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The Crowd

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CRASH!!

I heard the noise and sat bolt upright, dropping my cards to the floor.

“What the hell was that!?” my dad yelled as he ran in from the kitchen. He took a drag from his cigarette and smashed it onto the bare card table. The wooden surface was covered with hundreds of small, circular burn marks.

“It sounded like a train wreck!” my cousin, who was the dealer of our friendly little poker game, said as he picked up the telephone.

I heard three dial tones, probably for 9-1-1, and ran bare-footed out the door and down the splintering wooden steps. I sprinted as fast as a twelve-year old could, pumping my arms like pistons and gasping as the gravel on the empty road tore into my feet.

Pure adrenaline, which seemed to have taken the place of blood in my veins, helped me to complete a half-mile run in less than two minutes. As I rounded a corner, I saw what was once a blue Ford pickup truck. It had hit a black sedan and both cars were lying overturned in the middle of the street. Both cars had lost their identities in the wreck, becoming one large pile of shrapnel.

A crowd of twenty or so people was huddled around a man on the side of the road. I saw, as I pushed to the front of the small ring, that he had broken his neck, and most of the other bones in his body. Through the blood I could determine only two things about the man’s feature-he had a very, very, long nose, that had probably been broken several times, and he had a pitch black eye patch.

I ran away from the man, not wanting to see the gore anymore. Not even stopping as I vomited, I ran twenty feet away towards the cars that I assumed he had been launched from.

Two people were spread on the ground

“SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!” I yelled. To this day I am not sure what I wanted them to do. It just seemed wrong that they just sat there silently. That thought, the first one I had in five minutes (or was it five years?) that wasn’t completely made up of horror, brought on another.

Where had the crowd come from?

The only buildings for miles were an empty factory, my house and an old, abandoned cemetery. The only living things I knew of consisted of my cousin, my dad and I, and I suppose you could count the weeds in the endless fields that were supposed to yield corn years ago.

Then two men walked forward and, though they remained silent, grabbed one of the victims by the bloody, broken arms and legs and began to pull.

“STOP!” I yelled, elbowing my way to the front of the crowd, which had formed around the cars. “YOU CAN”T TOUCH THEM! THERE MAY STILL BE SOME HOPE—DON’T HURT THEM MORE!” An odd chuckle circulated around the crowd.

Why was that funny!?

The men began to pull the victims from the wreckage, allowing broken glass to slice their already mutilated bodies.
For every word I put up to protest, at least two chuckles came from the crowd.
What’s so funny?

The men dragged their victims halfway across the street.

Where had they come from?

Where were they going?

“You can’t do that!” I said, not because I actually felt that the victims would live, but because I knew that I would feel guilty afterward if I didn’t protest. “They’ll die for sure if you—“

My words were not drowned out by chuckling this time; it was full on laughter.

The two men dragged the two people-the two corpses- across the street and laid them down on the soft graveyard dirt.
The rest of the crowd followed, helping to take the other victims (including the man with the crooked nose and the eye patch), across the street. All except for one woman lying in the street, breathing slowly and heavily, but still breathing.

Why didn’t they take her?

“There’s still one more!” I yelled, still not sure why they were doing this.
With a horrible groaning noise the woman on the road coughed up blood, and no longer breathed at all. One crowd member walked towards her and felt for a pulse.

Satisfied that there was none, the person took the body by the hand and dragged it across the street with the rest.

I stared in amazement until the ambulance pulled up, blocking my view of the cemetery.

“How long has—“ the ambulance driver began. I looked at him for a second or so and held up a hand to silence him and ran across the street.

Nobody was in the cemetery, save a few leaves chasing each other across the yard in the fall wind. There was no sign of the twenty people that had come from what seemed like thin air.

A leaf stopped at the foot of a brand-new looking tombstone. The earth in front of it looked as if it had been dug recently up and put back down.

It read:

Here lies Rafael Garros,

March 6, 1941 to September 4, 1986

On the ground near the headstone was an
eye patch, tied up nicely.
I began to walk away, but stopped when I realized something; that day was September Fourth, 1986.



As I am sailing through the air, I catch a glimpse of the school bus that hit my motorcycle. Colliding with the ground, head first, I don’t feel the jolt of pain I expected. Instead a warm feeling of happiness comes over me, and I feel a smile form on my lips as I lay on the ground.

There is a crowd around me too, and they are all silent, staring at me. I feel a firm hand on my shoulder, an turn around, with only a little stiffness in my neck.

“Get up.” Someone says, and I do it. Now I look at the source of the voice.

It was a man, aged about forty, with a crooked nose and a pitch-black eye patch.





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