The Traveler stands upon the cliff’s edge, facing the vast wilderness before him. The land is lush and vibrant, colored myriad hues and shades the names of which the Traveler does not know. This untamed and sublime forest, brimming with loud, energetic life, calls to the Traveler, beckoning him to venture into its unseen depths. And though he knew he faces grievous harm–and likely death–the Traveler fears not, anticipation burning within his quickening heart. Taking a deep breath, the Traveler throws down his rope, securing the end to the cliff before beginning his descent.
Dale set the corpse down, gently lying the cold, broken body at his feet.
“My god,” Dale said, “He was just a kid.”
Two men stood facing one another on an otherwise empty street. The angry sun above made the ragged dusty path beneath their boots glow a brilliant white.
“John, I honestly didn’t think you’d show.” The speaker, Aaron Winter, spit tobacco juice to his right, his hand casually resting on the pistol holstered on his left hip. “Well, more like I wished you just stayed the hell at home.”
John Hawkins, unarmed yet unearthly calm, laughed. “Oh hell Aaron,” he said, the playful smile on his lips fading fast. “You know me better than that. I always keep my promises.”
She sits alone in a corner booth, the coffee shop before her quiet and empty. Her fingers slowly tap her booth’s table, one by one, each hand, from pinky to thumb. Tap, tap, on and on she taps, beating a steady rhythm as she stares into the middle distance, the shop’s windows ink-black dark. She closes her eyes and imagines another world; a different coffee shop, one filled with light, laughter, crying, espresso machine whirs and drips–anything but this silence. Her fingers clench, fists forming, her nails digging into her palms.
“This,” she says, both hands bleeding, “is not what I asked for.”