Two Characters in Search
by Mark A. Nobles
“This was a bad idea.”
“What? You’re always wanting to go for a walk through the park.”
“Not at three in the morning.”
“I’m half drunk and tired. It cuts twenty minutes off the walk home. Three in the morn-ing is the perfect time to cut through the park.”
Weird rustling noise out in the darkness to the left of the path.
“Did you hear that?”
“You did too.”
“Why would I lie?”
They walk. Their footsteps bouncing off the concrete path is the only sound until a third set of footsteps comes from behind.
She looks at him. He looks at her. “It’s just an echo.”
They stop. The footsteps from behind stop two steps after they halt. They do not turn around to look behind them.
He nods. They start walking. Faster this time.
From the darkness to the right comes the weird rustling noise this time accompanied by the flapping of leathered wings.
“You had to hear that.”
“Its a park. There are animals, sure, but they’re more afraid of us.”
“I wouldn’t bet on that.”
“What do you think is going to happen?”
“I shouldn’t have let you talk me into having sex at the party.”
“Where did that come from?”
“It’s always the couple that had sex that dies?”
“What are you talking about?”
“In the movies.”
“We aren’t in a movie.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m pretty sure.”
They walk, accompanied only by the sound of their footsteps clicking the concrete.
“Besides, if we were in a movie we wouldn’t be the couple killed after having sex. We’d be the leads.”
“So you admit, we might be in a movie.”
“No, I’m humoring your scenario.”
The illuminating lamps ten yards up the path flicker. Distant thunder rolls. Lightning flashes.
“That wasn’t right.”
“It was freaky is what it was.”
“It was a little freaky but it should have been lightning, flicker, thunder, not flicker, thunder, lightning.”
“That’s what bothers you? The order of the weird shit - not that there’s weird shit?”
“There is no weird shit. Everything is explainable. Normal. We are a normal couple, walk-ing through a normal park, in a normal world.”
A gust of bone-chilling wind rushes down the path, the sound of creaking tree branches morphs into a low moan. As the wind dies down gray fog bubbles on the path, stretching out and fading into the darkness.
“This is normal?”
“I’m telling you, we’re in a horror movie and we are not the heroes.”
“Well, we’re not bit players or extras.”
“What’s your backstory?”
“Your backstory. If you’re the hero, you have a backstory. If you’re an extra, just on screen long enough to be slaughtered, you don’t need a backstory, so you wouldn’t have one.”
“I have a backstory. You know my backstory.”
She gave him a blank stare.
“Come on. It’s called my life. My past. I have a life and a past.”
He stopped walking and turned to her. She stopped walking and turned to him.
The sound of footsteps continued. It wasn’t their footsteps. Tree branches creaked in the darkness on either side. Distant thunder rolled. Lightning flashed. The path lights flickered. Flapping leather wings sounded overhead.
“If we’re in a movie and are about to die, we would have hit our marks.”
They stare deeply into each other’s eyes. A tear runs down his cheek. She nods. The chilly wind tousles their hair. They both look down together.
Two blue ten-inch strips of gaffer tape run parallel along the sidewalk. Their shoes each center perfectly at the tape’s edges. One is marked by Michael, the other Karyn.
A squawk straight out of hell pierces the night and leather feathers and blood spray shoot into the air in all directions then fall to the concrete path like a Pollock painting.
Mark A. Nobles is a sixth-generation Texan born on Fort Worth’s infamous Jacksboro Highway and proudly claim blood and kinship with Thunder Road’s gamblers, outlaws, and wastrels. Nobles' work has appeared in or been published by Cowboy Jamboree, Sleeping Panther Review, Crimson Streets, Cleaver Magazine, Curating Alexandria, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Gimmick Press, Haunted MTL, Road Kill Vol. 4, Not One of Us, and other publications. Mark has produced and/or directed three feature documentaries and several short, experimental films. He lives in Fort Worth but hopes to die in the desert.