It had been unusually cold. Not that it had mattered much, there had been enough clothing provided to keep warm and the marching – the endless marching was something you got accustomed to rather quickly – did its part in staving off the frigid air.
Still, it was unusual.
All this marching meant you had time to reflect on all the little things, moments and nuances in life that otherwise would have been drowned out by all the noise that accompanied any modern existence.
Looking back, not seeing what went on would have been a better option.
After three eerily cold nights and chilly days – despite the sun shining bright from a clear and uncluttered sky – there was no denying that something was wrong. Besides the strangely cold weather there was a creeping sensation that someone, or something, was following in our tracks.
At the dawn of the fourth day things took a turn for the worse.
It was as if the very friends you had traveled with for so long, people you knew and trusted, were consumed by the shadows as soon as you didn’t look straight at them. It was especially disturbing when you saw them in the corner of your eye. When you saw what became of them.
They would flutter in and out of existence, like a candle desperately trying to stay lit despite there being no wick left to fuel the flame, fear and agony all too well visible in their eyes.
Watching their presence shift between the known, conscious world and something otherworldly and surreal begins to claw away at your sanity.
“What happens to them when I turn my back? Where do they go, what do they become?”
It has been a long time since that fourth day, since that turn for the worse. Days became months, years, decades.
You grow used to always having someone watch you, no matter what you do — and having to watch others in return. We sleep in shifts, with at least two awake at any given time. Work is impossible. It is an impractical, exhausting existence.
Those of us that could not handle the uncertainty, those that willingly disappeared from out of sight, have not come back to share what fate has befallen them. We never expected them to.
I am growing old, and tired, but not as old and tired as my friends.
I am unsure as to the best course of action — to make sure I do not face whatever unholy evil that exists in that gap between the corporeal and the unseen by taking matters in my own hands… or wait for the others to fade and see what, if anything, awaits me.
As for now, I wait.