Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rain on the Streets

Rain falls. Each drop drums on my galvanized soul, leaving a spot of rust where it falls. As I walk through the night, steam rises from the gutter like the ghosts of my troubled past, illuminated by the harsh, judgmental glare of the streetlights above. The pitter-patter on the pavement fills my ears, blocking out what joyful thoughts I have left.

I am tired, tired of trudging though this rain that soaks me to my soul, and the night that crushes my spirit on the pavement. This continued purgatory wearies me to the bone, and I scarce have the strength to continue my travels. But I carry on, regardless, like the inexorable march of time.

At last I see my destination. I duck into an alley to meet my contact. He steps out from behind a dumpster and gives me the sign. Through the dark rain, I can barely make out his grey features from above his coat.

"Why have you come to me?" he asks.

"I seek respite from my past." I answer.

"Why you want to escape it so badly? You know nothing I can do will be pleasant."

"I don't care. I have committed heinous crimes. I have betrayed, lied, stolen, killed. My friends are all gone because of my betrayal, I can no longer live with the thought of their shocked and accusing stares in my mind."

"Very well. I cannot turn back the past. It was too late as soon as you committed the crime. However, I can do something to help."

He pauses. I hold my breath waiting for him to continue. Did he have what I was seeking?

After 20 seconds, he starts speaking again. "I can give you a new start. While you won't ever forget what you have done, it will seem a bit...more distant. Bearable."

He continues "I must warn you, this will be an ordeal. A trial by fire, if you will."

"What must I do?" I ask.

"You must leave. Exile yourself. Leave everything, including your very self, behind."

"How do I do that?"

He hands me small box. It is made of opaque white glass and is slightly heavy.

I take the box. "What do I do with this?"

He answers "There is a dropbox at the end of the street you were on. Put this in the dropbox, and you will be able to carry on with your life from that point."

He continues "However, if you fail, it will be the end of you."

I start a bit. Surely I want the reward from this, but his warning gave me pause. The end of me?

However, after thinking about it, I agree. "Yes, I will do this."

He nods, and the turns around and walks into the depths of the alley, disappearing.

I turn around and walk back into the street. It is raining even heavier now, and the spray obscures the ground, forming a twinkling layer from the streetlight's glare. Over the roar of the rain, I can hear distant rumbles of thunder.

However, filled with hope, I start walking briskly down the street. I can already see a dead-end sign in the distance.

I increase my pace. Steam rises from my face as I start breathing hard from the effort. I carry the box in both hands, keeping it as still as possible.

Then, with a bang, the streetlights turn off, stopping me where I stand. I can see only the blackness of the storm, and hear only the roar of the rain. Carefully, I edge myself forward, feeling for obstacles that could trip me up and cause me to fall.

After proceeding like this for some time, I notice another sound on the edge of my hearing. As it grows louder I recognize the sound of screaming, of ignored pleading for mercy, and of the cries of the betrayed. The din envelops me as it intensifies, rising above the sound of the rain. I keep moving, trying without avail to block out the sounds of my past.

After inching forward despite the din, I notice that the rain that is soaking me is getting hotter. Soon enough, the drops hiss as they boil down on me. The hissing of the rain adds a background of snakes to the cries of my victims. The rain burns like molten lead when it falls on my skin, causing my vision of the darkness to nova with the scarlet of agony.  Screaming from torment into the storm, I press on unsteadily but carefully.

After several more minutes of the tortuous boiling rain, I notice that the box is growing heavier. What was once a like a small bag of flour was now like a box of lead shot. I strain with all my might to maintain my grip, hoping and praying with all my soul that I will feel the curb at the end of the street with each next step. As the box grows even move heavy, my vision begins to darken even through the pain and burden. I cannot carry on any further, and the box slips from my grasp.

As I watch, the box starts to glow as it falls to the ground as slow as a feather through the rapidly rising terror. As it hastens toward its meeting with the pavement, a thought enters my mind "Better no hope than false hope." And finally, over the din of the rain and my haunting memories, I can clearly hear the box shatter like a crystal wineglass as it contacts the ground, bursting into a thousand shards that shimmer like the cold void of the midnight sky. From that point, a darkness even darker than the blackness of the rainstorm rushes toward me. All sound is muffled out as the void embraces me. Then I can see a light from the source of the darkness approaching me.

I open my eyes to find myself on a wooden platform. It is a clear day, and the sun is breaking over the horizon to the east. I feel a rough rope around my neck, and cold steel surrounding my wrists and ankles. I hear a voice "Have you any last words?"

I say, hoarsely "I could never clean the blood on my hands. God help me, I am so sorry."

The voice says "Very well." I await my fate with bated breath. Then, I hear a bang, and the world falls out from under me.

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