Below was written with the prompt: “It’s that time of the year again…”
It’s that time of year again, and Cain hated it.
People were pale again. Not for fifteen years had they been this pale. And with each year, with each blizzard, each bleak season, they got worse. They diminished. They dwindled. And eventually, they died with eyes grayed, crazy and miserable.
Not Cain. That wasn’t going to happen to him. Unlike them, he wasn’t stuck in the infinite winter with all its germs, sickness, disaster, and misfortunate waiting to happen. With a house padded down by a seemingly unlimited supply of Styrofoam and antiaging creams and stocked food and blunt objects and the softest of pillows, Cain was waiting for the beginning of an endless summer. Paradise was only a few precautions away.
Today, however, was not that day. It was the beginning of the Winter Solstice, and he was instead in his home twiddling his thumbs and dreaming of a world of described by seawater and sun, where the kaleidoscopic shades, those bubbly oranges frothing into miraculous pinks, those deep sky blues and scarlet reds, coloured the universe.
Outside the sky died. On the news, he heard that birds populations were dwindling at an alarming rate due to some chemical or another in the air. Cain was sure that these clouds – menacing, giant clouds brimming with malice and anger – were responsible.
That time of the year. It began to rain just as Cain said the phrase.
Cain camped himself in front of his triple panned window on an equally protected quadruple spring sofa. The coffee in his gloved hand was cool as he sipped it. With watchful, careful eyes, he gazed onto the strange, dangerous, and foreign world outside.
A single man stood in front of Cain’s house smoking. The wisps of a cancerous breath curled around his fingers as he inhaled. Besides the smoke, the man appeared to glisten in a way, perhaps because of the flickering light near his face. Disordered patterns of plaid donned his clothing and it was obvious to Cain that the man was ill prepared for the storm brewing. The man, though, seemed indifferent to the rain, only taking slight notice of it when he was relighting his cigarette once the water had put it out.
Suddenly, a van pulled alongside Cain’s house and four other men stepped outside. Dressed in all black, they surrounded the man who coolly continued inhaling his cigarette. Words were exchanged and one man pushed the smoking man. More shouts were tossed around, and the push turned into a shove. Immediately, the smoking man swung at his aggressor and hit him at the side of his head.
The rain picked up. The other three men stood stunned. The smoking man laughed. As Cain watched from the inside, he thought it was a laugh that was reserved for an impossible task, one that could overcome the calamity of silence. In celebration, the man reached for a cigarette.
The man who had previously been hit pulled out a gun and shot the smoking hero. In an instance, he became as liquid as the rain above him.
The man, now drenched and bleeding on the ground, looked around. Cain noticed how rich his eyes were, how plentiful they seemed even on this dark day. His skin was pale but his eyes, globes of colour… they were staring right at Cain.
Cain quickly fumbled for the blinds, spilling his cool coffee in the process. Unable to close them quick enough, the man mouthed something inaudible to Cain.
For an eternity, Cain waited. He reopened the blinds and all four men were gone. A cigarette bud and a puddle of red was all that remained. As it bled into the concrete, the blood imprint was fading. It was becoming pale again.
It was that time of year – everything was becoming paler and paler yet – and Cain hated it.