By K. A. Williams
himself against an icy breeze as a myriad of stars shimmered above the cold
dark alleyway. A crashing roar of thunder made him jump and he looked up to see
a fast moving cloud of darkness swiftly covering the stars. Disoriented by the
harsh weather, Jack stumbled aimlessly down a sea of endless identical streets,
his hope of getting home before the rain dashed by a sudden downpour and a
raging wind which tore through his wet clothing, causing a sudden chill.
fingers Jack searched his coat pockets for his precious bottle, but when he
uncapped it and held it to his lips, only a drop of the coveted liquid slid
down his throat. He shivered and let the empty bottle fall from his numb
fingers. The glass shattered silently amid a roar of thunder. Jack headed for
home in what he thought was
the right direction, when the sky grew quiet and he heard crunching glass. He
turned, saw only shadows in the darkness, convinced himself it was nothing, and
stumbled onward, streetlights flickering around him. After wandering around for
what seemed like hours, Jack at last recognized the name of a street and
hurried along with thoughts only of a warm bed.
When Jack paused
to get his bearings, he heard footsteps behind him, stopping when he stopped.
He turned but saw nothing. "Are you following me?" he asked, taking a
few steps backward. When the other footsteps echoed his, he ran, stumbling over
the garbage in the streets, and when Jack couldn't take another step he
stopped, panting and listening as the footsteps began to advance slowly. And
now Jack could see the source, a faint outline in the shadows. He
forced himself to
run again, veering unsteadily through the darkness, away from the shadows. Soon
he could see his apartment building, identical to all the other dingy decaying
derelicts which occupied this side of town.
block from his destination and underneath a streetlight, Jack dared to turn
around. His pursuer appeared to have vanished, or been only imaginary Jack hoped.
The elevator in his apartment was always 'Out-Of-Order' so exhausted though he
was, Jack had to climb the stairs. When he reached the third floor he was
beyond winded. After he wiped the sweat from his face with the filthiest
handkerchief in existence, he fumbled in his pants pockets for the door key,
which he dropped twice before being able to open his door with it.
fearfully down the hallway by the light of one dim bulb before he entered and
slammed the door, locking it immediately. Now he felt safe and secure, the
memory of his pursuer fading. He knew he had another bottle of liquor somewhere
but he was too tired to search for it. Jack stripped off his drenched clothes
before he gratefully sank into bed. He covered himself with his thin frayed
blanket and drifted towards sleep, dimly aware of noises which he assumed were
With his face
turned away from the window and his eyes closed, he couldn't see the lightning
flash that illuminated the figure now standing by his bed.
K. A. Williams has been
published in various print and online magazines including Calliope, The
Creativity Webzine, Black Petals, Nuthouse, and also The
Rockford Review, winning one of their Editor's Choice Awards for prose in
Cynthia Fawcett has
been writing for fun or money since she was able to hold a pen. A Jersey Girl
at heart, she got her journalism degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee
and now writes mostly technical articles about hydraulics and an occasional
short story or poem on any other subject. Illustration shows the type from a
vintage 1970s portable Smith Corona typewriter.