The pavement is cold and hard beneath me, as I walk. Darkness pervades the air, a gloom-touched dusk through which I walk. It is silent, all of it, just the sounds of my footsteps, the wind over tumbling house and tree and lamp post. This world is grey. It has a brooding emptiness, rows of houses lining the countless empty streets. They are dark, soulless, as if abandoned throughout time and place. No light shines here, the lamps are cold and lifeless, the windows of the houses lost to the memory of lighter times.
I walk on, my hands like fists, deep in my jacket, hunched against the cold probing wind. I press on.
I do not know these streets, with the close packed buildings, so muted and broken in their purpose. I do not know them, but I walk them with a familiarity, with an hurried ease that comes from countless journeys along this path.
I do not know where I came from, or where I go to.
I walk on, the wind tugging and pulling at me, the silence heavy about me, countless windows my only witnesses. I turn a corner, and then another, my feet constant of pace, the air darker and more oppressive the more I walk. I am close, I know it in my bones, in the tempo of my stride.
And then I am standing, in the middle of the road. A noise, a feeling, like the howling of great beasts, the agony of torn earth, a soundless shriek that echoes through me, that sharpens the silence. My heart thunders, a savage noise in my chest, my mouth dry, my breath tight and sudden. Adrenalin flows through me, my blood pounding and I set off once again, hurried and urgent.
Street after street pass by, the houses eerily similar, empty in the emptiness of the dusk. I am almost running, the darkness, the wind whispering to me, a silent laughter beneath the edge of my thoughts. I run, flying with the fear, the streets a blur beneath me, the echoes of a dark laughter in the harshness of my breath, in the thump of my heart, in the slap of my feet on concrete. I am racing now, driven beyond reason, running and running and running. The world is a blur, tears and darkness lending threat to every shadow, a tumbling cloud of fear and threat driving me onwards, trusting to the memory of my feet.
There, a light, a solitary faintness in the window of one house, a light that stirs and beckons. I crash through the door, shutting it hurriedly, my breath and my blood synchronous in their thunder. I lean against the door for a long moment, the threat beyond gathering, swirling and patient, sending tendrils of fear into me.
I walk down the hall, looselimbed with a sudden fatigue, weakness blurring my eyes. My father stands there, in the kitchen, simply looking at me. He is an old man, and a young man, and everything in between, the memory of a young boy in the shape of his face. He stares at me, uncomprehending, a flicker of nothingness crossing his face. He stands, a silent, still counterpoint to my loose exhaustion. He turns, and then is gone, the sound of the bolts to the door he went through final and damning.
I stand, in the middle of a kitchen that is both my own and unrecognisable, in a house I have never lived in but whose shape and texture I know in my bones.
Long moments, alone in a faded light as the shadows gather outside. Standing there, bereft, alone.
The front door shudders. I wheel and race to it, reaching it as it crashes and shakes. I slam into it, holding it in place, pain blossoming along my shoulder. The door shakes and trembles, creaking under the impact. I brace myself, fear tight and coiled inside me, tears unbidden in my eyes. The door crashes, its cry violent and tortured, mine echoing it.
I am holding. The door crashes again, bruising me, hurting me.
I am holding. It shrieks and splinters.
I am holding.
I am holding.