Breath

Murders in a small town on the east coast have left everyone paranoid and suspicious. Are you next?

Darkened sky, blackened streets.
Thick fog illuminated by the moon.
Silver waves breaking over the eastern shore.
No one's here.
You walk along becoming more conscious that you are alone in the streets of this isolated town.
You hope anyway.
Your pace shifts, your strides becoming longer, quicker.
Twisted shadows creeping in front of you.
Behind you.
Echoes of steps not matching your own.
Shallow breaths, icy air piercing your lungs.
Images haunting your mind.
You've seen it.
People go missing.
Others go searching.
It's weeks before they turn up.
Bodies mangled.
Torn to shreds.
Limbs missing.
Blood spilling from every opening on their body.
Wrong place at the wrong time.
You were the one who found the girl.
You remember.
Are the same eyes which did that to her watching you now, from the darkness?
Your only salvation is the door of a stranger.
And you know that no one will open it.
Some parents have stopped sending their children to school altogether.
Those who have the money are leaving.
Everyone has turned against their neighbor, accusing others.
This town is being torn apart. The very foundation of trust and loyalty being ripped from underneath, and now, no one is stable.
Five so far.
Different stories circulate, but no one has a complete truth. No facts.
It's been seven months since the first.
They still haven't caught it.
Can you call whoever is doing this "it"?
They certainly aren't human.
They can't be.
You've stopped.
Your're shaking violently, but it's not from the arctic breath coming off the sea.
You feel it.
Those eyes.
Hungry.
Depraved.
You can't turn around.
You're afraid of what you'll see.
You force one foot in front of the other.
Slowly.
You can't move any faster than that.
You look for lights in the windows of the old houses.
Would they come to your aid if you screamed?
You hear it behind you.
You hear it breathing, it's breath ragged, mocking your fear from the shadows.
Not bothering to call for help, you break into a run.
You can't look behind.
You don't want to put an image to your fear.
You don't want to see the face behind your every nightmare.
Through the fog, you see the building you've been longing for, the crucifix, your only sign of hope.
You can't tell if it's still following you, but it doesn't make a difference.
Shouldering the massive door as hard as you can, you burst inside and close the door behind you, shutting out the cold, the night...
The creature.
You break into silent tears as you hear it's breath from behind the door.
Then it's gone.
Is it over then?
Did it leave you alone?
You slide down to the hard tile floor, your back resting against the thick mahogany, sobbing out loud in relief.
You've made up your mind.
You're leaving tomorrow.
You can't stand this place a second longer, and you don't know how anyone else can just sit here either.
You'll come back and settle things permanently when it's been caught.
The house. Those cold material things inside; those can all wait.
You just need to get out.
There's a noise at the front of the sacred building.
Your breath catches.
Did it come back for you?
You silently will your heart to stop pounding.
You're afraid the noise will draw attention.
Make him see you...
"Are you afraid?"
The voice is not sinister.
The breath is not ragged.
You take his human hand and let him pull you off the floor.
You look into his kind blue eyes and the laugh lines about them.
In an instant you trust him.
How could you not?
You tell him the story; every detail.
He listens and does not interrupt.
You tell him your plan.
He says he will help you.
You sleep in the pew, and rest well; the first dreamless sleep in months.
You rush to your home, the place that once held safety and comfort, but only when the fog has dissipated and the light spills through, for this is not a place of sanctuary to you any longer.
You don't say goodbye.
No one will miss you, not in this broken town.
You take only what you need most.
You head outside, where the beat up Buick is waiting, as promised.
Something's wrong.
You dismiss it.
You're getting out.
The only thing wrong is the fact that this town isn't doing the same.
Stepping into the car, you settle into the seat and smile at your saviour, placing what little luggage you have inbetween your feet.
Within minutes, you're asleep.
When you wake up, it's dark.
The car's not moving.
You look around but he's not here.
You panic, but as you become more aware, you notice the gas station beside you.
Pit stop.
You take the keys from the ignition to open the trunk and put away the small backpack you managed to pack.
Stepping out into the frigid air, your heart constricts, your stomach churns.
There it is again.
Something's not right.
You look through the gas station window and your breath comes more quickly.
No one is there.
Not at the register.
Not in the store.
You try to ignore it, put it out of your mind, but every step you take towards the trunk makes you a little more wary, a little more afraid.
Your hands are shaking, as you hesitate to open the trunk.
In one swift movement, it is open.
Nausea burns your throat.
A scream unable to release slowly steals your breath.
What little pieces of hope and sanity you had crash down, shattering like a funhouse mirror, sending broken images everywhere.
The fog.
The night.
The chill.
The ragged breath.
"Are you afraid?"
The End

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