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Tales from the Wastes

by Christopher Beesley 4 months ago in Short Story / Sci Fi / Mystery / Horror
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Susan

Tales from the Wastes
Photo by Sierra Bell on Unsplash

​It’s just your imagination Susan…

​​It’s just your imagination.

“Hello?” Nothing. “Is there anybody there?” Still nothing. “I can hear you!” She found herself screaming into the night. “This isn’t funny!” Susan’s cries remained unanswered, perhaps even unheard. Maybe it was all just her imagination after all. This was the night for an imagination to run rampant, if ever there was one.

​It had been unnaturally dark recently, as if the heavens themselves had been expecting foul play. And the fog was thick. Thick enough to cut with a knife. Susan nervously chuckled to herself. Cut with a knife. Knives probably aren’t the best thing to be thinking of right now, Susan. They should be the furthest thing from your mind. She started walking again, trying desperately to not think of knives. Their sharp edges. Their fine points. One finding its way into my soft belly. Maybe someone coming up from behind, and slitting my throat. She was trying her hardest to put these thoughts out of her mind, but failing miserably.

She paused a moment to listen for somebody, but all that fell upon her ears was the silence of a dead city. The sound behind her hadn’t started back up again. Nothing, it must have all been in my head. The thought relaxed her. This is the perfect night for an overactive imagination. Who had ever heard of somebody losing their mind on a nice, clear, sunny day? Nope, it was always a dreadful evening like this.

She continued down the street, passing nothing but boarded up storefronts. The whole world around her was dead. Nothing. Nothing. And silent. Nothing. She let out a long sigh. Nothing. She was calming down. Nothing. Nothi- Something. She heard that all too familiar footstep behind her. Then another. And another. He’s following me! She picked up her pace. I’ve got to lose him! She saw an alley ahead in her limited vision, it would have to do.

She darted into the alley This is a bad choice. What if it’s a dead end?! She knew it wouldn’t be. Horrible choice. The footsteps behind echoed as the body issuing them entered the confined space. Worst choice in the history of choices! Somewhere deep down she knew it wasn’t a choice at all. She had to run down this alley. And he had to chase her. I can hide! He’d never find me in one of these buildings. She couldn’t, because he would. Just as she was drawn with every fiber of her being down this alley, he was drawn to her. He would. The words blazed into her mind. He would. Her heart sank. There was no hiding from him. He would never lose her, and never leave her alone.

That man, the one in black. Black as a void. Just sucking all that is good and light into him. Silencing it forever. Everything he touched turned to death. And he wants to eat- no, consume- no, Devour. Yes! That’s it! He wants to devour my very soul. To put out my light forever. But, why me? There was nothing special about her, she was just Susan, poor little Susan, from a town that probably didn’t even exist anymore. It didn’t. Sure I’m a good person, but I’m no hero, I’m no beacon of light. But he just wants to end everything doesn’t he? To devour it all.

Her breathing was starting to get heavy and her head started to feel light; there was no telling how far she had run. Each step started to wreak havoc on her body. First her thighs started to burn. Next her shins shrieked with agony, feeling as if they’d shatter any minute now. Every breath filled her lungs with fire. If she continued this way she would just collapse and be easy pickings for the man, the one in all consuming black. Susan’s right leg caught her left on its next excruciating pump, this is it! As she toppled over she was able to catch herself against a wall, sliding against it so she could slowly hit the ground on all fours.

Crawling now. But her body screamed for her to stop, and this time she was forced to listen. She stayed that way for a few minutes, trying to figure out where she was. Apparently she had lost herself in her imagination again and now found herself as lost in the real world as she was in her mind. All she could do now was try and listen for him over her own harsh breathing.

Nothing. The world was silent again. Maybe I’ve lost him. She didn’t put much hope in the thought. He had been on her trail for what seemed like months now. She always seemed to give him the slip, but eventually she always heard those footsteps again. Sometimes she even found his victims. She didn’t know if he followed them like he did her, relentlessly stalking them, until he finally decided to pounce. But she always found them. Dead, with a big scary knife sticking out of their stomachs. Blood everywhere .Left soulless, lightless. But she was always left alive and untouched, it seemed like this void of a man was playing some sort of cruel game with her.

Just as she regained her breath and was able to return to her feet she heard it again, that same footstep that got her moving time and time again. That same damn footstep. He was definitely playing some sort of game with her.

As she started running again she thought of his last kill. It had been eight nights ago. He was a boy in his early twenties. Susan had wandered across his lifeless corpse. All innocence devoured from that poor boy, to feed some endless void. The same large kitchen knife they all seemed to have, protruding out of his stomach; it was left as a note from her pursuer, letting her know that this was indeed his handiwork. She could almost hear him laugh as she examined the poor boy. Light blonde hair, light blue eyes, even had a pure white shirt that was stained crimson after his dealings with the man in black. Everything about him screamed light, and that’s why he was chosen. They were all like that. All of them light, darkened by the unholy beast stalking me.

She had been on auto pilot again. Running but she had no idea where. This night seemed to go on forever but she couldn’t stop. She ran, and ran some more. This time when she started to get tired she spotted something, a light in the distance. Saved! Finally! The light! This monster wouldn’t dare enter whatever the wonderful source was.

As she drew near she discovered the light was emanating from a tavern. An oasis in a desert of death. Nobody wanted to face the end of days sober and that meant salvation for Susan on this night. She was close now, close enough to feel the warmth of the light on this cold dark night.

Susan stopped just outside. I can’t tell them what’s going on, if I do then they’ll think I’ve completely lost my mind. Being chased by an all consuming monster of a man dressed in the void itself, consuming all light? Nobody would believe that! They’ll force me back out into the darkness. I’ll be alone again. No, no, I’ll just go in and stay quiet. Safe and quiet. She entered.

---

“Hi, you’ve stumbled into Killian’s Rest, all the comforts of home in a broken world!” The paunchy barman followed this with a chuckle. “What can I get’cha?”

“I’ll,” she took in the place, “have a glass of water.” It looked a little more run down than comfortable.

“Alright, one nice cold glass of water.” He smiled as Susan sat at the bar. “That’ll be five bucks ma’am.” Even his smile seemed paunchy.

Shoot! She didn’t have any of whatever currency they used in these parts. And by the quickly fading smile on the barman, this fact was plainly made visible on her face.

“You know what,” his smile started to return. “Let’s say this one’s on the house. You look like you’ve had quite a rough night.” He had his great big paunchy smile again as he served her.

“Thank you.” Susan forced her own meager smile back. Until she took a drink she didn’t even realize how much she needed the water. Her whole body seemed to sing praises to the cold clear life giving liquid. She could finally rest; she wasn’t being chased in here.

Maybe, she was reaching a point of clarity, just maybe this really is all in my head. They would think I’m crazy if I told them, because it sounds crazy. Nothing that sounds that crazy could be real. It just doesn’t make any sense. And why would he be stalking me? Killings happened all the time out there. It’s so natural people just try and ignore it now. They’re not messages to me, they’re just, there. The footsteps could just be echoes of my own. Or even just random people, out walking, in the middle of the night. She considered this a moment and didn’t know if it was necessarily better. It’s nothing, you can rest, maybe see if he has a bed available. Everything will be better in the morning, it always is.

She hadn’t even noticed any of the other patrons until about half an hour later, when the boy was leaving. “I think I’m out for tonight George, have a good one.” He looked about nineteen, too young to even buy his drinks by old-world standards. His hair was dark but his eyes were a light blue. He wore a white t-shirt and faded blue jeans. He was almost out the door.

“Alright Stu, have a good one. And see ya’ tomorrow!” The paunchy bartender gave a short wave.

Oh no! This wasn’t good. The boy was just the type that the man in black was targeting. Just the type for the hunt. She couldn’t just let him leave. He’d be dead long before morning. I can’t go out there though. He’ll get me for sure. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can- the door closed behind the boy. I have to. She quickly finished her water and headed out the door.

“Have a good night, ma’am. Hope to see-“the barman started, but his words fell on deaf ears, and a closing door.

---

I could trap him this time! If he’s going after the boy, then he wouldn’t be paying attention to me. I could easily sneak up on him, and I can end this game of his. I can finally end it! The boy was whistling up ahead, it was a tune she knew and the lyrics burned into her head. They told the story of a man who wished to turn the colors of his world into black. This time the colors would prevail! The black will be the one to go! Susan found this thought absolutely delightful and let out a brief chortle.

“Hello?” The boy called back.

She had to be quiet. If he found her, the opportunity would be wasted. Her one chance would be gone. She’d be the prey again. No, that just won’t do. She had to be silent.

The boy continued his stroll. Quiet this time, but so was she. Quiet as a mouse. No, mice are too loud, quiet as the dead. She saw him. The man in black was ahead of her now. He was falling into her trap and going after the boy. Everything was playing out exactly as she hoped.

---

Stu was whistling as he strolled down the street. Some tune to some old rock and roll song he had heard years ago but always seemed to pop into his head. He hadn’t heard it since, but he could clearly remember its magnificence, so the tune stuck.

He thought he heard something, maybe a laugh behind him. “Hello?” He paused. There was no reply. Weird, must just be my imagination. It wasn’t.

He continued on until he heard it again. “Okay, really now?” He turned around and all he saw was the eyes. Eyes that seemed to want nothing but to devour his very soul. And all he felt was the knife.

---

Susan’s eyes grew wide, almost hungry as she drew the knife. I’ve got him this time! The man in black, this void, he’s mine now! She hurried to close the gap.

The man in black turned as she fell upon him. “Okay, really now?” His eyes grew, taking her in.

She plunged the knife into his stomach. I got him! I got the bastard! The man in black is no more! The all consuming void is ended! His warm blood flowed freely from the gash as he fell backwards. I got him! She started to black out as the crimson blood started to stain the man in black’s white shirt.

---

Susan woke up, energized as if she’d slept for a whole week. Where am I? What happened? It was still dark out, but sometime in the early morning. There was a body lying in front of her. He was a young boy, about nineteen. Dark hair, light eyes, white shirt stained crimson from the knife still lodged deep in his soft belly. Another one, just like the others. A message from…him. Almost immediately, as if thinking about him had summoned him, she heard footsteps behind her.

“Hello?” It would have been time to run, but she was frozen with fear.

It’s just your imagination Susan…

​It’s just your imagination.

Short StorySci FiMysteryHorror

About the author

Christopher Beesley

Drinkslinger trying to become a wordslinger.

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