Adrian is on his way home after work with the streets of the city he lives in being oddly quiet. This doesn’t bother him too much as he enjoys quiet, calm nights with nice weather especially since he walks to and from work all the time to save money. With no one around, he pulls out a special photo from his wallet of a girl he loves. His emotions start flaring so he puts the photo away, but when he looks back up, he’s somewhere completely different then where he’d thought he’d be. The street Adrian was walking down is a straight shot to his house and yet he’s somewhere different. A siren blares throughout the city and night quickly descends on the him. Fearing the abnormal occurrence, he seeks shelter in a nearby building, but the darkness overtakes him and traps him in it.
Confused and afraid, he takes his phone out and turns the flashlight on. It doesn’t light up much at all so he turns it off and wanders the darkness with no direction. He also doesn’t have cell reception so he can’t call one of his friends or the police for help. The city seems much emptier than it was before, but despite that, Adrian still feels like he’s being watched by someone or something. He hears weird noises in the distance that sounds like someone is choking on something then sees a black liquid with a tint of crimson on the floor that is almost in the shape of an arrow. Adrian follows this trail until he comes to an alleyway where he finds the source of the liquid. It’s a creature with its insides on its outsides with various organs showing. Some of its arms and legs are oddly shaped to say the least and its face is malformed. The thing approaches Adrian as if curious then opens its mouth to speak.
Its voice is that of young girl, “What are you doing daddy?”
Adrian immediately recognizes the voice and runs away from it as if he needed another reason. He can still hear it in his head despite being further away from the creature.
“I love you daddy!”
“Is there something wrong?”
There’s nowhere to run. There’s no place that he can hide to escape the voice. He calms down and tries to empty his mind, which brings the voices to a muffle. There’s danger in the street now and the only place he can think to go is, is home to wait out the apparent night. He finds street signs to map out where he is and goes in the direction home is supposed to be. On his way, he passes by a dead body on the street. It’s a fresh body of a woman who has died of mysterious circumstances. Adrian looks around then walks away since he can’t do anything to help her. As he walks away, a mangled dog-like creature approaches him from the darkness. It’s body parts are all mixed up with various parts of its anatomy in a way that the creature shouldn’t be alive much less walk.
It stands on its two feet and a mouth in its under belly says, “What could you possibly do against a force like that?”
Again, Adrian runs away from the voice and again he can’t escape it.
“Time and decay will overcome you.”
“You aren’t God. You can’t do anything to overcome it.”
“You won’t even do anything to make it worth it.”
“You failed her in the worst way possible.”
“You can’t even find the strength to redeem yourself you worthless, pathetic maggot.”
Adrian does the same as he did before to muffle the voices, but now he has two voices stuck in his head. Two voices he wishes he forgot by now.
Wanting to get home or someplace safe, Adrian enters a small library with its doors open and nobody in it. He wanders its halls for a short while until his eyes catch a particular book on a table. It’s a book he read and enjoyed before and he goes through it until he reaches a part in the story that always gets to him. This is a part where the main character’s family. With nothing and no one left to live for, he becomes a monster and slaughters everyone who had their blood on their hands as it could not be washed out. After the slaughter, the man killed himself after looking into the mirror since it showed that he had turned into a monster.
Adrian puts the book down and turns around to see a little girl who asks him, “Are you going to become a monster too? You already look like one.”
“I’m no monster. I mean really take a look at me.”
“Are you going to kill yourself?”
“You thought about it.”
“Doesn’t mean I’m going to do it.”
“That’s what I thought before.”
The girl breaks her own neck then tears it off. Her body falls to the floor and her head rolls to him.
She still speaks to him, “You do the same thing every day and say you’re going to change, but will you?”
“I am…I will…” he says with tears in his eyes.
“And yet you are afraid of the pain of it. Pain is natural when it comes to doing actions such as these and you are afraid of suffering only a small portion of it. You call yourself a father?”
The two voices come back from their muffled tone.
“Daddy, why are you crying?”
“Just try fighting against it.”
“Are you going to pick yourself up?”
The two voices then manifest themselves by bursting out of Adrian’s ears and continue to torture him.
“I want you to be stronger.”
“Fight against an enemy with no physical form?”
“I will!” Adrian yells out at the top of his lungs.
“Then face the pain,” the three say in unison as one being.
Adrian’s legs and one arm fall off and the library door opens with a bright light in it. The three creatures “offer motivation” by having their arms turn into saw blades which slice through the floor behind him.
“This is the kind of pain you will face.”
“Are you weak?”
“Move forward to prove who you are.”
Adrian pulls himself towards the light with the pain being unbearable and yet, he has to keep moving lest he is destroyed. He starts to lose consciousness at certain moments, but he gets through it. He then wakes up at a bus waiting area. His legs and one arm are asleep so he hits them a bit to get the blood flowing. Remembering his past thoughts, he remembers thinking that he’d walk home if the bus didn’t come in time so now he’s going to walk. What he dreamt gives him a reminder of the past and motivation as to what to do.
In the past, Adrian lost his wife in an accident that completely disfigured her along with their dog. The two were on a walk and accidentally got hit by a truck driver who was a bit too tired from doing his job. Because of this, he’s had to raise their kid on their own. The country he lives in doesn’t give much aid to widowed fathers so it was difficult to care for their child on his own, but he was happy as long as she was alive. She caught him reading the book from before and asked about what he would do if he lost her as well and he couldn’t bare to think about it so he just assured her that he’d never lose her, a promise not kept. On one beautiful afternoon, he saw a news report of a bombing at a grade school by a member of a radical group. This was a grade school that his daughter was from. Her names were ones of those confirmed as being deceased though she reportedly died from trying to stop the bomber and got her head blown off in the process. He lost everything because of factors outside of his control and has tried to cope with it over the years with varying amounts of success. Tonight marks another attempt at that so he’s at least strong enough to keep trying.
To keep trying to be the strong father, husband, and person the two people he loved the most think he is. To make the most of his life and be a great person that anyone would love to know. He keeps trying and trying, clawing and clawing to get to that degree of strength. That’s more that can be said for most people so he’s made them proud in that regard.