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The Incoming Fog (Story)

Shadows stretched themselves out to twice their normal length as the sun set, leaving the world suspended in a gray-blue luminosity that would soon turn to the darkness of night.

Any normal person would have found themselves at a bar or a poker table, surrounded by friends and affable strangers. But one man stood alone in a dark alley, just beyond a downtown bus stop. His clothes portrayed his immense wealth, but his dreary surroundings seemed a stark contrast to the finely-tailored suit and silk tie; said alley was remote and dismal, and the man was beginning to feel ill-at-ease. Still, he knew that he must wait. Time would yield to his patience eventually…

 

He began to pace, feeling slightly unnerved by the sound of his own footsteps echoing off the brick walls of the buildings on either side of him. It reminded him of a blunt and simple fact that somehow toyed with his mind more ferociously than a cat with a half-dead sparrow: He was alone.

There were no windows facing the alley, and the street beyond was deserted. A row of graffiti-marred dumpsters lined the opposing wall. A rusty old fire escape loomed over his head.

The windowless walls of the two buildings flanking the narrow alley may as well been the bars of a cage.

 

The world had a way of making cages. The man knew that fact quite well. Too well...

 

Only a dim streetlamp lit the scene.

How much longer? he thought to himself. He would have glanced down at his watch, but it was broken; frozen at half-past nine. Minuets dragged by, but they seemed like hours. Years, even!

Once again, he realized he was trapped in a cage—a world confined within another world; where time and space may as well been nonexistent from the start.

All the while, a mounting fear was tearing its way into the man’s mind. The shadows were shifting in his thoughts.

He saw them.

Like creatures lurking just out of his peripheral vision, wary and hungry, white eyes glowing like vivid stars. His fears now had become real. A physical manifestation of something his own mind had created...

--Sarah Baretell. 2007

  

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Taken on December 17, 2006