A Midnight Murder

Night had long fallen upon the city, its creeping tendrils expanding far beyond the horizon and encompassing the entire area with an almost impenetrable darkness. An imposing silence filled the atmosphere, cloaking every surrounding building and suffocating each one further than the deep shadows of the evening already had. Their inhabitants slept soundly, blissfully ignorant to the tension writhing its way slowly through the polluted air, the ever-growing sense of dread passing unknown to them as a sole figure bolted down the street. Feet barely touching the ground, and expression completely blank, the ambiguity surrounding him and his purpose was evident. He ran as if he was being chased by the very dogs of hell, and yet tore onwards like a dying man who’d just caught sight of his only remaining lifeline. Not far behind him, the sky rumbled with warning of an impending storm.

He wasn’t privy to any of this, as he sped around corners and pushed himself further towards his destination, lungs burning with the desire to breathe deeply, and legs almost numb from the pain of over-exertion. He was vaguely aware of a voice in the back of his mind warning him to stop before he drove himself over the brink of exhaustion, but he ignored it, instead willing himself to keep going. The other voice, the one that portrayed the sheer terror and fear he felt at what he might find, screamed much louder, a mental cacophony that provided an easy incentive to continue. He refused to dwell on the possibility of those thoughts being true, and in turn what this would mean, but as he made a final turn and met his journey’s end, the sight that greeted his suddenly desperate gaze confirmed all of his worst fears in one life-shattering instant. Unable to comprehend the alien image, he froze in place just as overhead, the storm finally caught up to him. The dam broke.

A viscous trail ran slowly down the side of her face, the deep red a stark contrast to the paleness of her deathly-white skin. Blood dripped onto the concrete below, instantly swirling with the pounding raindrops hitting the ground to create a watered-down version of the vital fluid. It looked almost pure as it flowed easily down the street and disappeared into the gutter, like a light watercolour splashed across a blank canvas, running off the edges. He longed to run his fingers over her once-glowing skin, feel the warmth of her smooth body next to him and laugh off the impossible notion that she simply didn’t exist anymore. Not in the way that he knew her. However, the detective in him unable to switch off, he kept his distance, his professionally-trained eyes roaming over her alabaster form expertly instead, drinking in every discolouration, wound and excruciating detail, and committing the haunting image to memory. Though there was no real need for him to do so – a blinding white flash next to him indicated that the crime-scene photographer had arrived. The stunning light left bright spots in front of his eyes, and as he blinked rapidly in an effort to get rid of them, his mind flashed back to the last time he had seen her. Perched on a stool at the head of a smoky bar, cocktail glass between her elegant fingers and cigarette between her plump lips, she was the kind of ethereal beauty who would attract attention in normal circumstances, never mind ones like those where she deliberately sought it out. And it had been her eventual downfall.

She had been his, and now she had been ripped cruelly away from him, along with any dreams he had foolishly harboured for the two of them. Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, and unable to prevent the stray tears that escaped from under the corners of his eyelids, it felt as if the pain itself had entangled its way within and attached itself to his insides, choking the very life out of him. He forced himself to breathe as he fingered the small, black velvet box in the pocket of his trench coat, attempting to come to terms with the situation. Gone were the bright, wishful aspirations of the future, and the life that could have once been; in its place, all that remained was a gaping, dark abyss, an endless pit that contained nothing but fear and hopelessness, a deep sense of self-loathing and despair that threatened to consume him whole. In that moment, he allowed it to.

A lone, soul-shattering, heartbroken cry smashed through the stillness of the night, and the city was silent no more.

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