By: Lee Almodovar
Only twenty-five minutes to walk around the entire office park. At night. With the sounds of nothing but your own footsteps colliding with the pavement. It's enough to clear your mind, and force you to hum something to deaden the immense quiet. Fortunately, that airport next door has a few loud engine noises every now and then.
Perhaps, it would have been smarter to stay in the building during the break. But, you wanted to head outside. That's why you're now splattered on the wall behind the 24 Hour Fitness Sport center. He was only trying to break in, and you scared him. Poor you. Well, life was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?
Or at least, you thought it was, but this was your own elaborate plan the entire time, wasn't it? You told this low-life junkie friend of yours that they didn't lock the back doors, and the guards only occasionally patrolled the area. You told him the guards were unarmed and that he could easily escape if he shot them maybe once then ran. You told him the time, day, and exact places to be. And, then you walked down there, dressed in black with shades on, in hopes of scaring that low-life into shooting you. This was your revenge on him.
Sure, it stole away your life, your dreams, your miserable existence in this world, but in return you were making him suffer. Realizing all too late that he shot you accidentally, he stammers and mouths silent words over you as your vision starts to fog away. With that last ounce of strength, you reach up to him and pull him close.
"Fuck you," and as life slips away from you, a small smile inches its way across your face. Everything is an awesome bliss, heading towards that darkness, but a tugging feeling of someone following you forces your dwindling conscious to turn around. He's there, running behind you, trying to catch you. Idiot shot himself.
You run, but can't move. He catches up to you, the gun still in his hand, and whispers into your ear, "No, man, fuck you." He pulls the trigger, but instead of the bullet flying into you, it draws itself back out. Your attempted suicide has been foiled, you start feeling an immense weight and energy coursing through your body.
You're jolted back into the haze and pain of life, back into the world of a dimly lit ambulance, back into a world where you were merely an unfortunate bystander, where your "buddy" has committed suicide. He won. He made it to the other side. And you? You're stuck on this side.
At night, asleep in the hospital emergency room after surgery, he reenters your dreams. He smirks, and pokes at you with fiery sticks. The Dark One joins him, and glowers at you. In the great race to please the Dark One, you failed. You had the simple task of just returning, and he beat you on that. Now, you must suffer through a different kind of hell. The hell of being alive. The hell of staying on Earth, becoming immortal, and permanently suffering through eons upon eons of stupid humanity. He, being the "good" one, gets to spend eternity in the sanctuary that is Hell, while you get to suffer through life on Earth.
You return to that office park, to work, to living your existence. Watching the world evolve. Watching a fourth world war decimate everything on four continents. Watching as a plaque of disease destroys seventy-five percent of the world's population, and you're still the picture of a twenty-year-old. The destruction brings you joy. You stand on a bridge in a long forgotten and deserted area, once known as San Francisco, watching a blood- and disease-infused ocean of black sway back and forth beneath. In the distance, through the dark clouds that shut the sun out long ago, you see a bright object heading towards you. It's a meteor, thousands of miles in diameter, headed straight for you. There's nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. But, you don't want to hide.
An immediate silence follows. You clamber out of a deep hole, out of a sizzling puddle of stench-water. All of humanity finally terminated, you roam the Earth in a disheveled state thinking back to those hundreds of years when he beat you to eternal joy. It burns deeply within you still. Just when all seems eternally lost, the Dark One appears before you with "him" joyfully in tow.
The Dark One surveys the destruction. He foresees a new world forming several hundred years from then. You pull out a shotgun, sawed off and containing a single load of buckshot, take aim and fire. The fragments sail through the body of your once friend, and shatter him to shreds. The Dark One neglected to inform your "friend" that he was only immortal in the bowels of Hell. You, having read about that on the first day of your "employment", already knew about that.
As your once friend lies clinging to the rubble, hoping to dig his way back to home, you kneel down and whisper, "I'm the winner now," and promptly bash his face in. A searing hand falls onto your shoulder. It is the Dark One. He is pleased.
He stands before you and booms in the voice of eternal damnation and sorrow, "I didn't like him anyway." That smile, the one that sat dormant for many years, begins to spread across your face again as little sprouts of trees begin growing on the grief-stricken planet.
Before returning, the Dark One summons a droplet of murky water to display the fate of your once friend. Your friend, in eternal misery, sits in a white robe on a cloud listening to the musings of some Quaker and his family, agonizing at the immense presence of light. The Dark One dispatches the droplet, and turns to you, his large figure towering above you. He reaches down, and pats your head.
You awake, in your car, in the spot just outside the office park. Break is over, and its time to head back. You choose to be a little late, and drive the car over to the 24 Hour Fitness. The police are already there. Your friend has been arrested. Reaching in the glove compartment, you find a small razor. The gash you create in your hand draws no blood.
You are indeed still immortal. You have been returned to Earth. Your friend has been damned to existence on Earth as a mortal. He will die, eventually, and be damned to eternity in the Light. You, however, have seen the real future, and are content in knowing that you will—someday—become the next Dark One.
Until then, there is always the joy of buggy videogames.