When Real Things Happen To Imaginary People

Darius hefted the cool brick in his palm, feeling the dull weight of it tug his bones. He slid a slim finger along the edge, studied the pale puff of crumbled mortar: how it floated down and spiraled out into the grimy street rain.

It wasn't spitting rain, he decided. Spitting implies more of a gob. Water bundles. Fat rain falling. No. He shivered and set the brick down again by his foot at the curb. This rain is more like heavy breathing -- that after sprinting huff that warms as it cools, clinging sticky to window panes and the backs of necks.

"Darius Webber."

The addressed turned, squinting, blinking up in the clinging haze. "Yes?"

The figure hunched over him drew its thick jacket closer. A face peered foggily out of the quilted hood, its grim mouth set in a line under a skewed nose. "This is the part where you die.'

The man's hand twitched in its pocket. Click.

Alone in a little nowhere house, in a little anywhere study, a little nobody writing a little story squeaks, dropping his pencil. The author clenches his arm with a hand, gritting his teeth. The pencil rolls click-tick-tick, clack to the floor.

Darius started to protest, "I -"

The street cooled, greying. The sky drew in a shuddering breath in a pigeon wing rattle.

He paused, one hand raised as if asking a question.

The man in the coat blinked. His eyes twitched, glancing around. "Did you feel that?" he rasped. He bit his lip, bringing his hands out empty to hang by his sides.

Darius watched, confused, rain water seeping into the seat of his jeans, as the man shook himself. His head still jerked around at the empty street.

The man's eyes bulged and he folded, gripped Darius' shoulders, face panicked. "Something's wrong!"

Darius gagged on the man's dusty cereal breath and the jacket man shot up again. He searched the dying sky for answers, screeching, "What's my motivation?!"

The End

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