The Inbetween

Posted: October 8, 2015 by Philip Jean Kilmer in Short Story
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s another short, free flow piece of writing to keep the Halloween spirit going. Also I have been told by a fellow blog runner that if a piece of bad language to specify just in case we have younger viewership… So yeah. Language warning?

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A thick fog came without warning, as if it had bled from the Earth instead of the sky. What was once darkness and night had become blinding white. The man tried to drive on, fight through the mist, but soon he could not see even the hood of his truck. It was as if the windshield had become opaque glass. He was forced to pull over. The man kept his truck on, and turned his hazard lights on out of habit, even though he knew they would not be seen. Not five minutes ago, the man could still see the green painted mountain ahead of him, but now he could not see the trees on either side of the road. After ten minutes of sitting in the motionless truck with the heater blasting, the man reached for the back seat, grabbed his coat, slid his arms into the sleeves, and stepped out of the truck. The zipper reached his neck right as his boots met the asphalt. It did not take long for his ears to turn numb with the cold, and the tip of his nose followed shortly afterwards. He took two steps away from his truck and stop, afraid of losing sight of it forever. In vain, he tried to peer through whiteness, but could not. The air around him felt heavy. Each inhale scraped at his throat, and each exhale added to the fog.

Then he heard it in the distance. It was faint at first, but as it drew closer to him on the dark and winding road, he could hear a woman screaming. The man dropped a hand towards his pocket, towards the concealed knife clipped to his pants, but then he heard another sound, a voice.

“You can’t help her…”

The man quickly drew his knife and spun on his heals. “Who’s there?” He held the knife out at arm’s length.

“You can’t help her,” a voice in the fog whispered in a dry, airy voice.

The voice changed direction and tone. “She is not of your world.”

“Get back in the truck and return to your world,” the voice changed again, and every time it did the man turned in its direction.

The woman screamed again, still quite a ways up the road, but this time much more clearly. He could make out the exact word thrown out between shrieks of terror, “help”.

The man dropped his chin closer to his chest, defending himself against the cold and a possible attacker, and marched in the direction of her screams. He kept his knife out, but lowered it to his side. The fog grew thicker, until he could not see his own feet below him, but still he kept marching. Then the voice of the fog grew angrier. It spoke deeper now to him, ordering him to stop. When he did not stop, the fog in front of him began to swirl until it shaped into the silhouette of a man.

Staring at the fog-made specter, the man’s heart fluttered and sent him running back towards the direction of his truck, but he could not see it anymore.

“It’s too late,” the voice in the fog said. “You cannot go back. And you cannot go forward.”

“Fuck you!” the man swiped at the darkness with his knife, only to have it striped from his grasp.

The man did not look back, or try to find his weapon, he just kept running, running much farther back than he had walked forward. When he realized this, the man doubled back, and still he could not find his truck. He could only see the fog around him forming into shapes of other men, spirits of smoke leading him further into the blinding white. The road under his feet no longer existed. He ran only through clouds above the ground, and every direction he took led to nothing, nothing but white. And then he saw the figure, the face and the voice of the fog, and he froze. Without fully formed legs, the specter of fog drew nearer. The man knew that, just like the woman he’d heard, his screams would be in vain, he simply closed his eyes and let it take him, and take him it did.

As quickly as the fog appeared, it was gone, seeping back into the Earth and the trees and the mountain. The sun came out again, lighting the way to the mountain, and there was the man’s truck, abandoned on the side of the road, its paint replaced by rust and its metal frame eaten away by age. And if someone pulled to the side of the road and went for a walk by the treeline, they just might find the knife buried in the dirt, but there would never be a trace of the man.

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