It was early morning, just after sunrise. The man slowly awakened from his heavy slumber, dragging himself away from the visions still lingering in his subconscious mind. The alarm clock began to sound. The man had no need of this device; he would no doubt awake every morning at the same time without it. As he reached over to turn the alarm off, the man envisioned himself smashing the bothersome contraption to bits. This stray thought was quickly pushed aside. He would never do such a thing. The man continued with his routine.
After a light breakfast, the man walked out to his front porch to retrieve the morning newspaper. Upon opening the front door, he was confronted by Mr. Tibbs, the neighbor’s cat. He bent down to pet the creature, as he was quite fond of the animal. He was very gentle with the cat, as he held it and stroked it lovingly. He set the cat back down and proceeded to retrieve his paper. At this he saw a vision in his mind’s eye of him reaching out and strangling the cat. He could see his hands clasped tightly around Mr. Tibbs’ neck, squeezing until the animal became limp and lifeless.
Mr. Tibbs looked up at the man, and then ran back home across the street. The man gathered up his newspaper and retreated back into his house.
The man had now finished with the paper, after reading it in the usual order: comics first, editorials, and then anything that caught his interest. He never read the obituaries, too depressing. He also avoided the crime reports, as he hated to read stories of violence. It was Saturday, late morning now, as he prepared for his weekly walk around the small neighborhood.
Before even reaching the end of the block, the man stopped to chat with Mr. Addison, who lived in a large red brick house two houses away from the man.
“Good Morning, Joe,” said the man to Mr. Addison.
“Good Morning to you,” he replied.
Mr. Addison was raking leaves, as he continued to talk to the man about the weather and other things that people talk about. As Addison droned on, the man envisioned himself taking Joe’s rake, and breaking it over his knee. He saw himself taking the splintered wooden shaft and plunging it into Addison’s throat. As Addison tried to get away, the man knocked his legs out from under him with a solid swing of the broken rake handle. Another swing broke Addison’s arm as he reached out, groping for anything to save himself with. As Mr. Addison lay struggling to breathe, drowning in his own blood, the man stood over him, telling Joe how much he really cared about the weather.
“Yes, I’ve heard that it’s going to snow soon too,” the man said in reply to Addison’s earlier question. He continued his walk, as Joe proceeded to rake his leaves.
It was now later afternoon. As the man was finishing his lunch, he was startled by the ringing of his doorbell. He got up, opened the door, and was greeted by the sweet face of young Sally Campbell, adorned in her Girl-Scout uniform and carrying the box of cookies he had ordered a few weeks earlier. He invited the small girl to wait inside as he retrieved his wallet. On his way back downstairs with Sally’s money, the man saw in his mind a vision of himself walking back downstairs carrying a Louisville Slugger at his side. Before the girl could ask what the baseball bat was for, He swung at Sally’s midsection, crushing two of her ribs. Sally stumbled backward as a second blow caught her in the forehead, crushing her skull like a melon. The man tossed the bat aside and walked to the dining room table, as Sally slumped to the floor, a pool of blood forming around her broken body, her mouth and eyes wide open as if in some inaudible hysterical scream. The man stared at his ruined baseball bat, while eating one of Sally's cookies.
“Thank you,” Sally said as the man paid her and she walked back to her mother’s waiting car. He smiled and waved to Mrs. Campbell, as he closed the door and went back inside.
The man continued with his normal routine throughout the rest of the day. He ate a small dinner, and watched a little television. He at first began to watch a new police drama series, which Mr. Addison had told him about, but was soon forced to turn it off, because of the distress that the violence caused him. At the first sight of blood the man changed channels to find the gameshow that he usually watched in the late afternoon.
It was late evening now; the sun had already set. The day had been an average one; nothing out of the ordinary had taken place. The man decided that the day had been a good one, though he might need to stop watching television, in order to avoid the never ceasing unnecessary violence, which now proliferated the airwaves. The man decided that it was time for bed.
He prepared for his sleep in the usual manner. He brushed his teeth, changed clothes, and read of few verses of his Bible. The man placed his Bible on the lamp desk beside him after finishing the last chapter of the book of Psalms. He then turned out the light and slipped under the covers of his bed into the waiting arms of the rotting corpse of his dead wife.
back to the Short Story Page.Until the Darkness Comes, 28 December 2000