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A Different Ending

The continuous pitter patter of the heavy rainfall was the only sound left in the stark silence nipping at my sodden heels. If I didn’t find shelter soon — images of stiff limbs tinged such a terrible blue, milky eyes staring unseeing into the dark sky filled my vision. I shuddered, the phantom cold leaving my fingers tingling. Or perhaps that was the actual cold sinking into my pale trembling skin.

And yet, I couldn’t seem to muster up the energy to care. My emotions flickering like a pitiful sputtering flame in the hollows of my ribs.

How long had I already spent under this torrent, staring helplessly at the grisly scene behind me? The streets splattered bright crimson, the crumbling remains of a once marvelous city washed grey with ash.

I don’t know the answer. I just know between a number of blinks my eyes went from watering under the smoke to rain weighing down my think jacket, plastering my hair against my skin.

There had been so much fire this time. So much screaming, children crying for aid as they ran past, fingers and knees bleeding, parents scurrying as they hacked up their lungs.

It was my fault. Yet I felt no guilt, just an unwelcomed yet unexpected numbness.

It was almost comforting, the routine. I go somewhere, I make friends, I fall in love with the glistening concrete, the chipped fences, the heady scent of well-tended gardens and lawns — and then, it all falls apart.

I make it fall apart.

Why do I always mess it up?

Why is it always my fault?!

I sneeze. The sudden motion startling me out of my downward spiral. I stumble, glass and rubble crunching under my feet, the choking, sickening smell of just burning still lingering in the air, as if the flames were still going.

I stopped, giving my head a violent shake. Huffing out a cloud of my own smoke, I resume walking, daring not to turn my head. The images of the carnage I’ve left behind already burned into my memory.

I couldn’t afford to be weighed down by those haunting images, morality was my worst enemy now. My eyes, sharp and grey flickered between the hanging strands of my hair. I couldn’t afford to lose my focus, just in case ‘they’ were still lurking around.

I sigh, pausing to heft myself over the remains of twin vehicles, ‘their’ vehicles. As plain and unassuming as myself. Once over I raised my head, blinking past the dripping water, and stared down the dirt road ahead, leading deeper and deeper into the dark wood.

I sigh, shoving my fists deeper into my damp pockets.

Well,” I mutter to myself. “Onto the next town.” My lips tremble as I begin my march again, sniffing and shivering against the wind.

Hopefully the next ending will be better.

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