The night was heavy with fog. Heavier than it had been in my past week of sleepless nights.
It started a week before the incident. My sudden change in sleeping habits had me startled, so I spent my nights unsuccessfully forcing myself to sleep. By the end of the week, I reluctantly came to terms with the truth- I was an insomniac. I gave up trying to push myself to sleep. Instead I went for short walks in my tiny neighborhood, which slowly got longer each day. I stuck to the same route as I hated unfamiliarity. These walks were my private time; they made me think about things that I needed to get off my mind.
That night I thought about my best friend, Helen. She had been avoiding me for the past few days and I was starting to wonder why. I had come to the conclusion that she must be planning a surprise party for my twenty second birthday in two weeks time. As I turned the usual corner racking my brain for an assortment of believable surprised faces, I suddenly felt a sharp, excruciating pain in my knee. I glimpsed down at my leg to find a fresh and bloody cut from the newly planted thorn bushes. Fortunately for me, there was a playground just a little while away. I limped my way there, intending on returning home once I had rested my leg. I neared the playground and sat on the ledge in front of it. I looked at the wound again to see the blood trickling down my leg. Instinctively, I smeared the excess off using my hands, wiping them on the ledge. I could feel the wound burn as I tried to cool it down by blowing on it. As the pain decreased I tried to trace back my thoughts to Helen. At once a gale erupted, blurring my vision further. I scanned the shops opposite attempting to find the nearest shaded alleyway. I stood up and ignoring the re-awakened pain, wobbled off. The rain ceased after my first few steps in. The alley was gloomy and it reeked of rotten eggs. I felt my way to a suitable spot to sit on as the darkness pervaded throughout. Unfortunately, this was situated in close proximity to the source of the smell- the garbage cans. I held my nose and examined the rest of the space for a decent place to sit. As my eyes glided past another range of dustbins, I was sure that I saw a faint outline of someone crouched against the wall. I retraced my glance and there, a pale and sullen body sat, hunched over something indistinguishable in the darkness. I gasped meekly but no sooner had the sound left me than the drooped face lifted to glower in my direction. I sat frozen, studying this undoubtedly familiar stranger. I was sure I had met him somewhere before…but where? Who was he?
Then it struck me! He was Mark Adams. He had moved in to my neighborhood last year and was a few years my senior. He was known as the ‘bizarro guy’ as he never left his house. He was rumored to be seen walking about on the roads near midnight. He was also, strangely enough, quite popular. Every girl in town, including me, seemed to be instantaneously infatuated by his charmingly rugged looks. His wispy, brown hair formed natural waves, a prominent contrast to his stone cold, black eyes. His features were sharp and they had an obscure kindness to them. These were all the descriptions I could remember of him as in the darkness I could barely see the colour of his eyes. But today, as far as I could tell, his charm had vanished. All that was left was his ruggedness. The shadows made him look more cold and very oddly, beautiful. The once muscular and tanned body was now much leaner and the once kind face was now filled with hatred.
As I ogled at this magnificent creature a sudden realization dawned upon me- I was rained out into an alleyway of gloom with a strange yet handsome guy known to have bizarre habits. I tried to decide my next course of action. Since he had seen me, it would be stupid of me not to react. Or would it…? If I acted hard to get and not talk to him, would that make him talk to me instead? I deliberated my options and chose the hard-to-get plan. Time flew by and it was pretty obvious that my plan was not working the way I thought it should. Not only had he not spoken to me but he also glared at me with more intensity from time to time when he wasn’t concentrating on the thing he held. It was time to execute the next plan. After thinking and re-thinking my strategy, I gave up and decided to say the first thing that came to my mind.
“ Hey. Is something wrong?” He didn’t reply. Instead, he shot me another seething glare then returned to quietly nibbling on what he was holding. I waited, thinking that he would answer sooner or later- but he didn’t. I was puzzled. The only time in the past I had met him he had been so kind and responsive that this abrupt change in personality came as a shock to me. I attempted to look at my watch again. It read 4am. An hour had passed since I had reached there, evidently this was going nowhere and the storm seemed far from complete. I started to study my leg in more detail considering that I had completely forgotten about the pain in ‘his’ presence. The trickling blood had dried forming gory patterns while the actual wound was now swollen and clotted. I carefully and gently brushed it with the tips of my finger to check if all the blood had dried. My leg immediately reacted with the original searing sting. I howled in pain as I mentally yelled at myself for doing such a stupidly rash act. The pain subsided mildly so I looked up to meet what I expected to be his usual glare again but instead, his face emoted concentration and sympathy. My face was obviously showing great confusion as he smiled timidly. He put down what he was holding and whispered, “Does it hurt?”
“Um… not really. It did before”, I replied bewildered. “You’re Mike… right?” I changed his name on purpose so he would reply.
“ Oh sorry. Um…what are you eating?” I had just realized how hungry I was and was hoping to ask for a bit. Rage flickered across his face and then it contorted to concentrate on something. He relaxed.
“Nothing you’ll like”. How would he know… but I didn’t wish to upset him and throw our ‘conversation’ away so I changed the topic.
“When do you think the storm will end?” He shrugged and then stared at my wound.
“That’s a bad cut”, he said. He stretched, picked up his snack and slowly stood up. My heartbeat increased rapidly. Was he going to come over to me? Yes he was! I tried my best to compose my face to a nonchalant, dismissive expression as he neared me. He crouched down in front of me so we were at eye level and swiftly put away his snack behind him so I couldn’t tell what it was. Now that I was able to see him more clearly he looked even more incredible than he had in the darkness. His features were flawless but I noticed a strange glint sparkle in his eyes momentarily. It looked to me like hunger or sympathy. He lifted my leg and carefully examined it while I sat there and made sure that my heart didn’t explode. He gently placed my leg down again.
“Nothing too serious.” I sighed in fake relief. I didn’t really care much about my wound.
“Thanks. Are you a doctor?”
“Still in training” He leaned back to get his snack. As he pulled it to the front and continued to nibble it I caught a glimpse of what it was. I stared at him in horror and repulse. There in his hands he held a half-eaten raw and bloody severed human hand. The fingers had been chewed off to reveal a grotesque layer of flesh which he was now sucking up. I felt nauseous and terrified. I got up quickly and attempted to find my balance. My breathing grew heavy and I tried to duck away into the misty rain. But I was too slow. He had me cornered; both his hands were on the wall on either side of me. He looked at me.
“Leaving so soon are we?” he whispered. He smiled a gorgeous yet wicked smile. A new glint appeared in his eyes making him look wild and mad like a savage. This time I knew what it meant. It was hunger.