It was dark and late, when Ben opened the wing of his beast and fell into the seat of his cooling car. To him the night had crept in quickly overcoming the now longer days. For Ben, the nights carried on due to days that lasted a tiring eighteen hours. His work had become demanding, ordering his body to awaken while the sun still slept. In the morning while night lingered, Ben awoke and started his days. Staring out into the late dark of his girlfriend’s quiet street, he pondered this longevity of night. Catching the light of day in glimpses and day dreams, it always felt dark and late.
Tired eyes fell upon dry hands on smooth wheel. Ben realized he was drifting off and forced his eyes to focus on the poorly illuminated path. His mouth began to form the shape of a yawn, but he quickly snatched the emptiness with a free hand and tossed it away. This was a ritual that sometimes kept the exhaustion from consuming him and he was damned if he was going to stop doing it tonight. Ben knew he could use all the voodoo magic and superstition tonight just to make it home. He allowed himself a peek at the LED green of his dashboard clock, the atrocity of the hour stared back at him.
Moments had gone by. In his mind he had just walked away from a sweet good night embrace, to attempt the drive home. Ben always had said he was so tired when he left her side. He told her it was because his soul lingered with her even after he left. When his ethereal self caught up to his shell, the extra journey taxed him even more. Using weariness as a measurement, tonight the separation of soul must have been exceptionally hard.
Once again Ben found himself struggling to keep his eyes upon the road. Inside his head the steely gray of his eyes battled against his need to survive the ride home. Thankfully Ben had won the assault for a long enough moment to see the traffic light ahead turn yellow and then change to a devil’s red. Slowing he pulled to the light, dreading the idea of letting his body stop for a moment in case his weary eyes won their rebellion.
The cross traffic light turned cool green and at first Ben wondered why it had turned on him with no cars in sight. From behind a row of full spring trees a sport utility vehicle charged forth. It took the left turn almost too forcefully. As it sped past bodies, mostly phantoms in the dark clung to smooth white frame. One embodied phantom lay sprawled across the hood, gripping the edge where windshield met hood. Red stains streaked over the paint as the bodies rolled all of the truck during the turn. The truck leaned into the turn and one of the forms that had an arm through the window and inside the vehicle, almost rolled off the side. From within the truck an arm struck out at the parasite. The stiff arm missed, leaving it exposed. Clamping down hard blood ran from the ghoul’s mouth and over the arm. Like a leech it stuck tightly and remained through the turn. The truck with its exterior passengers was gone in moments becoming a streak of swerving red lights in Ben’s small rearview mirror.
Lazily he sat in his car, not truly sure what he had just seen. In this dark lateness seconds can last an eternity, or never exist in a tired mind. For Ben his mind had diverted too much energy on staying awake. The scene was filed without being played for his consciousness. Now the cool green, shown this time for him. He was more than eager to carry on, so as to be one more traffic light closer to sleep.
Through the muck of dreariness the roads he traveled became infinitely long. He tried so many times to meet their horizon, but with no victory. Ben measured the distance in lights, counting his way back home to keep his mind busy. These academic thoughts, he soon found, were ferrying him closer to victory for his eyes. Realizing his fault, Ben sought out a champion for his survival in a CD. Brief white noise static screamed from his stereo on a station that would normally have perfect reception. Shortly though it was killed and replaced by the fast beats of kicking drums and the violence of screeching guitar. Like a battle cry the singer belted out and the adrenaline in Ben’s body shrugged off the clammy hands of sleep. Getting a chill at the thought, the steely grays now vibrant blue checked his mirror for any unwanted backseat passengers. Relieved he found none, he uttered a criticism at himself, turned the plastic knob, which caused the singer to carry away his fear.
What had caused the fear in him Ben was not sure. Movies were his favorite art, horror the masterpiece. So what had he seen that caused him to panic like that, to have a feeling of dread almost drown him? Unsure in himself, he cursed at the silent villain in his body. Sleep deprivation must be kicking in, was all he could think, while white knuckled hands held firm the wheel. Cracking the window, chilled life restoring air, whipped at his close cropped messy blonde hair.
Dropping down a small hill his eye could not hide away what lay at the bottom. Ben saw the disgusting mess left by an earlier conflict between a vehicle and animal. The questionable remains were scattered about in indiscernible hunks. The bloody meat was still fresh and so was the horrible smell. Being the horror conesor’ with a steel stomach he only held a pang of pity for whatever those pieces had been. Among the scraps a thick chunk of what had been the muscle of a thigh lay in a pool surrounded by innards. As Ben’s small car traveled through the disaster, which stretched over two lanes, his crappy lights just avoided the decaying human hand on the side of the road. In a ditch a set of dead eyes watched from a detached head as the black car sped by. In a last show of sorrow Ben shook his head and continued on his way.
More wonders awaited the sleepless traveler along the single main road home. Even at the late hour Ben saw in the distance a car on the side of the road. The cab had no lights on, giving it the appearance of being orphaned and left to its fate. Ben slowed his car to a crawl and crept closer to the abandoned car. He could just make out that the windows around the vehicle were thick with fog. He chuckled to himself at his worrisome nature. Before pulling away one of the couples in the car slammed a hard hand against the glass of the abandon cars back seat. Pushing hard against the glass it left a streak as it slid down and then disappeared. In a voyeuristic impulse Ben thought he could catch a glimpse of the fun inside, upon finding it too dark to see he sped away in frustration. People do some crazy things he thought, and so close to the road. A sound of shattering glass was muted by the insanity coming from his speakers. The sound had been caused by the hard hand striking the window again. Blood ran down the broken glass as moans and murmured screams escaped the open window. All this was lost to Ben inside his shield of ignorance.
The thirty minute journey that lasted a year in his war torn mind finally neared an end. He turned the corner softly, letting his fatigue slow the car as well. The development he lived in was quaint for being buried inside a commercial hub of a suburban town. That however; did not stop the occasional late night patio party his neighbors enjoyed. Passing by one such celebration of warm weather, he felt a bit of jealousy at the night owls out front of a brightly lit house. These partiers must have detached themselves from a group in the back. In front of the house a young lady screamed as a drunkard form chased her. Smiling, Ben watched as the chaser met the hunted and watched them crumbled to the soft grass. She wrapped her arms around him as he began devouring her neck with what looked like kisses. Leaving the lovers to their business under the stars Ben rounded the corner and parked in front of his dark house.
Rolling out of his car, Ben stumbled to his door with pins and needles in his left foot. Quietly he entered the house his parents kept lock like a fortress. After he entered he stepped into the absolute darkness of his bedroom in the basement. Each creaking step brought hesitation at the thought of waking light sleeping parents above. Slowly he found the end of the stairs with the edge of his foot. Reaching into the unknown with out stretched hands he found his twin bed. After he stripped to necessity Ben found the covers in the dark. Before he allowed the stormy sea of sleep take him he set his alarm. Passing over the radio on the way to the alarm a report on the news station he listened to caught his attention. A bodiless radio wave voice reported that some body count had reached over one hundred so far tonight. The dial passed to alarm set and Ben let his hand slide off the clock radio to his side. The last thought Ben formed before the darkness of the basement became the darkness behind his eyes was over that report. There had been no war, no natural atrocities that day, and no planned anything from what he could recall. Ben could not hold the thought long enough as the sea of darkness took him. All he could do was let it fall into his subconscious, leaving his mind to slip into sleep.
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