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The night was as dark and as cold as any winter evening, though it was the height of summer. That being said, why I should go walking at night when it is freezing cold, I had not a clue. I felt compelled by much those days, which was strange, because I was a person of very little excitement. I used to be a teacher. I never had a wife and never had a child, and my family died at least twenty years ago. I wouldn’t know how long it has been, to say the truth; I stopped counting when I stopped caring, which was at lest twenty years ago.
I was not a heartless person, though, and I never would consider myself cruel; I was a teacher after all. My students loved me because I never gave homework. I just never saw death and missed possibilities as the bad things that the world accepts them as; to say the truth I almost envied those who didn’t have to deal with the frustrations of life.
Really I was merely out of luck in the world, different from the rest; I never felt alive enough for anything to touch me. I needed something to compel me. I thought that it was such an interesting thing that finally after years of knowing that I was making a waste of my life in that inner-city garbage dump where not a single child would care about my lesson or grow up to be someone just a little better then me, I was starting to feel that fulfillment.
It wasn’t every morning when I dragged myself to work, however. I wasn’t the precious time I had to myself after I threw F’s on all of the papers I had to grade. I felt fulfilled in the nighttime.
In fact, it was starting to show how drawn I was to stay up late and stare out the little window in my apartment’s living room, to marvel at the completely black blanket of night as it settled on the restless city. My eyes were starting to take on a permanent sort of tired puffiness and my wrinkled face wrinkled farther so that the deep lines along my shallow cheeks were etched deeper. Even with this happy fulfillment, though, came a growing trepidation. I was afraid of the night and the happiness that I felt when it was near; so afraid, in fact that I was able for so long to postpone my going out in it.
But the calling was so strong that eventually, I found myself walking the paths of Central Park with not a clue as to how I got there or why I was so afraid or why I couldn’t seem to turn back, but was forced by some outside will to keep walking… Then the strangeness of the situation hit me. The night seemed to dim from its usual blackness into a complete dark that was not accustomed to the city with its constant life and light. It was deadly quiet as well; the type of quiet that is loud like a bullhorn shoved up the ear canal and playing a mournful tune. I was the only pedestrian in the park, an struck by the way that my footsteps didn’t even make a sound when they should have echoed through the city with its lack of other footfalls that night.
And then it was still quiet, but suddenly wrong. A wind blew and a single crow cawed and took flight, though none of that was audible in the silent night. Then the trees and the benches and the path were gone as if blown softly away in the wind that made no sound, and I was forced to my knees by a hand on my back that didn’t even seem to be there. The silence was only broken by the sound of my own voice like raspy glass as the fear inside me built up to a peak.
I screamed a blood curdling scream with the protesting of my old lungs and the further difficulty added of being pushed to the ground by the invisible hand now gripping the back of my head. My face was shoved against the wet grass and my knees were scrapping rocks as I tried desperately to pull free, the whole time screaming, though it was no use. The ghostly man would not let me up. He spoke from every direction and his voice was raspy, but held a tone that could have been beautiful had the words not been so wrong.
“Dearest man, why do you struggle so,” the wind picked up speed and grew colder as his voice filled my ears, “you know I seek only to bring you home.”
The words could have been beautiful too, had the voice not been so wrong.
The grass was uprooted by the wind and I was left held to a blinding nothingness as I struggled more urgently against the invisible one, letting my useless screams cut off to focus all of my power into escaping his iron grasp. Only the slightest terrified murmurs could escape my lips and I had time only to realize that though I was afraid in this strange night, I felt more right then I ever had as I was lifted into the air by bony arms that weren’t there and carried onto a starship that was not there either. Nothing flashed before my eyes as we left the world behind.
The worn terrain regained its quiet state and the wind settled back to nonexistence, leaving a dream that the scene could have been dreamt. But I was just a crumpled heap for the park rangers to find in the morning and dark night was loud once again, the city restored with not a second gone by.
And so death is a paradox, as I was no longer there. But truly I did know that I was dead from the moment I started to feel like I belonged, because an outcast’s belonging is not in the world they are outcasts in, right? But I think now that I must have known, because only in knowing did I know that there was something, yet still nothing to fear. Now I must thank the invisible man, for making me a part of my precious night, where I can feel that I am finally, really alive.