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Seconds into Eternity

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“I’ll only be a minute,” Brian said, exiting the car and standing outside the open door, “I forgot to bring water bottles.” His grey sweater made a strange inverted shadow of movement against the dark blue and black background that could be seen through the passenger’s side window. With a quick pace, he jogged up the steps and unlocked the house door, causing a rectangular, black shape to appear against the grey colors of the house and its white door frame.

No lights on the inside of the building could be seen from the outside due to the lack of any windows near the front door, leaving the driveway and nearby empty street just as blank and lifeless as it had been in the minutes before the two students had taken their bags out into the car and prepared to leave on their impromptu nocturnal road trip across the rural landscapes of northeastern Texas at half-past eleven, traveling along the I-30 until they reached the Texarkana city limits and found an inn to spend the rest of the night.

It had so far been a quiet evening, up until roughly six, when the inky darkness of the winter sky had taken over and shrouded the dimming town and suburb in a thick gloom that had the large-scale effect of causing most to take to the insides of their warm and bright homes and have nothing to do with the outside world, with the only exception being the two students that decided to leave town and embark on a several-hour journey in the dead of night, unplanned and unmentioned.

As a result, when the clocks of this particular region showed that it was nearing eight, not one single trace of light could be seen on either side of Empire Street, emerging from the curtained windows of the homes, nor were any car lights glowing, save for the half-minute of time when the two had opened the car doors, and when Brian closed his door to reenter the house. After a few seconds had passed and the car’s automatic lights quickly dimmed down until no shine at all emanated from the overhead light bulbs on the ceiling, the street returned to its oppressively eerie state of lacking any kind of possibility to properly discern outside objects without being within a very close range.

The seconds passed agonizingly slowly, made all the more unidentifiably vague because of the car’s clock being shut off with the key not turned in the ignition. Brian had been inside the house for a seemingly longer amount of time than was usual for one to retrieve two water bottles out of the cabinet, fill both with water, and then return to the house door where his presence could be officially confirmed. The night sky was not altogether without light though, for every now and then, a star would escape from behind the blanketing shade of the dark clouds and make a hardly-visible beacon to the inhabitants of the world below, lasting for perhaps only a moment or two before becoming consumed once more by cloud and night.

When a time came for suspicion of the surroundings, a certain paralysis found its way over Empire Street, though whether it was mental or physical could not be explicitly determined, but if one had attempted to find the willpower to turn his or her head while inside this strange circumstance of the night, the task would have been found to be quite difficult, if not altogether impossible. Such a condition was realized when an irregular white figure could briefly be seen in the side mirror on the driver’s side. Surprise was the first thing that had risen up when the image had appeared, with instinct pulling sight to focus onto the space of black void in hopes of recognizing the thing as a familiar object. Yet, time still progressed in the ways it always had for this place, and the thing was gone from the mirror before the first instant could pass into the next.

Fear then rose through the paralysis like a steam might rise off of a murky bog, coming slowly at first, but nonetheless permeating through all crevices of air and wrapping itself around any solid or nonsolid object with its gentle, but inescapable grip. The darting, white object had gone before any rightful thought could be formed concerning it or its involvement with the odd stillness of the night, but read began to grow and form from such a vision. Where it had come from was not known, nor was the place of which it went to upon its disappearance beyond the boundaries of the mirror and once again into the darkness.

Additionally, the exact shape of the thing could not be verified, for it had only crossed the threshold of the mirror long enough for its vague color of some off-white or pale grey hue to be noticed. As for sound, it made none. Perhaps it had caused a clamor, small or large, but the silence of the street had swallowed it completely, removing the noise just as easily and terribly as it had done to the light.

This night kept all ordinary things frozen in place, allowing only the dreading thoughts and ominous senses to pass through the stale air. In something of a return to sound and time’s perceived regular pacing, an odd noise was surely made behind the car, coming slowly in forms of frozen grass snapping and gravel rustling as though underfoot. The thick metal layers of the car muffled some of the noise, but noise it was indeed, and with each heavy step the originator took, the sound grew louder and noticeably more pronounced.

Soon, the noises of grass and gravel ceased over a period of four intervals and were replaced with low, but careful thuds, very much like how a humanoid figure would sound if walking on a paved driveway with boots of a very hard sole. The steps came in a quadrupedal rhythm, however, adding to the suspicions that it was not one thing, but perhaps two that were quickly reducing the space between them and the car which stood in the driveway, no longer as lonely as it was before the white image had flickered in the mirror.

It was the rear-view mirror in which the singular thing appeared next, breaking clearly through the darkness of night and seeming to draw all available sight towards it, accentuating its visibility down to an unnaturally fine detail. Crawling on four emaciated limbs ending in largely-hoofed feet, the creature, now seen to be roughly horse-sized in height though far larger in width and presumably so in length, slowly approached the car with an irregular gait, moving one limb out to the side before advancing its pace with another. On its elongated and completely hairless head, a look of wild savagery came about in its large, green eyes, while rows of sharp teeth bore menacingly through a mouth that seemed to have appeared simply out of the pale skin of the face, lined by neither lips nor lines.

This disturbance of the shocking terror caused by the sight of such a terrible entity slowly advancing put a small edge of movement into the street once more, allowing for the key of the car to quickly turn and the two yellow beams of headlights to cast their revealing glare into the long expanse of Empire Street. In the second of when the brake pedal was pressed down to permit the shift to move from the upper park position down to the drive setting, the red illumination of the rear brake lights shone outwards to shine against the hideous thing, and infuriating it enough to change its pace from a slow stalk to a new and faster speed.

Devilish it was, when its gaunt and pointed body was no longer stark white against the omniscient blackness, but now a hellish crimson with the dark red reflections of objects further off making the scenery of the street seem much like a small and tortuous space, having only enough room for the thing and the car to preside in. Inhuman screeches from the creature rattled into the interior of the car, mixing in with a more subtle and rapidly beating heart, as the car took off down Empire Street at a dangerous speed. The screeches became quieter as the distance between the car and the thing increased, soon being completely replaced with a slow and heavy breathing, and the nervous tapping of skin against the driver’s wheel through shaking hands.

The thing could still be seen in the distance, as the car turned quickly into a slightly more populated street, yet slowing its pace with an angry look before darting off into a direction not towards the street upon which the car now drove, but neither back towards Empire Street where it had removed all light out of the place that was usually at least partially-lit at this hour of night. Off into the more wooded region of the hills it ran, making only short movements as it had when it appeared in the side mirror before disappearing from all sight entirely. However, like the symptoms of the fear which had filled the street only minutes earlier, the images and sounds were no longer coupled with the thoughts and senses that had witnessed them, but the dread and terror still remained, as surely and tenaciously as stone.

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