Eternal Gray (Short Story)

With Death and Suicide recently the forefront of my thoughts, sparked from discussions with a few I care about, I had to write my own sense of understanding on the topic.

I don’t condone taking one’s own life, nor recommend it for a variety of reasons. Never so noble a deed as one might think, nor is it a tale of good omen.

So here I am, writing a holiday nightmare.
Please, do enjoy.

“Dilapidated reality comes to call, leaving nothing but listless subterfuge for us all. Lacking compassion in what eyes define; a morose state full of lies.”
His mind wandered yet again.
This was it, he thought. The moment when finally, after so many long years, here and now, he’d end it.
The cold wind cut through his winter coat as if it were made of paper. Thin, weak, barely an obstacle for the tumultuous breeze.
Somewhere deep down the warmth of his body escaped into the wicked night.

Charles didn’t much care for the frigid chill of the north. Never had wanted to live there, and yet, here he was. The sore thoughts brought forth a less than becoming scowl.
“Should have stayed put,” the words were torn from his lips as howling winds accosted him yet again.
He cursed with an untold bitterness which no one familiar with him would have ever believed.
Charles kicked a nearby trash can, one of the few seemingly acceptable objects to displace in this tragic city of waning populace. Initially he merely grunted. Then, as the pain coursed down into his heel, ankle, and even knee; that was when he let loose an animalistic howl of his own.
Charles fell to the wet sidewalk and cradled his frozen-over boot. Toes felt as ice, surprised he could feel anything at all let alone the surely damaged bones.

“Damn it all,” he thought, biting lip as his being was drenched with an unappreciated sourness.
One had to live at least an average life of pitiful despair before they could truly fall as hard as he had.
Penniless.
Loveless.
Alone.
He wondered at what he had to live for. On squalor nights such as this liquor often warmed his gullet, the only reprieve from his otherwise meaningless life.

He remained soaking in the damp ground, allowing pants to become drenched with a filthy wetness. Where once snow had fallen it had already turned to slush. The brown and black speckled ice merely reminded him of times long past when there was no such misery.
There were few trees lining the walkways, each carefully placed by city officials and surrounded by a small square of natural earth. These leafless and seemingly dead trees blew with wild abandon.
Though they remained staunch in place, branches were tossed about and if Charles didn’t know better, it would seem they reached for him.
The sense of being targeted by their mangled limbs only grew as his senses became dulled with icy chill. Perhaps it was delirium.
Beyond these great old ones of nature, surviving somehow in their minuscule cage of gloom, the cement and asphalt were kings of this domain.

Buildings which would seem rather small in many cities, in this case, they felt to tower over Charles as grim overseers which would not let him go so easily.
An overwhelming sense of doom washed over him and yet there was no reason to subject himself to such fantasy.

It couldn’t be so, but rather a fabricated reality which saw nothing short of eternal hell.
The streetlights flickered overhead and briefly went out, leaving him in darkness as the tepid winds dragged snowflakes upon his naked cheek.
For that brief moment he felt a warm breath on his neck, a thing unlike any other he had ever fathomed. Hairs stood taut and eyes bulged as the uncanny sensation removed his worry of broken toes.
Charles shivered, but not by way of the cold.
He could sense the presence of that almighty being behind him, a strength of some powerful force he did no comprehend nor ever would.
He swallowed the lump in his throat.
Carefully, as if he hadn’t already intended it’s use for his own demise, Charles moved a hand toward his heavy peacoat’s pocket.
There was a weight to that side, a firmness he was quite familiar with. Inside the cold metallic object touched his fingers; a revolver he intended for that final moment of revelry. One last drink.

As soon as his touch verified it’s security, he spun around, still on the ground but now throwing the damnable weapon before him with a quivering arm of insistent prodding.
The street lights popped on again, returning previous illumination which was stolen into the dreary eve.
There was nothing there.
He must have imagined the entire episode and yet somehow that didn’t seem right. Why was he suddenly so appalled by falling into death, when just twenty minutes earlier, that, and that alone, was his entire plan; to end his existence in a very loud and obvious manner.
Slowly, cautiously as he hadn’t come to grips with the strange phenomenon, he stood once more.
Licking cracked and scaly lips with his dry tongue did little good but was force of habit.
Charles breathed.
There had to be reason for this alarming episode. He pondered the matter and realized still, he hadn’t a clue what had even happened.
Finally, Charles gained the courage to look down at his right hand, the one now so cold he couldn’t even feel it. That revolver still remained clutched tight, finger on the trigger and he blinked.
Couldn’t keep this gun out in plain sight, not in the light, not in the city in case a policeman saw and made an issue of it. Without another thought the man shoved that gun into his pocket, sweating ice and fighting the grip which would not let go.
Abruptly and without warning, a loud noise sounded which shattered whatever quiet might hide in the recesses of some back alleyway.
Hairs stood up once more on the back of Charles’ neck. Goosebumps ran down the length of his arms and legs, just as a sharp pain, a fire of intensity he had never before felt, it washed over him with unending agony.
Wetness inside his dark peacoat.
He had shot himself!
The sudden realization hit him hard.
An understanding broke through, that even in his hesitation, it had still occurred without his intention. Falling to knees, he blinked. With the sudden change and briefest of time, that same sense of dread he had undergone moments before returned.

Rekindled panic and fear grew with untamed animosity as the night fought those burning streetlamps overhead. The bulbs burst, one after another starting from a block down the street and leading up to his still and terrified position. Darkness.
The warm breath on his neck again.
Shivering there, Charles merely asked one pitiful question he already knew the answer to, “is this where it ends?”
His quivering lips had begun turning blue yet he hadn’t known this. Blood drained from his face and even as eyes sought the attacker he knew would come, it made little difference.
This was not a being of flesh and blood, nor was it some intrepid ghost that could be fought.
No.
This was the thing waiting for his final moments, the reaper of souls which had come to claim him at that very instant it all went down.
This was what he wanted.
Wasn’t it?

The End

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