him truck and closed the tailgate. The bed cover would conceal them until he
got to his cabin. He had plans for the girl. He got into the truck and turned the heater fan to full
blast hoping to get feeling back in his fingers. Yes, tomorrow he was going to be a big man with
a bad cold.

The target
The target was coming. Tom could feel it even before he heard the truck. Almost ten
minutes later he saw a ray of light bouncing toward him. It looked... mystic. What Tom was in
awe over were really the lamps on the role bares. He kept shoveling. “Never brake your cover” a
long dead voice mumbled in his head. Tom felt a smile creep up on his face. The man will never
know what hit him.

Clyde couldn’t believe it. Another dumb fucker trying to drive and old rear wheel drive
sedan through a blizzard. Clyde had mixed emotions. He wanted to pass the man up because he
feared pneumonia from the conditions. Clyde knew he couldn’t be placed at this scene, it would
be too risky. He also wanted to stop, walk up to the man, and stab him. That would make him the
bad guy. That would make him the psycho killer. It was the only option he really had anyway. He
parked the truck about twenty feet from the man. He wanted the stranger blinded so this
wouldn’t be a very hard kill.


Clyde immediately felt there was something wrong with this man. He was a tall thin
figure in nothing but a hooded sweater and blue jeans. Panic came to Clyde. Something told him
to leave. Just floor the truck and leave. Reason, however, prevailed. He was the bad guy. He
couldn’t be killed. He could be hurt but not killed, not ever. He had his knife ready as he was
getting out into the cold. The man with the shovel was lurching toward him with the shovel
dragging behind. Clyde put on his smile and Said “can I help ya...

Tom could feel the man was insane as soon as he came close. He wasn’t sure what
happened to insane people. He knew what had happened to him after he died. It was more clear
now. He felt like a blind man slowly getting his sight back. His life was much less blurry. This
insane man could be turned around when he seen the errors of his ways. Tom was a much
different case. He knew exactly what he was doing as he plugged person after person for large
sums of money. He paid the price. He went to hell.

Hell is a place he simply woke up in. One moment he was a wealthy old man with
beautiful children and grandchildren. The next he was balled up in the corner of an underground
maze, shivering. The place was dark. The place was cold. He was in some sort of tunnel. All
around him were screams. Garbled screams of people, people in pain. There were also worse
sounds, shrieks of animals. Large animals. The walls shook and earth fell from the ceilings of the
tunnels when these things would squall. He was still in his old man body but he was naked. and
from time to a beetle or something would crawl up and down his legs. The place was insane. The
place was fear. The place was hell.

Within time the things found him. They barely fit in the hole. They stank of shit and
whisper things in odd language. They looked like buffalo. Buffalo with crocodile mouths and too
many eyes. Bright red eyes that light up the tunnels as they look around. For fun they would play
with you like a cat with a mouse then they would maul you and find someone else to torment.
They would leave you in pieces with entrails hanging out until you faded out. You would wake
up back intact and this ordeal would happen again and again and again until you’re finally
forgiven by all those you have hurt, by all those you have destroyed. Some people are never
forgiven. He felt like he had been there for years but he was more than happy when they let me
go, but that wasn’t the end of it. Now he’s in sort of a work release. Tom doesn’t remember the
place he was at but it’s nice. No monsters.

The man was huge. He dwarfed Tom as he came closer. The big man smiled. The smile
lit up the man’s face. He didn’t look like a serial killer. He looked like a helpful motorist out for
a stroll. Tom knew looks were deceiving. The man began to speak and Tom brought the shovel
back over his head. An instant later the scoop smacked against the big mans face. It sounded like
hamburger being threw on a floor with the exception of the crunching sounds which were no
doubt his noes and a few teeth. The man stumble back wailing.

Tom brought the shovel down again, again, again, and again. The man was resting with his back
against the bush guard of his truck. Arms were spread on each side of him holding the guard.
With the role bar, guard lights, and head lights on it looked like some sort of crucifixion with a
light show to add some dazzle.

The big man was girgling, crying, and screaming at the same time. Tom brought the
shovel down across the big man’s face. Two things followed that surprised Tom to no end. 1st,
the shovel handle broke, 2nd, the man didn’t die. He fell to the snow screaming and holing what
was left of his face. What wasn’t hanging off looked like it was dripping off. None the less the
big man tried to hold it all together while wailing like a banshee. Tom wanted to end it. He
brought the handle up hoping to use the broken end to impale the big man. He stopped when he
remembered his orders. His orders were to beat the big man to death. Not stab him. Now he was
going to have to find a shovel... fast.

The purchase

“GET UP YOU ASSHOLE” the voice screamed in his ear. “YOU’RE RUINING
Clyde’s head even though it was coming form inside it. There were literally two faces to Clyde.
One, the large gentle man who made “Amish” cabinets out of his shop. The second was the
Clyde who believed he was an actor... the bad guy. The bad Clyde who would take over and go
on road trips and kill. If questioned there would be no question that good Clyde was innocent.
He really was. Never before had they spoke directly to each other but Bad Clyde realized these
were critical times.

Clyde was in bad shape. His face was a mask of pain. He couldn’t move his jaw. It had
shifted about 2” to the left and pain surged though his jaw when he tried. His noes was mushy
and he felt like he was about to throw up. He didn’t know where he was but it was cold and
shaky. Every bump sent a jolt of pain through his head. He began to get dizzy. While the screams
started again he blacked out.

Tom was heading down the snowy road in the big truck. This road led to a town. He
needed a shovel. He couldn’t fuck this up, no way. For a few minutes he couldn’t remember how
to drive. The memories slowly came back and he dropped the lever into D so he could go

When he cleaned out the truck he found something that did not surprise him. A dead boy.
He yanked the boy out by his ankle and dropped him on the road side like a piece of garbage.
What he found next actually did surprise him, shocked him was more like it. The ankle he
grabbed next flinched. He pulled out a young girl. She looked like a tramp. She was handcuffed,

knocked out, and almost froze to death. Tom slung her over his shoulder and placed her in the
warm cad of the truck. He then picked up the weezing Clyde with one arm and stuffed him in the
bed of his truck. Edward hoped the be cover would keep this man out of trouble while he found a

Edward couldn’t believe this shit. He often joked as a teenager he wouldn’t make it past
the age of forty. At the ripe age of 41 he wished he would had kept his stupid fucking mouth
shut. The man with the sawed off shot gun wasn’t in the best of shape either. He looked like he
was almost froze to death. While trying his demands he would stutter helplessly. “M M M M M
M M Money, gi gi gi give me your m m m money.”

Edward had often sang the praises of having your apartment directly over your shop.
Owning a hardware store wasn’t a high demand business so you could creep up the stairs and
have a beer or two while you wife was out. One day he sat upstairs almost all day drinking. He
heard the bell ring and hurried (stumbled) down the stairs fearing it was his wife. Turns out it
was a normal customer. He about broke his neck to put thirty eight cents in his cash register after
selling some bolts. The bad thing, he was finding out, is that you were your own security guard.
Edward just discovered he wasn’t Clint East wood. Especially when he was armed with a bat
instead of a big gun.

He was praying that his wife wouldn’t wake up. She had fallen asleep while watching her
favorite show “silk stalkings”. If she came down here and began to scream her head off it would
get them both blasted. He had been guzzling the rest of a beer down while on the way to the
fridge to get another beer when he heard some glass breaking downstairs. He was enjoying a
buzz before this shit happened. He grabbed a bat and hurried down the stairs with all the
gracefulness of a... retarded duck. When he flipped the light switch he met a dirty snow covered
little man with long hair, a shot gun and a smile that produced rotten teeth that were deader than
Abraham Lincoln.

That’s when bell jingled. The little man turned to the person walking in the hardware
store entrance. He pulled both triggers and about fell over backwards as a sharp explosion
echoed in the store. This would have been the perfect time for Edward to use his bat and be a
hero. Instead, he dropped to his hands and knees and tried to scurry away from the danger. From
panic he lost all of his bearings and ran head first into the wall and knocked himself out.

Tom couldn’t believe his luck. When he arrived in town everything was closed except for
the one place he wanted to be open. A hardware store had it’s lights on... the one place he knew
for sure he could get a shovel. He never ever questioned why a hardware store would be open at
10:30 at night, in the middle of a blizzard. Walking up to the door he realized he was

going to have to take a shovel. He had no money and he didn’t have time to get the large man’s
wallet. When he arrived at the door he noticed something strange. The glass was broken. He
opened the door and that’s when the explosion came.

A defining boom. Slugs passed through him like he was smoke. His chest swirled a little
and them closed. The next thing he knew he was in the armed man’s face. He was an ugly little
thing with bad breath. Tom grabbed his throat and lifted him over his head. He waited for
guidance. It came when his hand squeezed on the man’s neck until he felt a pop. Tom
remembered doing something similar to this to a mouse that had ran up his pant leg as a child.
He them dropped the man who made a thump like a sack of rocks had just been tossed.

The man hiding behind the counter stood up. He was a average height man with bright
red hair and a beard to match. Tom had seen this man before, when he was a boy.

A fuzzy memory came back to Tom . An old sedan pulled up into the driveway of a well
kept little white house in the suburbs in... well it’s not important. Once again Tom was watching
the house and car form a good distance away. A house almost two blocks down that had
conveniently came up for sale. He grabbed his rifle and watched the rest of this scene from his
scope. A woman got out. She was the target, no doubt about it. She was wearing a god awful
70’s style outfit which had colors that shouldn’t even dared to be put together. He put the cross
hairs on the side of her head as she leaned down to reach in the trunk of the old car for some
groceries. One shot later she was motionless one her back in her driveway. He couldn’t figure
out why someone would pay so much money to whack a house wife. He never learned. While
Tom was checking for a witness... anyone looking in my general direction. Something bolted out
from the passenger side of the car and clinged on to the woman. He almost shot it. It was a little
boy. The little boy who’s now a man before me.

Edward thought “fuck me , this guys in worse shape than the other one.” The man was
staring at him. He had killed the guy with the shot gun and now he was just staring at Ed.
Edward was beginning to think he had a problem. The man was thin, pale, and was obviously a
skilled killer. Ed said “you can have the money”. The man shook his head. “I need a shovel” he
said with about as much compassion as a refrigerator. “Scoop shovel” the man continued on in
his robot like voice, “a sturdy one”. Edward hurried to the display window and grabbed the
sturdiest shovel he had. He then handed it to the ghost pale man keeping as much distance as he
could. “there” Edward whispered. The man began to leave and stopped not looking back.
“there’s a young girl out in the truck. Call an ambulance for here. Don’t come out. Not yet. I
have something I need to do and you won’t like it. No matter what, don’t come out.” The man
took a few more steps and paused. Edward thought maybe the man had reconsidered killing him.
“oh” the thing said as it stared out the door “I’m sorry about your mother, really”. Then he was
gone. Edward had enough. He darted up the stairs falling a few times and was on the phone.

The course of events that followed were very simple. Tom went to the rear of the truck
dragging his new shovel behind him. He opened the tail gate and reached for the treelike leg that
was hiding in the darkness. When Tom found the leg dragged the man out and sit him up on his
tailgate with his back against the bed cover to hold him up. The man was awake, weezing and
crying. He couldn’t lift his head up even though Tom noticed he was trying desperately. Tom
couldn’t see the man’s face in the dark street and was glad. His profile showed features that were
horribly misshapen. As Tom brought the shovel over his head for the final (he knew it would be
the last) hit and the man slurred something. “Shorry” the heap that used to be a crazy man said.
“As am I” Tom spoke into the howling wind of the blizzard and brought the shovel down to the
sound of a melon being broke open. The man fell off the tail gait and Tom threw the shovel
down next to him. Tom then turned around and walked down the street. He disappeared into the
blizzard leaving no tracks behind.

The End
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