Please read first: Basically, I'm working on a story and I don't intend for it to be one that people can be involved in. However, I have written the first draft of the first or second chapter (depending on whether I choose to give something away in a chapter before this one) and I would like, if you have the time, for you to read it and just give me a bit of feedback. The idea behind the story I have posted in the comment box so I hope you read that either before or after reading this bit of story. At the moment it may seem complicated or not to be displaying too much of my ideas, but the intention is that in future chapters I explore my intention a bit more.
If you do read this then thank you, it is greatly appreciated :) (I apologise for the length)
The night was growing darker. Not in the normal sense of the word; not in the sense of the sun setting to make way for the blackening sky. No. This night was simply darkening in every way, on every level, though only to the eyes of one individual... for now.
Picture it, you and me, out and about after an ‘after-work drink’. You’ve stumbled across a writer and the writer has a journey for you, the reader, to take. Isn’t this unusual! Writers write books do they not? Then why is my voice a part of you? Reader, this is your story, you decide!
A slender figure is standing silently beneath a lamp-post. Not the typical flickering lamppost of horror stories, no, you don’t want a horror story. It’s staring at the ground, and unless it’s eyes have shut and it’s head has simply hung down in its own comfort, its gaze is seemingly fixed. You, the ever anxious reader, you want to know more? You may even be one of the pretentious types, who wants to ‘get to know the protagonist on some meaningful ‘they relate to my life’ sort of way. I sigh. Well go on then. You hesitate? Why? This is your story, do as you please! Why, you may even be the protagonist if you think about it that way... and then, well then it’s your duty to introduce the other characters to the story! Why friend, you’re getting the hang of this. In any case, why would I speak like this if not trying to fool you? Just get on. Quick, try and take a closer look at those keen eyes! If I give you one word of caution... just don’t be seen yet, you don’t want it to look up do you! Ah, you’ve already put your foot down onto the road, taken that step off the road. You were thinking, right, that maybe this person was just lonely. Maybe you could do the one thing that people always dream of doing... being that stranger, that one with all the knowledge and culture anyone would ever want. One that lasts just a short walk but makes that everlasting impression. This seemed like a good opportunity doesn’t it? Well maybe it is, I can’t say! Go on, stop doubting me, why don’t you see for yourself... I’m just the reporter. That’s it, sneak the long way round maybe, cross the crystal road, might want to even take your shoes off or walk on tip-toe because with the water on the road like that the splashing is going to draw attention to you. Sorry, please, do as you will. That’s it. Now back against that shop window, watch out for the drain, don’t want any echoes. Ok, I realise these directions seem a little ‘OTT’ for such a meeting, I’ll try and steady my anxious pen.
Shh! Wait. Listen a moment. Do you hear that? That noise?
Deep beneath the limp hair of the figure two eyelids blinked. The wet black hair twitched as if the head it hung from had suddenly awoken. The eyes were, however, open. There was something wrong. Something all-together ‘not there’. The eyes, in the shadow of the figure’s face, gave another blink and as they opened again their faint white colour turned very quickly to grey. The pupils widened and in the very centre a deep echo of closure seemed to resonate back into the figure’s skull. In its mind it heard the thud; a sound deeper than any other worldly sound... something strangely subsonic. The eyes lifted their stare from the floor at its feet to the manhole cover in the centre of the road.
You didn’t hear the noise? It just sounded like a breath that’s all. But then, I suppose, why shouldn’t you hear a breath and have it relax into your subconscious? That’s what people do... breathe. I guess this is a dark and lonely night. You’ve read about nights like these. In the rain, on the street, a single stranger and just you. There’s something missing. Look up. You’re right, in this tale the moon is not large, it is not casting any evil glow and bats are not flying in front of it to create eerie shapes... no, nothing like that. There is no moon.
This is where you take the opportunity to ‘suss out’ this stranger. It has long black hair; the hair is soaked through so maybe they have been outside all day through the pouring rain that only stopped about an hour ago, around the time you left the pub. You check your watch again. It’s half 2 in the morning. Reader it is bed-time go home! But then, you say, you’ve been out so late there is no harm in staying out a little longer now. You are not too weary or too drunk. The rain has stopped and the wind has dropped. Why, breathe a deep breath, feel that ‘after-rain’ smell in your nostrils. I think it’s true that everyone likes the dark really. Everyone likes to have that feeling of being alone in a calm peaceful street after the rain.
But you’re not alone are you? Not only do you have me to listen to, but you have that unmoving person not far away. Ha! Do I feel resentment, reader?! Can you really resent the fact that you do not have this night to yourself now?! I mean, it’s not often you find city streets empty and quiet and so beautifully crystalline with the shimmer of rain on tarmac beneath faint streetlamps. Do streetlamps ever turn off in the night you ask? I couldn’t say, I do not stay outdoors for nights on end. Maybe that’s something you could use, yes, something intelligent you could use to spark conversation with this stranger if you really are going to put aside that resentment and say hello.
I can feel your caution. It’s not good to go about fearing everything you know! After all, no-one is here but him, or her, to watch you fail if you mix up your words or stumble. Only that stranger. And hell, it’s likely you’ll never even see them again! You could even use this as some weird little experiment! Go on, go and get a spine! About time!
But then, I did say something earlier didn’t I; I did say be careful. Well maybe I take it back. Maybe you could use this, I shall keep quiet.
The figure under the lamp swayed forward just a little. Not enough for anyone to wonder if they were about to fall or if they had fallen asleep, just in the way that one finds when one focuses on something in front of them and let’s their mind fall silent again. The body took another slow breath and once again the eyes blinked, the shuddering boom came in its mind and it’s eyes darkened further, now darker grey. The night around it thickened, as if some veil had come before it. The eyes lifted again to the kerb on the other side of the road. This time the head lifted just a little too, just to keep the eyes from feeling the pull of muscles. The hair, slick and heavy, pulled at the roots and the figure let out its breath as slowly as it had inhaled as if in a sigh.
Now I’m just watching you. I’m not going to say anything to you but I’m going to report what you’re doing. This, friend, is my job so please, do not resent me also for intruding on your private little test.
You’ve taken another step only this time you’ve forgotten that I told you to be quiet. I assume it’s because you wouldn’t want to startle this person, wouldn’t want to come at them from behind like some stalker or midnight killer! Hell, they wouldn’t like that one bit! Wouldn’t want to offer a challenge now. The wind seems to have picked up a little; you feel it on your skin like you’ve got moisture there. But the rain has stopped. All the same, you touch your cheek with your fingertips for a minute and find the skin to be just a little slimy. Moisture, whether it is sweat or humidity catching you, you just ignore it; may as well, you’ll be home soon. You come out from the shadows. Look at you, you seem even to have grown as I watch you now! Your face seems so bright that your clothes have almost faded into the darkness about you. Yes, you’re growing in confidence even now! See how the street light brings it out of you. I think you even notice it too because you look to those shadows and scowl just a bit, again feeling that moisture in the frowning folds of skin under your eyes and on your forehead. Shake your head, yes, stay out of those shadows, what were you doing, scuttling into them like a fearful mouse?! Did you sense something? Who knows now, it’s like you’ve forgotten what I said anyway, and rightly so, you should do things of your own account!
The chest heaved again, slowly as always, but the breath it took this time was heavier and filled with greater purpose and with it came an almost silent rasp that it heard only inside itself. The hands were hidden away in the pockets of the figure’s black thigh length coat, but as the breath took hold of the body a couple of the fingers twitched with life. The figure took in another breath, this time through its nose. But the breath was not whole. It stopped, mid-scent. Something caught on the breeze. The eyes widened just a little and the kerb ahead seemed to become more focused, as though each time it found a new sight for its gaze it slipped away for a moment and had not realised until now. The eyes shifted down again, to re-check the ground nearer to the feet, to find the greater focus there than they had found before. Yes, the pavement the figure stood upon was shining with a dull glitter of fallen rain; they saw this now, those eyes, instead of the swirl of dim grey it had been watching before. No thud came in that mind now as its eyes shut for a couple of seconds and opened again. Nothing flickered save the new taste on the breeze and the new shimmer on the ground. The head hung in place.