Excerpt from my book, ‘Fragments of Fear: Collection’.
Warning: graphic violence
She staggered awkwardly down the empty street, not really knowing where she was going.
With one arm, she clutched the wound in her side, the other arm was outstretched in front of her, as though searching for something. Never looking back, always moving slowly forward. On and on she trudged, tireless, relentlessly looking for something but not knowing what. She only knew it was out there. It had been there before, but when? Where?
The empty streets were slowly disappearing through darkness and late evening mist. Nothing moved except for her, even the air seemed still. Deserted cars, half-destroyed buildings, and rubble were her only companions, and still she kept on going.
‘Reason’ and ‘blame’ were the furthest things from her mind. The beginning didn’t matter, ‘now’ was all that mattered. The few street lights that still worked flickered to life. They gave her a dim, somewhat eerie view of her surroundings, but there was nothing she wanted to see. ‘It’ wasn’t there. So on she went with her endless search.
All around was evidence of chaos and destruction, yet she wasn’t afraid.
How many days, or weeks, had she been silently walking, yet she didn’t feel tired? All that mattered was the search. Whatever it was, she knew, somehow, that she had to have it.
Had something caught her eye, or had her fevered brain begun to hallucinate? She scanned the ruined landscape. There it was again, movement. Her pace quickened. The silhouette of a moving human form stirred a feeling she hadn’t felt in a long time. But what was this feeling?
Joy, at finding another living person?
Fear of what they might do to her?
No, those weren’t it. The feeling grew stronger with every step she took. Finally she recognized it…
She steadily approached, mere steps away, when the man turned toward her with a look of shock etched into his face. She realized that her search was over. Not remembering the last time she had spoken, the sound coming from her throat was more like a feral growl. Struggling, as though the line from her mind to her mouth had been damaged, the word she had waited so long to say attempted to escape her lips.
She looked him in the eyes and said, with a raspy voice,
She lunged at him before his shock wore off. He reached for the gun on his side, but her inhuman strength was too much. She ripped his arm off and cast it aside like a candy wrapper, then pulled his skull apart, and started eating while he was still screaming.
The body laid lifeless on the ground, she rose from gorging herself, and started walking. Never once did she look back at the shell of a man she had just torn to shreds.
She staggered awkwardly down the street, not really knowing where she was going.
After the man had finished his story, the conductor softly cleared his throat. The storyteller whipped his head around quickly. For just an instant, he thought he saw a skeletal hand outstretched towards him, with bones as white as ivory. Blinking hard to clear his head, he looked again and saw merely the milky white hand of the conductor, beckoning for their tickets.
“Pardon me, sir,” the conductor said, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“I wasn’t startled,” the man said, “I just thought I saw…”
“Yes?…” the conductor said, expectantly.
“Nothing,” the man said, mentally shaking himself.
The conductor punched the tickets of the four passengers and began to move on, then paused.
“I hope you don’t think it’s too forward of me, but I collect stories, and I was intrigued by yours.”
“Umm … thanks.”
“Would you mind if I wrote it down in one of my journals?”
“Well, the thing is, it’s not actually my story. I just told it.”
“And why did you choose to tell that particular story?”
“I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “it just seemed appropriate somehow.”
“They say the eyes are the windows to the soul but I have found that to be false. I believe that the stories one tells hold much more insight into their true feelings,” the conductor said, with a knowing smile. “So, may I collect it?”
“I‘ll make you a deal. I‘ll tell you a riddle, if you guess it you can collect my story, if you don‘t, I get to ride for free.”
The conductor rubbed his pale chin thoughtfully.
“It’s a deal.”
“Okay,” the man said, rubbing his hands together. “A cowboy rides into town on Friday, stays three days and leaves on Friday, how did he do it?”
The conductor smiled. “My dear sir, you take me for a fool. I thought that you were going to offer me a challenge.”
“All right, smart guy, what’s the answer?”
“The horse’s name is Friday.”
The man’s face fell. “You’re the only person who ever got that riddle.”
The conductor merely smiled.
“Just one question, what is your profession?”
“Biochemical engineer, why?” he said.
“No reason,” the conductor said moving on to the other passengers. “I was just thinking about your story.”
“Hey, hold on there fella,” said the man seated across from the storyteller. “Ain’t you gonna write his story down?”
“Yes, when I’ve finished my duties.”
“Won’t you forget it by then?”
“No,” the conductor smiled. “I have an eidetic memory. It helps in my line of work.”
“A what? An electric memory?”
“Eidetic, you would know it as a photographic memory.”
“Well what good is an electric memory on a train?”
“You’d be amazed,” the conductor said.
“Well then, if you think his story was good, you’ll love this one.”
The conductor turned and faced the man with rapt attention.
“It goes like this … ” he began.
The Journey: Chapter 1