Midnight At The Junction

The carpet was damp and sodden. The mildew which defiantly pushed its way up through the synthetic fibres, was furry against his lips and cheek. The air was cold and stale, every inward breath drying his mouth. Each shallow intake of air rattled in his throat and whispered away to nothing before the much needed oxygen could reach his lungs.

A wild, injured animal within him stirred, his body responding to the primitive instincts to survive without conscious thought. His finger twitched and dug into the rotting carpet. His arms swam toward the window sill, lugging the reluctant sandbag that housed his faintly beating heart and weary bones through the ocean of mould and carpet fibres.

At the wall, he reached up and hauled his frame upwards. His fingertips dug into the ancient wooden sill, causing great chunks of white paint to flake away and bed under his nails.

From a kneeling position, he tweaked the curtains apart, enough to let him spy out, down onto the street below. The first curtain twicher in the neighbourhood for fully 50 years peered out through the dusty, grime covered glass.

Below, nothing moved save for the gentle but constant drizzle of rain that seemed to fill the air without end. The night air hung completely still. Cars stood silently crumbling, happy in their resting places, engines at an eternal peace.

He climbed to his feet and sagged backwards away from the window. He turned and padded towards the doorway. He paid no attention to the bundle of pale white, fragile matchsticks on the bed, where two lovers had once clung to each other in the face of oblivion.

He left the bedroom and began to negotiate the rickety stairs, trying to tread lightly so as not plunge directly downwards through the rotten wood. His feet danced from step to step, descending made all the more risky by the lack of a banister, which had long since collapsed into a shallow pile of wood dust and chipped paint.

He skipped down over the side of the stairway, missing out the last few steps and squelched into the carpet. He looked around to make sure nobody else moved inside the house, before making his way to the front door.

Despite the many years and gallons of rainwater which had fallen against it, the door still stood as strong as ever. A mighty, varnished guardian protecting the interior of the house from the wickedness and unkindness that operated outside. A silent, noble defender against the cold and the wet, a line of defense which hid occupants from the flashing blades and screaming bullets that ruled the streets.

He gently eased the door open and peered out onto the streets. A dozen yards from the door, the thick, black tarmac serpent lay resting, the rest of its body curling through the dead city for miles upon miles. He knew it was along the back of this giant beast he must walk to reach safety.


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