As I step through the rear exit of the building into the crisp night air, a chill crawls slowly up my spine. Maniacal laughter echoes eerily off the tall cinder block walls framing the alleyway.
“Who’s there?” I cry, my heart beginning to race. My own voice bouncing off the buildings is the only response.
While my eyes adjust to the insufficient illumination, I glance in either direction searching for the source of the laughter only to discover that I’m alone. I must have laughed out loud at some random thought that now escapes me. No one is lurking in the deep shadows cast by the dim yellow security lighting, waiting to pounce the moment I turn my back. And yet, the tingling in my spine grows with each passing second, and I understand. The soul-crushing loneliness of this desolate place is coming for me.
I slam the door firmly shut, twist the key, and listen as the deadbolt clicks securely into its slot. I make my way toward the street in a full-out run, fleeing the emptiness pursuing me. A few steps from the sidewalk I slow and then merge with the stream of living bodies flowing in either direction toward destinations unknown. No one gives any indication that they notice my presence in the crowd. They all simply adjust automatically to accommodate another body.
A myriad of souls, each encapsulated in its own separate world, stroll along mere inches from me. The flow of bodies carries me with it, but the individuals never acknowledge my existence. And here, surrounded by this living mass, the emptiness that I so desperately wished to escape consumes me.
Copyright Kelley J. Nightrose 2015