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The Eccentric

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Walking down the wet and gloomy sidewalk, the man, a young, lost drifter, stared into the blackness of the night. Robert was his name, or, at least, was what he called himself (he was lost, after all, in more ways than one). His paused for a moment, his teeth now chattering in the cold, arctic wind, and he listened intently to the strange sounds coming from the seemingly unending forest standing at the edge of the pavement. The forest, an unknown world which was cold and desolate to everything living inside, seemed to have something missing; he began to feel like everything was closing in all around him, as if he was slowly being suffocated. He hurried his walk now, hoping to escape the bleakness, searching for a way out. But no matter how fast-paced his gait, there was no escaping the memory, the only memory he could conjure, of the fatal accident just hours before.

He felt an internal wretchedness that was undeniable. No longer able to keep up his walk, he stopped and sat on the curb of the sidewalk, as far away from the forest he could get without ending up in the street, where cars rushed past despite his struggle. He asked himself, and the forest, continually, “Why?” The devastation he felt could not be alleviated, and he wrapped his jean jacket around himself tighter, trying to forget. Robert could not shake the feeling of tight hands extending and wrapping themselves around his throat. Surely, he thought, I can’t go on, I’ll die here. He looked out into the street, where the stark contrast between the quick-moving vehicles and his own desperate world was startling, and he could see the reddened knife, still, in his mind. He could hear the Old Man’s screams; the feeling of thrusting the weapon in and out of the man’s flesh was still with him, and he could not free himself from it. He still remembered the man’s plea, “Please … I don’t want to die.” Oh, such terribly ironic last words from someone who was plunging head-first into death.

Holding his hands over his ears, Rob did his best to block out the bizarre, frightening thoughts which plagued him. But there was no escaping them, it was obvious. The noises of the woods, just faint enough to raise the hair on the back his neck, began to get louder, drawing him back in, and he could fight it no longer. If he did not succumb, these thoughts would, no doubt, haunt him for evermore. The elderly man’s lonely corpse would forever call him back. There was no hiding from it; it was not possible to forget.

Robert launched himself toward the many tall trees and ran, full force. What he was truly looking for, he did not know. He had to save himself, somehow. Forgiveness, salvation for what was committed was unattainable, he worried, but something had to be done.

Searching and searching as much as he felt he could, a feeling of defeat began to overcome him. What was he looking for, really? He asked himself this endlessly, and each time he came up short. Perhaps he would never know…. His run soon slowed, and he fell to his knees, amid the darkness, within the daunting myriad of trees, night crawlers, and … him … The Old Man, Rob could not forget. “Leave me alone,” he desperately asked the dead Earth, scraping and grabbing it as he pleaded. “Please.”

“Maybe, maybe not,” the Old Man taunted; whispering it in his ear. “It’s up to you, kiddo.”

Robert pounded the Earth hopelessly, trying to keep the Old Man’s words away from him. He cried and asked and begged and pleaded and cried more, but finally let the forest’s wrath envelope him, for, he decided, there was no pain in death.

And, oh, how he wished he had been correct in at least that assumption.




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