The buildings loomed overhead like great monoliths. Their shadows shrouded the streets. All was quiet except for the echoing footsteps of a lone woman navigating the concrete labyrinth.
The woman stopped walking beneath the flickering orange glow of a street light. Ahead of her, motionless, stood a man dressed in all black.
The woman, determined to reach her destination, continued on. Her auburn hair turned black as coal when she left the safety of the street light. With her head cast down, her hair obscured her face
As she walked, the chilled night air made her red dress billow outward exposing the soft, goosebump covered flesh beneath. Her porcelain skin practically glowed as the dark city engulfed her.
With slow, deliberate steps, the woman turned the corner and passed by the still man. She never looked up when she passed him; never acknowledged his existence. But as she walked on in silence, a second echoing of footsteps joined hers, and those footsteps quickly closed the distance between them.
The man neared the woman but she didn’t change her pace. She marched forward with the same deliberate steps until he matched her speed and followed directly behind her. The two went along like this for some time.
Their footsteps synced up and became one. Their identical strides amplified the sound that reverberated through the empty streets. All else remained quiet.
A pitter-patter of rain began and the woman turned into an alley. The man, still on her heels, followed silently. Darkness swallowed them both.
Deep in the alley, the woman stopped and turned, but she kept her face to the ground. She would not look at the man who had followed her.
With shadows hiding his face, the man spoke in a flat, garbled voice. “Hey, looking good, sweet stuff,” he said.
“Leave me alone, please,” the woman whispered. Her words came out as flatly as the man’s had, but her voice carried with it an airy whistle.
The man reached out mechanically and grabbed her shoulder. “Come on. You know you want a good time.” He spoke without emotion.
“No.” She pushed his hand away without any resistance. “Stop.”
“Don’t be like that.” He pulled a knife out from inside of his coat. The light from a nearby window glinted off the blade and exposed his face. “You know you want it,” he uttered through cracked, waxy lips.
“Please. Why are you doing this?” she asked as if she were reading the words off a piece of paper.
He reached out and grabbed her shoulder again. The knife dangled limply from his other hand.
“Play nice or it’ll be a rough night.” A hint of melancholy flashed in his gray lifeless eyes.
“No,” the woman managed.
Weakly, the man pulled her toward him and grabbed a clump of hair on the back of her head. He gently wrenched her head back and revealed her face. She offered no opposition.
The light reflecting off the knife blade revealed her sunken eyes and gaunt face. Beneath her chin, the ashen flesh oozed black, coagulated blood from a deep gash. The wound stretched ear to ear like a raw, twisted grin.
Without any force the woman extended her arm out and scratched the man’s face, gouging out one of his eyes in the process. He hardly reacted.
“Bitch,” he mumbled.
The woman turned as if to run but she stayed still, giving her back to the man. He wrapped an arm across her forehead and pulled her tight against his body. Placing the blade in the crevice of her neck wound, he sliced along the pre-carved line. The flesh along the sides of the wound sloughed onto the blade but there was no fresh blood.
The man eased his grip and the woman slumped forward. But before he let her limp body drop to the ground, she struck back with an errant elbow that connected with his knife hand, sending the blade toward his neck. The cold steel plunged into his flesh and scraped against bone. He didn’t flinch.
Like they had many, many times before, both the man and woman fell to the ground. Only, there was no more blood for the concrete to greedily drink up. Their bodies had run dry many moons ago.
Forced to relive their final night on this Earth, over and over again, the curse of the flesh lives on even as they continue to die every night. Over and over again.
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