An eerie night's journey
| MAY SATAN HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL
It was an eerie sort of night, the type that makes your skin crawl and the neck hairs to copulate. A chill to the night air made a person fold into themselves for warmth. The fog hung low to the ground, casting ominous appearances on ordinary objects. The haze had my imagination working overtime as I viewed a wolf poised to lunge from a simple fallen tree branch or the child's slide that resembled a mountain lion. Terror rose like a painful bout of reflux at the back of my throat. A hooting owl perched in the tree caused me to quicken my pace. The car's dead engine had caused my footed journey in unfamiliar streets.
I had gone to a concert tonight with a friend and she had just dropped me off at my car. My car started easily with its usual vroom. Two miles down the road it sputtered to a complete stop. Reaching for my cell phone to call the friend, the mental picture of my phone on her dashboard came into view. So for one single act of stupidity, I was forced to walk the streets at night and alone. I walked in the direction that I hoped would lead to the business district, believing that either a car shop or a phone could serve my needs.
I didn't know if I should feel safer because the streets were empty or if the solitary trek heightened my sense of doom. As best as I could I dodged the puddles lining the pavement. My once warm, fur-lined moccasins were caked in mud and slush. Trying to ignore the numbing cold and discomfort in my feet, I focused on the surroundings. The buildings were old and enormous with ornate sculptures that adorned them. Gargoyles and demon heads decorated the rooftops like simple wooden shutters decked the poor man's home. With granite mouths carved to the open position and large protruding teeth, it was easy to imagine them partaking in a feeding frenzy of their own making. I shivered hoping not to be part of the party the statues had planned. I willed my cold and slimy feet to begin an all-out jog, at the possibility of the numerous effigies' springing to life.
It was dark, an odd darkness, that snuffed out even the small brilliance of candles burning in the windows. No street lights stood as beacons to cast a frightened woman's shadow. A pair of glowing golden eyes flickering in the distance was the only form of illumination that offered invitation. I prayed that the eyes belonged to that of a cat of the domesticated variety. I tracked the glowing orbs to guide me. I measured my speed by the breadth of the feline's glowing eyes.
I failed to notice the man leaning against the tree. His sudden manifestation startled the bejeebers out of me. He wore a cowboy hat and boots. He propped one foot idly against the bark of the tree, with the other bent at the knee to hold his weight. His back was planted firmly against the middle of the tree trunk. He turned his head slowly towards me as I approached. Even in the darkness, I could see his left eyebrow raised to demonstrate surprise by my presence. He barely moved increasing my wariness. He looked more like a cardboard cutout for a cigarette advertisement than an actual person.
"Hey, pretty lady. What brings you out tonight?" he drawled
His scratchy voice and the creepiness of his delivery caused me to move farther away from the man. "Car broke down," I muttered, unsure of why I had volunteered the information.
"Be real happy to help you out.... for the right price," he said in a gravelly and sinister voice. His toothless grin was lit up by the silver glint of a tongue piercing. No shine emanated from his eyes, portraying only black empty sockets. What I thought was a tie around his neck began to move on its own. It slithered around his shoulders and pointed its head in my direction. The forked tongue flicked a warning hiss at me. I jumped, landing in the nearest puddle, adding to the wet muck already soiling my shoes. Instinctively, I grabbed my cross pendant firmly between my fingers. It was my way of warding off the evil beside me. It served only to irritate the man and his asp. He stepped away from his tree with his tall slender physique enhancing the satanic image I held.
"No thanks, I'll be fine." I cried as hurried on my way.
"I may just be your last hope, little lady," he warned.
"I just can't believe that sir," I called over my shoulder, clutching my cross closely.
I ran aimlessly through the street wanting only to escape the man by the tree. The glowing eyes that reemerged in my path suddenly welcomed me. I followed the cat with abandon, fearing the things that were behind me. In my head, I named him Guardian. He led me to a well-lit oasis, a Shell station in the midst of an empty and soulless town. Relief flooded me and my tears streamed down.
Guardian, my new friend, turned out to be a black cat. He warmed me as he wrapped around my legs when I entered the station. His purr was melodious and so was the voice of the man behind the counter.
"You look like you could use some help, young lady. Come on in out of the cold," he said with a soft and velvety croon.
My greeter was an older man, with a benevolent smile and hair that was salt and peppered. His eyes glistened with actual eyeballs placed firmly in his their sockets.
"Yes, please, may I use your phone?"
"Of course you can. You look like you fell in a big sinkhole filled with mud. Martha, my wife, will get you some warm things to wear. I'm sure we have something in the back. Your feet have to be frozen blocks of ice. The soles of your shoes are torn plumb off the bottom. You know what they say, May Satan have mercy on your soles," he said as he gave me a wink.
I laughed like I had never before. It was a freeing laugh that renewed my strength and rejuvenated my spirit. Such laughter had the power to rebirth my faith.
The man eyed me suspiciously. "Are you sure you are okay? We are here to help you, my dear."
"I'm fine. It has just been a very long ...and lonely night!"
Word Count 1108