insomnia

It was the fourth night in a row without sleep and his hands were unsteady.

He had entered the realm of insomnia unwillingly, yet knowing there was a reason for his uneasiness. The calm of night felt pressurized; as if the air was too thick and doughy to breathe.

His last cigarette had died, forgotten, on the rim of the overcrowded ashtray on his coffee table. Ash had scattered in a wide circle, surrounding it, as if it felt the need to abandon ship. He smiled, lazily, and reached for another.
Time to contribute once more to his trashy piece of art.

The TV provided necessary background noise. Meaningless faces telling meaningless stories – live and in color. Just about the perfect amount of mediocrity to convince night’s eerie silence to be less haunting.

The last sip of his beer tasted stale and more like spit than alcohol. He wouldn’t have minded the taste, had it not been his last bottle, running empty.

Perfect.

With a sigh, he fished his sneakers out from underneath the couch, slipped into them and stood.
The dizziness wafting through his head was moderate and his legs were still steady. With slightly trembling fingers, he reached for his keys, checked his wallet briefly and grabbed his jacket on the way out, puffing on his cigarette.
The door swung shut behind him, leaving Late Night TV to entertain the still life of his apartment.

They found his body early the next morning, empty eyes staring at a shattered beer bottle on the sidewalk, in the alley behind the local gas station.
The TV was still running when his landlord opened the door for the police.

After two days, his name had faded into the background noise of the busy city.
The remnants of his life were waiting to be packed away.

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horizon

another day, nearly gone to ground.

she can see the last rays of the setting sun reach for the nebulous shapes of the few, lingering clouds; clawing at them… as if the sun itself refuses to make way for the darkness of night.
with longing eyes, she watches the struggle, the battle in the sky; the battle for her soul.
with a last flare of orange, red and pink, her lonely hero surrenders.
at least the sun fights for her.

she sighs.
her last day on earth has ended.

standing alone on the windswept street, she watches darkness claim its territory. slowly but steadily.
she doesn’t have much time left.

she can no longer feel the wind ruffle her hair, can no longer feel the sting of cold in her lungs; her breath doesn’t fog in the evening air.

she can no longer feel… anything.

******

she had been non-existent for a long time.
no friends.
no family.
no connections.
no recognition.

she hadn’t been strong enough to make herself known. her voice had been drowned out by others; more demanding, more exceptional.
and slowly, she had begun to fade.

at first, she hadn’t noticed. not at all.
people had always ignored her, looked through her… as if she had been less than a shadow – not solid enough to be recognized. not radiant enough to be seen.
then, the day came, where she could no longer hear her footfalls on the ground. the sound had… drifted away. she had been startled at first by the lack of sound announcing her presence, but had never demanded an answer to the unnatural occurrence.
deep inside, she had known.

over time, she had grown more and more numb.
she had no longer felt the fabric of her clothes on her skin; scalding water couldn’t affect her numbness, nor could freezing cold.

she had accepted the role that had been forced on her by society. she had never been existent in people’s eyes… she would no longer exist in her own.
during the course of weeks, months, she had accepted her fate, had said her farewells to her once solid form… had begun to dissolve.

******

she looks at her translucent body, barely visible in the rapidly fading light of the day.
she doesn’t even try to speak; her voice, left to extinguish, long ago.

one more night to endure.
one last torturing night in this hostile environment called earth. one last night… at the edge of her existence.

the distant sound of the ocean calms the withering remnant of her tormented heart.
the place… where her being would extinguish.
a last look at the vastness of the darkening giant; it is all she cares about, in the final, fleeting moments of her life.

she would be long gone before the first rays of dawn would touch the ocean’s surface, make glittering waves lap at the shoreline.
she hopes the sun will find her remains… and carry her to peace – far beyond the horizon.

with a sad smile on her face, she walks towards her salvation, sweet hope of an end to her suffering coursing through her veins, adding strength to her stride.

her misery… it would all end… tonight.

shadow’s speech

it is said that when you gaze into the Abyss, it stares back.
at you… at your soul.

i have been there. i looked.
i would not know if it gazes at your soul… i gambled mine away a long time ago.

i was human, once. i was like you.
now… i don’t really know who or what i am. i am… something.
a shape, a shadow; a memory of my former self, too determined to leave this world.

you do not think i know you, but i do. and you know me, too.
i am the breeze in the calm night that makes your skin crawl.
the floorboard that creaks when you try to fall asleep… it is me who treads there.
it is me you feel staring at your back; you turn and look, but you cannot see.

it might seem that way, but… i am not your nightmare.
nor the monster under your bed, waiting to skin you alive.
let me say, i am a guardian.
i am one of many.

am.
that is all that matters.

my task is not an easy one and i am sure your mortal mind would not even begin to understand, should i try to explain. i do not blame you. some things in this universe are not meant to be grasped.

after all this time watching you, i could not hold back to speak to you any longer. not with what is to come.
you look so peaceful in your sleep. not a care in the world on your mind – or so it seems. i wish i could go where you are, be where you are… not know the things i know, not remember the things i have seen.  i miss the feeling of safety. in some ways, being mortal is a blessing. you are blind to many things… and with blindness comes bliss.
sometimes, i envy you.

i know you cannot hear me, but maybe you will remember me… in some way. remember that i existed.
you are my hope. my hope, that i will not fade… not pass without at least existing in someone’s memory.
i chose you.
please… do not disappoint me.
remember me. it is all i ask.

i dread where i have to go… what i have to do, but it’s okay. i have known from the start that it would come to this. i feel no fear; only a sliver of relief that the day is finally here.

i must leave you now.

my final battle is about to begin. i would not want to miss it.

sleep, child.
sleep.
and dream of better days…

run.

feet pound on pavement.
his eyes, wide with fear; haunted.

do not look back!

his breath comes in gasps as he rounds yet another corner; as fast as he dares.
he can still hear him. him… The One Who Lurks Behind.
his trembling legs scream for a break, for rest, for relief.

not far now… run! RUN!

the freezing night air makes it hard to breathe; he sucks in breath after breath, feeling the icy knives dig deep into his straining lungs. sweat stings in his eyes, makes it hard to stay focused on the soft, warm lights in the distance.
terror.
sheer terror resides.
terror keeps his body functioning, keeps him moving; ignoring the exhaustion gnawing at his bones, his mind, his heart. the will to survive is all-consuming. stupendous.

please, don’t let me falter… please…

a loud crack echoes through the night; the source not far behind, bouncing off the narrow alley’s grimy brick walls. he stumbles, blinking.
his legs no longer able to bear his weight, give out from underneath him. he sags to his knees, gasping.

what happened? i don’t unde……

there.
a dark red spot appears on the front of his shirt. small, wet… slowly extending.

no…

heavy footsteps behind him.
a low, smooth chuckle.

and then… blackness.