January 17, 2008
By Mike Splendore, Brooklyn, NY

He awoke to the sound of the rain drizzling lightly against the window, darkness surrounding him. His head throbbed and he wished at once that he hadn’t woken up. He could not remember where he had been or how he had made it there, but he soon realized he was on the floor.

He groped in the darkness, trying to get his bearings. His mouth was dry. He tried to stand, collapsing immediately as the intensity of his headache increased tenfold. He lay still for a few moments, listening to the simple patter of the rain on the window. It soothed his headache, and he slipped into the void of his consciousness, drifting amongst his thoughts. He lay there, peaceful, until he was awakened from his trance by a crash of thunder. He quickly hoisted himself up again. The wave of pain hit him again, but he managed to ignore it. He staggered to the window and looked outside. The lonely streetlamps cast a pale, almost eerie glow across the deserted street. A car drove through a puddle, splashing water onto the cracked sidewalk.

He wiped the sleep from his eyes, running his hands through his hair. He tried to remember where he’d been that night. He wondered faintly what his name was. It sounds like a color, he remembered suddenly. Greene. That was it. He wondered again why he had been on the floor. He briefly searched his mind for an answer, but a lone figure walking down the street caught his eye and distracted him.

It was a man in a trench coat, walking with his head down, collar turned up against the wind. He moved quickly, hands in pockets, hat pulled low over his eyes. He was a tall and imposing figure, and the efficiency and composure of his manner could be see even from far up above. Halfway down the block he stopped mid-stride, slowly turning his head. His unseen eyes seemed to bore directly into Greene’s.

Greene rubbed his eyes once more, getting up from the window and retreating into the darkness, almost falling backwards. Had the man really just looked at him? He must’ve been seeing things. He’d probably been drunk before; he probably still was. His mind was just playing tricks on him, in the loneliness of the rainy night. Despite his excuses, he still stood away from the window, not daring to look out. He shook his head wildly and scolded himself for his paranoia. He took a deep breath and stepped up to the glass again, his head still throbbing, his mind still numb with shock.
The man had moved on, walking with the same intensity as before. Even as Greene watched the man’s coattails whip out of sight around the corner, he knew that he needed to follow him. He was afraid of losing him to the darkness of the city, but couldn’t understand why.
He scrambled out the door, not bothering to close it. There were no lights in the stairwell, but he pounded down the staircase anyway. He realized with only a mild shock that he had no idea where he was. The adrenaline pumping through his veins, however, told his mind that it didn’t matter, and the pounding in his head told him not to think.
Greene burst through a door out onto the sidewalk, wildly glancing around. The rain, which was no longer a drizzle but a downpour, drenched him in mere moments. He tried to regain his composure as he walked briskly across the street and, after hesitating briefly, he surged forth into the shadows of the alley.
As he walked he looked over his shoulder, watching for anyone following him. He quickened his pace when he saw that the alley was empty. The one bare light bulb on the brick wall had been smashed, and as he crushed the already broken glass, his shoes made a nearly inaudible sound.
The alley opened out onto another street, and he stopped momentarily, wondering why he was doing what he was doing. Or where he was, exactly.
He told himself his name again. He repeated it in his mind: Greene. Greene. Greene. I got drunk. I’m looking for a man who stared directly at me from the sidewalk in the middle of the night. He calmed himself down.
As he thought he surveyed the street before him, casually noticing that all the streetlamps were burnt out for as far as he could see in either direction, except one distant lamp that burned brightly. He could faintly make out a dark figure standing completely still under the lamp, looking in his direction.
Greene stood, gazing at the man, matching what he assumed was a fierce stare. The two men waited, listening to the rain. After a few moments, Greene began to run towards the distant light. His head pounded, and with every stride, his heart beat faster. He kept his eyes on the man’s figure in the distance. He made no attempt to evade Greene. He stood stoically, unmoving; it was if he awaited Greene’s approach, but with complete indifference.
Greene quickened his pace and briefly took his eyes off the figure he was moving towards. He wondered, vaguely, what he would do when reached the man. He had many questions for him, though he couldn’t explain why he felt the need to ask them.
Somehow, he knew already that he would receive no answers.
He looked up again, and the man was only ten yards away. Greene slowed his pace to a walk, and, upon reaching the edge of the light cast by the streetlamp, he stopped, choosing to remain in the cover of the night. The two figures stood looking at one another, neither betraying anything, neither able to see the other man’s face. The only sound to be heard was the rain pounding the concrete. Greene’s didn’t feel threatened by the man, but curious, almost intrigued.
Greene cleared his throat. “Who are you?” He had to yell to be heard over the rain, now falling thicker than ever.

Greene got no response, but persisted. “Where am I?”

The man’s response was only silence.

Greene had remained in the darkness to this point, but after uttering this simple word he stepped forward into the light of the streetlamp.

The man looked up at him, and Greene could barely make out a wicked grin on his face before the light overhead flickered and died.

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