Text copyright © Anamel ™ 2019
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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 five thousand. It was not said that it was death that took them, nor anything of natural cause. Despite this, the people never bothered to leave. When they tried, something always seemed to get in their way. It were as if the town itself was cynical; hating the humans that inhabited it so much that it kept them there to suffer. Despair hung in the air in humid, suffocating clumps, haunting every road and home.
Sognore was both foul and beautiful. It was the only mark of civilization in a vast plain surrounded by swamps and forests. Rusty, oiled train tracks lined the land and bony trees grazed the gloomy skies. It was nights like these that the wind weaved through the dirt roads and trailer parks. Its presence was only known by its ghastly wails as it stopped to peer into windows. It spied on the sleeping faces until it became disinterested and left with a drawn out moan.
Attracted to the window of an orange, small home, the wind peered inside its kitchen window. Drawn like a moth to flame, the wind ate up the scene inside. A hunched over figure sat on the floor, running the pad of their index finger across a shard of glass.
Desperate to see more, the wind squeezed its body through the small crack and landed in a heap upon the floor. The place reeked of a strong, pungent smell. It inched closer to get a better view of the human, pausing in wonder as the human's face turned to the wind. A strip of light from a dim chandelier illuminated part of the boy's face and bounced off his dripping curls. 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.
He wore royal blue shorts that had a flimsy white drawstring and a baggy, grey shirt. 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 to stare at the window. The human's eyes, black as the void, focused on a spider spinning its web above the sink. It must have spent hours weaving that silvery, phantom webs into a beautiful cobweb. It was the perfect deathbed for its meal.
The boy rested his head on his knees, eyes half-closed as a delirious fatigue began to overtake him.
"Good to know I'm not alone tonighttt! Yup, hah! Gotta spider with me," he said in a slurred voice.
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.
He flicked a shard of glass across the room, slicing another finger in the process. Blood spurted from the cut and gathered on the floor. The wind watched in an equal amount of amusement and pity as a stupid smile stretched across the boy's face. The wind knew not why some humans reacted to the pain in the strange ways they did. The scattered glass glinted in the moonlight. The boy's eyes flashed with some obscure emotion as he smeared the blood on his arms and cheeks.
His slender fingers glided across his face and down his throat and collarbone. He tilted his face upwards, his owlish eyes focused on the ceiling. It almost seemed as though he was separated from his body. His breaths slowed, fading into low rattles that 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 tugged on his hair with shaking hands. His spider friend was nowhere to be seen. He thought he was completely alone. He wrapped his arms around his knees, rocking back and forth and buried his head. He folded in on himself as tight as he could. It was as though he was trying to sink in the floorboards and disappear.
He eased himself onto the floor, his body pressed up against the sticky blood and water. He could imagine the flashing news title of the strange death of an average high schooler.
"Mateo Torres, sixteen years old, found deceased lying in a bed of glass and blood in his home. Investigators speculate whether it was a suicide or a homicide." The stern, fake voice that mocked concern rang 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 often wondered how much time it would take for people to forget him after he died. Dying here was about as good as dying in Hell.
Like a puppet on a string, he rose. Mateo used the countertop to heave himself up, standing on trembling legs. He stepped 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. The boarded-up window made him feel ill. He quickly looked away.
Mateo's hand trailed against the black, flimsy wallpaper as he approached the hideous, purple door. He grabbed the doorknob like a robot, twisting it in a manner that mocked breaking a neck. The door cracked open with a haunting wheeze and he sipped through the thin passage.
The muggy air hung 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 above the swollen beds of clouds in despair. No matter how long they grew, 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 bent into faraway corners cloaked by darkness. He hated how many of them there were. The only way Sognore's grocery store got its food was by shipments by train. Despite that, he usually only heard them and never saw them. The train usually came in the dead of the night. It often had woken him up from sleep with its haunting beckon.
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. The heat both from his body and outside made him want to take a nap on the spot. He looked heavenward, knitting his brows as his curls flopped against his nape.
The full moon sat like a prized, glowing jewel in the sky. Black clouds soon covered its beauty with suffocating darkness. Mateo's mouth twitched and he looked down, his ringlets plastering 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. The leaves protested and crackled under his feet as he continued on through the murk. He paid no attention to it, and gave no sign that he had even heard the strange noise.
Mateo fiddled 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 nature itself. 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 somewhat cool. Yet, it had been interrupted by the presence of a lone human. Oftentimes the wind could notice disturbances in the area, even if it weren't paying attention.
It wasn't too odd to see people wandering around this late, though they were homeless or drunkards. They often lurked in the forest or by the abandoned 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 human’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. He had the same damp, curly hair and dead eyes. It looked like he was about to fall over any minute now. The wind raced behind him, butting its head against the boy's back and 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 flushed and his legs wobbled. The wind separated into two, pushing upon both of his shoulders until the boy buckled onto the ground in a heap.
He rolled his eyes up towards the wind. The human's gaze was so unnerving. No human had ever looked at the wind with even the slightest 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?" The corners of the human's lips twitched as they curved up into a slight smile. His pupils darted from side to side as he scanned the vacant sky.
"Sometimes I think that's true. Everyone and everything did something so terrible they had to stay here. I dunno, though, 'cause I’m just making up excuses." His breath hitched as he placed his palms on the ground and pulled 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 a' consumed me already," he mumbled as he staggered to his feet. His face was swallowed by the darkness as he stood, blending into the abyss. 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 heartbeat 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 centuries. The wind unraveled its body from the limb as it flew over for 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. He 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 swirled around him, settling in front of his face for a final look. The light shone like 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 became alight with a craving for blood.