He was kind enough to help me.
Few people around here are these days.
Perhaps it was the air in this town that convinced him, or…perhaps it was something else all together. I can’t even begin to ponder the thoughts of such a mysterious character.
I was dying, and I’m certain that he knew it.
Despite my efforts to hide the fact, I suspect that he could look at me and tell.
I was frightened at first; a fear that turned into utter terror before the episode played itself out.
It seemed that my presence in the elevator violently upset the man. Something was wrong. We both knew it. I had no idea of the horror that was waiting for us outside.
I have to admit that my faults have proven to be fatal. Every day at precisely eight P.M. I made a habit of grabbing my old walking cane, and heading down to the lobby for a smoke. And, everyday, like clockwork, he would be in the elevator, riding it down from one of the higher floors.
He would glance at me with his wispy blue eyes, but his stare never lingered; at least until tonight.
Tonight was different.
He usually seemed so lonely to me; so sad. I couldn’t recall ever seeing him in the presence of any young ladies, even though he was handsome and quite well built. During none of our brief encounters did the man ever speak to me. I assumed that he didn’t have anything worthwhile saying to an old woman like me.
You can imagine how startled I was this evening when he spoke.
“How are you?” he asked.
A bit startled, I turned to look at him. He was propped up in the corner of the elevator, staring straight ahead.
I fumbled with my words a bit, but managed a weak reply, “I’m fine I suppose.”
His breathing changed. He slowly looked down to the floor, and closed his eyes. He began trembling.
Through clenched teeth he muttered, “are you sure?”
His muscles trembled, and he re-adjusted the backpack he was wearing. Shifting from one foot to the other, he turned to look directly into my eyes…”Are you sure?”
A tear rolled down his cheek when he asked me the second time. He was visibly disturbed by something, and as I watched his eyes, I began to be frightened.
With a loud grunt, he turned and punched the wall.
I jumped. The resounding crash echoed through the elevator.
“My God, what’s wrong?” I cried, as I squeezed myself as far into the back corner of the elevator as I could.
“I’m NOT your God” he responded.
Suddenly, our ride ended, the bell tolled, and the doors opened to the first floor. Instinctively I tried to quickly slip by him, and out into the lobby, where I hoped for the presence of others.
He reached out and grabbed my arm, right above the elbow. Grabbed it, as if his very life depended on it!
I was completely helpless, and terrified. This man was obviously insane, and meant to do me harm.
His nostrils flared, and his eyes rolled back into his head. He began breathing really hard, as if he was running at a full sprint.
The skin on my arm began to burn underneath his hand! I struggled but couldn’t get away. I began to cry.
Then he screamed. A long, loud scream of torment, and I felt something inside of me jerk. It was as if there was a rope tied around my lungs, and someone was pulling straight up on it.
I was certain of my own death. At seventy five years old, my heart had seen its fair share of excitement, and I knew that it wouldn’t be able to handle much more of this.
Rip, rip, rip, the pain in my chest intensified. I screamed…”Dear Jesus please help me!”
Then suddenly, the pain was gone.
The man fell silent, released his grip on my arm, and dropped to his knees.
Something had happened to me! Something was different. That much I knew.
He crawled forward out of the elevator. “Gotta move…” he stammered, his breath coming in short gasps.
“GO!!” he yelled.
I was still in a little shock, but somehow my feet began to move. I half stumbled, half ran out of the doorway to the veranda outside. I could hear him yelling something at my back, but I didn’t comprehend it.
It was a beautiful summer night, the crickets were softly chirping in the distance and the moon was shining brightly. There was a soft breeze that blew through the small forest across the back lot of our apartment.
The danger I was in quickly banished my awe of the night, and I frantically began looking around for another person! In the struggle, I had dropped my cane, but I didn’t realize this until much later; I didn’t need it anymore.
The door crashed open behind me, and he was there; holding it open with one hand, and holding his bag with the other.
“Listen, you’ve GOT to come inside NOW!” he said, in a visibly calmer voice.
“I really apologize for startling you, but it’s not safe out here right now.”
“What did you do to me?” I asked.
“There isn’t any time to explain, you HAVE to get inside or you’ll die!”
I didn’t notice, but the crickets had stopped chirping. A coldness crept across my heart, just as a shadow flickered by the face of our apartment. Something was out there.
“What was that?”
“Come inside!” he demanded.
I hesitated, too afraid to move or think.
“Ahh jeeze,” he said, and let the door close behind him. He threw down his bag, and unzipped it.
“You might not want to watch this,” he said to me in a matter of fact tone.
“You see, cancer isn’t as bad as most folks make it out to be,” he explained as he pulled a long cylindrical object from the bag.
“I mean, don’t get me wrong. Cancers usually are dirty little suckers, but not as bad as some things.”
He chuckled a bit, which disturbed me.
He gently unwrapped the object, revealing a long, sheathed samaurai sword. He flashed me a warm grin then pulled the blade out in one quick motion.
“You see,” he explained, “sometimes in this world, there are people, (or entities you might call them) that don’t like to play by the rules.” He whipped the sword through the air a few times, then continued.
“They illegally manipulate events. When this happens, restitution must be made. Lex Taliones Ms. Henderson!”
How he knew my name, I had no clue, and I was focusing more on the sword in his hand than I was his words. I watched as he removed his shirt, revealing a sleeveless under-shirt.
“Yes ma’am, restitution must be made.”
“What did you do to me?” I asked again.
“The darkness inside you must be accounted for by somebody Ms. Henderson. I just made sure that it is me who does the accounting instead of you. This way, it will be a fair fight.”
Just then, a long howl arose from the woods.
“You’re the DEVIL!” I cried!
“No ma’am, I’m just a human like you.”
His eyes seemed kind, and his tone was level, but I was still frightened.
“I don’t believe you,” I said!
“Have you ever had to watch a loved one die Ms. Henderson? I have. I watched the only woman I ever loved slip right through my fingers. Why God would allow such a thing, I’ll never know this side of paradise; but what I DO know is that you had better be careful what you pray for!
I watched her die slowly, day by day. Nothing I could do would stop it. I wished frantically that I could reach inside of her, pull the tumor out and kill it! I wanted to give her her life back…she was so beautiful. The greatest thing that ever happened to me.
But the law is the law Ms. Henderson, and restitution must be made.
He kicked his bag out of the way, swung open the door, and motioned to me with his sword.
“Please, go back to your room, and for goodness sakes, throw away all those cigarettes!”
His grin suddenly faded as his eyes focused on something behind me. I heard swift motion in the parking lot, as if an elephant were charging directly at us.
He grabbed me, and throwing his shirt around my head, shoved me through the door. I stumbled, barely keeping myself from falling. The door slammed shut and I heard a terrible shriek. It sounded as if it came from the very pits of Hell!
All became deadly quiet.
I tried to hold my breath so as not to make any extra noise.
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.
SLAM!!!!!!! The door jerked.
I froze, not even able to breathe.
SLAM!!!!!!! The door jerked again, as if it would come completely off of its hinges.
SLAM!!!!! Then that terrible screech again.
I admit that I burst into tears at this point. I picked myself up, and ran for the elevator, covering my ears to keep from hearing that terrible cry.
The cry stopped, suddenly short of breath. I heard the sounds of struggle, then the thing let out a hideous, rage filled growl.
Again, more struggling.
I heard one final shriek, an agony filled cry of defeat, just as the elevator door closed shut.
Restitution had been made.
I never saw the man again, but I know he helped me.
He was a nice young man.