A walk home becomes a trigger in a series of remarkable,supernatural events.Please review!
|‘Yeah, have a good night! See you tomorrow!’ I boomed to my two workmates as they headed for the multi-story car park. |
I waved and continued to walk down the street past the huge building they had entered whilst readjusting my half-empty backpack. Streetlights were beginning to flicker, anticipating the fast approaching darkness. The idea of walking to and from work without experiencing any sun was gradually becoming a reality, autumn had truly set in. It had rained quite heavily earlier but the clouds had passed, leaving a pinkish-red haze surrounding the setting sun. I stroked my face with my left hand whilst crossing an empty road and decided I need to shave tonight. I wish I didn’t, shaving seemed such a chore, but I knew I must. Customers don’t want to be served coffee from a scruffy looking 21 year old. Especially not in an old market town like Witney, with its hoards of OAP’s shuffling through the streets contemplating what letter of complaint they’re going to write next.
I quickly remembered I had headphones dangling over my khaki jacket, bouncing off my zipped-up chest as I walked, and placed them in my ears. I reached for my Iphone in my right hand pocket and after scrolling through my playlists, decided to listen to ‘The Foals’ latest album on my way home. I always take my time whilst walking home; the fresh air helps me get lost in thought as I mentally cleanse myself from the day’s work. I hadn’t been feeling well this morning and I thought about phoning in sick, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Although I was merely the Assistant Manager, I still possessed a strong feeling of obligation and loyalty to that soulless coffee franchise.
It was fiercely cold and my body responded to this with the occasional shudder, at least I think that was because of the temperature. I kept my hands in my pockets as I sang along to the lyrics in my head, observing everything around me as I went. I like to think I am very observant, especially when it comes to people. I imagine what they are thinking about and where they are going to and from. I often see the same, familiar people on the streets and this comforts me. Routine is comforting, it’s not cool to like it but I do. I studied a bespectacled middle-aged woman walking her dog towards me, a well groomed white westie happily hopping along in front of her. Her head lifted and she noticed me, I smiled at her politely. Her face failed to react and her vision fell, focusing on her pet. Working in retail has programmed me to be friendly and pleasant to almost anyone I come across, which I think is a fantastic mentality which others don’t embrace. Also, the idea that I am a ‘Youth’ in many people’s eyes means I often get that ‘I don’t trust you’ gaze.
I walked down the rest of ‘Welch Way’, a road which possessed all 3 of the town’s emergency services alongside many other amenities. I walked past the library and glanced through the windows of the building, it was closed and I saw nothing stir inside from this distance. What did catch my eye was a figure behind the library, on a small road the other side. It was a dark, tall man stood perfectly still in the middle of the road. Facing my direction, he looked like he was watching me. He was quite a distance away and I couldn’t make out many of his features. But what drew my attention in the first place were his eyes, they seemed purple. Perhaps it was the dying sunlight and my strained eyes, but they stood out a mile and it felt like they were looking right through me, analysing me. I tore my vision away from the deep purple scan and tried to shrug it off. With it still bugging me, five seconds later I turned around and he was no longer there. I didn’t know whether to make him out as creepy or cool. Did I imagine his eyes? Did I imagine him? Not letting it get to me, I successfully disengaged myself from the encounter and continued to listen to my music.
Cars were either whizzing by or creeping forward, depending on a set of unavoidable traffic lights in the centre of the long stretched road. Some driver’s had their headlights on, others had obviously not realised how quickly it had darkened. People strolled past, people waited at bus stops and people moved around in their homes as I walked by. At the end of the road was a large roundabout, I turned to my left and crossed one road, stopped on an island and waited to cross another. I had to do this again straight after to get to my appropriate path, but whilst on the island my innards growled and I was struck with a sudden coughing fit. A driver looked at me with sympathy and stopped to wave me across, I obliged. Whatever this illness was it was taking its toll.
I staggered up Curbridge Road, which began with a mildly steep climb; there was a graveyard entrance opposite. I peered over to the peaceful landscape, past the 5-foot wall, to the gradual hill littered with ivy-covered stone plaques. I often crossed and meandered through the graveyard just to spice up my walk, as well as enjoying the serenity and calm it exudes. The other entrance to it is further up the road, so I simply exit there and continue to my house. Not today though, I was in a rush to get home and feel safe this evening. I would curl up in my bed and let my quilt absorb the pain and sickness within me. I followed the road and impulsively tapped my leg to the beat of the current song, getting lost in the music.
Soon after, I noticed a guy roughly my age on the other side of the road strolling along. I recognised him immediately as I always see him walking his route whenever I finish work around five. I had caught up with him; he must have gone through the graveyard. I also recognised him from nights in town at the weekend, he socialised with a wide array of people. Even people I was friends with, and they seemed to like him plenty. He seemed like a decent guy who I would get along with, and although I knew nothing of him I imagined him rather similar to me. This being peculiar as I often believed I was vastly different from the majority; I had weirdly rational thought processes and was very apathetic about most things. I guess it was simply his similar age, height, friends and home place which urged this reasoning. I assumed he worked in town somewhere slightly more official, as I spotted a blue shirt underneath the black jacket he frequently wore. He readjusted his headphones and crossed over to my side, looking both ways. When he looked left he caught my gaze; I nodded my head in acknowledgement. He smiled and mirrored me before turning away and continuing on our path.
A burning sensation swept through my entire body and a few seconds later my sight became riddled with white blotches. I stopped in my tracks and put my hand to my forehead, I was shaking. I tried to walk forward but the burning had morphed to an increasingly painful bone ache which made me feel immobile. I was like an old, rusty, un-oiled bike. My cogs, my insides; refusing to work and threatening to break. I struggled to concentrate. I was more than halfway home and felt that the method of ‘powering through’ was best. Why did this have to happen now? Could it not wait until I got home? With the urge to postpone any further chance of fainting, vomiting or other act of weakness, I unfroze myself. This didn’t go smoothly and I lurched forward, letting out a gurgling groan. The lad in front stopped and turned to me, 25 metres away. I grimaced and fell to the floor, landing on my ass and clutching my stomach. I don’t know why my stomach, as the agony was all over. He was merely curious at first but I could see that my tumble had given him purpose to run back to my aid. My headphones had fallen out and I could hear his footsteps.
His face entered my vision soon after and he pulled his headphones out. He had short, messed-up, light brown hair and held a look of concern whilst offering his hand. I was sitting down with my legs knelt up in front of me, one hand clutching the pavement to my right and the other still around my stomach. I didn’t dare move.
“Are you alright...urr obviously you’re not alright, how redundant” He rolls his eyes “I mean, what’s up? Can I help?”
He spoke so quickly and I had to rethink what he actually said. I appreciated his humorous self-correction as it calmed me. Although pain was dominating my mind, a feeling of embarrassment started to make itself known. How unmanly of me, how weak I must look. He didn’t seem like he was judging though, but he could of been. He moved to my right and lowered himself a bit, he continued;
“I can call an ambulance if you want dude, do you need an ambulance? You don’t look good. Can you walk?”
Just that someone was here and worried about me, made me feel better. His presence helped enough that I brought my hand away from my stomach and down onto the pavement the other side of me.
“I.....I think I’m ok. I’ve been having these.... waves of pain. This one....this one was bad, I froze and fell” I explained slowly and thoughtfully.
“What you doing out when you’re feeling like that?” He seemed shocked.
“I had work. They weren’t too bad before. They got worse”
He pretended to understand and motioned for me to grab his hand again.
“Right. Reckon you can get up yet? Unless you like it down there? Doesn’t look that comfy.”
I was feeling more and more like a burden, even though his comments helped diffuse the awkwardness of the situation. The pain has simmered down now and my body seemed happy to respond. I grabbed his hand with mine and with my free one I pushed on the ground. I gradually got to my feet.
“You alright, did you hurt yourself when you fell?”
“Nah, I ...”
I brought my hand to my forehead as the whiteness came back. I hadn’t been breathing properly down on the ground, now on my feet I felt a rush to the brain and lost my stability. The guy made sure he had me as I shuffled my legs apart to retain my balance. He didn’t struggle to keep hold of me as he was also around 6”2 and hands firmly on my shoulders. I controlled my breathing and regained my standing. Pain lingered throughout my body but it was manageable. My head throbbed but I was simply relieved to have my full field of vision restored.
“Lets get you home, yeah?” He patted my upper back the once. “You live far?”
“Urr not too far, Burwell area.”
“I live on Thorney Leys, so you’re not too much of a burden mate” He assures me, as if he had read my mind.
We continued to walk my usual route. After a few metres he let go of me but stayed noticeably close, ready for another episode. I took it easy and focused on the path. My steps became less jittery as we went.
“So I reckon you call in sick tomorrow. Get some rest, call a doctor and whatnot” He insisted. And then on a tangent “By the way what’s your name? I’ve seen you around town but we’ve never chatted have we? If we have I must’ve been wasted” He gestured and looked into the distance.
“It’s Nick.” I responded “Yeah I’ve seen you in town too with those twin brothers and that lot. They seem cool. Your names something odd isn’t....trench or something”
I had heard it mentioned before by a friend of a friend, when I once served them at work. They had assumed I knew him.
He chuckled and answered “Almost! It’s Ditch. It’s not my real name though. My real name is Richard. Ditch is just my nickname”
“Wierd nickname” I confessed.
“Yeh it’s been that ever since I was like 4 and couldn’t say my own name properly. I called myself ‘Ditchard’ and my dad, blatantly taking the piss, called me ‘Ditch’. It soon caught on and then never left.” He rolled his eyes upwards.
I laughed. “A constant reminder of your disability then! ‘Least you can say it now” I forced a smile through my pain. I enjoyed concentrating on conversation instead of what had just happened, it made it seem more trivial.
“Barely, I still have my issues. But generally I just speak proper fast now. I even went to Uni and tried to call myself ‘Richard’, but my mates Jay and Amy went to the same Uni and it soon caught on”
“It does have a ring to it”
We were walking past the entrance to a big house I knew of, with a tall hedge shielding the pebbled driveway from view. A small pond was outside the front door and 3 cars were parked.
“Do you know who lives there?” Ditch asked but left no gap for my answer “One girl knows the twins from working in Sainsbury’s but I never see her out, it’s the other girl I often see”
I actually did know some facts about the residents. “They’re the Dale sisters. Laura’s the oldest, who your friends know, and the younger one is Charlie who works at Waitrose. I go there on my lunch break as my mate Jack works their too”
“Witney is such a small place, everyone knows everyone!” Ditch exclaimed “I was just going to say that they are both pretty fit”- I laughed a little and replied “Yes, yes they are”
We had walked way past the Dale’s house now and I was feeling almost human again, I hoped the worst of it was over and my health would only improve from here. I still agreed that seeing a doctor was necessary as that was one scary spell of agony. I hoped that I had had the worst of it and that my health would only improve.
We moved on to other topics. I learnt he worked at a Bank in town and had been to University, something I wish I had done but never had the parental encouragement. He goes out a lot drinking and being sociable, like any typical 22 year old. We went to turn into a new road when a double-decker bus came noisily towards us. It slowed and halted at the entrance to the road we were previously on, waiting to turn left. I scanned the inside of the bus and met the stare of a rather attractive girl. She had reddish brown hair and large, deep eyes. She was dressed quite trendy and after looking at myself and Ditch for a few seconds she smiled broadly and then turned her head away, returning to her phone.
“She was deffo smiling at me, dude” Ditch smirked as we entered the new road.
“Whatever” I replied “Anyway, I reckon I’ll be alright now. You don’t have to walk me the rest, I only live down here” I pointed “and over the small field”
“Nicholas, after that woeful display I witnessed, I don’t think it’s the best Idea.” He looked at me uncertainly.
“Its Nick” I interrupted. “And seriously, I will yell if something fucked up happens to my insides again, you’ll hear me, my mum will hear me, I’ll be fine”
“Alright, I get the point, I’m shit company” He shrugged “I’ll just go kill myself” he said with a half-smile as he crossed the road and went to go back to the corner the bus had waited at. He turned and loudly said whilst walking backwards “Next time you’re out, you owe me a pint. Deal?”
“Deal, I’ll keep an eye out for you!” my voice had turned croaky with the sickness. That was the last exchange we made before going our separate ways.
The night had almost drawn in. I walked monotonously down the road, with my radar off and only my destination in mind. I crossed over another road to reach the field, my final hurdle. The ground was fairly muddy but I didn’t want to walk around, I wanted to get home and secure as fast as possible. My walk became more of a stumble as my legs seem to drift from left to right, shaking. I had felt good, but now all my ailments were returning. I was a third of the way across and the weakness made me feel angry, as I lost all concentration I fell to my knees. Becoming furious, I used all my energy and got up. After looking at my clothes dashed with mud I turned to see who had seen me, I was sure someone had seen. Nobody was about and so I walked a few more steps. A few more steps were all it took until the piercing, scratching pain began in my skull. Like a sharp dagger being driven through my head, from the back of my neck upwards. I face planted the ground; this physical pain didn’t even register in comparison.
‘What is this? This doesn’t seem natural. This doesn’t seem real’ was all I was thinking before I tasted the blood. I felt like I should be blaming someone or something for this. Then the wave of ‘Why me? What have I done to deserve this?’ flooded my mind, between the sharp white pulses of pain. I still sensed a presence of some kind, as the pulsing continued my vision became obscured and my body convulsed. Objects seemed distorted and brighter than others, grass seemed greener and the sky seemed to ripple. As I writhed around I noticed the moon, its glow more powerful and penetrating than ever. I heaved up something warm and wet from within me, and turned to my side to let it slide out of me. Whilst it trickled down my chin I saw an incomprehensible sight in the corner of the field.
My ears rang, my head thumped and my insides squelched. All 5 senses eventually stopped and numbness filled my body. All I could do was lie there like an immobile cocoon and feel my heart slow to a stop. I was scared, I was angry, I was relieved.
My body was no longer me. I had leaked out of it like the blood that oozed from each orifice. I spiralled outwards until I observed myself. I was losing all emotions, all feelings, all memories and anything I called my own. No personality, no morals, no desires. I had become an observer, impartial and unseen. I had transcended to omniscience with no prior connections, except one. I felt my death was an unavoidable factor in larger plan of things. This undoing was the cause of something more remarkable. I was now compelled to follow this series of events and see what becomes of my sacrifice.
I was always led to believe that before you died your whole life would flash before your eyes; every carefully constructed memory would play one more time before they were wiped from existence. This was not true to me, as I had simply relived my final walk home. Scanning my downfall for evidence of how this came to be, looking for rhyme or reason. What I failed to fully understand before my senses dissolved was that vision near the corner of the field. A powerful, blurry light over six feet tall stood still and watched me. The colour of this light was... purple.