Poised in a crouch, I watched as he paused to drink from his canteen. I smile inside my mask, fresh blood still dripping down the plastic, stinging my tongue as I lick my lips. A Train horn blows off in the distance. I count the breaths as he continues on towards the stream. He looks in my direction through his sunglasses.
Does he see me? I wonder, as he hastens his pace.
I leap from my perch, leaves rustling, twigs snapping.
He sees me. They always look back, I never do find out why, but I don’t care. The chase, the kill….it’s…my burden. I didn’t choose this, the choice was made for me.
Sweat pours down my face, burning my eyes and blurring my sight. He falls, grunting and shrieking at my approach. I smile.
His leg is broken.
He’s clawing at the ground helplessly. I stomp my boot onto his broken leg. He screams. I grab his leg and pull him towards me. I raise the knife up and—
Wait. You’re probably wondering how I got here.
Fear not dear reader, We’ll get to that.
I plunge the knife into his chest, up and down, up and down. He gurgles. I swear I can hear his heart slow…but I’m mistaken. It’s mine. Something about the kill calms me.
The wipers slosh back and forth as rain drops pelt the windshield. The parking lot lights bring a glare to the glass that assaults my eyes. I squint. It won’t be long before he passes by. The music inside the bar tonight was too horrid to allow him to leave this place, I won’t feel bad about it. The burden bears a heavy weight on my shoulders– that’s the nature of it’s power, I suppose.
I never wanted to go there, you could even say that I was forced to…Maybe something was calling me to it. It doesn’t matter.
My brother had always been the golden child. Growing up was a fine example of that. Chores left undone, curfews that weren’t met…I was the fall guy. I never really minded all that much, that is, until SHE came along. She was perfect in every way, the epitome of what I wanted, needed even. But she wasn’t mine. She wanted him. Thinking back now, maybe I could’ve done it differently. But, what’s done is done, and I have no regrets. I’ll carry the burden until it’s time to pass it to the next– there’s always another. One that will succumb to it’s grasp and leave that place with more than he came with.
There he is.
He walks slowly with his guitar case towards a small sedan.
I quietly open my door and maneuver around the cars in the parking lot. He slams his trunk shut after placing the case inside.
He opens the car door, turns to climb in and–
I throw a sweatshirt over his head, blocking the view of his surroundings. He spins, flinging the sweatshirt from his head.
He swings. His fist strikes my mask hard against my face.
He swings again, a miss. I tackle him to the ground. I swing. My fist connects hard with his jaw.
No! My knife! Where did I drop it?
He heaves me off of him, I fall to the ground.
NO, NO, NO!
I scramble to my feet. He’s already running towards the bar.
Get the knife.
I search frantically on the ground for my favorite weapon.
There! There it is!
I grab my knife and sprint for the bar. I crash through the door and hurry past angry customers.
I slam my shoulder into the door and shove it open. I look left, then right.
There he is.
That wretched man is trapped, fumbling with the door.
Oh? What is this? Locked from the outside?
I smile inside my mask. As I approach him I can hear the song. That hollow orchestra of whispering souls lost in the–
My blade hits his midsection hard, puncturing his flesh, invading his tissue…
I smile again.
I pull back and drive my blade up into his jaw, stopping to look into his eyes.
The drive home is refreshing. Something about the rain soothes me, I find a certain comfort in it’s steady rhythm. My mind begins to wander…
He was never supposed to die.
It’s one year ago today that I brought my brother, Brandon, out here. I thought I could claim his soul back, but, things don’t always work out quite right, do they? Sometimes when you make a deal with the devil, the choice isn’t yours. They say that this place is connected to the other side. I believe it.
What would be the alternative? That I created this illusion? No.
The devil is real and this? This is his domain. I did what I had to do…
It was supposed to be his soul for mine.
HE WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO DIE.
They say that you can physically leave, but your soul will be trapped…lost for eternity in THE HOLLOW
Credit: Charles Jonathon Truax
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