This story is by Lara Tollin and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
I really wanted to have an ordinary day.
I woke up and stared at the ceiling. I wasn’t feeling myself and I haven’t felt like me for quite some time. It all started about a week ago. That’s when I felt this strong suffocating feeling, so strong that it woke me up. That morning I felt empty as if a part of me disappeared.
My alarm clock beeped. Another day leaving my bed confused. Today I woke up, unable to shake the image of her from my mind.
As much as I tried and fought my feelings, I am afraid that I did not forget her. When my fiancé died I pushed all my feelings deep into my subconscious. The feelings I bottled up inside want to come to the surface again, I can feel them. I don’t like the odds of that because I hated the person I became when she passed away. I don’t want them to resurface, afraid of what might happen to me if they do.
I had to get ready. It was almost time for me to go to work.
When I stepped outside I got the weird feeling again. As I neared the city center, the air became heavier. A gagging, factory-like stench made it unbearable. Why do I always notice such things and make a big deal out of them? I mustn’t worry so much!
She came to my mind again. The pain her death brought me and what a mess I was for almost a year. Sometimes I still feel that person; all that anger and rage inside of me and being afraid of everything coming back and losing myself. I shook my head. My friends told me that I am strong and I know they are proud of me. I am lucky to have them because they have been of great help getting me through this.
I was a couple of blocks from work. My coworker was crossing the street, waving at me.
“I thought I was going to be the only one late today.” He smiled.
“We can’t be the best employees every month, right?” I tried to smile back.
“What do you think it is?” I asked.
“What what is?” He looked at me, puzzled.
“The smell, in the air. What do you think it is?”
“What smell? Are you okay?” I knew I made too big of a deal of it but how does someone not smell that?
“Yeah, it’s probably nothing. Can you wait for me? I am just going to go grab a pack of cigarettes across the street.”
“Sure, I’ll wait.”
It was a bad habit, smoking, but sometimes I got the feeling that it was keeping me sane.
When I was heading back I saw it. There was a black creature, slouched as a hunchback almost twice his size behind my coworker with a blade in his hand. It looked as if it was made of some gooey substance and its eyes were glowing as if it was ready to explode.
“Watch out!” I shouted. “Behind you!”
He turned around and back to me, confused.
“Run, can’t you see it has a blade!”
As I crossed the street the creature was gone.
“What did you see? There was no one behind me.” He sounded worried.
“I’m only messing with you.” My heart, still pounding hard, I decided not to say anything but I was rather confused about what just happened. What was that thing and why am I the only one to see it?
I couldn’t focus on my work. The morning scene kept rolling in my mind. It was impossible that the creature was from our world. The thing it was made of that glue-like substance dribbling all over the floor and those alarming eyes. I began to wonder if the creature was the cause of the foul smell in the air.
The minute I got back to work I saw it with the corner of my eye. The creature was slowly creeping towards a car, leaving a black trace. Is it possible that other worlds exist? It doesn’t look like it’s from Earth. What a world could have creatures like this? In that moment its eyes locked on mine.
Suddenly, I got this feeling that I could stop the creature. Since it seemed I was the only one to see it, I decided to confront the thing.
As I was exiting the building my nerves kicked in. Walking towards it the creature began to be familiar. The closer I got the more sense it all made. It was from another world, I was sure of that. The world that someday I hope to forget. The world where I decided not to fight my demons.
I was staring at myself.
There was nothing human about him except the rage I fought so hard to tame.
He was everything I despised about myself: he was angry, he wanted to hurt others so that they would feel his pain, his suffering.
I ran towards him with all my being. I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I wanted him gone. He must go back to the world he came from.
I screamed in his face and started to choke him. My hands were swallowed by his goo but fought on because I wanted him gone. I wanted to banish him to his world of misery and rage. I wanted to move on. There’s a place for only one of us on Earth and it was going to be me. I started to shake as I brought him to the ground. I clenched my fist and landed a punch. My hand began to bleed, going right through him; hitting the concrete. He was gone. All he left behind was the black substance on the ground. I suddenly felt full of life again. I crossed the street and went back to work.
I really wanted to have an ordinary day.