He came just after dark. I could hear his terrible steps across the city. My world trembled with each footfall.
Tonight, my room had a window to the world and I stood at the cold pane watching the giant’s advance. Each stride was met by fire. Each step an explosion. And I watched as if this was meant soley for my viewing.
My winter was here and I understood. I was awake and not swaddled in that rocky sleep. The giant was murdering sleep and was parading its power before me. And I stood, incapable of reasoning, unable to section my fears.
“They do this every night,” she said. “They arrive with their death and they drop it upon us. Even the boy in the yard could not escape their eyes.”
I knew this woman and understood that, if I reached out now, I could touch her.
“You’re the one from the shower. The one in my bed. You have always lived here.”
She was a silhouette in a world of half-life.
I could not pull my eyes away from the scene of the city erupting. I had never been witness to such light before. I was seeing the world in savge truth. A truth that revolted and refreshed me.
“You live in darkness. You spend your life asleep. Even awake, you see nothing.”
The giant was treading closer, the light that he caused was getting brighter. Wth each stride that struck the earth, he shattered time.
“But,” mimicked the boy, perfectly, “this is not my time. these things are only shadows of the past, echoes of things that cannot involve me. And yes, you think that you are dreaming.”
He was standing at my side. I could reach out to him, in the way that I could reach out to the woman, and I could bridge that gap. Soon, I would be back in the safety of my bed, waking to the sound of the shower, feeling the warmth of the person so recently departed. I closed my eyes and willed for sleep.
“How is your world today?”
It was the kiosk man. Something was different.
“What’s happened to ‘treating me’?”
The kiosk man looked deeply.
“You have been treated fairly for all of your time.”
His face was changing with his words. I saw him as his father, his father’s son, and continuance of that line. And yet he was more than that. He was every face that my eyes had ever settled upon, and he was the fire that fell from above and into our darkness.
“You come here everyday and you do not see what is around you. You fail to notice those that cling to lives that have gone and those who are still clinging to lives that are barely there. Humanity is just a forgotten word to you. Sleep is the only thing that guides your path.”
I was stung. The kindly kiosk man had changed. His words had become weapons with which to punish. Even the glow of his kiosk was now more terrible. And around me moved a sea of souls, shuffling to the places they believed they needed to be.
“But,” I managed, “I am only like them.”
That’s when the first of the bombs fell to the world above us.
They came after dark.
They always came after dark and those who slept never woke.