Eddie Danton stood at the crosswalk and watched himself die.
He’d never seen someone get hit by a car before. In the movies, sure—all the time—but never in the real world. Never six feet from where he stood, his one foot on the sidewalk corner and the other hovering in shocked hesitation above the ice-slick street. It all happened in the space of a step. The silver car braking too late. The skidding crunch of tires gliding over a sheet of gravel and dirty ice. The impact—a dull smack-and-snap as the pedestrian’s head caromed off the hood of the car. The body sliding up over the windshield before collapsing in a heap on the street. After that, the memories were fuzzy. Eddie brought his still-suspended foot back onto the sidewalk.
He tried to recall the past few seconds, but he couldn’t help staring at that pancaked hunk of human roadkill. It seemed to fill every inch of his vision, floating in the peripheral, whether he looked away or directly at it. A pulpy mess of dirt and blood, its jutting limbs curled and bent in alien places. More insect than man. In the movies, bodies always looked so peaceful. This one had a jaw lodged halfway into its throat. The teeth could be anywhere now. The nose had vanished, flattened into a mess of red, a permanent blush. And the eyes—so round their lids seemed tucked behind them. Flakes of silver paint shimmered somewhere on the scalp. Eddie never would have thought a human skull could chip the paint off a car. And those limbs, reaching everywhere, nowhere.
But what unnerved him the most was the man’s clothes. Charcoal suit, blue button-down shirt (purple where it was now soaked), black loafers, argyle socks, no tie—he hated ties. Eddie did, that is. He had no idea what the pancake man thought about ties. But they must have had similar tastes in fashion because Eddie wore the exact same outfit.
The face was unrecognizable, of course. The man’s bloody cheek was plastered to the icy street, the eyes screaming “Not yet, not yet.” Those eyes—weathered denim blue, the same shade as Eddie’s. But no—they weren’t his eyes. They belonged to this uncanny… thing—this thing that wasn’t a who anymore. Just a broken toy on the side of the road. A shattered beer bottle. A flattened box.
Eddie turned his back on the body. Someone else would give a statement—he had no time for it. It sounded awful, but he couldn’t help anyone now. Oh, she would probably understand if he called. But his feet were already moving and before he gave it a second thought he was down the road at the next crosswalk. Dimly, he wondered if he was in shock. What were the symptoms of being shocked? In shock. Can a person who is in shock walk? Walk. Shock. Down the block.
He crossed the street at the next set of lights. Time was gone. It always was, and is, and isn’t. The smack-and-snap of the man hitting the car echoed. He heard honking near and far. Everywhere and nowhere, like applauding crickets. And, silence. Sometimes, just silence. When Eddie crossed the road, he could see cars flying toward him, passing through him. They were driving and they were stopped. No wonder—both the red and green were lit together. The yellow, too. Despite the traffic, Eddie could not bring himself to hurry. A part of him knew he was hallucinating, but he kept an even pace, a well-rehearsed stroll to the other end of the street. No different from the hundreds, the thousands of other streets he had crossed. He relied on habit. Muscle memory.
When he reached the other side, he gasped and fell to his knees. He had to remember to breathe. He had to remember to keep his heart beating. He had to remember that he existed, that he was present, that he was real. He had to remember to feel the impact of his knees crashing into the sidewalk. He had to remember to feel pain. To feel cold, outside in the winter, with his knees on the snow-dusted cement. One at a time, he remembered. And then he remembered her.
He picked himself up and kept going. One more block, he repeated to himself as the memories rushed through him, around him, over him, under him. More memories than he ever knew, but something was missing. Not a memory—a feeling. What feeling?
No. No time. She was waiting.
Day 353’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Worldmind,” “Gonzo,” and, “Death.”
There’s potential here…