A Night’s Walk

I wanted to go for a walk.

These urges occasionally strike me, and I try to indulge them when I can. If I don’t, I tend to feel very restless and unsatisfied.

Ulterior Motive: I wanted a chocolate bar. So at 1:45 in the morning, I get ready to go for a walk. I grab an old pair of jeans with a torn knee, tuck my shirt in, and grab my gun. These pants, with the gun in, feel snug enough that I shouldn’t need my new belt, so I grab my old one and begin threading it through the worn loopholes.

As I slide the belt through my holster’s belt clip, a thought strikes me, and I grab my spare magazine and slip my belt through its loop. I don’t normally carry extra ammo with me, as it is conspicuous, but the gun was showing anyway, so it wasn’t too much more than a passing thought.

I start to head out of my room, anticipating the need for quiet as my roommate is probably asleep in the other room. But I find his door is open, and he is gone. It is Friday morning; perhaps he is at work, doing a brief overnight shift.

I shrug, and head out of the house.

The temperature outside is great; but humidity hangs heavily in the air. It’s dark, lit by a sporadic moon and street lamps, giving everything a yellow, hazy tint. Fog drifts lazily through the air, providing a perfect environment for an over-active imagination.

I’ve recently been rereading the DragonLance novels. They are amazingly well written stories by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman; I recommend them to everyone who enjoys fantasy writing. They lean closer to Tolkien than Martin on the Fantasy scale, so you may not enjoy them if you hate Tolkien, but love Martin.

I digress. As I hit the street, I feel… odd. The pavement feels soft beneath my feet; like a cushion as I walk. This feeling doesn’t disappear as I head down St. Charles Ave, towards Sunshine, and a light mist begins dropping from the sky.
Although… it wasn’t really from the sky. It did feel as though it were falling on me, but as I looked up, I saw a faint wisp of a cloud languidly slide east across the sky. It was certainly not thick enough, or overhead enough, to cause rain.
At that moment, the moon appeared suddenly, as though eyelids had suddenly been pulled back. It seemed to stare down at me as I walked, and I stared back, enjoying the feel of mystery. It was almost like being in a novel, and I began to narrate what was happening in my head.

A jagged line of lightning pierced the cloud that the moon was in, and a bank of thin clouds rushed over the sky’s eye. I waited for the reverberation to come, in vain. It never did. However, I was captivated by how easily my imagination imagined the wings of a dragon swooping out of the clouds, banking hard to its right, and then vanishing within again.

I continued to walk while all this happened, and suddenly became aware of the yellow street lamp that was burning overhead. I walked on the east side of a north/south street, to see approaching cars. The light overhead seemed to become brighter as I approached, (of course, the perception was there, but in reality, it did not change.)

I felt an overwhelming presence behind me; and laughing at myself, I quickly turned around as my heartbeat jumped. A trick of my mind, caused by the sight of the moon and my, as earlier stated, over-active imagination. There was nothing behind me but a long, dark street, dappled with pools of streetlamp light.

I turned back to my destination, which was the gas station on the corner, near 65 highway. I had started this trip with the intention of grabbing a drink, (Sprite Zero or Cherry Coke Zero) a chocolate bar, (Hershey’s) and a gallon or two of antifreeze, because I needed some and this seemed like a good time to pick some up.

I pulled my phone out and began looking at Facebook; earlier I’d taken a picture to upload, and it had finished. I read through a reply or two, then looked at my feed and noticed that Jenn was returning to Chicago today. I tapped like on it, and then read the comments. There was a picture of Michael Jordan as a joke; I chuckled, flipped my case shut, and looked up.

For a moment, I was lost. Once I recognized where I was, I started thinking about how I hadn’t noticed the scenery change as I walked. I was so subsumed with my phone that I was unable to notice changes that were happening around me. This was a strange feeling, so I pushed it to the side and ignored.

There was a flash of movement in the sky – my over-active imagination took over again and I immediately thought: dragon. When I focused, finally, on the area where the movement had been, I found… nothing. There was nothing on top of the light pole that would explain what I had seen. So I ignored it, as a truck rolled by in front of me.

Not breaking my stride, I walked across Sunshine.

Across Sunshine, there is a Meeks. If you’ve never been to a Meeks, it is a series of chain stores that sell lumber and other building supplies to contractors. They’re pretty big here in the Midwest, but overall I think their popularity is declining. They compete with the likes of Lowes.

My mind was in overdrive, as I scanned the interior of the lot. The yellow sign, with its bright billboard display beneath it, kept flashing bright light every few moments. This changed the shadows, and cast an illusion of someone moving in the back of one of the warehouses. I was very unsettled.

That’s when the drunk guy appeared. He was maybe five feet six inches tall, without a shirt on, wearing white pants with a black belt. His skin was dark tan, and he had black hair. I moved into the parking lot to avoid him, and that’s when he saw me. He lurched to his left, as though he intended to follow me, and my heart began to race.

He stumbled again the other direction, and I realized that he was drunk, and immediately looked for the cigarette I expected to be in his right hand. There was none, and that’s when he spoke, holding his hands up in front of him, trying to be non-threatening.

The look was exactly the opposite.

“Hey, man. You got a cigarette I can have?”

“No, sorry. I don’t smoke.”

“Yeah, you don’t smoke. Good job. Don’t smoke, man. Have a good night.”

“You too,” I say, and turn away from him. As I near the corner, getting back onto the sidewalk, I glance behind me, adrenaline finally draining out of my chest. He’s still walking away. Nodding to myself, I look back towards the gas station, and see a kid, maybe nineteen years old, roll up on a small bike and stop at the light.

He’s on the sidewalk, wearing a cap with a straight brim, a bright neon green or yellow shirt, (it’s hard to tell which for sure, since colors were reflecting from multiple light sources.) He’s got a pair of gym shorts on; they were black, and a pair of black sandals. I get to the other side of the street and glance back; he’s hiding behind the Meeks sign, staring at the drunk shirtless man.

I wonder to myself if he’s infatuated, a helpful friend, or someone that wants to beat the guy up? Or maybe, I say, turning away, he’s just hoping not to run into the guy while he bikes.

I get to Wendy’s parking lot, glance back, and the kid is still sitting there. Still staring. Still creeping me the fuck out.

But I continue walking, and I slide into the parking lot in front of the Brown Derby that’s beside the gas station. I see a lot of people driving around the parking lot, so I aim towards the Brown Derby so that I won’t be forced to worry about them. A solid ringing sound comes from behind the gas station, and three quick flashes of lightning cross the sky.

I pull out my phone again, this time positive that I won’t be pulled inside it. I glance at it for maybe five seconds, reading a quick reply about Snapchat. When I look up, I see that I’m walking right towards a person I hadn’t seen before, and I jump.

Luckily, he didn’t see me jump. An employee is headed toward the dumpster, where another guy in jeans and a t-shirt, is throwing trash bags. A few more loud rings, and I know where the booms came from previously.

I walk in, grab a cherry Coke zero, and a candy bar. I contemplate briefly grabbing the antifreeze, but realize that if I carry it, I wouldn’t be able to pull my gun quickly, should one of the creepy people I’ve seen so far decide to do something.

So I forgo it; it’s not important, anyway, and I can always get some tomorrow afternoon after work is done.

I pay for my items, and I walk out, and head across the street. My path home is quick, and seemingly a much shorter walk than the walk to the store. The only thing of note, that I wish my camera could take a picture of, was the moon.

As I crossed back to St. Charles, I glanced up at it. The moon is not quite full, and a wreath of three clouds wrings it, giving it the appearance and shape of an eyelid. This was particularly creepy feeling, as one of the upper clouds raised, as though the moon were questioning me as I walked.

I turned my head away from the moon, disturbed and a little concerned, and headed home.

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