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All of suburbia has been rendered dead silent, with nobody in sight or earshot. My bare feet fall silent on the concrete despite the force I pushed off the ground with, leaping at the next crack in the sidewalk, running from death.
I feel the cold rush of air as death struggles to keep up. Grasses and thorns split the concrete like dropped glass. Even the blood on my cracked soles cannot keep me from running, passing house after house of empty windows and nothing at all.
I feel the void’s cold fingertips stroke my ankles, and I speed up. I run, my heart a drummer keeping me in time. The sidewalk and the world crumbles behind me and I need not look back to confirm that the end is nigh. Only a few more houses before I’m home.
My feet are tattered and torn as i turn hard to the right, forcing myself to step through the garden, with the sharp gravel pavement flung about underfoot. The chain-link fence is broken and rusted, so I leap over it and feel the void stop its chase at the gate. I feel silent laughter behind me.
I trip and fall. Tens upon hundreds of hornets rise from the loamy ground, angered and on the defense. The yellow-and-black bullets fire at my face and eyes, and I am defenseless against their assault. My toes dig into the ground as I force myself to stand, screaming and swiping at my weeping face. Lumbering and crooked, I grope around for the door.
Home! Safety! Home! Doorknob! Broken, short thoughts jolt through my conscience while I swipe and search blindly for sanctuary. Cold brass greets my eager fingers, and I push my way indoors. Hornets fall to the ground en masse and I am alone on the screen porch, kneeling, swollen, and crying. I’m in the final stretch, and my fingers claw at the ground, forcing myself to crawl to the door.
Opening the door feels like war, and my muscles refuse the command to move. Finally, after eons I fall sideways onto the terrazzo floor. I see a shoulder peeking out from the kitchen wall. I pay it no mind, I just look forward at the grain of the table legs in front of me as I drift off, my last sight being an immaterial white face, with hollowed red eyes and a sinister grin.
I wake up, and sunlight pours in the window. Groaning, I turn over and look at my bedroom. The same old bed and dresser, dusty with neglect. The same old mirror, with stained-glass daisies around the border. The same old childhood drawings, but with something new: a crayon drawing on black construction paper or a white figure, sporting a smile and eyes the color of fear and blood and everything that I ever hated. I get up and rip it from the wall, and part the blinds to look out the window.
Nothing is outside. The void resonates darker than night, but still light fills the room. I return to my bed, and sit down.
“That nightmare again.” I mutter.
“I almost thought there might be something out there this time.”