The Public Menace of Blight (Episode 06)

Guest Contributor 14 January 2016 1


Continuing from episode five, this is The Public Menace of Blight by Kaaron Warren.

All the places you think are real, are real. Events and people are pure invention.

I got us another round to give him a couple of minutes privacy. When I got back, he started up again. “So I was the only one who’d go back in,” he said. “The others were freaked out by the change in temp, but I knew it had to be done. The smell was bad, but not unbreathable. I’ve smelt worse. My dad used to love cabbage soup.”

A good fart joke never hurts.

“It was coming from the bedroom. That old cupboard…the doors had swung open.

“Inside…was a man. The remains of a man. Mostly bones by now, but my first thought was that it was an old leather coat or something. But spongy. And crumbling. And just fucking awful.”

“I remember that!” I said. “That body found. Killed himself or something.”

He looked at me. “You don’t seem easily shocked. A lot of people would have run by now.”

“I want to hear the end of the story. If I can track down where the toy car came from, I might be able to tell my friend something about her son. Plus, I watch a lot of horror movies.”

“Yeah? Me too. I was thinking of a Friday the 13th marathon New Year’s Eve. Keep away from the madness. You could join me.”

That could have been the moment I decided to sleep with him. I’m not sure. “What about the fireworks?”

New Year’s Eve is about tallying up. Making good on the past by planning for the future. It’s a time for redemption. I had a feeling this was going to be a good year.

“You’d be able to see them from those millionaire apartments once they build them.”

“I’ve already put my order in for three,” I said. That was my joke for the day.

“Would you really live there? If you could afford it? Cos I reckon it’s haunted as all fuck. I don’t reckon it matters what they build. It’s going to a freak fest.”

“Some people don’t care about that stuff. They just don’t see it.”

Blind, I thought I heard. Blind and stupid.

“So you saw this poor man?”

“Yeah, and I felt pressure in my eardrums. Weird. Like someone was trying to get in, like a worm or something. And that humming, louder. I started singing some stupid song to drown it out.”

“Which one?”

“It’s really stupid…usually girls sing it. I Will Survive.”

And I laughed and we both started singing. We’d had enough beer by then.

“So that’s where I got the toy car. That and the other stuff in the crate. And other stuff I’ve already sold.”

“But how did he get a toy that belongs to a missing kid? Why did he have it?”

“I don’t know. I’ll guess you’ll have to ask them.”


He pointed, like death pointing its way to the light.

Ah. Them.

Bram Stoker, twice-World Fantasy Award Nominee and Shirley Jackson Award winner Kaaron Warren has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji. She’s sold more than 200 short stories, three novels (the multi-award-winning Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification) and six short story collections including the multi-award-winning Through Splintered Walls. Her latest short story collection is Cemetery Dance Select: Kaaron Warren. You can find her at and she Tweets @KaaronWarren

Part six of The Public Menace of Blight will be published on the site tomorrow.

The title comes from Pritchett, Wendell E. 2003. The “Public Menace” of Blight: Urban Renewal and the Private Uses of Eminent Domain. Yale Law & Policy Review 21, 1-52.

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One Response to The Public Menace of Blight (Episode 06)
miz miz 10:30 am 09 Jan 16

I have been enjoying this series. Mild critique about the line: ”That could have been the moment I decided to sleep with him. I’m not sure.’
This line spoiled the story as (in general) women do not act or think this way. It would be more convincing if that was the moment she realised she ‘liked’ the guy/ quite fancied him etc.
Most women in such a situation would continue to ‘consider their options’ right till the last possible moment, not decide well in advance! As such this line was a big distraction because it removed me from the suspended disbelief.
However I am otherwise finding the story intriguing.

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