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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Inspired by Stephen King

Submitted: September 04, 2008

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Submitted: September 04, 2008



That evening, I take my walk later than usual, long after people have closed up their houses against the cold. The stone pavement, empty and desolate, stretches out in every direction. The miserable winter skies are thick with gloomy clouds.
I have not been walking for long before I am distracted by a creak. If it were not for the strange hush, I might have missed the sound. 
But then my life would have followed a very different path.
As I walk, the sound seems to follow me, speeding up when I do, and slowing down when I do. I take a few steps, in case my imagination is to blame. For some unaccountable reason, I suddenly feel extremely tired, as if some inexplicable force were sapping my energy.
I clear my throat and decide to proceed down the alley as usual. As I try to walk, my feet seem to be riveted to the pavement. I walk ahead, one feeble step at a time. Ahead, the buildings seem to lean in and join themselves. The stone faces — long familiar to me — now seem strangely mobile, almost alive, as if waking from a slumber of centuries.
Suddenly, the alley darkens. The stone face starts to move, its eyes opening, widening, its lips twisting grotesquely toward its ears, which lenghten to a long and sinister point. High above, a second face slides down the building, vanishing into the phosphorescent mist.
Another face stares at me through its sockets of stone. A force so formidable rivets me to the pavement that cannot command a single muscle. The building lurches forward, closing the alley. High above, the roofs of the buildings collide with a crunch, forming a narrowing arch that seems to pinch the top of my head. From every side, falling chunks of stone punch giant holes in the pavement, shaking the ground, echoing through the alley with deafening bursts.
The building opens its mouth, tearing up its foundation, raising the flagstones, lifting the tarmac in waves. The ground shifts and heaves under my feet, twisting familiar shapes into a formless nightmare. The gas lamp dies out and the alley is plunged into a ghastly half-light.
I look at the building, expecting it to collapse and I behold in disbelief the change which is taking place before me.
The faces, now unmoving and serene, have jumped back onto their plinths; their diabolical expressions have gone. The flagstones re-align themselves, in perfect union. The building rights itself with a hideous creak, shifting back its bricks, reclaiming its former shape. The crushed rock, the broken, twisted pavement — every former disaster — is erased, as if nothing had ever happened.
At home, they will have worried so for me, waiting for hours, wondering what tragedy could have befallen me.
As I struggle to fathom what has happened, I see myself covering the deserted streets in a flash of speed, lungs searing with desperation. But everything is slow now. I take my first step. Something is terribly wrong. I feel heavy as lead. The very act of moving, of even lifting a foot, is an unbearable burden.
As I stand there, crying out in desperation, I feel my limbs stiffen. My body shrinks, my clothes turn baggy, like a tramp's; my face spreads with wrinkled flesh; filthy yellowish hair hisses down the sides of my head. I have aged fifty years. I am turned into a corpse, fit only for the coffin.
I think back. My walk. The narrow alley. The warning creak I chose to ignore. I feel a rising tide of desperation. Why didn't stay home?
Can I ever go home again? After all this happened to me, after the unspeakable changes wrought upon me? 
What of my friends, my colleagues from work, my children, my wife — my young, beautiful, wife — how could I face her? What would I say to her? What would she say to me?
I imagine myself bursting into the room, falling at her knees. Her face. Her eyes. Her look of horror. Her screams. The screams of my children as they run from the room!
There is nothing left for me. I have lost everything. My self, my family, my life. I want to scream, to rage against the world, against God for this terrible trick of fate. I open my mouth. Nothing comes out. Only a miserable croak. I feel like a frog, like a tortoise, its legs waving helplessly in the air. I plunge into a black well. The sides are slimy. I sink down slowly.


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