Stepping out into the cool, autumn air of the evening, pulling my coat ever closer to my body the dampness hung in the air like mist. With flashlight in hand I knew where I had to go and with this storm approaching it was certain need to head there quickly. Stepping through the trees, whose branches had lost all but a few leaves, been surrendered to the earth and crunched lightly under foot as each step drew me deeper into the darkened woods.
The night was thick amongst the trees, the only noise was the crackling of twigs and the crunching of leaves beneath my feet. Traversing ever closer to the old building in the back of the property, a sound, almost a whisper caught my attention. Stopping in my tracks to have a closer listen. There was indeed a mans whisper, gentle and sweet. Unable to pinpoint the source of the sound I stood there, turning off the flashlight just to listen. And the whispering did not stop. “My day is done my dear, I’m sorry please forgive me”.
Slowly placing one foot in front of the other, carefully moving, ever nearer to the sound. In all the years I walked back here, having never come across a single person. After-all this was my property and no one should be here anyway. The soft whispered voice turned into a louder conversation, although I was only hearing one side of it. After moving forward about 20 paces I stopped once again to have a listen. No sound came back, walking forward once again the voice began to ring through the trees. “You couldn’t understand, there was a hole, it’s deep my dear”.
My curiosity was insanely peaked at this and moving closer, I could see the form of a man sitting on the edge of a rock, his head placed back against the tree. No time to really stand here and watch what this guy was doing, but just what was he doing back here and who was he talking too? The decision came to me to go to the old building lock it up and then confront him on the way back. Proceeding slower than was desired however as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. The building, standing there solemnly creepy as it always was. Until the open door caught my attention. No one had been back here for the better part of month or more. As I stood there staring at the door and contemplating, the rain began to fall like cold daggers against my cheeks.
Turning the flashlight on and walking into the building, every hair on the back of neck was standing on end and a shiver coursed down my spine. My breath caught in my chest as I flipped the creaky light switch. Yes everything was in its place including what seemed to be the imprint of the memory from so many years ago. Crimson spatter covered everything from inside the old car, the door hung open on the driver’s side. My mouth hung open as if on hinges and the flashlight dropped from my hand rolling its way under the work bench, casting an eerie glow. The fear and panic crept back up inside and a scream of sheer terror escaped me, unable to catch my breath as the tears rolled down my cheeks.
The radio was blaring an all to familiar song, and I wondered how long had this been going on or was this just a figment of my imagination. Was I projecting my deepest pain onto what I was seeing? Closing my eyes, and taking a deep breath, the music still casting its dead melody. Opening my eyes, nothing had changed, the scene still remained. This could not be, I had been out here every summer all season long for ten years to look after this car, this building, the tools and lawn mower and other equipment. What was displayed before my eyes was an impossibility. Still with weakened knees I had to go and see, the urge to know overwhelmed me as the driver’s side of the car seemed to beckon to me.
My mind moved forward and yet my feet remained as if sealed in concrete, unable to move. With a push of forceful will, one small step and gut wrenching urge to vomit came over me. Gathering my wits I took those steps bringing me closer to the driver’s side door. Blood spatter so thick it was an impossibility to see anything beyond the splattered glass. The song began it’s aching tune one again, words didn’t even register as I stepped into full view of the interior of the car, grey no longer, now bloody crusted crimson and speckled with matter. Again fighting the urge to fall down to my knees. Heart pounding in my chest and stomach turning back on itself.
The tears came in fits of anger and rage, skin on fire and with every heartbeat veins pounded, what I had expected, or whom was absent. I did fall to the cement floor on my knees in waves of relief, sobbing and cussing this irritating song,shut up. This was my imagination or things gone terrible wrong between the veil of both worlds. Surely there was no way this was real.
Clenching my eyes shut tight, wishing this vision to leave my sight. Sitting there as time passed, not aware of how long. Opening my eyes in sheer panic at the thought, if he’s not here, where did had he gone? Gathering myself, the slap of reality at the door being opened and the sight of the man in the woods, the empty drivers seat raced through my head. The rain had commenced pounding ever so much harder outside. In my panic I forgot about the radio playing that blasted song on repeat and everything else as I walked out the door into the darkest of pitch and pouring rain. In terror and disbelief driving me ahead. From this I can not run.
The night was dark and the rain came pelting down as cold as ice, melting in an instant on my feverish skin. The pounding in my chest from the adrenaline rush took over every part of my being. Where did he go, was he here, was that him by the tree, who was he talking to, in an instant even before my brain was thinking my feet were running back down the path, for one more chance to see him again. Sprinting to the tree where he had been, he was no longer there, only a large slick rock.
Sitting on the rock for a moment, heart-broken once more. Once more chance to see that smile, those eyes if only for one more chance. From behind came a sound just a little louder than a whisper “I knew you’d come”. Terror took its hold on me and I was frozen in place. The overwhelming want to see him again, the pain the terror of what I was about to see and in a miraculously magic moment I felt absolutely nothing. No heart pounding, no cold rain, no panic, pain or fear. Every part of my being had gone completely and utterly numb.
Standing and turning to face the voice, I felt like I was floating. The only thing to do was stare, in front me he stood, bloody and smiling with his hand-held out. Without hesitation my hand extended to his. The rain poured down my face masking my tears. It was then as fingers tips touched finger tips that dread began to rise inside me. Icy fingers tips reaching for mine, his smile had gone and what I saw in those unnaturally blackened eyes, flinching drawing my hand away. Waves of tears embracing me as I saw him just standing in front of me, and the stark realization he was no longer who I’d thought he’d be.
“My dear it’s time for me to go, come hither now or forever let me go”. Possessing the relentless longing to give in to that voice, the once so missed. In the weakest voice that was able to be mustered, standing there shaking in sobs I gave my final, painful goodbye. “My love with all my heart yes it is that time. Time for me to let you go”.
A shiver passed over me when I awoke freezing. The covers on the bed were twisted in knots about me, soaked and sweating profusely. My mind swam in a sleepy haze and apprehension, my hair was drenched and my left finger tips were numb. Exiting the bed I went into the bathroom, catching a glimpse of myself looking a fright in the mirror. Upon looking back into the bedroom was when I noticed the muddy footprints I left soiled on the carpet behind me.
Looking in the mirror I whispered “Goodbye”
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