The word seemed to materialize in my mind more than my ears,
but I was sure it came from them. I glanced over at Todd, but he was far gone
from himself at this point. His eyes had glassed over, tears streaming down his
face, and a combined look of confused pain was all that showed for an
I looked over at the round man, and the same vacant stare
and appearance of suffering was on him as well. The businessman seemed somewhat
worst off. He was down on one knee now. His mouth was drawn agape in what
should probably have been a scream, but there was only silence. His eyes were
open wide, staring towards me, but not really at anything specific as far as I
Melissa seemed calm though. Her eyes were closed. Naturally.
Not held tight in a grimace. There was no apparent pain on her face, but her
face was awash in tears, all the way down to her turtleneck sweater.
Shes taking this awfully well. I mused for some reason. Was I
slipping out of sanity? Was I losing my power for controlling my own thoughts,
or were these creatures instilling these strange response into my mind?
It came again. I was completely sure of it this time.
Wait?! I hollered at the shadows as if this was the most ridiculous
suggestion I had ever heard. Wait for what?! What are you doing to
I strained to listen. To somehow filter out the screaming
whine that seemed to carry the whispers within it. For what? For
From what? I whispered, although I could not
even hear my own whisper. To where? To who? I felt tears coming on now.
My eyes gained the sensation of being filled from behind, ready to spill over
and down my cheeks.
To my right, Melissa stepped away from Todd. His hands
grabbed at her sweater, but without really trying. His hands now clamped down
over his own ears as Melissa walked slowly towards the shadows.
Hey! HEY!! I screamed at her, but she
didnt so much as blink in acknowledgement. She was going to them. The
urge to grab her myself came over me, but my body would not move. I could only
watch her take each slow step away from us.
I heard as the creatures finally moved again. They came onto
Melissa in a swirl. Their form seemed to change from a pitch black silhouette
into almost a mist as they wrapped around her. Then the night was filled with
the sound of Melissas voice. In what I couldnt believe was even
more terrifying than what had been accosting my ears.
It started out as a low moan, a reverberating groan of
discomfort. She held the tone like a twisted note in an opera from the devil
himself. She continued for a few seconds and then her voice suddenly grew in
intensity, and her pitch rose steadily. Dramatically. It became a flesh
crawling scream that made me think poor Melissa had suddenly become aware of
what was going on. Then, as if she were nothing more than a feather, Melissa
shot upward and away from us and was gone into the surrounding dark sky.
The strength seemed to suddenly run out of me. My legs shook
and for a moment I thought I would collapse, but by sheer willpower I managed
to stay on my feet. I could feel my own face contorting in agony now from the
pandemonium of noise. I was crying freely now as well, but they were tears
brought on by the agony of the discord rather than sadness. I could almost feel
my cognizance slipping away from me as if it were a physical thing.
Then I saw the round man begin to move forward. I
hadnt noticed before, but his hands had fallen to his sides now. His
sweater still puckered up in two peaks where he had been pulling on it. He drew
himself into the dark beings and now it was his turn to cry out. His voice
shook violently as they swept over him. The round man cried out gutturally,
sounding eerily like someone having an unwanted and painful orgasm. He lifted
slowly off the ground at first, black figures entwining around his torso, and
then his voice snapped up shrilly, screaming frantically, sounding more like a
terrified young girl than a middle aged heavyset man. Then the round man was
gone. Likewise vanished away from those few of us that remained.
I looked over at Todd and the businessman. Todd was already
showing the start of that vacant expression that had been the downfall of
Melissa. The businessman was simply squatting, frozen with fear, mouth hanging
open as if he were on the verge of yelling. At this point fear completely
gripped me. Like a vice, it clamped its cold hands around my heart, and I was
finding it difficult to breathe. Logic told me to run, but another smaller
voice somewhere behind that of common sense, told me it would be futile. I
found myself wanting to just stand my ground and wait my turn. I couldnt
ever remember such a sensation of internal conflict before. My heart and soul
were screaming for me to run while my mind told me not to bother. Stay here and
who knows what will happen. Surrender.
I flashed back to when I had quit smoking for some reason.
Possibly my mind trying to take me away from the evil darkness of the bridge. I
spent many a month after finally succeeding at giving up the habit, spreading
the word, preaching the gospel of the ex-smoker like a devout born again
Christian trying to save the souls of their family. I was so proud of myself.
From that point on I was confident about anything to do with habits. I knew
that since I was able to quit the cigarettes that I could do anything. That I
had complete control over my mind and my body. Nothing external would ever be
able to control me again!
A light seemed to flash on in my mind then, bringing me back
to the events unfolding around me. Nothing external would ever be able to
control me again! That was the key here. This felt exactly like the
nicotine, whispering its lies into my mind, even while my body knew that I was
killing myself. Then my foot moved. Just an inch or so, but felt like it had
been pulled from wet cement. I gained some strength back in my leg and no
longer felt like I was ready to swoon over at any moment. My mind, my
body! I screamed inside my mind. It was my old battle cry! My mind,
my body! I screamed at the shadows. Even as Todd was beginning his final
walk away from me. I wrenched my other foot back just slightly, and I was
I began to step backward slowly, carefully. In front of me,
Todd was almost to the shadows. I turned my head. I knew what was coming next,
but I also knew that I did not have to watch it happen. When he started to
bellow mournfully, I broke away and started to jog slowly, back up the incline
of the bridge. By the time his voice broke into a shrill I knew I had made only
a short distance. So I began to run with everything I could muster up. Tears
running in rivulets, my heart pounding in my chest, my ears and my hands. I
wondered, almost humorously, if a heart attack would be a better way to go than
in the clutches of those monstrosities. I didnt care. I knew that if I
was going to die, it would not be because I gave up. If they wanted me, they
were going to have to take me.
Obviously, I never saw him go to them nor did I ever hear
him begin to moan, but I knew all too well what happened when I heard the
distant piercing shriek of the businessman. This brought a new cold wave of
fear across my chest, but it also spurred me into picking up my speed.
I was running for my car. Im not sure why, but without
thinking about it I knew that was my goal. Perhaps, subconsciously, I longed
for some familiar territory. A fortress of solitude amidst a world I no longer
recognized. My shoes were slapping against the pavement as I ran, echoing off
the huge steel supports of the Tobin bridge. I couldnt hear anything
else. Part of me wanted to turn and look behind, but a larger part of me
didnt want to look back and see a wall of blackness, shrouding out the
darkness of the night sky. As if not seeing them made them not there.
As I came to the apex of the bridge I saw the jumble of
cars, scattered in strange angles ahead of me. My station wagon was there
nestled between a number of wrecks. I was going to make it to my car. I knew it
in my heart.
You must come with us. The whisper in my mind came on
The fuck I do! I yelled at no one in
It is over.
Over? I wouldnt accept that. Ill
lock myself in my car. Did I really believe that would help?
You just dont know it yet.
Truth be told, I wasnt sure what I knew anymore. I
only knew that I had to get into my car. Somehow, it was where I belonged.
..but you will..
I got up to my car, and the world turned back on.
Headlights dazzled my eyes suddenly, blinding me for a
minute. I stumbled against the side of my car and went down on my knees, just
beside the door. The blare of several car horns broke the silence, and I
clamped my hands over my ears.
Kneeling there next to my car, I waited wondering what their
black shadow hands would feel like on my skin. Would they grab my arms and
simply haul me away? But I didnt feel them come on. I opened my eyes
unhurriedly, taking in the lights around me. Could I still get in? I wondered.
As my eyes opened, I looked at my door. Half thinking it would be locked if I
tried it, but then, as I gazed into my car, I realized it didnt matter.
I was kneeling, looking into the drivers window; and I was
also sitting in the drivers seat. My head leaning unnaturally against the
steering wheel, a sheen of blood rather than tears was covering my face.
The shadows came over me then. It was bitter, just icy cold.
I refused to bawl for them though. They couldnt make me scream.