"Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a Universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves."
I was standing idly within a Starbucks Coffee, in the crossroad of 86th Street and Plum Drive. I had in my possession a scalding heated espresso as I thought about how great the world would be if everyone were at peace with each other, when he came towards me with his hands tucked in his snug pockets.
He leaned against the brick wall on the outside of the coffee house next to me, and looked around confusedly, smiling with utter contentment. I thought nothing of him, and continued sipping my drink quietly.
Once I had gone to throw the now useless cup away in the trash bin to my right, he piped up with a voice that oddly put me at ease. "That stuff stunts your growth, you know. You really shouldn't be drinking it."
I was taken back by his blunt statement. I hesitated, then responded to the man. "You're right. I shouldn't. I actually really hate how it tastes, but it keeps me awake. Isn't that what a busy teenager like me needs?" He smirked, adjusting his pocketwatch to stop swaying from the bottom of his vest.
"Yes, I suppose you're right." The man wore a black hat, similar to a mix between a bowler hat and a top hat but made of felt-like material. I fancied his three piece suit, though it seemed a bit too striking for Starbucks. His red hair was as illuminating as a traffic light, while the shade of his purple bow tie could only be matched by the most beautiful of butterflies. His presence was indescribable.
He looked to be in his twenties, but the oddest thing that was on this man were his dark green eyes. His eyes looked angry, as if he could mutilate me at any time, regardless of the consequences. I couldn't look at them for very long before feeling like I was dangerously unsafe.
"I... have to go. See you." I picked up my burlap sack, and attempted to take my leave to school. He grabbed and held me with his right hand, pulling me back towards my doom.
"Oh no, Erin. You know perfectly well I wouldn't let you get away easily." He had said my name in the same easy-kept tone. I was at a shear loss for words that the man with the angry eyes knew who I was. "Oh, don't be so shocked, old friend. It's me! Jack! Don't you remember, Erin?"
I racked around in my brain trying to locate a Jack I might have known, but the search yielded nothing. "I don't have a clue who you are, but I have a guess as to what you might be."
Jack's eyes' angered image increased immensely, as his smile grew wider. "And what would that be, old friend?"
"An insane freak. Now let go of my shirt, sicko."
Jack's smile faded into oblivion, but it seemed as though his manic grin's disappearance only made the outrage in his eyes grow to infinity. He released the back of my shirt with a slight push, and walked away.
But before he slipped his hands in his pockets, I could see that his right hand was a bright red, chafing, as if it were dipped in boiling water moments earlier. I picked up my book bag, and ran.
When I settled down at home, I decided to sit down and work on my Trigonometry homework. Suddenly, half way through, the doorbell of my apartment buzzed as loud as can be. I wasn't expecting anyone at this hour, but it could have been Sarah or Cody, wanting to stop by for a short visit.
It wasn't. I creaked open the door to find Jack, glancing at nothing in particular. He noticed me, even in spite of the darkness that surrounded me, and smirked. "Hello Erin. May I come in?"
I slammed the white door shut in Jack's face, but something was jammed in between it and the doorframe- Jack's foot. "Erin, don't be such a prude. Either you let me in, or you'll be getting a certain family member's head in the mail."
I stood there, traumatized beyond repair. He was talking about my sweet, kind grandmother! How dare he! But I didn't have any knowledge of this person other than him threatening my grandmother's life. I wouldn't put it past him. Could he really do it? “Fine,” I said in a hasty tone and let him in.
"Thank you ever so much, Erin. I'll be on my way shortly. May I have some milk, if you don't mind my asking?" He wandered my home, slowly observing my various items scattered across the carpet. I poured him a tall, thin glass of 2% milk. He had withdrawn it gladly, downing it in a single grotesque gulp, and looked up at me with his furious eyes. "That was positively delectable. I needed that. Milk has always been my favorite human consumption, after all."
"Human? What do you mean 'human' consumption?"
He leaned in, as if saying something he didn't want anyone to hear, despite us being the only ones in the apartment complex from what I was aware. He whispered something into my left ear, softly but firmly. "What if I told you I could grant your wildest desires, Erin? What if I said that I can grant you one single wish, anything you want? You want me to leave? Just say the words. I'll be gone. But you just missed your chance at something big."
I was awestruck. This rotten buffoon thought he could deceive me, threaten my grandmother's life, and get away with his disgusting actions? I extended my arm towards the phone set on the table to call the authorities. "Go ahead, Erin. You'll only get your grandmother deeper and deeper into her grave." I pulled my hand back, and an uneasy feeling formed in my stomach.
"Fine. You want me to play your petty, trite game, Jack? I'll play your game.” I remembered my first encounter with him earlier, and how much I desired change in the world. “I wish for peace on Earth. If what you're saying is true, the world in a matter of minutes will be in a state of transcendent serenity. If what you're saying is false, which I believe it is, nothing will happen."
Jack's eyes grew wide, his eyes nearly flaming with animosity. "Very well then. Your wish is granted at your command."
I was snuggling up to my comforter, tossing and turning in my large, queen-size bed, tucked into my yellow polka-dotted sheets. Earlier today, Jack had admitted to his little fib, and told me that he was stalking me for the simplest reason: He thought I was attractive. I had decided against my will to tattle on him to the law enforcement out of pity, nothing more. Jack was such a stranger that I could not feel empathy nor resentment toward him.
My dream was genuinely an odd one, consisting of a sadistic freak show performing on a musty day under a red and white striped canopy. I could remember such horrible, twisted sights of unadulterated anguish, such atrocities that grazed my mind with the slightest show of force. I thank God that I had awoken at 4:03AM to my iPhone 6S ringing on my mahogany bedside table. I answered the oddly timed call with a tired, groaning noise. "Hello? Who is this?"
"She's dead." I recognized the deep, scraggly voice as my dear old grandfather. "She was attacked, Erin. She's gone."
I stammered for words, but only bumbling gasps attempted to solace the agony slowly drowning within me. "I'll be right over, Grandpa."
I grabbed my sneakers, sliding them firmly on my feet as I ran outside my apartment building, and stuffed myself in my small white Sedan. I patted down my nightgown, which in this case was a t-shirt three times my size, to soon realize that my car keys were misplaced.
I rushed in toward my kitchen table, gliding across the waxy wooden floor, and reached over my ignition in desperation. The key, before my eyes, moved to the left before I could grasp it. As I slid my hand near my only chance of hope, it moved to the right. No words could describe my overpowering sensation. The damned key stood up on itself, and bounded off the table, rolling and sliding across the floor towards my apartment’s white door. I raced swiftly towards my car, sliding down the wooden steps, and witnessed my first truly bewildering sight.
My car, the one I had spent my life’s savings on, was shuffling into a massive hunk of metal, a jointed, monstrous contraption that clearly resembled an infant. My key, along with every other metal object within the area, magnetized and easily absorbed into this plated newborn, which crawled down the court now littered with excess materials and astonished pedestrians.
I was now beginning to ponder whether or not I was in Hell when I received the single most stunning event in my unimportant history, leaving me dazed within my own spinning world, a world ruled by fear itself. Monsters. There were real monsters, marching along in such a human fashion that I had almost mistaken them for more onlookers. A mangy black mutt, patched up with human flesh. A female drawn in chalk, a 2-dimensional abomination living in the third dimension. A strange, beaked character, cloaked in disease. Two lovers committed to the pursuit of burning resentment.
And my grandfather standing in the midst of it all. Smiling. This triggered an event in which I recalled being invited to his funeral. "Hello, Erin. It's nice to see you again! It's been so long. But now, we can be together for all of eternity. All you have to do... is embrace me." I hurriedly sprinted away from what was once my grandfather, stopping dead in my tracks to see Jack, looking off into the distance with his now burning red eyes.
"Hey there, old friend. Ah, I see you’ve met the Newborn Machine! Nice guy. A bit stiff though. Now, I know this is all so sudden, but these eldritch creatures and I are going out for a one-night stand. We're just gonna, oh, what's the phrase... kill off humanity? Yeah, that's right. We're gonna kill off humanity. I know this isn't what you intended, but trust me when I say that this is the only way to grant your wish. It's been fun."
He pulled out a golden, shining revolver from his jacket pocket, and pointed the gun at my right temple with his chafed red hand. And for the first time in our experiences, he looked me straight in the eye. "Now, Erin, we can finally have peace on Earth.”