So here’s a very short story, written over about half an hour, one beer and two cigarettes for 3 Word Wednesday. The prompts were FIGMENT, INCLINED & VULNERABLE. Now it’s back to the re-writing (I know, I know, I whinge)…
It was nothing but his imagination. Just a figment of his imagination, that was all. He had sat in the same position for the last three hours, while Lateline and Parliamentary Question Time plodded dully on the television screen left muted beside him, hunched above his laptop. The rain falls. His eyes flick from the screen toward the open front door that left him vulnerable to intrusions from the outside world. It stood open to let the cooling scent of the heavy summer rain into the room. It stood open to allow the pooling cigarette smoke a chance to escape before his sleeping wife awoke in the morning – or before the shrieks of the smoke alarm woke the whole street.
The darkness seemed to swell into the room, an ancient terror no longer held back by the flickering of neon. He felt fear, for the first time in an age, the fear of his ancestors. Fear of the Dark. He stands at the doorway, hypnotized by the night as the falling rain hammers a constant drumbeat on the steel roofs of the houses standing near, looming above him in his sanctuary of light. He wouldn’t usually consider himself inclined toward superstition, and he places his cigarette to his lips as if to remind himself of the fruits of civilisation. A finger of flame leaps toward its tip, the sweet scratch of tobacco on his throat greets his first breath, drawing hard to force the flames to catch. The cigarette is held up to his face, inspected for faults as he savours that first delicious inhalation. Waits for the poison to settle on his lungs, waits to send that explosive rush racing through his nervous system.
He stands at the door and waits, intent while watching the falling rain. The guttering creaks under the weight of a year’s worth of fallen leaves, groaning as the rain cascades over its embankment, a waterfall plunging toward the already sodden ground. He flicks his cigarette to be swallowed by the night, its ember still alight while it flies through the air. He turns back inside, satisfied that the sound that drew him from his laptop was just the house settling into the changing temperatures, satisfied that no-one lurks outside, watching him write. He closes the door behind him, sliding the bolt home. No-one will disturb him while he sits, absorbed in his work.