This day was just like another. It was a ceaseless parade of beratements, sadness, and clueless emptiness. That was at least the way Matt felt, and he had stood it just about as long as he wanted. So he took action. For the first time in his miserable life he knew exactly what to do.
The Manchester building was 43 stories high. That had always seemed odd to him, but on this day he pondered little about such trivially natured matters. All he did was climb.
Up 43 flights of stares he went one lonely step at a time. The roof was where his trip ended. He slammed the large metal door behind him, bracing it shut with a large steel pipe. On this day he didn't want any distractions, and he definitely didn't want any interruptions. His mind was cleared and focused for once in his life. He didn't want it muddled by anything. For once his thoughts had to be as sharp as a razor.
Just this once he wanted to be sure. He had to be sure. So he stood, teetering on the edge of the Manchester building waiting for an answer. Waiting for some divine intervention.
Then he heard a string of curse words. " You damn fool, what in the hell do you think that you are doing up here," he heard a voice behind him say. He didn't look back. Matt said, "Go away, man. Or I'll jump."
"Go ahead. Remember though that a plastic bag full of mush isn't a pretty sight at a visitation, but on the upside your funeral will be cheap," the voice replied.
"Go away," Matt screamed. He rubbed his face slowly as he tried getting the guts to do it. "Who are you?" he asked the voice behind him.
"They call me Gabe. I'm a homicide detective," he said.
"Homicide," Matt laughed. "This is a suicide. Are you retarded or what?"
"It'll be a homicide if I throw your ass off this building," Gabe commented. "The report will be a lot easier to write." Then he laughed. Gabe was like that-short and to the point. What he lacked in social graces he more than made up for in directness.
"Just go away!" Matt screamed. "This is what always happens-it starts out simple and easy, and then some jerk has to come in and throw a monkey wrench into the works. A straight plan goes zigzag. Thanks a lot! It must be my karma."
"Karma?" Gabe jokingly asked, "Karma is what those onlookers down there will be scraping off of the bottom of their shoes for the next three days after you jump from that ledge."
"Oh, shut up," Matt commanded Gabe.
"Spot, spot, oh damnable spot," Gabe replied. "A spot, well actually several, is all that you'll be after impact. The coroner will bring in the wet/dry vacuum. After that, he'll use a razor blade to scrape up what he can. But after about 20 minutes he'll be sick and tired of that, and he'll leave the rest for the carrion and the rain. Before he leaves, though, he'll paint a big red circle around the impact area, labeling it something like '98A7.' Do you know what that stands for?"
Matt shrugged his shoulders, and then Gabe continued, "Well, the '98' of course designates the year that you died. The 'A' says that you were a male, and finally the '7' states that you were the seventh for the year. That little tag will be the last record that will ever be taken about you. So much for happy endings.
Spectators, I hate them!" Gabe growled as he stared down over the edge at the crowd that had gathered below. Their morbid curiosity had drawn them to this building like flies to a rotting carcass. They could hardly wait for the finale to this grand spectacle. There was nothing like thoughts of blood to stir the hearts of man.
"Go ahead and jump, boy. That's what those pathetic examples of humanity are here to see. Go on! Make their useless lives seem like something better than what they are. Show them that there is someone even more pathetic than they are. C'mon, thrill me."
Matt did nothing but stand there like a statue. His resolve was beginning to falter. It was only a matter of time.
The sun had drifted below the horizon to the distant west, and darkness was now consuming the sky. It was twilight, and in these brief moments of dimness the streetlights had not yet lit. The night had finally come.
Matt said, "My life sucks."
"Yeah, your's and about 6.5 billion others as well. Get over it, kid," Gabe said.
There was only silence. In a matter of an instant Matt was gone, over the edge.
"Stupid kid!" Gabe roared and he followed right behind him. They both fell through the air drawing closer and closer to the cold, black earth. It was far too dark for the onlookers to see, but in those brief moments something happened. Gabe's body took a new form-changing from a man to a murder of crows.
Within the darkness Matt fell, and the crows descended to meet him. Soon the murder was upon him, enveloping him like a mist. The crows struggled to break his wait against the fall. In a matter of what seemed like seconds the cloud of crows glided down, gently dropping Matt's body onto the pavement. His clothes were torn, and his skin was covered with welts and scrapes but he was little worse off for the experience.
After dropping their load, the crows returned to the darkness of the night sky. Within the blackness they became invisible. Few of the onlookers even saw them.
Matt's miraculous salvation was attributed to a freak wind gust. Others felt that it had all been a stunt that had been staged for publicity. Only Matt knew what had really happened.
Miles from the scene, in the back of a dark alley, descended the murder of crows. In the darkness they changed forms again, this time taking the shape of a large man. His eyes glowed like the flames of a dying fire, and from behind his back unfolded a pair of black wings. He walked towards the back end of the alley.
Speaking aloud he said, "One more chance," in a monstrous voice. "One more chance." Then shadows stretched out before him, unfolding like a puzzlebox. He stepped into the shadows. They consumed his form and he faded away within their darkness. The gate closed, and the shadows returned to normal.
Written by W.B. Vogel.
Copyright © 1998 A.D.
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created by W.B. Vogel.
November 2001. A.D.