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Red skies, much like the richness of blood, are emitting a dull, crimson hue upon the scene. The crimson seems to ripple upon and out of his pallid neck. This is not light trick, but rather the secretion of coveted life: blood. He is staggering, slowing, falling; attempting to scream, anything. Staunching the profanity of red, he is not able to live or die, but rather caught in between the throes of mortality. He stumbles upon the blood-stained sidewalk, falling, falling, falling to the ground, weary. Death is imminent. He takes in the hazy air, cool, yet undeniably musky. Death is offered. He allows himself to lie where he fell previously, upon the concrete sidewalk, much like a chalk outline, yet breathing, living. Death has arrived.
Stephen Malatine, was, almost three and a half hours earlier, a man of intact skin, a man of consciousness, a man without a festering gait. Settling on the dusty concrete sidewalk, although without any other options for placating himself, Stephen Malatine lay suffering from self-infliction...
“Tom, my comrade, please allow me to escort you home. It’s terribly frightening out tonight. The red sky is enough to make my skin crawl,” ventured the man oddly and without emotion.
“Yes, yes, I would enjoy a fellow friend to walk with me tonight. Thank you Stephen,” Tom Withers obliged in a sing-song air, “I am inclined to take my time, however. The sky is extraordinary, rich as blood.”
Tom Withers and Stephen Malatine, gait free, strode down the cracked sidewalk amid decrepit oak aberrations. The road, barren save for a few pebbles, was eerily sound, as if it hadn’t been traveled on for nearly thirty years. The gleam of the red sky combined with the citrus streetlights, allowed for an unadulterated abundance of gleaming spectral beauty to reach the untouched and fault free road below.
“How, Tom, do you wish you could die?”
“My God, Stephen! Is that an honest question? I suppose I’d like to pass calmly, without much pain, yet dignified enough to redeem my pride. But truly Stephen, how could you possibly heed information of such?”
Stephen sneered at this naively delivered comment as he scratched at his forearm violently. He wished for vagueness, able to redeem, able to relive. Hesitantly fingering the metal contraption in his coat pocket, he brushed his trembling digits and enclosed them upon the pocket-watch. Drawing the mirrored ticking time piece out, he glanced at Tom’s face, full of perceptive wonder, and retracted.
“Stephen? Perhaps we should retire home. The lights will be turned out soon. Stephen?”
Stephen spoke not a word, His forearms now covered entirely with inflamed track marks.
“Well, I suppose I can return to my residence on my own," Tom began.
“No,” Stephen interrupted him with acidity, quickly returning to a more pleasant tone, “Tell me Tom, what is man’s greatest fallacy?”
Tom stared blatantly and vaguely at the sky with glassy eyes, as if transfixed by the redness. His hypnotized state quickly vanished as the question registered in his mind.
“I suppose the fear of death. Why do you ask?” Tom wondered.
Stephen stopped himself before projecting a snidely quick and revealing response. He bit his tongue fiercely, causing red liquid to emit from the puncture wound. He shut his mouth tightly and with force, as if in frustration. Blood seeped from Stephen’s mouth. He further attempted to staunch both blood and confessions from excreting. His mouth, a crypt of venomous secrets was closed completely. Through enormous force of blockading and keeping safe, he entered a delirium, wickedly snickering and convulsing. Stephen’s gaunt body shook uncontrollably. Legs trembled, unable to support the shaking weight upon them. Arms covered in bloody abrasions flailed about, without reason. Bloodshot eyes glanced in every direction. The blood filled mouth of Stephen Malatine, however, was still. Painfully managing to rid himself of the liquid, he spoke hoarsely.
“Tom, my friend,” Stephen spoke as blood seeped from the corners of his mouth and began again, “you mustn’t anticipate death or ponder it. It will indeed betray you as I have and will.”
Tom Withers, speechless, could literally feel his other half seizure his way to death in the gleam of scarlet contusions upon the sky. The profusion of burgundy light was overwhelming to Tom as he glanced down the street for salvation. Tom reached into his coat pocket once more. Reaching determinedly for the knife already poking a hole through the silken lining, Tom glanced down at his moving feet.
“No. NO!” screamed Tom Withers as his voice quavered while picking up a running, spastic speed.
Tom grasped the preemptively honed weapon as he steadied his extreme quaking. He raised his solidified arm into the red gleam of the streetlights, rigid and deft. The arm now fell into pallid flesh, deeply and without obstruction. A silent scream.
Tom fell to the concrete sidewalk, withering away in a mass of crimson remorse. A deep breath of musky night air admitted nothing. Within Stephen Malatine’s limp and guilty hand, however, laid the knife of mental madness.