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Rated: ASR · Chapter · Dark · #2270412
Chapter 1 for the Chapter One contest March 2022
The map, in my mind those words are written in all large print. I don't mean just any map, not your average treasure map either. This map leads to the answers of who I am, where I come from, why I am here. I don't trust the person who gave me the map. You wouldn't trust the Queen of Lies either. She gave it to me as a temptation I am sure. I follow the path to its end and it will most likely lead to my damnation in some way. Temptation, a word, a concept that brings the nearly inevitable act of falling into its trap.

The question is do I need to know who I am bad enough to leap over that edge. I have abilities. Unnatural, somewhat dark abilities. I can see death, the entity, the concept as it approaches people. I know when it is coming, why, and how. I can also see the path of choices that people have taken to come to this final exit. Sometimes it seems just a simple left turn or one sip more or less of water could have forstalled its early arrival. Sometimes choices made change the manner of death. I can see where the individual went wrong changing a pleasant passing from old age into a violent twisted murder.

It isn't just an ability it is a curse. I can see where and when everyone else is going to die, but I never know which of my choices might do the same favor for me. Blind to fate, what if I followed the map? What if it gave me the vision to see my death, postpone it. What if that postponement was the gateway to damnation. I can see death, but I am blind to what follows it. As blind as I am to my own origins.

Seeing death isn't my only ability. I can draw pain into myself. I keep it in a reservoir because I can deal it out again. Pain can change death's path. It can slow someone's steps just enough to make them miss the bus destined to strike them down. Or it can hurry someone along into the arms of a killer. Darkness walks in me with my abilities. I can draw all the pain out of a heinous death or put agony into the most peaceful one. Am I an angel of mercy? or of vengeance?

"Darcy." Brian waved his hand in front of my face. "Darcy, what wool are you gathering this time?"

I couldn't tell him the truth. That the skateboarder that just rode down the sidewalk in front of us was about to break his neck attempting to ride the railing down the stairs. If I told him it could alter events. I wouldn't be able to see death's path clearly. He might lose his prey. Sometimes death would take a random bystander in anger. I don't want to chance death would choose Brian to take the skateboarder's place. Here it comes... The skateboarder saw the landing coming and screamed in fear. It was a scream cut off mid-voicing.

"Oh dear god!" Brian exclaimed, "I don't think he's getting up from that!" His voice shouted that he was joking. He didn't understand how bad the impact was at first. Like the other bystanders, he ran ahead to get a closer look and to offer help.

I walked forward slowly with measured steps. I had already seen the incongruous angle of the man's head on his neck. His body was bent like a broken ragdoll. His soul had already checked out.

Brian stopped dialing for emergency response, he had seen it now too. "He isn't getting up, is he?"

I frowned at him and his eyes took on a distant pitying look, one that he saved for me at times like these. I had never told him my secret, but in our years together he had seen a lot. I knew he had guessed something like the truth about me. For reasons I don't think he understood we had never spoken about it even in passing. The look made me want to shrivel up and find a hole to crawl into. Seeing death coming was a curse that left me feeling guilty at times like these.

Brian lead me around the milling crowd, away from the death scene. I felt his emotional pain and confusion. I absorbed it leaving him pleasantly numb. It was the one consolation of my gifts. I would press that pain and confusion out on some thief or murderer. Maybe the sensation would stay their hand just once.

"Let's head home. I think tonight is a good night for delivery." Brian suggested. The image of the young man's death was smoothed over in his mind.

I nodded, doing my best not to retraumatize him with my own emotions. It didn't matter the death, I had yet to find any sense of numbness from it. Each life lost cut me like a dull knife. What if the map could change all of this? What if?

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