“Listen to me, damn it! Everything you’ve ever known and loved hinges upon it! Everything I’ve ever known and loved hinges upon it! He’s going to end us all, just as he’s threatened!”
Doctor Evans forehead was cradled in and massaged by his left hand, his eyes drooping and jaw going unshaved for what looked like weeks.
“You were progressing, Jonathon. You were finally starting to calm down, finally starting to stop talking about him. And here we are. Three weeks of treatment and you’re yammering on about the end of the world again.”
Evans looked up and drilled Jonathon with a cold glare, dark rings under his eyes. “I’m not sure you understand how long it took to calm every one down. Everybody thinks the Man in Black is real and that he’s going to kill them while they’re sleeping.”
“They’re insane, Doctor-” Jonathon started to speak, quietly and calmly now.
“You’re insane, Jonathon!” Evan’s slammed his clenched fists onto his desk and Jonathon jumped. “You’re getting released today, and only because you know you're insane. Yet you keep talking about this figment of your imigination like he is real, despite the fact that you know the others aren't real!"
“I know I’m challenged! How could I not! When I see the devil or a living, hanging girl in my room I know it’s a hallucination. I even laugh sometimes and roll over in bed. But when I see him, when I see the Man in Black, I know that he’s something else entirely. Something much more real. He's the only one that talks to me.”
“And that,” Evan’s pointed an accusing finger at Jonathon. “is why I haven’t gotten any damn sleep for the last week! Because you told everyone here about the Man in Black again, they freaked again, and you launched me into a living hell again!” Spittle flew out of Evan’s mouth.
Jonathon didn’t flinch, didn’t move, didn’t register what Evan’s said. “He says that the only reason he talks to me or the other patients is because he knows nobody will listen to us. He wants the end of the world to be ironic, to be humanities fault. We were warned, but nobody listened. He wants-”
“-You’re discharged from Saint Matthew’s psych ward. You’ve been officially signed off of the psych ward's patients list. Your apartment and old job are waiting for you.”
Jonathon blinked. Didn’t say anything for a full second. “I’m discharged…? But he-”
“You will leave the premises immediately. And Jonathon, word of advice. Forget about the Man in Black. Move on.”
Jonathon trudged down the street gloomily, hands in his pockets and eyes downcast. It was a dark night, the stars blocked out by the clouds, as usual in the city. Faint, orange light cast eerie shadows that drenched corners in pitch blackness; corners any mind would imagine horrible, blood-thirsty monsters in.
Jonathon didn’t have to imagine them. They were just there.
To the right. A little girl with completely blue, glowing eyes and blood dripping out of her mouth; running down her chin and her throat.
To the left. A man with a ski mask on, missing his right arm and holding a severed head in his left.
Straight ahead. A woman with lips spread in a silent scream, the flesh melting off of her face.
It didn’t bother Jonathon any more. He’d seen worse. He kicked a stone and walked through the image, hardly heeding the now skinless face.
Jonathon kept walking down the street, ignoring the haunting faces that stared malevolently at him. Doctor Evans hadn’t even offered him to stay the night and to go home in the morning. Hadn’t even offered him a drive. Doctor Evans was livid at Jonathon for bringing back the fear of the Man in Black. The patients at the psych ward had gone psycho (pun intended) for a week straight now when Jonathon had only mentioned the title in public, and so far they hadn’t stopped.
Jonathon sighed. Nobody would listen to him. Nobody would heed the warning.
Jonathon was feet away from a crystal clear puddle and continued to walk on, but didn’t take the time to realize that puddles in the city are never clear. He took a few steps forward and almost crushed the puddle with his booted foot, but he finally realized there was something off about it. He c***ed his head and stepped up to the its edge, stared into the depths of its pearly crystalloid quality.
It looked a pool of perfect, liquid glass, which was weird enough on its own, but something else seemed strange about it. Something he couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
And then it hit him hard like a train going fifty miles per hour. Hit him so hard because it was so simple. His reflection wasn’t staring back at him. It was as spotless and transparent as a diamond, but his reflection simply was not there.
And then, out of nowhere, his reflection was there, except it was upside down as if he were standing on the other side of the pool.
Jonathon didn’t stumble backwards in surprise, didn’t pull his hands out of his pocket in confusion. He just stared at it harder and scrunched up his eyes in scrutiny. And then Jonathon felt like he was hit by another train, except it was going ninety this time.
The eyes weren’t staring down at the puddle as they should have been. They were looking forward, as if someone really was on the other side of the water, staring at Jonathon himself.
Jonathon didn’t look up. Didn’t even think about looking up. He just stared at the water, chiefly for two reasons. The reflection in the water didn’t even look like him. The reflection in the water was the Man in Black.
Jonathon heard a quiet, mirthless chuckle and saw the chest of the reflection heave a little. And then those dark eyes and that sneering face tilted downwards towards the puddle, and the eyes glanced into the puddle as if it actually was Jonathon’s reflection turned upside down. But only for a split second.
Before Jonathon could take fully in their burning hatred, the pool shattered in a high pitched whines is if it really was a sheet of glass. Now Jonathon jumped back.
The face still stared, but it was now divided into a dozen fragments, the eyes now indiscernible.
Jonathon snapped his head upwards and was not surprised to see exactly who he had been expecting.
The Man in Black.
The man had his jet black hair spiked up in an orderly chaos and wore a tight, sleek, fabric suit with tight, sleek, fabric pants. Only the two bottom buttons were fastened and he wore a grey t-shirt underneath with no tie. A smug grin was plastered onto his face and his hands were stuck into his pant pockets; his bright, red irises took Jonathon in all at once.
The Man in Black stared straight into Jonathon’s eyes, as if he'd been looking there all along, but when Jonathon shot a glance at the shattered puddle the man's eyes were staring down.
The Man in Black whistled in mock admiration and shuffled forward a few steps. “My my, wwwhat a looker.” The man’s voice was smooth as butter and his smile never left his face.
Jonathon tried to take a step backward but found he couldn’t. He felt like he was paralyzed from the neck down.
Jonathon tried to speak but only a hoarse whisper wheezed its way out. He cleared his throat and tried again. “What- What do you want…?”
Black’s smile went crooked. “Nothing much, really. Just a teensy, weensy favor.” He paused. “Your life. Temporarily, of course. Celestials can’t stay dead forever, which is a pity.”
“What? What are y-” Jonathon’s voice broke all the way through his sentence.
“-Shut up.” He said quickly and harshly. “You’ll revive, of course. But not in time to save your precious Earth.” Black clucked his tongue. “Too bad for you.”
Before Jonathon could react, Black shot his hand out and a red, swirling mist formed as he grabbed what seemed to be a handle made out of thin air. From nothing came something, and a cruel, crimson dagger materialized into his clutching fingers. Quick as a bolt of lightning Black shoved his dagger into Jonathon’s throat and stared into his face with clenched teeth.
Jonathon gurgled as blood clogged his throat and felt his world go black. Is this really the end?
Little did he know it was the beginning of a new life.
Jonathon fell to the sidewalk with a jarring, dull thud and Black put his hands into his pockets, the dagger now mysteriously vanished. Purple celestial blood stained Jonathon’s throat and Black chuckled.
“The light’s heyday has lasted much too long. It’s time for the Darkness to have a little fun.” He looked at his fingernails and picked at some dirt underneath them. "Even's should have listned."
NOT THE END...