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My Own Private Hell
The dead of night; if only those who used the phrase truly understood its meaning. If only they could walk these desolate streets like I have; see the sky burn, smell the ash and decay, hear the screams. They pass me by, blissfully unaware of the hell they occupy, the hell that they share for a fraction of a second when their eyes meet mine and they see the demons tearing me apart from the inside. The spires of the Minster - standing watch over the shop-lined streets like ancient protectors – offer no refuge, damning me from the paradise it promises to others.
I wear their skin, their clothes, eat like them, act like them – but I am not one of them. That’s not to say that I am not human – to my knowledge I still am – but they aren’t capable of what I am. They look at me with their probing eyes; judging me, labeling me, and then move on having done more damage than they could ever possibly know in their limited minds. The man who said “ignorance is bliss” didn’t realize the devasation those words would cause.
A cool night wind whispers through my ears, teasing me with just enough temporary pleasure to remind me of the world at stake. I pull the parka over my shoulders closer and brace myself for the path I am about to travel – a path that I’ve walked many times. A path I fear with every fiber of my being.
I take the first step into the cold, paved road. It quivers and sizzles around me like the surface of the sun as I begin my journey through my own personal hell.
I walk down Stonegate of York. People go about their business, stopping in shops, drinking in bars, or just passing through. I feel like crying out to them as they pass. How can they not see what I see? How do they not know?
Shadows shift in the amber light of the lanterns hanging over the street, like burning silhouettes desperate to escape the scorched city. I move into more welcoming light, stopping at the window of a nearby resturaunt. Inside are happy people, enjoying their meals with their friends and loved ones... blissfully unaware of the devastation that will tear them apart.
Then another figure appears inside – a hooded form. As I look closer, I recognize it as my own reflection. I see the haunted look in my eyes - buried in the shadow of the hood over my head - unable to block out the dying world around me.
But wait... it isn’t my reflection - it’s the great shadow: the Invoked. The figure turns black and the eyes burn with flame. I can feel myself being drawn toward it as it beckons to me. It reaches out with its dark hand, inviting me closer. It feels like I’m falling down an impossibly dark hole, waiting to hit a bottom that doesn’t exist. It whispers to me. I don’t understand the words but I know their meaning. It is a warning – a warning of tihngs to come. As it’s deathly hand meets mine the glass cracks and shatters. I jump back suddenly as its horrible screech echoes through the street like a banshee’s wail.
The people inside the resturaunt stare at me, startled by my sudden movement. I walk briskly away to avoid any more stares. I’m near the end of the street now. Paranoia sets in and I can feel the shadows closing in behind me. The amber light intensifies behind me... but I don’t dare look back.
Then, an earth-shattering boom shoots accross the sky. The shockwave knocks me to the end of the road as a hail of glass shards from the blown-out shop windows fall around me. I shake with fear, unable to resist the urge to look back down the hellish street from whence I came. I shield my eyes as the black clouds of night intensify into a firey yellow-orange. Flame roars through the sky like a match hitting gasoline. I can feel the air being sucked form my lungs and my bones ache as intense pressure pushes down on them from some invisible force. Just before the flame reaches me I see the dark figure standing at its center at a distance I can’t calculate. Is it a man or beast? These questions haunt my memory to their conclusion as I am engulfed in the flames and eaten alive...