The cold wind blew harder for a moment, causing the trees to rustle and the leaves to cackle as they bounced by. Dark clouds blanketed the sky, disguising the moon and all of the stars. The only light was from the few streetlights along this lonely road, but they were dim and flickered out every now and then.
I flipped up the collar of my long, dark coat to shield my neck from the cold. I stopped under a streetlight and glared at my shadow. With the collar flipped up, I almost looked like a vampire. I laughed.
Ha! A vampire?
Well what other kind of man in his right mind would go on a walk in the middle of the night to revisit the home of a man he killed ten years ago?
But, a vampire? No. A vampire was something that I was not. How could I be? I did not like blood. That is why I drowned him. He was weaker than I, and a drowning isn't messy.
He never saw it coming. How could he have expected a complete stranger to come after him on his nightly run…and drown him?
It was because of that look! That look he gave me when I walked by him that one night, ten years ago.
They never found me. How could they? I had no motive. Why would a stranger kill a man?
Because I was insane? No! Because of that look!
I saw my breath in the dead air as I walked along. I wanted to revisit the house of the man I killed. Many people claimed that the house was haunted. But I didn't believe in ghosts. I had killed a man before, and I could do it again! I had nothing to be afraid of. My conscience wanted to see what or who this ghost really was.
Footsteps? I immediately stopped. The complete silence reminded me of how lonely I truly was. Hm… I assumed the footsteps I heard were echoes of my own.
So I continued to walk, with my hands deep in my pockets. A coyote's howl rung through the air, hanging, like church bells on a Sunday morning.
Again I heard the footsteps. I stopped – this time taking my hands out of my pockets. The footsteps also stopped. I turned around. The long, straight, graveled road was just as empty as it had been. Were the sounds a creation of my own mind?
I shook my head and kept on my journey. I could see the house on the side of the road in the distance. The haze blurred my vision.
Again I heard the footsteps!
I stopped for the third time. This time, the footsteps continued. I quickly turned around to face my stalker. I saw nothing. Yet the footsteps continued.
I panicked. Fear attacked my nerves and completely took over my body.
My legs automatically pushed me forward – faster and faster until I was sprinting as fast as my legs could carry me. The footsteps behind me grew louder and faster.
But there was no one there!
I kept turning my head back desperately, trying to find out what or who was chasing me. Behind me I continued to hear crunching footsteps.
All of a sudden I tripped, not looking ahead. The ground rushed at me and hit my chest with such force that it knocked all of the air out of my lungs. I gasped for air and put my hand to my chest in pain.
My legs struggled to lift me up. Someone – something – suddenly hit me from behind, once again knocking me off my feet. But this time I tumbled down a hill in front of me. My coat was immediately torn away.
Legs over arms, head over heels, elbows into ribs! Incredible pain as my body bent in ways it was not meant to bend! The grass and rough dirt that I rolled in stung my nose and entered my mouth. The taste was revolting, but that was the last thing I was worried about at that moment.
I continued to tumble for what seemed like an eternity. Sky, ground. Sky, ground.
Suddenly, I stopped rolling and flew through the air, plunging into the lake were the hill ended. The same lake where I had committed a murder, so long ago.
I closed my mouth and held my breath at the last possible second, which wasn't too difficult since all of the air had already been knocked out of my lungs.
My body felt as if it had been thrown into a stone wall. The water was so cold that it felt like millions of tiny needles were stabbed into my skin. My senses didn't come to me until my whole body was completely submerged.
The icy water was tearing away at my eardrums. I faintly heard the sound of bubbles.
My legs finally got their message and I began kicking hard, trying to reach the surface. My arms paddled to help my legs. I couldn't see anything. Which way to the air?
The gurgling of the water grew louder as I searched for the surface. There! I could see the dim glow of the streetlights, so far away.
Almost there. Almost there. I gave one last final kick to jump out of the water. As soon as I felt the top of my head go above the surface, I was pushed back down under the water.
I tried again to get my head above the water. Again I failed. It was almost as if someone was holding me beneath the water. But I could see no one! I tried to surface again and again. Each time I could not.
My lungs burned. My tired muscles screamed for their oxygen. Every nerve in my body pained because of the cold water – so cold it felt like fire. Every single cell in my body ached.
Where was the air?
I continued to struggle to try to get my head above the water. I couldn't hold my breath for very much longer.
I tried to swim to another part of the lake. It was as if someone had put me inside of an invisible steel box and sealed every crack in it shut. But I was not Houdini! I needed my air!
My mouth and nose could no longer listen or pay any attention to my brain. The urge to breathe grew too strong. I was already starting to black out. Things began to fade away slowly. I took a breath.
The water entered my body quicker than a tsunami hits a beach. It immediately invaded my body. Water began to replace the carbon dioxide in my lungs. My brain was confused. Without its oxygen, it could no longer function properly. The commands it gave were distorted and confused.
Cells inside of me started dying slowly, suffocating. Like I was.
The water continued to flow through me. Blood was getting washed away. I could no longer control my arms or legs.
My eyes started to close, but I snapped them open. No! I hadn't lost the battle yet!
Air! No, it was too late for air.
I was fading in and out of consciousness, not really realizing what was going on.
The water's pressure was destroying me! It was crushing me brain! What could I do? I was sinking slowly.
My lungs were almost filled with water. Individual cells were being crushed one at a time. The pain was incredible! But I could only feel part of it. Part of my brain had already shut down. How much longer could I stay in the arms of life?
No! The pictures given by my eyes were distorted. Meaningless, really, because I couldn't comprehend them with my brain.
I could see everything start to black out. The pain both inside and outside of me was beginning to fade away. My body relaxed and stopped moving. My heart struggled to pump blood, unable to get the correct commands from the brain, and unable to work without any oxygen.
Slowly, so slowly, I felt my heart come to a complete stop.