One Picture, One Story
Colin watched with a reserved amusement as the people scuried about, trying to get from each point to their destination as quickly as they could to avoid the cold. The falling snow made the scene seem that much more entertaining. He watched with glee as a rather well dressed man slipped on a patch of ice and crashed uncerimoniously to the ground. He could sit in the alley and watch this all day long if it wasn’t so damn cold out. Most people walked by him as if he were merely part of classic architecture of the century old buildings. Colin didn’t mind at all. He didn’t particularily like the company of humans anyways; they seemed to him to be a bunch of bumbling, ass-kissing, self-centred monsters who had somehow stumbled upon conciousness and technology. He shook his head as he watched them all pass by the man who had fallen, not one stopping to see if he was ok. The man was obviously shaken, but Colin could tell that physically he would be fine so he turned and wandered down the alley a little further, ocassionally peeking over his shoulder at the man who had fallen. He had finally gathered himself and was now wiping off the snow from the seat of his pants. Colin snickered a little and carried on down the alley. He ducked through an unlocked door to warm up for a while, hoping he could remain undiscovered for a while. The winter cold seemed a little more cruel than usual as if angered by some misdeed done by this unforgiving city. He cupped his ears in an attempt to speed up the defrosting process and sat on the steps that disappeared into a dark, musty basement. He didn’t usually let his curiosity endanger him, but something seemed to call to him from the depths. He stared at the darkness for a few moments, imagining what could await him at the bottom. There was no handrail and the stairs groaned slightly under his weight. He stopped two steps down and tried to see through the darkness, but it seemed to destroy any light that tried to enter. His better judgement told him to turn and run as far away as he could, but something was drawing him down, deeper into the darkness. Eventually he gave in to his curiosity and descended into the blackness. He tested each step before letting it bare his whole weight until he felt the firm, cold concrete under his feet. He took a moment to allow his eyes to adjust, but the darkness seemed to thicken even more. He stepped forward and almost immediately a voice screamed, “Stop!” Colin froze, straining to see who was speaking, but the oppressive dark would not give up the source.
“Don’t come closer. For your own good turn and run!”
Colin turned around and began climbing the groaning stairs. “I’ll get help! Don’t worry!”
There was the sound of quiet sobbing as Colin made his way up towards the alley. He was about to step on the landing when a horrible and terrifying laugh thundered out of the darkness. He no longer felt stairs beneath his feet and could feel the concrete floor get closer and closer. He braced himself for the impending sudden stop that always seemed to end a fall. Somehow it didn’t happen. It was as if something caught him and gently placed him on the floor. He noticed a dull, red glow in the corner. He took a step towards it.
“I already told you to stop once.”
“You also told me to turn and run, only to bring me right back here.”
Colin felt a sharp pain in his arm. He looked down to see his own hand digging it’s nails into his pale, white skin. It was as though someone or something had usurped control of his body. He couldn’t pull it away no matter how hard he tried. The nails were tearing his skin, letting blood flow from the voids.
His hand relaxed and he quickly freed his arm from his hand.
“What are you?”
“You know what I am. You can’t deny me anymore.”
“What the hell are you talking about? I can’t even see you!”
The red glow dissipated and silence followed. Colin sat on the cold floor and peered into the darkness. His heart returning to a resting beat and a sense of relief enveloped him. He must have hit his head when he fell. He knew what he had just experienced couldn’t be real, but the deep gouges in his arm and the lack of pain in his head seemed to tell a different story.
“You still haven’t figured it out?”
Colin cowered into the corner at the return of the voice.
“How can I figure it out if I can’t see you?”
There was a mocking laugh that echoed through the room. Colin slunk to the space where the stairs once stood. There was no sign they had ever existed. The laughter grew louder and louder.
“Who are you?” Colin screamed with all the fear and emotion he could muster.
“Oh, why must you deny me?”
Colin felt the warm embrace of blood running down his face. Somehow he had grabbed a shard of glass and was now slowly cutting into his own head. The laugh was louder than ever as he cut himself deeper and deeper. The skin was beginning to peel back as he went. Surprisingly he felt no pain this time. He watched his hand cut his skin and felt the blood pour down, but could do nothing to stop it. He got up and ran headlong into the wall. He grabbed his possessed arm and pulled it away. He fell, exhausted, to the floor.
“Please. Please let me go.”
There was a maniacal, yet quiet giggle from the darkness.
“You are free to go whenever you want. You just need to want to.”
“I want to! Where are the stairs? I want to go!”
“You disassembled those years ago.”
Colin was confused. Only minutes ago they had been there and now he was told that he had taken them down.
“Impossible! They were just there!”
“You have been saying that for years as well. Just admit that you know who I am and I’ll leave you alone.”
“How can I admit who you are? I haven’t even seen you!”
“You deny that you know me.”
“How can I know you?!”
Colin was getting angry. He no longer feared the darkness. He stood and ran to the corner where the red light had reappeared. The light reflected off the skin of a nearby person. Colin moved forward. He felt his life drain as the face turned to look at him. The look of playful contempt was terrifying, but the true horror was who it was that looked back. It was his own face. It was him! The naked body turned and handed him a pistol. Colin still didn’t believe it, but it was too late. They were together now and he put the pistol to his temple. He didn’t even hear it go off before his life was gone.