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The dark cries at night near the window. A howl comes from between the trees and the dirty walls. The woman emerges from her patio, bothered by the noise. She finds the source of the screams. It leans closer, to eat her, and she runs from it.


The woman sprints out of the driveway into the street. The night is unforgiving and the dark has no moon. She makes a sharp turn on the sidewalk toward a row of houses and shouts for help. The lights are off and the doors are locked. She hears the figure following her. It shakes the ground and continues to wail. 


She regrets not returning into her own home. The smell of cold and trash greets her. 


She keeps running. A sharp blade of air constricts her throat as she loses her breath. A tree root under the cement catches her toes and she stumbles to the ground in front of a dim alley. Her chin bounces and she bites her tongue. The figure is still meandering in the distance. She scrambles behind a sticky trash can.


The footsteps slow. The figure looks for her.


“Somebody help me!” It screams. 


She tries to relax her lungs. She fights her gut and peers around the edge of the trash.


The figure shows itself.


She feels as though blood is dumping into her stomach. She recognizes the figures fragile skin and trembling arms. The cement becomes frozen beneath her and a dying tree branch lurches somewhere nearby. She sees the face of it, the same one she often talks to in the mirror when she wakes up every day. She sees herself, weeping, looking around in desperation. She sees herself in her own clothes, with her own grey complexion and her own drooping shoulders. She watches herself limp down the sidewalk, crying out unceasingly. Her mouth is a large, hollow hole. 


“Please help me!” The figure moans.


The woman recoils back behind the trash can. She sits down with her back pressed against the alley wall, scrunching her eyes tight and digging her fingers into her skull. She quietly begs to come back to reality. She scolds herself for this self-inflicted torture, this martyrdom. 


The figure is wandering toward the alley, howling in pain like a dog. A flickering street light betrays the woman behind the trash can. She knows she is visible despite the dark. A shiver wakes up her legs and she decides to run further. If she gets to the end of the alley, she can sneak into the back door of her house. 


The woman turns her back to start running, when she is interrupted by something fluffy and warm, rubbing against her calf. 


Meow! 


A cat with midnight fur and sunflower eyes twists around her leg.


It looks up to her with a smile. 


Meow! Meowww! 


“Shhh!”


The woman lunges down to grab the cat. It slips through her fingers and shoots out onto the sidewalk, shiny against the streetlight. 


The figure stops screaming. It finds the cat perched properly in the center of the sidewalk. The figure points to the cat with a shaking hand. The woman remains hidden behind the trash can.


“Help me!” The figures voice quivers. 


The cat wanders off the sidewalk into the middle of the highway. The figure follows the cat, crouching down next to it. It runs a finger along the tail, the cries waving like a siren. It lays her knees down onto the double yellow line and ignores the roar of an engine approaching. A slender shadow forms.


The woman is perplexed. She stands in the middle of the alley. She watches the sadness and the weakness. The cat remains with it, allowing the strokes. The trees stay quiet nearby. 


The engine gets louder. Headlights begin to illuminate the paleness of the figure. It glows against the emptiness it is surrounded by. It does not turn to face the car. 


The cat perks at the engine and wants to vanish to a tree for protection. The figure clutches onto the cat’s back, shoving it against the pavement as the headlights brighten. 


The woman in the alley gently lowers her chin.


She charges the figure. She wraps her nails into the wet, tangled hair and rips the figure’s head back to show the face.


“Give me the cat.” says the woman. 


“Please help me!” The figure weeps with snot across it’s mouth. 


The woman stares into the figures face, her own face, her own tears, her own dirty limbs and her weathered teeth. She notices a piece of glass sticking out of the figures heel. The cat squirms like a captured snake. The woman winces at the pain in her ears, the high notes of the figure’s bellowing cries.


“You can die, but you are not going to kill this cat!”


She snags the cat and tries to wrench it from the figures clammy grasp. The figure yanks back, falling without strength to sit up. It clings desperately to the belly of the tiny animal.


The headlights are close enough to blind the woman. The incessant screaming overwhelms her. She lets go of the cat. She grabs the figure under the armpits and tries to drag it out of the road. The figure is heavy and damp and sticks to the pavement. It continues to cling to the cat and cry.


“Please help me!” The figure demands. 


The woman is consumed as the car horn blares. The stars are not watching and the trees have turned away. A tear drops down onto her lips. She lets go of the figure and stumbles a few feet away. The fall of the Earth has consumed the weary bones. She imagines the peace that death might bring to them. 


While she contracts inward, the cat continues to wrestle the figure in the street, biting at the wrists.


The woman finds her last breath, and she tries to derive what is good. 


“Please, stand up. I will help you. I promise I will help you if you stand up.” 


The figure continues to whimper as it rolls to the side. It heaves barely off the pavement, still clutching the exhausted cat. It crawls from the spot where it was laying, and the car passes next to the broken glass. 


The woman rests on the edge of the sidewalk. She stares at a tree and her eyes flash red. A low murmur resonates in her mind. She closes her eyes and she cannot see the figure anymore. 


The car continues to roll down the highway. The horison swallows the headlights. The man inside the car arrives in his driveway. He fumbles with his keys in front of his door. The dark is particularly pitch. Once he gets into his living room, he finds the TV is still on. He rests into his recliner. He grabs the remote and turns up the volume. The news channel explains that, earlier that night, a woman was reported to the police for laying down in the middle of the highway. A passing pedestrian discovered her after following a loud screaming. The pedestrian was able to persuade the woman to sit on the sidewalk, although by the time the police arrived, the woman was gone. She sat with the pedestrian for just a moment before insisting she forgot to leave enough food for her cat, and had to return immediately to her home.

July 11, 2020 03:38

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2 comments

Nandan Prasad
11:27 Jul 18, 2020

Hey, good story! The concept is imaginative and refreshing. Your descriptions are so vivid and the narration is great. The figure is characterized well. A few grammatical mistakes, so I would suggest putting it through an online grammar check. Otherwise, very well-written and keep writing! Also, would you mind checking out my story if it is not too much trouble?

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Sahara Carter
14:39 Jul 18, 2020

Thanks Nandan! I appreciate your feedback and I would love to read your story, will read it soon!

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