Chapter 32: Paranoia
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It was silent in my small and bare apartment. I sat back on the couch, flipping through endless amounts of television stations, not a one interesting to me at all. Setting down the remote on the side of the couch next to me, I looked up at the clock.

“Five pm,” a hushed whisper came rolling from my lips.

What a boring ass night.

My feet landed on the hard wood floor as I attempted to stand up. Slowly I made my way to the kitchen, to the counter where a bottle of whiskey awaited. Leaning up against the hard surface, I quietly poured myself a shot and drank it at once.

“Psst... What a bunch of shit!”

I'd been helping my friend's band Signal Sky as a roadie for a few years now. As it was, unfortunately, they hadn't been given much of a chance to prove themselves as artists. Once the music industry changed, men wore pea-cocked hairdo's with about a can and a half of hairspray, eyeliner, and tight leather striped with all sorts of interesting designs. We weren't about to go down that route, but being this was Northern city, it was all the rage right now.

As a bustling suburb of Central, it was either one blended in with the crowd of yuppies or whatever, or be shunned. Since Signal Sky hadn't been able to pick up many gigs, so too did the money stop coming in.

Part time jobs were also hard to get here, especially with my long hair. It was the 80's damn it, not the roaring 50's... guys could have long hair. But not here. I'd tried putting in my application to a few places, convenience stores and fast food places, but haven't had any calls.

Things were really getting rough.

I poured myself another shot and gulped it down rapidly, taking a breath straight afterward to feel the burn of the alcohol hit my throat.

I looked back up at the clock. Fifteen minutes had past by. What the hell was I going to do tonight?

While pouring myself another shot, the phone rang loudly next to me.

“Yep?” I answered, sounding upset and weary.

“Michael.” I recognized the voice on the other end. “I think we need to talk.”

I stared into my shot glass, seeing her face in the swirling liquor... Amber. Damn, was she a dream catch. We went on a few dates; I tried my best to impress her. If only I could be a little bit more like them, the suit-wearing, slicked back hair, yuppies that ran around her. By the way her voice sounded, I could tell this wasn't going to be good.

I wondered if I could see my future within the booze. “Yes?”

My hand trembled as I scrambled for the pack of cigarettes that lay in front of me. Pulling out a smoke and lighting it, I allowed the smoke to overtake my lungs.

“Look, Michael, it's been nice. You're... you're a good guy and all, but...”

“You're breaking up with me, right?” I interrupted, letting out the exhale.

“And you're smoking again. You know I hate the smell.” She huffed. “It's not working out.”

“Y-yeah...” The word rumbled through my drunken lips.

Soon there was silence on the other end. I swirled around the liquor in the shot glass, looking through the spirals and almost down to the bottom of the glass. I took a drag from the cigarette, purposely blowing the smoke down to the glass. Had I hit bottom?

“Okay, well, I need to go. Maybe I'll see you around town sometime, yeah?” she said, the sound of her voice snapping me out of my daydream.


I hung up the phone, snuffed out the cigarette and shuffled back to the couch. Before laying back down, I took the last small swig of whiskey and clumsily dropped the glass to the floor. Crashing back down on the couch, the remote control underneath my back, I reached around to grab for it then began changing through the endless channels once more.

Hours past by. It was strangely quiet around the room.

I peeked out of sleepy eyes to see the channel I was on now nothing but black and white noise. I sat up immediately and looked up at the clock. One a.m.

My head pounded, stomach ached. I rubbed at my eyes to catch another look at the clock. Had I slept that long?

I dragged my tired body back up on my feet and stumbled back to the counter. The whiskey bottle sat emptied.

“What the...” I murmured. Had I drank it all?

I stood for a moment before catching a whiff of the odor coming from the opened trashcan. Stuffed with pizza boxes and scrapped food, it was a miracle I hadn't vomited from the stench. I covered my nose and briskly gathered up the full bag of debris to take downstairs.

Dizzy and nauseated, I weaved my way down the stairs and out the door to be greeted by the cool night air. I stopped a moment and took a breath. One foot after another, I eased my way to the dumpster.

It was then that he approached me. This man with snow white hair and eyes completely pale in color. He ran up to me as if he was to rob me.

I dropped the bag of trash to the ground and turned around to face him. “Who are you?” I choked out, my heart pounded up in my throat.

He babbled something however I was drowned out by the sudden sound of my own fear. The sound of my heart beat in my ears, the trembling through my legs, and up my spine. I gasped for air in attempt to soothe my fright and thought to allow him the pleasure to trample up to my apartment and take anything that caught his eye.

Yet before I could speak again, he swung his body around and held me tightly from behind. His hand cinched just below my chin to tip my head back. My legs felt as if they would give out. My body shook in his strong arms as he spoke again and yet, I still carried so much fear that I couldn't understand him.

“No, please no!” I whimpered.

“Tell me then, what is there in your life to live for?” I heard him mutter into my ear.

And the thought hit me. Was there anything left? The band thing was dead, there was no opportunities for me to get a job, and my damn girl just broke up with me. I'd been drowning in my sorrow by guzzling a bottle of booze more than once a day at times.

I hadn't understood it all until now. Depression grasped at my core and was pulling me down into the abyss. Something I'd never really experienced before until the last few months. Christ, what could I do to get out of this? What... what could I do to get away from him?

That's when my legs gave way and I crashed to my knees, taking the man with me. He still held on as tight as he could. His hand continued to tip my head back, almost placing me comfortably upon his shoulder.

“What have I done to deserve this?” I asked. If it truly was my time to die, I wanted to know exactly why now.

The man didn't answer. Instead, I felt a sharp pain radiating from my neck and down my spine. I cinched my eyes shut and prepared for death. Like the grim reaper himself lowering his scythe down, ready to take my soul.

My trembling stopped and I took one final breath of the cool air. And just then, my weak body was dropped to the ground and I peeked out to see his feet moving fast out of the alley.