The day was beautiful. A light breeze kept the humidity away, and the feeling of static electricity you often get before a big thunderstorm, had completely dissipated during the day. It seemed to Jake that everybody in the city must be thinking the same as they were also out walking. Just to anywhere at all. There were simply more people out on the streets than it seemed he had ever seen before.
Right in front of him a couple was walking down the street. The guy had his arm around her waist, and just below it, Jake could see a sliver of colour in a swirl across the base of her back below his wrist, some kind of tribal tattoo. They seemed to be perfectly happy, a week ago he'd have said, just like Tara & himself.
"You're too self-contained Jake. You don't need anything from me. You've done everything you set your eyes on. And you've never needed so much as moral support from me." Tara's words replayed in Jake's head, as he walked.
Everywhere he looked, he could see people who were happy and in love. Sitting on the low rock wall that surrounded Franklin Park, were a couple of punks. One had a hot pink Mowhawk, safety pins for earrings. The other's hair was bright green and set into large spikes sticking out in every direction. They both wore similar clothing, mostly black, with some carefully contrived rips and holes here and there. Heavy Doc Martens laced up outside their trouser legs. "It's almost like a uniform." Jake thought. He glanced over to the road to see if the traffic was light enough to consider ducking across, when he felt a sense of unease, of something out of place.
At that moment, Jake heard a scream. Every sense in his body magnified it's abilities a thousand-fold, and time slowed down to a crawl. He realized in the barest fraction of a second, the cause of his unease. When glancing at the traffic, he'd seen a woman standing just on the road, and he felt a sensation of pure evil, tinged with desperation emanating from her. He had just registered a big-rig truck coming up the road about to pass in front of the woman when she jerkily stepped out — right into the path of the oncoming truck. In the moment before it slammed into her Jake had seen something nobody else had.
The woman's expression changed dramatically, to one of pure terror. And that's the instant her lungs expelled every last ounce of air in a desperate scream of horror, almost instantly cut off with a sickening crunch as the truck's brakes engaged a ½ foot beyond where she was standing. Within a few yards, the truck had pulled to a stop, and people in the street began to react.
"Oh My God!"
"What the Hell?"
"Who is that?"
"Is she OK?"
"Mummy, is the woman dead?"
"Somebody call 911!"
"He's in a whole heap of trouble..."
All of these comments were jumbled together, and dozens more. A young girl was hysterically crying and gasping just behind Jake. His senses were still in a state of hypersensitivity, and time for him was almost non-existent. He heard every comment being made, and one part of him was sub-consciously filing them each away while another part observed who belonged to each phrase he was noting. Most of his attention was focused on something else completely.
The evil that he had sensed in the woman's face had almost rippled away in the instant she was screaming. It seemed to his preternatural senses, that he could just barely observe some kind of shadow that was hovering around and above her head and shoulders. Almost as if she wore a cloak of some kind. He realized that this effect, which he could just barely sense, would not be visible to anybody else as he was not truly "seeing" it with his eyes. He was more feeling it through the enhancements to his senses.
At the instant the truck impacted with the woman's fragile body, he sensed the Darkness pulse. It swelled immensely, engulfing the front of the truck with almost a voracious lunge. Jake watched the truck grind to a halt. He moved slowly towards the spot where everybody was converging. But as he did so he observed with all his capacity, the presence of the Darkness. As he watched, his senses told him of the Darkness reaching out and pulsing as it washed over those who crowded around.
He realized that what he observed resembled nothing so much as a creature feeding. It was as if he was watching the suffering, the anguish, of the people in the small crowd gathering, being sucked into this nebulous shadow. The presence of the Darkness now seemed centered on the driver. As he observed with all his extended capability, the Darkness seemed to retreat somewhat, small tendrils reached out and brushed across individuals in the crowd, sometimes lingering almost longingly, but eventually drawing back. Within a few fractions of a second the Darkness had virtually disappeared. Leaving behind only traces in the expression of the driver.
Each of the people in the crowd where the Darkness' tendrils had lingered seemed somehow altered to Jake's perception. Their movements and expressions were visibly depressed. As if there had been an energy transfer to the creature of Darkness.
Jake made himself as inconspicuous as he could, and quietly drifted to the edge of the park. His senses were still working overtime, and so he was able to observe the minutest details about the individuals who were all around. His perception of time was still wildly disproportionate. It was as he was watching the situation continue to unfold, that he first observed the strangeness in the truck drivers eyes. Motes of darkness drifted lazily around the whites of his eyes, and flecks of brightness flickered in his pupils.
-- a --
What is the point? I can't go on like this. He's just saying that he loves me. All he really wants is sex. That's all any man wants. My mother hates me too. She always says cruel things whenever she's visiting. Of course I can't live up to her standards. They're impossible! It's no wonder I got fired, I've been incompetent all my life. I don't know why they hired me in the first place. Judy & Brian think I'm disgusting. I'm so fat it sickens even me when I look in the mirror. The scales may say 165lbs but I know it's all gross fat. I couldn't even stay a virgin till my senior year, let alone till I got married. I am such an immoral slut! I even want to have sex! I don't just wait for when Frank wants it. Sometimes I make it happen. Like that time when he went away for the week to a conference and I asked Mom to look after the kids for 2 days and we just kept on and on doing it. I can't even cook properly. I burn food all the time. If I was a better mother — I wouldn't go to work, I would stay at home to make Franks house a haven from his stressful career and a happy place for his kids to come to after they have been at school. I don't even deserve to be the mother of his children. I enjoy drinking, and alcohol is wrong! The preacher tells us so! I hate it when he preaches about sin. It makes me feel so bad, like everything I want is evil. I could kill him for what he preaches. If I poisoned Frank he wouldn't have to put up with my evil nature. Maybe I could smother the children when they sleep, then they could be happier. But if I kill them all that's wrong. They don't deserve to die. I deserve to die! I could get Franks gun when I get home. Maybe I could jump off a bridge, or I could stand in front of a bus. There's a truck coming down this road, it's going fast enough I'll just step out in front...
-- a --
Franklin St. 25mph.
Just started catching the greens before they turn amber.
Speed up to 30, should catch the next couple, then I can take the 15 on-ramp to I 57.
"What the... !!"
I couldn't get to the brakes in time!
Oh God, will the cops believe me?
I can't believe she did that! She was just standing there.
One minute still — the next minute jumping in front of me!
What will I say to the cops?
I'd better get out of the Cab, see if somebody's called 911.
Maybe she's still alive...
Easy does it, don't want to alarm anybody in this crowd.
"Did anybody see her jump out?" I had to ask, maybe somebody would be prepared to back me up...
"I saw her mister. She was just standing there, then she kind of jerked herself, and then she screamed real loud!"
The kid who spoke up appeared to be in his late teens.
Do the cops believe kids?
He looks well dressed, and has a backpack with him.
He might be a senior, if he is, maybe they'll believe him more.
"How old are you sonny?"
Is the woman moving at all?
When I glance at her — it's right then I feel it. The cloud of Darkness is around. It must be from her death. They say when somebody dies, that death comes to collect them. This kid can't help me. I don't need any help. I deserve whatever they give me. I just killed an innocent woman! She probably has a family, they'll be expecting her home tonight. I don't have any family and I took her away from her family. They should lock me up for good. Maybe they'll give me the death sentence! I heard they just brought that back. It's what I deserve. That's why my wife left. I'm the kind of person that goes around killing people. I just ran her over and that was it. Gone. Snuffed in an instant. Here are the cops. Good. I'll tell them exactly what I did.
"Where's the driver?" It's the taller cop speaking. The one with fair close cropped hair. His partner is moving people back and looking at the front of my truck.
"I'm the driver sir. I was driving along this street, going a bit faster than I should, and I realized that the lights up there would change in the next moment, so I put my foot down." As I related this, the cop's eyes widened. It seemed he didn't believe me. I'd better make him understand exactly what I did to this woman. Otherwise he might try to let me go!