This was a short story that I wrote for two powerful reasons. The first was simply because I couldn’t sleep one night (a very common thing for a few years around 2013). The other was because it had been bouncing around my head for about two years and needed to get it down before it drove me nuts. It’s not my strongest short story, but the concept is still kinda fun, and I may revisit someday when it isn’t 4AM.
The red numbers glare at me from across the room. Cool night air drifts in through the open window. Sleep will not come. I find myself aimlessly staring out the window and contemplating my life. The decisions, the questions, the successes and failures; they have all lead me to this very moment. I wonder if any of it means anything, if anyone would even care.
I watch the sky through my window, and I wish I could see the stars. All I can see is the barely there moon, struggling to make itself known through the cloud cover and the never ceasing glow of the streetlights. I could almost swear that the glow made the sky seem to pulse tonight, an angry red glow that seemed to seethe and burn.
Suddenly, a bright flash of light streaks across the sky. Then another, and another. Odd, I couldn’t remember hearing there would be a meteor shower tonight. There they were, though, streaking downwards in increasing numbers. I watched them with fascination, wondering if anyone else in this sleepy city had noticed. One seemed to break away from the others, streaking towards me. I thought I imagined it, but it grew larger and larger. The intensity of its light grew to be nearly unbearable, then with an impossibly bright flash and a thunderous crash, it struck the ground.
As I gather my senses, I looked around feverishly. Down, on the street, a white glow permeated every stone and brick with an unearthly glow. There! In the center of the crater, there was a glowing figure. Slowly, it stood. It was human, or at least shaped like one. It was tall and solidly built, like an athlete or a laborer. Its skin was the source of the glowing, alabaster aflame with blinding white light. As it stood, I noticed it wore no clothing, beyond a simple looking halberd on its hip. As it stood up, it looked around warily, ready for anything. It glanced up and, despite having no discernible eyes amidst the glowing face, I knew it was looking directly at me.
A screech rung out, wild and feral, from somewhere down the street. The sound was terrifying and I could feel my blood run cold with horror. My eyes darted to the source of the sound and I could see something dark and large and terrible. Its eyes were ablaze, a bright and maleficent red. I could barely make out its form, even with the bright light of the star-child, but it seemed to be huge and misshapen, but still vaguely human in shape. It let out another loud shriek and it charged down the street towards the bright figure with death in its eyes.
The figure did not stand idle, however. With speed that my eyes could barely follow, it drew the sword from its waist and brought it to the ready. A flash of bright light and steel tore through the darkness at the malignant figure. Tooth met metal with a loud crash. I winced involuntarily. When I finally dared look back, I saw the two figures locked in deadly combat. The figure of light was moving indiscernibly fast and fighting defensively while it sought an opening. The figure of darkness was moving just as quickly and fighting with a vicious savagery that I had never seen before. Neither gained ground upon the other for several long moments, and then it was over. The figures leapt apart from one another, and stared intently at each other. Chests heaved and eyes glared into each other.
It was only then that my amazement abated enough that I dared look around. Up and down the street, I could see other similar battles taking place. A small army fought on each side. Minor skirmishes that were all ending in the same way. Figures of light rallied to each other and figures of darkness retreated towards their kind. Battle lines were being drawn and each knew that it would only take a sound or a twitch for an even greater battle to be joined. They stared each other down, the figures of light standing phalanx to my right and darkness in a writhing horde to my left. Tensions were so high, I could feel the entire world holding its breath in anticipation.
I do not know how, but after a moment of confusion and terror, I found myself on the street. I was directly between the two armies. Had I fallen? Had I jumped? I cannot remember. All I know is that my sudden appearance on the battlefield was enough to spark the battle anew. All around me steel flashed and teeth gnashed. I scrambled for safety, desperately seeking higher ground. With a burst of light, the soldier to my left disappeared, leaving only a triumphant shadow beast with murder in its eyes. Directly before me, a beast whined and died; impaled upon the righteous sword of its enemy. All around me, beast and soldier raged, fought and died.
I felt myself pushed back by a soldier, trying to guard me from its enemy. Claws reach out to grab me, to pull me away. I can feel the tide of battle shift. Somehow, I had become the prize to be won. Shadow beasts desperately lunged at me. Soldiers fought and fell to hold them back. For a moment, I hope that these soldiers of light will protect me and I can escape, then I notice that in the battle their numbers had only dwindled. They stood guard, but they were outnumbered nearly three to one. The shadows loomed ever closer. I held my breath and then I felt it.
A rush of bitter coldness wrapped around my ankle. I could feel a bitter warmth drip down my leg as the claws dug deep into me. With a tug, I was down. I hit my head, hard. My head swam. The breath rushed from my lungs. The last thing I saw before I lost consciousness was a brilliant figure standing over me, desperately reaching to aid me, a look of deepest apology on its face.
The numbers blaze brightly in the night. The room sits silent and dark. Across the room, next to the window, is a lone figure. The figure hangs limp; a rope wraps tightly around its neck and its feet dangle inches above the floor. A cool wind drifts in through the window as the city sleeps. A lonely moon finally dares peek through the clouds, shining its light upon the figure as it hangs. In a nearby corner, a pair of red eyes watches the figure; they almost seem… pleased.