Monday, February 10, 2020

The Pale Man

An ember lit up the pale man’s face. After a drag, he hissed the smoke back into the atmosphere. The pale man flicked the cigarette onto the street, red sparks dancing on the ground.

“That’ll kill you someday,” a voice growled from the darkness.

“Gotta die somehow,” the pale man replied.

“Suppose so,” the voice agreed. “Cancer or not, it still messes with your night vision.”

“I knew you were there.”

“Did you?”


“Then you know why I’m here?”

“Same as the others - to try to collect on a debt.”

The two stood in black silence, the square shapes of low buildings shadows against a moonless sky. A tiny, muffled click was an explosion in this noiseless world.

“You can still walk away,” the pale man said in response.

“You know I can’t.”

“So be it.”

A gun was almost drawn from its holster. Its owner chose to leave it hanging from his hip and direct his hands elsewhere. Chiefly, they went to inspect the knife now protruding from his eye socket.

The man with the gun and the newly acquired knife worked his way through an involuntary process of recoil, vocalization, and an attempt to dislodge the foreign object. Unfortunately for him, he’d lost track of the pale man. The latter closed the gap between them and proceeded to drive the knife deeper, killing the would-be-shooter.

The pale man withdrew his knife and cleaned it on the sleeve of the gunman.  He twisted a small piece of leather in his own sleeve and tucked the knife back inside its hidden home. He looked down at the shadowy lump as a black-on-black pool of blood changed the texture of the asphalt street.

A cigarette was fished out of a pack and made it to the pale man’s lips. A flick of light illuminated the grisly scene for a second. An ember lit up the pale man’s face as he took a long drag.

“Seems like someday’s not today,” he growled, smoke spilling from his teeth. “Not today.”

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