Matters of the Heart

New York is always loud at night, but I always found a certain peace walking the dark corners of the city so late. I know that it’s dangerous for a small girl like myself to just walk about dim alleys at this time of day, but I’ve always found it enjoyable.

Tonight, however it was just depressing. As I wandered through my familiar paths, admiring the graffiti and street art that people left about, I felt alone. I suddenly longed for someone’s company, no matter who that might be.

I took my phone out of my pocket, and scrolled through my contacts. There had to be someone I knew who I could call to come out and walk with me. They might enjoy it as well.

I stopped my phone on one particular number. Clarisse. She was always up late at night, and constantly slept in past noon. As long as she retains a good work schedule, she’ll be fine. I tapped the call button, then held the phone up to my ear. I kept meandering down the street.

A few tones later, and I was greeted by a voice telling me she was unavailable, and to leave a message at the beep. I sighed, and hung up the phone. It looked like I would have to walk alone again tonight. Maybe I should plan ahead next time?

With that in mind, I continued along my barren path. I just need to persevere a little longer, and then things will turn out better. Right?

Sighing frequently, I just carried on. Thinking about how drab things are isn’t the worst thing I could do, and sometimes you need a little introspection to put yourself in order. I think.

Then, I heard coughing in an off alleyway. I was startled at first, but quickly regained my composure and looked into the alley. There was a battered young man facing away from me, and also at a dead-end wall. He wasn’t too poorly dressed, so I knew he wasn’t homeless. I wasn’t sure what it was that he was doing.

“Excuse me, sir? Are you alright?” I spoke at him a little loudly, so that I could be sure he heard me. However, he made no notion that he had heard me. I pulled a small knife out of my pocket, and held it at the ready, just in case. I’d heard stories of sociopaths who would lure people, especially girls, into alleys and then murder them. I wasn’t going to let that happen, but this fellow still confused me.

“Sir, are you alright?” He kept coughing, but didn’t make any other movement.

“Um…” I took another couple of steps toward him. I could clearly see that his hands were empty, so he couldn’t beat me down with some weapon. Most likely.

A moment later, the man turned to face me. His eyes were glowing orange, as if they were burning iron. The veins in his face supported that same glowing color scheme, but his skin was deathly pale. I gasped and put one hand over my mouth.

He stumbled toward me, and started to slowly arch his back backwards. After a couple of steps, his torso faced the sky, and I was surprised his legs were keeping him stable. I took a few steps backward, keeping some distance between us. Although, if he tried to run towards me, I could easily outpace his weird steps.

I held my knife at the ready. This guy was some kind of ghost, and I had to deal with him. This isn’t how I had planned this walk to go.

 

He took a couple more steps towards me, and I took one step more than him backwards. “Okay bud, I’m just going to leave you to your death, and head out. Okay with you?”

Apparently it wasn’t because then his rib cage burst open. There was no blood, however. Even though I could see his pristine and white bones, I could only see a black emptiness within his chest. I had spent countless amounts of bored hours online reading about demons, and had never heard about something like this.

“Shit!” I shouted, and I turned around to escape. I hadn’t taken more than a step before I had heard sounds of water splashing loudly. No, not quite water. It was something heavier than water. I took a scared look back, and witnessed something climb out of the man’s chest. It first reached one hideous and black hand out, grabbed the side of the open rib cage, then did the same with the its other arm. It then lifted itself out of the man’s chest, and stood- or maybe sat- up from within the man.

The demon was just as black as the open chest, and it looked two dimensional, even while it was moving. It’s hard to perceive depth within direct blackness. Its silhouette was jagged and messy, and it shook constantly and blinked frequently. It extend at least ten feet out from the man, and that was while it still sat inside of him at the waist. Its arms were around the same length as the creature itself, and hung next to the man’s thighs.

The demon also had the same shade of orange within its own eyes, and inside of its gaping and raw mouth. It opened its mouth, then screamed at me.

I shook off my shock, then bolted out of the alleyway. I looked back a few seconds later, and saw the man’s legs shuffling out of the alley. It looked as if the beasts reach didn’t matter because of the small and weak legs. I slowed to a fast walk, but continued my escape of the creature. This was a fine time to catch my breath.

I kept up my pace for a few minutes, then turned to look behind me once more. The demon was gone. It had either given up on chasing me, or it had disappeared, because of its summoning restrictions or something.

I leaned against the wall, and was satisfied to simply breath. That had been more excitement than I had ever wanted in the first place. I only wish that someone else had been with me to see that beast.

I leaned against a wall, pulled out a cigarette, lit it, and finally took in a long breath. I didn’t smoke very often.

I savored every breath that I took of that cigarette before deciding to leave. I tossed the cigarette to the ground, and stamped it out. In its last moments, I couldn’t help but notice how similar its orange glow was to the man’s and the demon’s orange.

I rubbed my foot on the cigarette a little extra, out of spite, then wiped the ashes off of my shoe. “Good riddance, you beast.”

I stretched my arms upward, yawned, and took a couple of steps away. I heard a loud crash. Panicked, I turned around and saw a black shape formed out of a man’s chest.

“Hell!” I screamed as I scrambled to get away. I had taken maybe one step before the beast had grabbed me with one of its large hands and began to pull me towards it. It turned me to face it. I was breathing rapidly, and struggling to get away. My eyes glanced up from its hand, and at its face. The moment It knew I was looking, it grinned.

The demon lifted me above its head, and sunk back into the chest at an agonising pace.

I shrieked, and my high tone pierced through the night without a reply.

The demon kept its shit-eating grin on its face the whole way down. I saw its glowing eyes disappear into the abyss, followed quickly by its smile. The last thing I saw before I was completely submerged in black was the face of the man. I reached out to touch him, but I was gone before I had the chance to have one last human touch.

***

“For the longest time, the most terrifying thing about this purgatory was the loneliness I felt. The only sound I knew was the sound of my own voice.”

“That sounds terrible. I hate to seem selfish, but I suppose I’m glad someone fell in here before I did. I would have gone mad being here on my own. At least now I have someone to talk to.”

“That’s only if I don’t die in here. I don’t know how long it’s been.”

“Funny. I don’t remember the date. I think it was someday in mid April?”

“I couldn’t tell you.”

“I suppose it’s all the same either way.”

“You know, the last thing I tried to do before falling down in here was touch the man’s face. Can you believe that? I had only moments to live, yet my last living thought was to touch the thing consuming me.”

“You must have been lonely. I’ve read theories about what the last thing people do before they die means.”

“…”

“Are you still alive?”

“I think you might be right. Maybe I was lonely.”

“Well, you won’t be anymore. At least, for a while.”

“Do you think we could shake hands, or hug, or something?”

“Um…”

“Maybe we could swim toward each other? I know that there’s some atmosphere or something, because we can breathe. That means we could use the air resistance a little bit, right?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you have a phone? You could shine it, and then I could see you and go towards you! I’d take mine out too, but I’m pretty sure it’s dead!”

“I’ll- I’ll try.”

“Perfect!”

“…”

“Anything?”

“I don’t think so. I can’t see anything, but I know I did it right.”

“Oh… That’s okay! I can just follow the sound of your voice! Keep speaking at me!”

“Um, alright, I suppose. Do you really think this will work?”

“Do you have a better plan?”

“I mean, not really, but-”

“Then just keep talking until I find out whether this works or not!”

“I really don’t think you have any idea what you’re doing…”

“Keep going!”

“I think that you’re just desperate at this point. Have you ever heard of that theory that claims that if you are alone for too long, you’ll create personalities and place them onto objects? How do you know I’m not just a voice you created?”

“I don’t!”

“Then why are you so insistent?”

“I trust you!”

“You can’t trust a stranger so easily! What if when- if!- you get to me, I just try to kill you?”

“It’s better than what I have now!”

“This isn’t going to work!”

I stopped. His voice was behind me suddenly. It never passed either of my sides, it was just suddenly behind me.

“Speak again.”

“Is this really want you want to do? Chase down a fever dream as if he is a reality?”

“You aren’t fake!”

“Says the crazy person desperate for someone else! You’re irrational”

I’m not irrational…

“You’ve gone crazy!”

I haven’t gone crazy…

“Then prove it!”

My throat was hoarse, and my arms were tired.

I think I just want to take a short nap. Goodnight, Vox.

“Goodnight, I suppose.”

Author: SashKab

I write short stories and essays, and post them to my site justmynarratives.wordpress.com

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