That Night – A Short Story

That Night

The dark, dusty highway road continued forward, huge and vast into the distance. So far, I couldn’t tell where it ended and the sky began.

The cold wind whispered through the dense forests that lay each side of it, chilling and embracing me as I walked along. I could feel the trees on both sides watching me, towering above me, shrouded in shadows and swaying in the breeze. The road that lay in front, beneath and behind me lay like a sleeping serpent over the cold ground, My feet were sore all over from walking tirelessly for what felt like an eternity, the unrelenting and repetitive force of the ground causing my legs to sting with pain. Yet I continued, I pushed all the pain and any notion of stopping to rest out of my head.

As far as I was concerned I deserved it all.

The moon hung low in the night sky, the cloud hid all of the hopeful stars. The night, like the road, was empty. I had seen no passing cars, no car headlights that pierced through the darkness, no sounds except the whispering of the wind and the beating of my heart, quick and dry. I walked on-wards shrouded in shadows. My mind flashed back, where had I come from? why was I walking down such a desolate, empty road? did my destination (wherever that may be) lie ahead of me? and if so how far was it? I was tired, but I knew I had to keep walking or my questions wouldn’t be answered; and I just couldn’t take that.

After continuing on for another eternity, something caught my attention. The forest on either side had gradually given way to barren empty fields which stretched in every direction. The road had also changed from hard concrete to cobbled stones, cracks crazily running through it, a labyrinth of tunnels and mazes, winding and twisting. In the distance I saw a light, suspended in the air, illuminating the cold scene around and in front of me. I felt my heart start to race, a strange mixture of fear, hope and curiosity descended on me.

Without realizing it I had speed up, silently running towards the strange illumination. Nearing the source I noticed more lights lay in front of me, all the lights were street lights. Confused, I saw the desolate road in front of me ran through a small town, houses had taken the place of the forests and fields, surrounding me on every side, they lay there dormant, no lights no sound. I stopped in the street and looked around. Where had this town come from? I don’t remember seeing it earlier?

I began slowly and carefully walking down the street, the soundless town watched me curiously as I watched it back, trying desperately to find a reason for it’s apparent sudden existence. Walking deeper in I saw no sign of life, this place was as desolate, as empty as everything else that was on the highway road. I felt isolated, I could feel fear and despair clawing at me, a sudden urge to shout out; call out for somebody- hell! anybody. That’s when I heard a slight creaking from behind me. Terrified, I slowly turned around and gazed in bewilderment. The front door of one of the surrounding houses was ajar and dull light was flooding into the shadows. I couldn’t move, I was petrified, rooted to the spot, frozen in a cold sweat. I don’t know how long I stopped and stared at the door but eventually something woke me from my horrifying trance and I stumbled forwards, as if sleepwalking, I had lost all control of my body.

I approached the door slowly.

Stopping on the doorstep I carefully reached out my arm and pushed open the door, the light piercing through my eyes, I raised a hand to shield myself. The light illuminated a small hallway that led into a front room. I could hear voices just above a whisper, curious I continued on-wards to find the source. Nearing the source of the voices I noticed the subtle smell of food, takeaway if i had to guess, and I could see the faint light from a television. As I got closer, the voices got louder and louder, I could hear two people arguing, screaming and shouting at each other. I crept forwards and peered into the room.

It was me. I saw myself shouting and screaming, could sense my anger rising, my thoughts becoming cloudy. Then, while I was screaming, shouting and on the verge of tears I realized what I was witnessing. Hopelessness was all i could feel, the cold despair and fear were gone, I felt empty hollow as I watched a scene in front of me, I had replayed in my head so many times. The person I was shouting and screaming at was a woman, a young woman, the same age as me and she was yelling back, tears streaming down her face. I forget now what the fight was about, now it doesn’t seem important. I love her, or at least I did, every room seemed brighter with her in it, every mundane conversation or activity became the most incredible experience; even though perfection was an impossibility- she managed it.

She ran out of the room crying and sobbing with sadness and anger, her long black hair chasing her down the hallway and up the flight of stairs. After watching her with tears in my eyes I looked back into the front room and walked in. I saw myself trying to calm down, but it was no use. I watched myself hopelessly trying to battle a wrath I had never felt before. As I watched myself pace the room, hands on my head as if trying to claw out my thoughts, I wished and hoped for one thing. Don’t follow her.

It was no use; after pacing the room I looked up, tears streaming down my face in anguish, feeling a sudden rush of anger and hatred. The hatred gave way to adrenaline, a euphoric feeling, an addictive dose of power flooded me, and I rushed after her. Violence slowly creeping in. Climbing the stairs I saw her silently sobbing to herself, sitting on the bed- tears of sadness rolling down her face as she turned to me.

I could feel myself losing control, the feeling of power becoming venom in my veins, intoxicating… suffocating me.

I closed my eyes, losing myself in the darkness, my mind swarming with shadows. When my eyes opened I was staring into Her horrified gaze, her fear bleeding through. I realized then that my hands were clasped tightly around Her soft, fragile neck, slowly constricting, bit by bit squeezing the life out of her. I felt like I was watching myself from a-far, watching helplessly as I strangled the life out of Her, the perfect personification of innocence. As I watched myself slowly awaken from my mindless state and take in the reality of what I had done, I felt nothing, all my feelings had deserted me, I was nothing, a husk, the shell of something so broken and lost.

I laid her on the bed, my hands shaking with sorrow, my world caved in. A crushing sense of pain and despair crashed over me as i wept and begged non existent gods to bring her back to me, even offering myself as payment, wishing beyond everything to take back what I had done. it was obviously, no use. She lay there her eyes closed, her hair sprayed out behind her, her face an expressionless mask. I was overcome with grief. As I watched myself collapse by the bed and weep into my hands, I walked slowly over to the bed.

I looked down at Her fragile and broken body, as if accepting what I had done, grieving in my own way. I stood up, tears still streaming down my face and ran out of the bedroom, ran down the stairs. Grabbing my jacket from the hallway I ran outside and into the black, dark and cold night. I followed my other self to the stairs and into the night, watching as I slowly staggered back up the road, away from Her, away from the town, away from the light. I turned to look at the house, I realized what was happening and what was to happen on and on forever. I blindly accepted it and sat on the ground, the lights fading and growing dim, the shadows taking their place.

I knew I was going to vanish soon, simply blink out of existence. Sighing, I wished that next time I could change what happened, that somehow I could play fate and maybe, just maybe beat it.

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