tales [ short-story seus ]

A Stroll Through Cathedral Park

Phillip obambulated through Cathedral Park, the warm night air washing over him. He was alone, but he preferred it this way. Exploring the dark monuments was a favorite activity on nights his insomnia gripped him tightly. Threading through the towering arches the air felt different tonight. It felt charged, almost electric.

He stepped from the safety of the lamplight and under an arch, descending the tunnel of stairs by memory. Phillip had work in the morning and moved hastily to shorten his visit. He stepped down and his stomach dropped, foot landing crooked and rolling under his weight. He tumbled down the steps.

Phillip landed on the hard stone, shocked and confused. Shapes floating before him, blooming gorgeously in and out of focus. His head pulsed and he rubbed his eyes to make them limpid once again. Pushing himself up, he scanned to make sure nobody had seen. In the distance beyond the path a shape moved and quickly hid from sight. Have to watch for the dog he told himself. Avoidable, but still somewhat territorial.

He limped through the park, peering at his surroundings as he went. They seemed different. Maybe the concussion was worse than I thought. On the surface, it appeared similar, but small details were out of place: lamps cast a dim flickering light onto the path, slabs in the path weren’t laid flat, and trash stuck in the untrimmed shrubs. The air hummed around him eerily. Another shadow moved in the corner of his eye. He turned his head sharply, watching it hesitate before retreating behind a sculpture.

Who was that, were they following? Phillip’s pace quickened and he stumbled over a loose tile in the path. He glanced back and the creature stood in the lamplight watching his retreat. Its pale naked body, lacking any distinct details, towered over the lamp post. Its face seemed to blur as it stared.

Phillip looked ahead and skidded to a stop. Where the path had just been now stood a massive stone monolith. Am I losing my mind? He could feel panic start to bubble up in the back of his mind. Confused, he moved around the obstacle and continued down the path. Something was deeply wrong tonight. He had to get home.

Following the path around a curve, he saw the exit. He sped up, trying to get out of this cursed park as quickly as possible. He couldn’t look away—couldn’t blink lest space might again warp around him.

The path stretched and narrowed in front of him pulling his exit further and further. He ran now, ankle be damned, feet slamming against the path and propelling him forward. Benches occupied the entire width fo the path, forcing him to dodge to the side several times.

At last, he passed through the steel gate. He held his hands to his eyes in an attempt to quell his splitting headache as much as to push the panic back. When he uncovered he saw that he no longer stood in the street, but back to his starting point under the dim lamplight at the foot of the stairs.

More beings crept from the darkness around him, at first crawling before rising to look down at him. They made no sound, their ominous faces giving off a dominating aura. They moved slowly toward him.

Frozen, Phillip screamed at his body to move, to do anything but stand in their presence. He willed his feet to turn and fled up the stairs two at a time. His ankle pulsed in agony. He stepped back into the safety of the light, again solid and brilliant. Trying to catch his breath he leaned, putting his hands on his knees to steady himself. A glance through the dark tunnel revealed what he had hoped. He had not been followed, he was alone.

Originally posted on /r/WritingPrompts SEUS thread