Three

After a few minutes of hard running I halted and arched over with my hands on my knees. I panted with a fire burning in my lungs. Sweat dripped from my nose and disappeared in the darkness between my face and the cement without an impact.

The night was cool, and the fresh breeze graced against my warm cheeks. A mist settled in the air, and the street lights revealed the small droplets of moisture. I glanced around again. The road still lead to nothing but darkness beyond sight, and the street lights lined the discouraging path the entire way. Unlike the road, the gentle yellow light comforted me. I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to catch my breath. I stumbled with stiff legs to the curb and sat down. The fear of Chasity and the "things" that were coming suddenly came across as irrational. My heart hammered in my ribcage so hard I thought it would burst from my chest and run away.

Just then, a shadow streaked across the center of the road. I looked to the street lights searching for the source; I didn't find anything. I shook my head, dismissing the shadow.

Another one soon followed. It moved slower than the first. Again I looked for the shadow's source and found none.

A third and fourth and fifth shadow crept across the cement after the first two. These three crawled across the cement as if they were nocturnal animals stalking food. They didn't move in a straight line, but moved scattered as if they hunted in a pack.

After a few minutes shadows moved across the street like an army of ants without an organized pattern. Each shadow took human form with flailing limbs. An arm of one of the shadows shot from the cement as if from water and launched into the air. I gazed at the arm in awe, unable to move as the arm glided along the road as if it had wheels. The shadow's arm wasn't dark or obscure. Instead the arm had a pale skin tone. The elbow stuck just above the cement and had a slim curve down to the wrist and led into a soft white hand. The muscles in the arm were relaxed all the way up into the wrist. The palm opened towards the sky and the street lights revealed the smooth curve of the skin that flowed into the slightly curled fingers. I watched in horror as the hand suddenly became animated. The fingers clenched to the palm except for the index finger, which pointed to the sky as if trying to show me something. The tendons visibly tightened in the wrist.

I didn't look up immediately. I sat in horror completely transfixed upon the pale hand. A diamond wedding band glimmered on the ring finger of the assumingly female hand. The nails were stubby and broken, the fingertips stained with red, and blood sparkled on a fresh French Manicure.

The haunting hand didn't cease its graceful yet horrific display as the fingers loosened again and the arm sunk back into the cement regaining it's obscure black shadow flowing with the rest like a stream or a pack of wolfs searching for prey.

Finally, I looked to the sky. The congruous red moon looked so big I thought it would crash into earth. At the bottom of the moon something formed like a stalactite. It grew rapidly until it broke off. The strange formation floated downward like a rocket in space until it disappeared beyond the horizon.

A mushroom cloud shot into the air where the formation disappeared. My heart sank and the darkness grew ever darker. The ground rumbled and my stomach churned. My feet shook beneath me until they gave under the quakes and I flew into the air. From the darkness spread a light. I watched it as it overtook the endless roads and then surrounded me.

Then there was nothing except white.

All sound ceased. After being launched from the ground I never felt an impact of falling back to earth. I glanced at my hands. Before they appeared distorted and blocky, but in the midst of the light they were perfect with lucidity.

I thought for a moment the last events were just an "interlude" after death, and I had finally arrived in heaven. The white light wasn't blinding, and I questioned whether it was actually light, but instead an actual place.

I closed my eyes and took a breath. The air felt fresh and put out the fire that once burned in my lungs and cleaned out the ashes. I thought about Chasity and the café. I thought about her friends, and my claim that I could fly. I thought about the shadow-figures crawling across the cement, and finally I thought about Chasity's scream. All of that seemed so distant now, as if it happened eons ago. The most recent past events unfolded lifetimes and generations ago.

I was dead… My aspirations and goals in life had been buried with me, and now there was only one thing that occurred to me after the realization of my death.

I was in Hell.