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Red on Black
It happened on a dark night, the darkest in weeks. The stars were covered in thick dark clouds, and the sky was blackened as if ink had spilled over its expanse. The wind was heavy, moaning shrilly as it lashed through the forest. But the night wasn’t the only danger.
She was walking alone. Her only accompaniment was the crying of the wind, and the shaking of the trees at its thrashing grip. The sky was blackened, but even so, she could see the shapes of the bulging clouds hurdling through it. The wind was a fierce animal, biting at her and pushing her down. She wrapped her coat around her tightly, but cold penetrated the fabric.
He walked stealthily through the forest. He felt best roaming through it as a hunter, slyly looming up behind the bushes. He had power here. In a world where confrontation means life or death, he will be the victor tonight. It does not matter that he has no money and no place to live. He has a weapon, and that is all you need in this world.
Even though she walked through the forest many times, tonight seemed different. Like the wind’s voice was speaking to her, whispering in her ear, warning her. Of what? Of whom? She pushed herself to move faster, to escape the forest. She attempted to console herself with the thought of returning to the dorm. She would flounce inside jingling the keys and the hang her coat on the hook. The warm air would snuggle around her as if it was a blanket, and hug her and bring feeling back to her cold body. But that all seemed far away.
He clutched his weapon harder, so the tension felt as if his hand was wrapped in rope. His breaths were quick, like that of an animal. A ferocious animal, a merciless predator. He slanted his eyes. Who would he take tonight? The darkness was to his advantage. It would blind his prey, but strengthen him. Dusk gave him courage and confidence.
The wind was fiercer now. What had she done wrong to deserve this merciless torture? She felt more and more isolated as she pushed deeper into the dark, dark woods. The night was like a bottomless hole, and she was falling into it. Who knew what was at the bottom? She felt homesick now, nostalgic for those happy days where her parents would tuck her into bed at night and she would lay there listening to the crickets outside chirruping and her parents murmuring voices downstairs. But that was all gone. Gone like the setting sun: once the light has passed, the earth is immersed in darkness for what seems to be the longest time.
His heart was beating. Boomp-boomp-boomp, it rapped in his chest. Adrenaline pumped through his veins as he burst through the forest, silent and stealthy like a jaguar looming up in the dry grasses. He clutched his weapon harder. Tighter. So what if each night brought him closer to his incarceration, or even death? So what if each moment lived this way brought him closer to the end of his life? He liked the thrill of life on the edge. He wanted to kill.
She knew they were gone. Everyone was gone. Her brothers and sisters—left. Her parents—passed. Her friends—none. She was alone. Her steps lengthened as the wind blew harder. Lashed stronger. It was a strong iron fist pummeling her and rattling the leaves in the trees. A light and misty rain began to fall, and the individual droplets flung against her face like needles. She covered herself with her arms and prayed to escape the anguish.
He slid in the dirt and crouched behind a bush. His breaths were ragged, and sweat melted down him like candle wax. His night-black hair was askew, and he was covered in filth. He let the night immerse him as if he were dropping off into an ocean, and felt the wind brush over his skin. He would kill tonight, and there would be no stopping him. He would. He would. He had always told himself to, prodded himself to use the weapon. But he never had. He had gotten close; but never had. He always wanted to take out his pain on his victims, always wanted them to experience what he had experienced. But he had never taken anyone’s life. But tonight would be the night.
She was running now. Running through the storm. The rain was beating on the road, and thunder crashed. Lightning lit up the sky like an explosion, and the wind was striking stronger than ever. The trees were bending over, and leaves were swirling in the sky. The rain sent up mist as it beat against the dirt path. But she continued, pushing on with each step to make it to the end. She had to. She had to.
He saw her now. Running through the storm. He was dashing now, and took cover behind a closer bush. He watched her now, and showed no sign of stopping. And he was off.
She heard footsteps through the pounding rain and whirled around to see a blurry figure. He was like a ghost, hovering over the ground. His voice was like crumbling stone, and his yells were like an avalanche. He brandished his weapon. A scream leapt from her throat and her adrenaline pumped. What was she to do? What?
He was furious. Furious and wily, an unstoppable predator, rampant and firing all out at his prey. He was running at her, storming at her, his fists balled and pumping to push himself forward. Hate was rushing through his veins as he charged, his yells leaping from his throat like fiery coals. His eyes were set on her, his arm ready to exert the damage. There was no going back. No going back.
She saw him fall. He slipped in the rain, and fell face down to never rise. She saw his blood flow like a river through the wet ground, his hand still clutching the weapon that risen against him. She was screaming, afraid, alone. And she ran. Ran as fast as she could to escape the forest, escape everything. She flashed out of the forest at last and ran through the storm to safety. Her feet pounded up the stairs until she came to the door. Twisting the key, she flung herself into the dormitory to find it dark and empty.