Caleb’s house was ramshackle. I had no clue what the word actually meant, but it was the word that came to mind. The house itself was mouldy, lichen on the roof, streaking green stains on the rough textured cladding, grass growing out of the gutters. Car parts lined the overgrown grass near the fence, and there was a torn apart car in the driveway, on jacks, missing its tyres, and right next to a souped-up purple Mazda.
‘Alright, come in then,’ Caleb said when I knocked on the front door. He showed me inside, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror on the way, hair and T-shirt a mess, and my shorts showing off my too-hairy legs.
‘Have a seat bro,’ he said, hand running through his mullet as he sat in a black leather La-Z-boy.
I had to move his guitar off the brown sofa before I could sit down. The living room was as messy as the outside of the house, the carpet covered in brown stains and the sofa armrests frayed along the edges.
‘So, you heard about Kenny?’ Caleb asked.
I nodded. Kenny and Caleb were always joined at the hip. Partners in crime. Literally. Only, Kenny was in the hospital. Stab wound, he’d told everyone.
‘Cool, so, ‘coz of Kenny, I need a new partner, eh,’ Caleb said, rubbing his hands together.
‘I know,’ I said. ‘Isn’t that why I’m here?’
Caleb nodded, ran a hand under his nose, and sniffed loudly. He opened his mouth, but the sound of something scraping against the closed kitchen door made us both turn to look at it.
I cleared my throat. ‘What was that?’
‘Nothing. Ignore it,’ Caleb said, sitting forward onto the edge of his seat. ‘Alright, the obvious and most important question is, can you drive?’
‘Yeah, course. Only got my restricted though, if that’s a problem?’
‘Nah, nah, no problem.’
‘Does that mean I’ll be the driver then?’ I asked.
‘Maybe, maybe not. Me and Kenny, we’d flip a coin on the day to decide.’
Caleb scratched his neck and leaned forward. ‘Yeah, so, how it works is that I’ll message you the night that we—’
Something scratched at the kitchen door again, a shadow moving across the gap underneath. Both of us stared at the door in the silence that followed. Something bashed into it. It sounded like a foot, or a head. Something hard.
‘Oi! Shut the fuck up!’ Caleb shouted at the door.
When he turned back to me, I made sure my eyes were firmly fastened elsewhere. I stared at the windows. They had stickers on them. The sort made for bird lovers. Anti-collision stickers. They looked like birds in silhouette, meant to stop them smacking their brains open on the glass. One of them had a radial spiderweb-like crack centred right on top of the sticker.
‘Sorry about that,’ Caleb said.
‘So, uh, what sort of experience do you have with lifting stuff? Guessing you’ve never done a raid before?’
I hissed through my teeth, feeling slightly embarrassed. ‘Not much eh, just like, shit from dairies, or the Warehouse. Mostly food, I guess. Jacked a few bikes though, they’re worth a lot more than you’d think. Just hard to find ones with the shitty cable locks that my wire cutters can get through.’
‘Nice, nice. I mean, we all gotta start somewhere, you know?’ Caleb said and smiled. He had a habit of bobbing his head as he listened, which already stuck out in front of his shoulders as he leaned forward in his seat, making him look a bit mental. ‘You sure you’re ready for this though? ‘Cause like, it ain’t easy. The stakes are a lot higher, and you can get proper hurt doing this shit, you know? A ram raid can be pretty fuckin’ intense. Just look at Kenny.’ He shifted in his seat. Full of pent-up energy.
‘Yeah man, I’m ready, tag me in,’ I said, and then paused. ‘Wait, Kenny got hurt on a raid?’
‘Well, not exactly—’
Something collapsed and shattered in the kitchen, making both our heads swivel toward the door.
‘Fuckin’ hell,’ Caleb said, standing up. ‘Alright, you wanna do this? Well then you gotta prove you can handle it. Go open the door.’
I looked from Caleb to the door and then back again. ‘What’s—’
‘Don’t be a fuckin’ pussy. Go on. Show me you’ve got what it takes.’
I walked cautiously over to the door, putting my ear near it. I could hear something on the other side. A rustling. The light tink of shattered ceramic.
I turned the handle slowly, pulling the door open just a crack. And then it was flung open, pushed from the inside. I was knocked to the floor in surprise.
‘Oh, fuck!’ Caleb shouted and ran from the room as a shadow stepped out of the kitchen. It stood over me, panting in the silence. It was a sheep, with big alien eyes, and curly horns on its dirty-white head. One of the horns was coated dark red.Flecks of colour dotted the wool on its head. Dried blood.
‘Don’t just lie there! Grab it!’ Caleb hissed from the doorway on the other side of the room. The sound made the sheep’s head swivel, and then race forward, little hooves clopping across the carpet. Caleb only just managed to close the door before the sheep headbutted it. ‘Fuck! Grab it already, we can get eight hundred per ram!’
I ignored him, slipping into the kitchen instead and closing the door behind me, trapping the sheep in the living room. When I turned around, two more stared back at me. One of them had somehow managed to climb up onto the kitchen bench, using the drawers as stairs by the look of it. That one must have knocked the full dish rack onto the floor, shattering all the plates. The other stood in the middle of the room, legs splayed. Behind it, was a glass sliding door that led out to a decrepit looking deck.
The sheep between me and the door lowered its horned head at me.
‘Yeah, nah, fuck this,’ I said, then ran forward and jumped, leaping over the charging ram. I nearly slipped when I landed, scattering the mess of broken dishes across the floor. And then I was at the door, sliding it open, slipping through, and shoving it closed behind me.
I was going to leave. Let Caleb deal with it. I didn’t sign up to be gored by one of those fluffy bastards. But then I looked back inside, and they just looked so dejected, standing in front of the door like dogs waiting to be let out. They had torn the kitchen apart and left shit all over, a few days’ worth by the look of it. Kenny had been in hospital two days ago, so they must have been in there for at least as long.
Remaining well away from the opening, I slid the glass door open, and watched as they trotted out into the overgrown grass of Caleb’s back garden. Once they were both outside, I made my way back through to the kitchen, opened the door to the living room, and then got the fuck out of there before I got speared by a starving sheep that might have developed a newfound taste for blood.
A week later, I heard through a friend that Caleb had been arrested after crashing his car into a telephone pole. Apparently, the police had thought the driver must be dead for sure, until they got closer and realised that the body that had shot out of the windshield had a big set of horns.