I’m wandering through an empty trail, in what used to be the San Diego River. Normally, there’d be a person or two walking around, reminding me that this place is not completely vacant of life. But this time I am alone. That usually doesn't bother me, but this time the lack of passersby puzzles me.

But I keep on walking.

Suddenly, the heat turns cold and gives me chills all through my body. The kind of chills you feel when coming down with the flu.

Still, I keep on walking.

I’m not sure what my motivation is to keep going, let alone why I’m out here. Actually, I’m not sure when or how I got here either. But I can tell it’s late. The sun is scarlet, and causing faint light beams to pierce through the cumuli and pour down upon the trees that border the vadi.

Still, I keep walking.

Now, my eyes are scanning the naked scenery around me. It’s as if I’m trying to find something, but…I’m not sure what it is. My gaze locks onto one particular tree in the distance. The silhouette of a tall snag, with an object dangling from one of the branches. The sight, for reasons unknown, causes me to hold my ground. But only for a few seconds. My curiosity of the swaying figure pushes me to keep going.

Now, the red sun and purple sky seem to lose their color; everything is now black and white. That only makes the dead tree – now just a few yards away – more intimidating. The closer I get with every step, the more my heartbeat quickens and the feeling of dread comes over me.

Finally, I stop walking.

Snag tree

I’m looking up at the figure hanging off the tree. And that’s when everything becomes still. No wind. No crows. Even the thumping of my own heart is muted. It’s the loudest silence I've ever heard.

I’m staring at a body. The body of a young man, possibly in his 20’s. He’s probably been dead for two days.

Now, I’m running.

I run all the way home. Usually, running two miles in a full sprint would leave me breathless and exhausted. My lungs would be on fire and my legs would feel like cement. Yet…I feel nothing.

But I was too scared for this to vex me. Frantically, I unlock the door and rush inside. Once upstairs, I see my family in the living room. Everyone looks upset. In mourning. My five-year-old nephew is crying in my teary-eyed sister’s arms. My mother, sobbing on the shoulder of her fiancé. My brother and his girlfriend, in a trembling embrace on the floor. And my father, sitting on the couch, wearing the most sorrowful expression I've ever seen. He holds a photograph in his hand: the photograph of me and him at my high school graduation.

“Guys?” I said nervously, anticipating for them to look up. Nothing happened. I try again.

“Guys, I’m right here! Just look up! Please stop crying…”

Still nothing. I try to lift my father’s face…but my hand melts right through his chin. As if I've just tried to touch the face of a hologram. Tears begin to form in my eyes.

Suddenly, as if by instinct, my mind returns to the sight of the body in the vale. That’s when my heart stops and my stomach twists into a sailor’s knot. The aches over my body are now a chilling shroud of terror, as the events leading up to now are rapidly connected in my head. And a dreadful thought comes over me:

Was it me hanging from the snag?

I run into my brother’s bathroom and look into the mirror. I find a rope burn around my neck.

I guess I've been given my answer.

Written by Marsh0l0mew
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