by D R Evans
with the help of modern technology the end of the word is getting closer.
The man in black
The man dressed in black sat quietly looking out over the desert. He was way out of his comfort zone, which was 7000km's away, back in Manhattan.
This was Africa, even the hundred thousand dollar, air-conditioned Range Rover Sport he currently found himself being chauffeured around in, could not diminish the discomfort he felt from relentless heat.
It had been seven months since he had left the states on his quest. His travels had taken him through some of the toughest country he could ever have imagined but in the end, he knew it would be worth it. The reward for his endeavours would far outweigh the millions he had spent, the many nights he spent doing research and the torturous voyage he had under taken. A voyage that had started back in his Penthouse eight months ago. A voyage that had begun with dreams.
He closed his eyes, then put his head back as the dreams came flooding back.
The dreams started peacefully but evolved into nightmares. Nightmares which caused him to wake in a pool of his own sweat.
They started out over a week apart, eventually increasing in frequency as they increased in intensity. By the end of the third week he was getting around 1 hour sleep a night, on some nights, no sleep at all.
He tried drugs to help him sleep but that brought up the issue of not being able to wake up from the nightmares.
The dreams started off with him walking in a desert. At first dressed in good hiking boots, knee high socks, knee length shorts and a white cotton shirt. An old British type dessert hat on on his head. He remembered thinking he was more than likely dressed like this due his affinity to old movies he liked to watch late into the night. He was even surrounded by dark skinned men in long flowing robes with kufeyas wrapped around grizzled, sunburnt faces.
He actually liked the dreams at first, they fuelled his passion for adventure. As the weeks passed, they became darker with some of his helpers dying. The dreams began to shift from adventure to horror
His clothing began to change, the white shirt became dirty and brown, the boots were now tattered, the Pith helmet no longer sitting on his head. His face was older, gaunter. Hair now dishevelled and patchy.
The fourth week found him alone, his helpers rotting corpses lying along the trail. His shirt now black like his pants. His face now skeletal with eyes red and bulging, like he was battling for air. Around him the sky was now red with great big rumbling dark clouds. Lighting crashed everywhere, wind blew sand all around him.
When he was eventually scared awake he found himself wet from head to toe, his bed resembled a war zone with sheets thrown all around the room. Over the next few weeks he got less and less sleep. Eventually only getting 3 hours sleep over the full 7 days. The lack of sleep kept him from going into the office causing him to miss work for nine straight days.
He stopped reading the notes being pushed under his door, letting them pile up. His contact with the outside world declined, from small contact with his house staff when they brought him his tray of food to no contact at all. The dinner trays were left outside his door then taken away, uneaten, with his dirty sheets he began to leave outside.
Only his strong OCD tendencies made him stand in his shower for hours a day. His face was starting to look like his face in his nightmares.
On the fortieth night of his ordeal he asked his staff to bring him two sets of pills, one set to stay awake, the second set to help him sleep. He knew he could not take another night of the nightmares. He decided that if he found himself drowsing off he was going to take the whole bottle of sleeping pills. For the first time in ten days he opened his door to retrieve his food. He ate as much as his body would let him then took a double dose of pills from his stay awake pill bottle. He turned on all the lights, showered then put on a dressing gown. His pushed his double seater couch to the far end of the room and brought his old wicker chair in front of his TV then sat down to a night of Netflix classic movies. Every hour he stood and stretched then he walked around his room, splashing water on his face then sitting back in front of his TV.
He remembered the sound of his cup falling to the ground then he found himself back in the dessert.
The sky was now dark; the red skies had given way to the black clouds. The lightning so close that it felt like it was striking inches from his face. He heard a scream, a low primal scream that pierced the bangs of the thunder. It took him a few seconds to realize he was alone, and it was him screaming. He fell to his knees, dropping his head down to his chest, he could no longer go on. He fell forward, his face hitting the wet sand. Something was under his chest, he moved his hand to try and feel what is was. It was wet and solid and definitely not sand. He rolled over to get a better look. An arm was sticking out of the sand. He pushed himself to himself back to his knees with all his might. In the flash of light, he saw his surroundings. Naked bodies and body parts lay as far as he could see, then it went dark again. He stood frozen waiting for another lighting strike to see if he had seen what he thought he had seen. The next strike was long, long enough for him to see the bodies once again. He screamed again. This time he saw human shapes walking around the bodies.
"help me!" he screamed.
Two of the human shapes turned to face him. it was then that he realized that these were not human. They were skeletons carrying huge scythes. They were slicing up bodies and pushing them into a large opening in the ground. Flames flared from the holes in huge fingers grasping for purchase. Turning to run he tripped over a body. He forced himself to his feet wiping his blood soaked hands on the last bit of his shirt that had no blood.
A light broke the dark on the edge of his vision. He climbed over bodies and body parts, slowly getting closer the light. A lighting crash showed that the cloaked apparitions closing the distance to him. They next strike showed a figure only a few meters behind him. He was about five meters from the light when he heard the swish of a blade cutting through the air. Instinct caused him to duck, then dive forward. He felt the air move inches from his head. He crawled toward the light. Another "thunk" as a scythe blade struck the ground near his head.
The light was emanating from an oblong shape sitting on a rock standing like an island in a sea of human body parts. A bony foot squashed through dead flesh next to his shoulder. He looked up to see a raised scythe bearing down. Stretching out he grab the shining object. A sharp pain pierces the back of his head but it was gone as soon as he felt it. Slowly he turned to see the shining blade inches from his face, the skeletal figure frozen in time. Slowly the figure dropped to a knee and lowered his head, the rest of the figures taking the same posture. In his left hand he held the object that now looked like a vase of some sorts, in his right hand he held an ornate ancient sword.
He awoke to find himself sitting in the wicker chair. Unlike the last six weeks he woke up calm, breathing easy. He was not sweating.
He jumped to his feet running to his cupboard flinging open the doors he walked in.
He reached for a clean shirt and a pair of jeans.
He had a mission, he had no time to waste.
A misplaced stone on the road beneath the Range Rover brought him back to the present with a jolt. He looked to the lights of the town in the distance.
"Nearly there" he said "nearly there"