I walk alone on these narrow lonely roads, my feet kicking explosions that only I can hear. I am covered in a blanket of darkness, but it doesn't bother me that much. The moon hovers directly above my head, even tonight it shines no visible light. I always know where the full moon is. Who am I? I'm that evil sinister thing you hide from under your blanket every night. I'm what makes the trees blow in the wind and twigs snap when you’re alone in the forest at night. I hover gently above your head during a good campfire story.
I'm sorry. I find that one of the few pleasures I have left is my imagination. But admit it. I gave you the chills for a moment there, didn't I?
In reality, I'm just a simple old man whose insomnia has taken a turn for the worst in recent months. I live alone in a small house out in the countryside, where the narrow roads never end. All my sons and daughters have long ago moved off to the big cities, where people live in cramped little compartments and can never get away from one another. I've found that on long cold nights where sleep is impossible, walking provides at least a small comfort.
The roads are pitch black, but my eyesight has always been razor sharp, despite my age. It often amuses me to imagine myself as some kind of demonic creature, prowling the roads and running evil. Despite this, I am still an old man, and often even the smallest reserves of energy are hard to find, and every step can cause small throbs of pain in my legs. My breath is often more of a wheeze. But despite all of this I continue onward, not knowing what I will find, and the trees surround and tower above me, entrapping me in my own imagination. I trudge along until I come across an old twisted iron fence which surrounds a field filled with strange dilapidated buildings, standing all awkwardly and out of pace with one another. Stacked four or five floors high, and somehow the darkness emanating from inside the hollow windows is darker than the blackness that surrounds me. The paint is peeling off, like a mad skin disease. Overlooking the entire site is an old watchtower, standing on four rusty legs and threatens to collapse at any moment. The entire scene is so startling that I nearly turn around and head back home. But then I remember the game that I have been playing with myself the entire way here.
I am that dark hairy thing that crawls around in places so murky you would cringe at the sight. My footsteps shriek and rip your eardrums apart. Old abandoned places like these are exactly where I belong.
So I walk along the fence until I find a small tear in the links and crawl through. The grass is cool and damp from a recent rainstorm, and rustles softly beneath my feet. I walk around the strange compound, exploring aimlessly. Touching the decaying walls and standing directly under the watchtower, gazing up at the metal underbelly. I make my way over to the far side of the compound where a red shack stands alone, supported by black cinder blocks. I see a bright light shining from the window. Intrigued, I head over, and I slowly begin to make out faint speech coming from inside.
"We can hit the north side, but we won't have enough merchandise for the rest of town until Lenny gets back next week,” says a quiet but paced whisper, like a ghost in a hurry.
"But that leaves out Leor’s place. He and his gang are going to be mighty pissed.”
"Don't worry, everything's planned out. We only have to fake a delay for a few more weeks. Then we'll finally have enough money to pick up and leave all of this behind us."
"So you keep saying."
Without warning, my stomach turns around one hundred and eighty degrees and ties itself into a knot. The pain is almost unbearable. I hunch over and clutch my chest. My body seems shuts down and I can barely move. A wheeze escapes me and explodes into the night.
Instantly, the conversation inside drops dead and one of the men swears. Every inch of me swears against movement, but I force myself up and run back the way I came. I barely make it ten agonizing steps before I hear the wreck of a door slam open and footsteps pounding down the small stairs. I force myself to run faster, my lungs begging me to stop. Somehow I make it to the watchtower before the man reaches me, and I collapse at its base. A ladder stretches to the top of the tower. I get up and raise my foot, and plant it on the first rung. It creaks in protest, but holds. The man is close behind me, so I climb upward toward the creeping, beckoning night sky.
By the time I reach the top, he is halfway up the ladder. It is now that I begin to see the corner that I have backed myself into. I can't understand why I chose to climb the tower. I remember a strange voice in my head, whispering that it would be a good idea to climb the ladder, that everything would be okay once I reached the top…
A fist slams into the side of my head and sends me spinning to the floor. Before I can even think, my attacker is on me and kicking at my sides. I try desperately to defend myself, but he is too wild and untamed. As he continues his assault, I see his face clearly for the first time. I don't see fury in his eyes. Instead I see desperation. As if he's pleading for a way out of this, as if I'm the one ripping him apart. His kicks get harder, and I get the sense I am being vitally damaged. A strange numbness spreads over my body. His face starts to blur, and the pain is floating away. I feel as if I'm falling asleep, but I can hear a door knocking in the distance.
"Go away, I'll get it later. I'm tired now, I want to go to sleep. I'll get back to you later… okay...?"
I am that blank sheet that wraps you in your nightmares. I am the last thing you see when your life flashes before your eyes and you drift into the great beyond. I'm what breeds inside your heart and carries your misery to the worst places…
I awake suddenly, my vision razor sharp. The man is still continuing his assault on my body. But the pain is gone, vanished without a trace. Replaced with a strange sensation that I have never felt before. In a single fluid motion, I stand up and grab hold of him. And then with a strength that I never knew I possessed, pick him up and throw him clear off the tower. His scream is horrible and filled with terror. It takes several seconds that feel like an eternity for him to hit the ground and split into countless broken pieces, silencing his scream forever.
All the energy drains out of me, replaced by a sense of inner peace. I feel better than I have in years. I slowly crawl down the ladder, walk back through the hole in the fence, and start walking on the long lonely road that will take me back home, where I know I will finally get a good night's sleep.