Fate Masks


It is a sultry August night with the neon serpent lights of the city spreading through various nooks and crannies. Earlier in the evening, rain had fallen and left traces of its presence in various potholes in the streets. Since it was fairly early in the evening, there were still massive parades of people walking to their personal destinations. The prostitutes were preparing themselves for their nightly hollow ritual of plying their trade, through the usual displaying of makeup, tawdry clothes, and in some cases, taking enough tokes to make the night bearable. One of these “ladies of the evening”, lets call her Natasha, even though that is not the name that she was given by her timid mother or alcoholic father, managed to find a corner that she knew was not part of any other pimp’s territory. This so-called Natasha stood by a lamppost, which was covered in the shallow white glow of the lights from inside of a drugstore. She had also chosen this spot because, if the rain made another appearance, there was a sheltered bus stop near by.

A block away from where all of this potential illegal activity would take place, there were five or six people lined up in front of a theater waiting to buy tickets to the latest, and hottest, according to the critics, play that had been produced in a long time. What this hot play was called is irrelevant to this story. It is enough just to know that the city was large enough to support some form of the fine arts. The fact that the box office would not be open for another 15 minutes is also irrelevant. The only thing that might be relevant is what the people standing in line would do once they had purchased their precious tickets. Would they quickly put them into the inner pockets of their cashmere coats or their major label purses? Would they then go to find a place to eat where they wouldn’t need reservations or just go to the nearest bus stop or subway station and drag their exhausted bodies home and make a quick meal using their microwaves?

 

Meanwhile:

 

A dark shadow draws a misshapen caricature along the concrete and bricks of an alleyway. Who the shadow belongs to is a less important matter than what is its purpose. The alley is filled with the loose wet trash of bygone occupants either blown there by the wind or left there by unthinking litter bugs. The shadow makes its way towards the end of the closed alleyway encasing it in the total darkness. There are windows which face out into the alleyway but there is no light shining from them. The eyes of the shadow at the end of the alleyway are the only forms of fluorescence visible to anyone who would bother to look in their direction. A dirty tom cat makes its way quickly out of the alleyway when it realizes that it is no longer alone. The cat senses that nothing good can come from its staying there hoping for a mate to make an appearance. As the cat speeds out of the alley, it is almost stepped on by a pedestrian who stumbles a step backwards not knowing what sort of demon has raced from a portal of hell. When he gets his balance backs, he looks to his right and sees the form of a cat racing through the spaces of traffic. “Damn cat!” he mutters and then slowly turns his face in towards the dark alley. He tries to focus his red-shot eyes at the darkness, hoping to see what could have caused the cat to flee from the alley, and not seeing anything significant, staggers on.

Within ten feet of the mouth of the alley, the man sees a woman standing in a pool of sickly white light. Eventually, his brain connects the dots and he attempts to straighten up his appearance before approaching the woman. He is pretty sure that he knows why she is standing there and he remembers that he has a twenty left in his wallet.

“Hey, honey, do you want a date?”

“Sure. How much?”

“First, I have to ask: Are you a cop?”

“No, I’m not a cop. I’m an accountant.”

“What are you looking for on this date?”

“Just a blow and go. I got $20.”

“You got a place close by?”

“No, not really.”

Hearing this, Natasha, as you may have guessed, heaves a small sigh. She hates it when she has to work outdoors. The air after the rain is a bit chilly and she really doesn’t want to get down on her knees in a dark dirty alley, but sometimes that’s the way the dice roll.

“Alright, follow me.” And she leads the way holding onto this man’s arm who is so low class that he doesn’t have the decency to take a girl to a nice place. Normally, she wouldn’t resort to an alley proposition, but business has been slow and her man expects her to make her quota.

The couple cross the line that separates the light of the city from the darkness of the alleyway. Neither one of them sees anything sinister as they walk down looking for a place that has some cover for what they are about to do. Finally, Natasha being almost ready to give up, but needing the twenty bucks that she has been promised, feels the man drag her over to the side of a brick building. In her purse she keeps a can of pepper spray in case this guy decides to try to take more than what he has paid for. The man leans back against the cool bricks and unzips his pants. She gets down on her knees and gets to work.

From the end of the alleyway, a pair of semi-luminous eyes stare out at the scene being played out. There is no movement made to either stop or interfere with what is going on. The entity hiding in the shadows finally starts to make its way towards the couple when it is obvious that neither one is cognizant of their surroundings. It creeps slowly and fluidly without making any noise. The entity slowly makes its way crawling up behind the woman’s moving head and the man’s oblivious stance. Suddenly, Natasha’s head is jerked back and a glistening sliver of metal passes by her eyes. The trash along the ground of the alleyway is baptized with blood, and the man, suddenly noticing that his pleasure has been interrupted, opens his bleary eyes and sees two small pearly orbs in front of his face. As he is about to shout, he sees the woman laying in a heap on the ground with a fulsome river of red running from her throat. His confused mind is trying to make sense of all of this, but he is not given enough time to think it through before he feels a sharp slice along his own throat. His body falls to the ground almost landing on the girl who had been working for a better life. The entity adjusts the bodies and makes its way back to the end of the alley. Waiting.

The Sun edges over the horizon, but it will be a couple hours before it can claim its place in the sky. The buildings and advertising signs block the Sun from being observed by anyone who is still wandering around looking for something to make their lives worth living. Occasionally, a bus filled with morning workers passes by the alleyway, but none of the half-awake people notice anything since they are either trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep before getting to their destinations or reading their newspapers. The shadows of the alleyway slowly disappear as the Sun rises and, eventually, someone will finally notice the two bodies. They will also notice that the bodies are different from the way that they had fallen to the ground. Of course, no one will know about this minor detail. If anything, they will question if they really cared, why both bodies are lying side by side and their faces are covered by plain white masks with only one word scrawled on it: Fate.

 

Los Angeles,CA

J

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