One Less

Heston has found a way. A way to give the after-life one less person. But when he becomes all too intertwined in a mortal world, does being immortal leave anything to be desired?


1. PART ONE: Running

   He didn’t have to think twice to know that this was right. He was running. His ankles kneading fiercely in their sockets, his knees reverberating with every smack his thick shoe sole made on the tarmac. The rubber picked up fragments of gravel and scattered them about the path like a farmer sowing seeds.  A greasy ginger straw from the mop of hair on his head slapped him across the eye. He blinked, frustrated, to move it away but it only got caught and made his eye run with clear fluids. He wanted to be done with crying but it didn’t seem like he could.

  Fresh sheets of tears clouded his vision bringing a haze to the world and duplicating trees that made him swerve awkwardly between just to keep heading forward.

  It was Sunday morning and rain that was lashing about the boy. In any other circumstance, he could have been excused for being out for a run had he not been dressed in a suit: a black blazer with a pure white cotton shirt underneath and a crimson tie. A red carnation tucked into his lapel, a triangular section of scarlet handkerchief hanging from his breast pocket and newly polished charcoal brogues. No one, he figured, would hesitate to question him.

  For this reason, as any other, he stopped at a disused factory entrance, stooping under the porch to shield himself from the rain. He was shivering and pulled his blazer tighter across his chest. He rubbed his hands up and down his sides to circulate the warmth and hid in a nook to cover himself from the sneaking tongue of the wind.

  Droplets of rain, mingled with the saline smudge of tears, slid of the end of his upturned nose and fell to his trousers. They left stains amongst the drying strikes of rain.

  He caught his breath as he waited. The burning in his throat was enough to deter him from running further. The arch, under which he stood, was an adequate marker of his stamina. He couldn't run any further. And, he believed that it was carefully placed for this exact moment when he would find himself running away from his mother.

  He slouched, panting, for a few moments before memory recalled him. A lurch from his stomach brought  an urge to dive for the vacant corner that he didn’t occupy and retch into it.

  The dry slime was as yellow as pollen and scattered the ground like it too, as though it was trying to reproduce. The boy straightened, gasping again. It was from the bellows of his stomach, this lurching, cramping pain. His cradled his abdomen beneath his belt and tried, with great might, to divert his attention to something fresh. The sticky smell of rain. The billowing wind. Isn’t that what his mother had always told him: something fresh?

  He heaved once more into the corner. 

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