What Was And Will Be

Finalist in the 'Unleashed 2022' competition

The stench of tar and petrichor rise upwards on the breeze, eclipsed only by the day’s final sunrays burning through the viscous layers of cloud, like an ember on unwavering monotony. Beaded remnants of rainwater lie in elusive recollection amongst grainy soils, lamenting what could’ve been. I saunter by stricken streets; the thinning breeze lets out a bellowing howl, echoing over now damp roads.
The sun’s grasp slowly loosens, relinquishing an empyrean scene to the abating night. An echoing clatter gouges the very quale from my mind, the disturbance carries far through desolate driveways. Silhouetted against the glare of a guiding streetlight, a still figure, perching patiently upon the capping of a treated steel gate. An osseous mass, lumbering yet frail; thin muscular appendages grasping its perch, holding its balance.
It's never far behind; I can pry myself from sleep to begin my day in grand and intoxicating ignorance, all before I catch a glimpse of it scuttering through the morning dew; a realization of this losing battle raging on.
I find short reprieve in the sanctity of others, it will always yield before them, crawling away into some dark recess, but never far enough. Even through mindless pleasantries, I’ll feel the cold stare, carrying clear impatience. Every waking moment overshadowed by an impending sense of dread.
Once that thoughtless dream subsides it grows more audacious. Slinking through an empty home for all to see, but only I remain. It simply sits; watching, waiting. Can it see through me? I can’t doubt the possibility. A deafening silence always ensues, severing my final connections with reality and shrouding the melody of winded breath.
I press onwards through the fluorescent glow overhead, not driven by volition but understanding. By conceding, maybe I can finally gain some kind of control. As I envisioned, two limber extremities coil downwards from their perch. Two more follow. A quadrupedal mass progresses rhythmically into the gutter, passing within range of the HPS bulb.
A thin keratin hook tears through the veil. It’s mounted to a mass of atrophied muscle, curling like tendrils around a protuberance of bone and sinew. As it contracts, its consort follows, ripping into the glare. The second mass seizes on beat, carrying forward its chariot; a writhing incarnation of what was and will be. Pale hide stretched taut over an assembly of spinal discs, each one steadily wearing their way through, the column leads towards a cluster of engorged tissue comprising hind legs. All these feral attributes voided by the heavy skull fixed upon narrow shoulders, its face jarringly human and its jaw lay slack. Hidden deep within their burrowed sockets lie a pair of hollow eyes, tracing me through the rhythm of movement.
As I step further down the street, he follows, his head low to the ground despite his height, scanning the horizon ahead. Together, we waltz unto the mantle. Regardless of triumph or tribulation, he’ll always be here. The one true constant, and for that; I trust him.



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