It’s hot and dark and I’m walking down a slick sidewalk. It rained earlier and steam rises slowly from concrete like the finally freed spirit of this agonized city reflecting the pain and sorrow of man. Hollow buildings jut out of the ground as if to eternally penetrate the sky, but they too will fade away. I haven’t seen another person in miles and wonder if I am the last man alive. Is it just me that’s left to be eradicated from this suffering planet and will I meet my end tonight?
I’m almost home, where I’ll stay for just a few hours before returning to work. I haven’t slept much lately and I don’t know what day it is. My briefcase is heavy in my hand and a park bench across the street invites me to lie down, a flickering street lamp beside it. I must keep walking. Approaching my front door, I hear them, footsteps that aren’t mine. I know I heard them when I reached into my pocket for my keys. They were heavy and close behind me. I turn around and peer into the black night, the street sizzling as vapor licks my legs. I’m still the only one outside and the street lamp across the street flickers one last time before its bulb explodes. And then it hits me, a heavy punch across my jaw, twisting my head to its side and sending me several feet through the thick night air. My body slides across the sidewalk and my briefcase cracks open as it hits the street beside me.
When I look up from my back I see a hulking mass, the form of a monstrous barbarian, fists clenched and eyes red. I know immediately that this is not a man. This is death itself and it has come to make me die slowly. A scabbed hand grabs my ankle and I go spinning, around in circles until I’m dizzy enough to puke, and then it lets go, sending me across the street where I crash into the park bench, which is crushed as splinters shoot out like needles. I think my back is broken and I spit out a mouthful of blood along with a few teeth. The figure walks slowly toward me, eyes like hellfire and I can’t look away. There is no one here to help and my heart races as I think, die fighting. And so I stand. With all of the strength I can muster, I stand, and the beast runs toward me, ground cracking with every step. My eyes burn, too.