The Red Beckoning

Written in response to: Set your story at the boundary between two realms.... view prompt

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Fiction Horror Holiday

Marcus continued along the downtown sidewalk, unsure of where he was heading. The bar had only brought him so much distraction from his week, and his reserved nature kept him from fully investing himself into any meaningful friendships at the bar, even though he knew he didn’t want to be friends with any of those people. He felt the hypocrisy in his mind as he thought it; how could he criticize the type of people he was around, when he was out doing the exact same thing? His evening was a desperate attempt to escape the week, not a lifestyle choice, but how many evenings would it take to for his behaviors to transition from a few incidents into a new hobby? He didn’t want to know. And in some ways, it didn’t matter, as each night he went out he found himself further pondering the possibility of taking his own life, getting closer and closer with each passing evening.

The late October cold continued to bite against his exposed skin with each new gust of wind, a bitter feel to Marcus, though a surprisingly inviting feeling as well. The first snow of the season had begun to fall, thin and light though it may be. He did not know what he wanted to do with himself. He’d just left the bar at 3:00am and it would take at least a half hour to get home on foot. Marcus could feel the alcohol in his mind, but despite his desires, he could never bring himself to get fully drunk while at the bar, something about going all in left him feeling quite depressed, especially when drinking alone. Did that mean he wasn’t completely hopeless? Perhaps not.

              The sidewalk was darker than he was comfortable with, this part of town being in desperate need of new lighting, and Marcus hoped he looked dangerous and off-putting enough despite his light shivering. Up ahead, he could see a dim red light emanating from what appeared to be an alley. Confusion washed over Marcus’ face as he approached the alley, as alleyways were uncommon in his city, due to the fact that most buildings were connected and only went up a few stories. He approached the alley and peered down its length, the dim red light growing slightly brighter and painting his body with a red glow. The alley was indescribable, its length seemed normal, while also seeming to go back for an eternity, and their seemed to be a ceiling made up of the red light, without actually reaching up into the sky as it should have. Marcus noticed that he was starting to get warm, not out of fear, but it seemed that the red light was offering him heat. He exhaled and realized that there was no snow in front of him. Looking around him, he recognized that everything the red light touched was free of snow, not just the collection of snow, but the falling snow seemed to evaporate as it made contact with any part of the light.

              “hello.” A soft and inviting voice came from the alley. The voice brought with it a small but haunting echo as it hit the alley walls.

Marcus spun around quickly, staring down the alley. He could barely make out a shape. The figure seemed somewhat close, but somewhat far, impossible to gage its distance. The figure was shaped like a human but was engulfed so much in the red light that it was impossible to make out its face or appearance.

“hello.” The voice sounded again, seeming to come from the figure that had appeared. The figure smiled, somehow the white of its smile shone through the red glow, the smile being bigger and longer than that of any human smile Marcus had ever seen.

“Hello?” Marcus asked, his confusion, curiosity and fear locking him in place.

“hi marcus. it’s good to see you.” the figure replied

“Um, thanks…who are you?”

“ i am suukeluuwaitl, but you wouldn’t know that. you haven’t met me before, but i know you. and i am so happy that i do.”

“How do you know me?” Marcus could feel the heat rising on his body, the red light growing brighter.

“i have known you for so long marcus, always watching out for you and making sure you were okay. you aren’t okay anymore are you marcus?”

Marcus could feel pain in his body, and he could feel anger, both rising in him without his consent. “I’m fine.” He spoke back.

“you’re not.” The figure’s smile grew wider and larger. “i know you are thinking of taking your life marcus. nobody cares about you, you feel it every day. at work, at the bar, when you are with your friends. they’re putting up with you. and those are your thoughts, not mine, aren’t they? not mine marcus.

Marcus could feel his eyes beginning to swell. “What do you want?!” His voice was louder and sterner than he intended.

“to give you freedom. something i wouldn’t offer everyone, but you’re special to me marcus. i want to bring you to my home, to doloria. you will be welcomed there. you will be free of all of your experiences here, no strangers, or coworkers, or neighbors or friends to make you feel worthless. all you have to do is release that pain and hurt, your anger and hatred, and let me have it.”

Marcus noticed that he had taken a few steps forward, standing at the edge of the alley, his eyes and soul intensely focused on the figure, the burning inside of him exacerbated by the ever brighter red glow in front of him.

“tonight’s the night you know.”

Marcus stared at the figure inquisitively.

”this is the final straw for you, the thing you have been so curiously pondering, you are going to choose to follow through, i’ve seen the end of this night.”

The figure didn’t need to speak another word, Marcus knew. Was this really the night that he would finally take his own life? He was suddenly filled with fear at the thought.

“you’re home is with me marcus, and i am sorry to say that i must be going soon, as i’ve been in your world for too long now, it hurts me you know. come.” The figure beckoned toward the red glow as the concrete alleyway’s floor opened downward to reveal a stairwell, an even brighter red glow emanating from within.

Marcus stared ahead at the figure as its smiling presence turned towards the stairs and began to descend. He was unsure of what to do, his body full of pain and intensity, a tear rolling down his face, and the figure’s voice echoing in his head, come. Marcus took a step forward.

October 30, 2021 03:25

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