Text copyright © Anamel ™ 2019
The moral right of the author has been asserted. All rights reserved. This story is published subject to the condition that it shall not be reproduced or re-transmitted in whole or in part, in any manner, without the written consent of the copyright holder, and any infringement of this is a violation of copyright law.
The small, secluded town of Sognore has gone unnoticed by the public for decades. The people there faded away, leaving the town with a population of roughly two thousand. It could not be said that it was death that took them, nor anything of natural cause. It was rare that people moved here, or even came to visit, as they were repulsed by Sognore’s sorry excuse for a town. Its reputation was forever scarred by the formerly toxic chemical plants that littered the land. Sognore was once popular for its production of herbicides, pesticides and other industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals. However, as the rates of cancer scaled unusually high in the area, the people began to suspect that it was the chemical plant’s fault.
Despite this, Sognore’s people did not bother to leave, and when they tried to, something always seemed to get in their way. It was as if the town itself were cynical, hating the humans that inhabited it so much that it prevented them from happiness or contentment. It hung in the air in humid, suffocating clumps which crowded each and every strip of land in Sognore. Some people thought it was a curse, while others blamed it on the paranormal or bad luck.
The townspeople were aware of the elephant in the room and they all knew of their shared sufferings. Despite this, unity and friendship is not a very common thing here. The majority kept to themselves, bogged down with fatigue and lost hope.
Yet, Sognore was disgustingly beautiful; with its rusty, oiled train tracks and its trees that grazed the gloomy skyline. This town was the only mark of civilization in a vast plain of nothing but thick forests and swamps which closed in on Sognore from all sides. It was at nights like this that the wind weaved through the dirt roads and trailer parks, its presence only known by its hair-raising wails. Sometimes it stopped to peer into windows, spying on the sleeping faces until it became disinterested and left with a drawn out moan.
This time the wind was strongly attracted to the window of an orange, small mobile home. Drawn like a moth to flame, the wind stared hungrily into the window which looked into a cramped kitchen. A hunched over figure was sitting on the floor, running the pad of their index finger across a shard of glass.
The wind, desperate to see more, squeezed its body through the window, landing in a heap upon the peeled linoleum floor. The place reeked of a strong, pungent smell. It inched closer until it could see the human, pausing in wonder as the human’s face turned to the wind. A stripe of light from a dim overhead light illuminated part of the male’s face, bouncing off his dripping curls and onto the floor. It stemmed out in veins across his cheeks, lips, and neck which stopped at his collar bone. The blood from his finger ran down his wrist and arm in zigzags, resting on his warm, beige skin like a coiled snake.
Droplets of water fell from the tip of his nose, forming a small puddle which lay beneath his bare feet. The water embedded into the cracks of the floor’s yellow floral patterns. He wore royal blue shorts which stopped below his knees and had a flimsy white drawstring on its top. The human wore no shirt, exposing him to the wind’s bitter chill. Goosebumps raced up his arms and he slouched over, wrapping his arms around his knees. The blood from his finger smeared on his shorts as he turned his head to stare emptily at the window. The human’s eyes, which were black as the void of death, focused on a bug which moved in the corner of his window.
He could tell by its spindly legs and the red mark on its rear that it was a black widow. It must have spent hours spinning its silvery, phantom webs into a beautiful cobweb. It was the perfect deathbed for its meal.
He watched as the spider lifted itself down from its web on a thread of silk. The human lifted a hand, as though he were to wave at it. His mouth drooped into a frown at the thought of such a silly notion. Waves of loneliness clashed against his rib cage, sending a ripple of pitter patters through his heart. Even if the widow were to get anywhere near him, it would probably feel threatened and poison him.
The human rested his head on his knees, his eyes half closed in a more relaxed manner as fatigue began to overtake him. “It is good to know that I am not lonely tonight,” he said in a slurred voice. He knew he was only trying to reassure himself he wasn’t as alone as he felt. His wine colored blood had now reached the bottom of his ankles, mixing with the droplets of water below. The overhead light had now shifted and only revealed his left eye, casting the rest of his body in shadow. The dishwasher dug into his spine as he slumped against it.
The blade of glass in his hand glinted as he flicked it across the room, slicing another of his fingers in the process. Blood spurted from the cut, splattering onto the floor. He smiled. It was always at the most inappropriate or random times that he burst out into laughter or joy. The piece glinted in the light of the moon, scattered among all of the other pieces of broken glass. His eyes flashed with some obscure emotion as he smeared the blood on his cheeks.
The human’s long, bony fingers glided across his face and down his throat and collarbone. He tilted his face upwards, his owlish black eyes slowly wandering towards the ceiling. It almost seemed as he were disconnected from his body. His breaths slowed, fading into low rattles which shook his chest. The strange light which was once present in the depths of his eyes was now extinguished. His smile had melted off of his face, lost somewhere in the pools of blood. He placed the palm of his hand on his forehead, grating it across his skin in distress.
The human grasped the ringlets hanging over his head and tugged on them anxiously, his hands shaking as he did so. His spider friend was nowhere to be seen. He was completely alone. The human wrapped his arms around his knees, rocking back and forth. His head was buried in his lap, his eyes squeezed tight. The high he got off of the sight of his own blood had now turned into paranoia.
He folded in on himself as tight as he could. It was as though he was trying to sink into the floorboards and disappear. The human eased himself fully onto the floor, his bare body pressed up against the warm, sticky blood. If someone were to look inside his window, they would think he was dead. A sudden tugging sensation pulled on the boy’s heart. He could already imagine the flashing news title of the strange death of a seemingly normal high schooler boy. “Mateo Torres, 16 year old, found deceased laying in a bed of glass in his own home. Investigators speculate whether it was a suicide or perhaps a homicide by breaking and entering.” The stern, fake voice which mocked concern rung through his head as clear as day. Except death was nothing out of the usual here and no one would think anything of it. Sadness engulfed him. He was too lazy and hopeless to try to leave and yet was determined to do so at the same time. Dying here was about as good as dying in Hell.
Like a puppet on a string, he rose. Mateo used the counter top to heave himself up, standing on trembling legs. He tread out into the hall, his bottomless eyes staring dead ahead. He looked as though he were a newborn lamb, yet the life was sucked out of his body. He paused for a moment, his squinted eyes scouring the living room.
It was a small, cramped space. The room had nothing but a recliner, couch, and a television. A green, patchwork quilt lay draped on the leather brown sofa. The old tube television sat on a light brown shelf, accompanied only by dust and spiderwebs. Just looking at it made his bones shiver with disgust. Living in the house was a pain enough, but the furniture was even more ugly.
Mateo’s hand trailed across the black, flimsy wallpaper as he approached the hideously painted purple door. He grabbed the doorknob robotically, twisting it in a manner that mocked breaking one’s neck, and then dropped his arm back to his side. The door creaked open as he slipped out through the thin crack.
The muggy air hangs over Sognore like a looming shadow, casting the land in mirages and darkness. The shadow’s claws raked the stale leaves which hung from the stiff, winding trees. Their bark necks stretched past the swollen beds of clouds in despair, stretching their rigid bodies. No matter how long they grew from the ground, they would forever be chained to Sognore. Their bodies looked like coffins, immovable and reeking with the presence of death.
In the distance two train tracks branched off from one another, bending into faraway corners which were cloaked by thick blankets of blackness. The only way Sognore’s grocery store got its food was by food shipments on the train. Despite that, it was rare to see one. The train usually came in the dead of night. It often had woken him up from sleep with its ghastly wails.
Mateo’s eyes drooped with fatigue as he stared into the darkness. Yet, somewhere in those pools of oil and sludge, there was a spark in his eyes which blazed like twin stars. His shoulders trembled as pinpricks of heat rushed through his skin and evaporated into lingering tingles. He looked heavenward, knitting his brows as his curls flopped against his nape. He looked as though he were thinking deeply about something. Mateo’s mouth twitched and he looked down, his ringlets eagerly plastering themselves to his forehead.
Pebbles bit into the soles of his bare feet as he walked forward. A shrill whistle pierced the air somewhere in the distance, fading into the foggy, humid air. He paid no attention to it, and gave no indication that he had even heard the strange noise. The leaves protested as the human continued on through the murk, their bones cracking and popping as they were flattened beneath his bare feet. Mateo fiddled obsessively with his hands and fingers, rapping them against his wrist in agitation.
His body seemed like a weak slice of paper compared to the blackness which engulfed him on all sides. Mateo’s shoulders caved in as if he were trying to defend his own body from the outside. He leaned from side to side as he walked, like a tower that was about to fall over. The wind, which perched upon a branch, looked down at the swaying figure.
It had grown bored by the boy of the orange home and sought to relax while the air was still chilly. However, it had been interrupted by the presence of a lone human. Oftentimes the wind would be able to notice certain disturbances in its surroundings, even if it were not paying attention.
It was not too unusual to see humans wandering around at this time of night, however they were usually homeless or addicts. They often lurked in the forest or in the factories, not in the open. The wind, piqued with annoyance and interest, flew to the ground. For a second the wind had thought it was a wandering spirit, but it was not so. Though the male’s face was blanched and sickly, he was alive. The wind, noticing the blood smears on the human’s skin, coiled its tail in surprise. How odd!
It was the same young man he had peeked at earlier. The wind could tell by the human’s lack of clothing and his damp, curly hair. It looked like he was about to fall over any minute now. The wind raced behind him, butting its head against the male’s back, forcing him up. The human’s groggy eyes slipped over to his left, his mouth parting.
“Everything is watching me,” he said in a crackly whisper, “But no one outta here sees me.” His cheeks were flushed and his legs were about as stable as a paper in the midst of a tornado. The wind separated itself in two, pushing its weight upon both of his shoulders until the boy buckled onto the ground in a crumpled heap. He rolled his eyes up towards the wind. The human’s gaze was unnerving, especially so because no human had ever looked at the wind with awareness of its presence. He did not even bother to put up a fight or try to stand back up. It was obvious that he had completely given up. His hands lay up at the sides of his head, the lower part of his body twisted to the right.
“Did I do something bad to end up here?” It wasn’t a question, but more of a pained joke. The corners of the human’s lips twitched as they curved up into a slight smile. His pupils darted side to side as he scanned the vacant sky. It was as if he were trying to search for the stars.
“Sometimes I think maybe that’s true. Everyone and everything in Sognore did something so terrible they were sent here to suffer. I guess I just like to make up cool stories for why I had to be born here of all places.” His breath hitched in his chest as he placed his palms on the rough ground, pulling himself up into a sitting position. The human eyed the broken down train tracks which curved down somewhere deep into the forest. A loud pop echoed off in the distance.
“Should have consumed me already,” he mumbled as he staggered to his feet. His face was swallowed by the darkness as he stood, blending into the void. The human stumbled and tripped as he headed off to the direction of the train tracks. Suddenly he lurched forward, breaking into a wobbly run. His heart beat faster as he closed in on his destination. As he neared the tracks he paused. The human opened his mouth as he gulped down pockets of air. The wind was already ahead of him by now, its body curled around a thin branch which dangled low to the ground.
His behavior was so erratic it was hard to keep up. He seemed sane at the core, but Sognore had already gotten to his mind long ago. It was sad but there was nothing the wind could do about it. The only thing it could do was watch, as it had for decades. The wind unraveled its body from the limb as it flew over a closer look. The human was now standing at the edge of the oiled train tracks, scuffling his feet in the dirt. Hoots and screeches sounded off far away. He stepped onto the tracks, facing forward with a blank look on his face. The wind slunk up behind him, giving him a slight nudge on the shoulder. The human seemed to take no mind to it.
The roars and rumbles which sounded even louder as the seconds passed by had no effect on the human. He stood there like a statue, unwilling to budge. The wind twirled around him, settling in front of his face for a final look. The light shone as blindingly as the sun and its glare flashed in the pits of his sunken eyes. It screamed louder than the rage of the ocean and the wrath of its wheels were unmatched by none.