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Neon Flicker

I met my First Nightmare when I was wide awake. Alive. In a street, a backstreet, in a city. The city isn't important. It could be fictional for all I care. Like Paris. Paris is fictional.

I didn't grow up in the city. I don't think anybody does. Not this city. We just sit here as children until something reaches out and touches us, then we either move away or pay the ferryman. We grow up somewhere else or we don't grow up. Like I said, I spent my whole life not growing up in this city. The fictional one.

Jerry, that's my friend. Well, he said he met his First when he was little. Way back. I don't believe anything Jerry says. He tells the truth half the time, and I still don't believe him. Jerry's like that. 

So I'm in this city, where I never grew up, and I'm walking home. I was coming back from the boxing gym actually. I don't box. I just go there. My friend boxes. Prizefighter he is. Throws a punch and you never knew what hit you. These guys they come in all tough and they want to fight. You know? Out here everybody wants to fight. So the coach, this old guy who probably never boxed a day in his life, the coach throws them in the ring with my friend. They see this little kid, he's not really little, he just looks that way, from a distance, you know? You know people like that? You get up close in the ring and he doesn't look so small. He unfurls like one of them plastic bags all caught up in the trainblast. That's what he's like. He lays these new guys out. Some stay after that, some don't.

The gym isn't so far from my place, so I figured I'd walk home alone. Even though. You know. Nightmares. I was a little buzzed, from the neon. Those neon lights always get me buzzed. Go right in through my eyeballs pierce my brain. Ball-bearings. There's a lot of neon. Where I live.

I decided to take this shortcut, probably because of the neon. Its this little back-road. Alley. Not a back-road. An alley. The kind where most the light comes out of the windows up above. They always have the television sets on up there in those windows. No sound though. Those people just love that television with no sound.

It'd been raining so that blue flickery kind-of a glow was dancing around on the ground. It looked inviting. Away from all that dirty yellow in those lampposts. I was about halfway in. Into the light. Into the alley. Either. Both. There was a dead end with a nice big chain link fence. I don't know why they bother with chain link. Who does it stop?

I was watching all the light flicker on and off on that tarmac but I saw him coming. I've always been observant, see? So I see him. They say those Nightmares have massive teeth, or they play up them eyes. This one wasn't like those ones in the stories. This wasn't like Jerry's. He was tall, but not too tall, you know? Maybe a few inches taller than me. I saw him coming, he didn't have those teeth like I said, and you know I couldn't really see him at all.

There was this big man shaped absence. Just dark. Not all-black-dark. Just. Dark. I saw him coming, and I thought about running. I really did, but he was there pretty soon. That darkness. It scared me. And the neon was behind my eyes making my heart pop and my brain slow down. So the whole world slowed down, and me, I was going normal. The television light changed on, and off, and on again, like a slow motion horror flick.

I looked at this Nightmare. Just stood there and watched. Slow now. So I backed up, just a little you know? I didn't want to lose face. He just kept coming. Nice and slow. My friend Jerry he's a real killer with these Nightmares, saw his First when he was young, I tell you that? And my friend at the gym, oh he's a prizefighter, they say he'll take it to the top. Me? I just sit in that boxing gym, and I drink a little neon, a little television. 

There was a wall behind me. Sort-of slick kind-of brick. Wet. So then I turn and I start running for that chain link. I can feel him right there behind me. The world started speeding up. Going a little too fast. And I was a little slow. I didn't reach that chain link in time. I just knew he was behind me. Right there. Almost touching. So I reach the window instead. The broken one.

It's this big hole filled in with deep grey light. Light you can lose yourself in. The window pane is all smashed up. Maybe I smashed it. Who knows? I knew he was right there. Just dark. So I get a good slick grip on that piece of reflection and I turn and bring my fist into his neck. Sideways.

If you've never felt the dark then you're a lucky man. Like dirty oil with ice in it. Darkness. That glass slipped in nice and easy. Then I just went on home. Left something behind though. A little neon blood on the chain link.

My place hasn't got that blue light, but there's fluorescent downstairs. In the stairwell. Cruel. My place is just daffodils. Bulb light. Simple. That was the First one I ever met. Did I tell you, earlier? I think so?

I ain't never been to Paris.





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