I had been coughing on and off since the weekend. Allergies, I think. I went to a leaving party for some friend and I think the venue they held it in was also used for dog training. I came away wheezing and my lungs felt like a full vacuum cleaner bag. I’m still coughing now. The cold doesn’t help. I’ve wrapped up warm, though, like my mother always told me. In fact, I don’t think she ever told me that. Other people told me that. Other people still tell me that. I wonder why that is.
The coughing keeps me company as I walk into town, through the fetid streets and crowded alleys. The warmth of the shopping centre is a relief. I hate shops, but the shopping centre has its uses. Warmth is important in this day and age. I try to avoid eye contact with other humans. They scare me, for obvious reasons. There isn’t much left of humanity in humans nowadays. But I suppose I don’t need to tell you what you already know.
Since it is still quite early in the morning, few of the shops are open. I sense that a lot of the humans walking through town at this time are walking to their respective jobs. Sales assistants, till operators, technology propagandists. I am not walking to my job.
Amid the commercial neighbourhood, there is a video game shop full of explicitly violent entertainment to addict the youths and purposeless adults of today. Please do not think that I am being judgmental. Not at all. I feel I am just stating the reality of things. Do you agree? Well, I hope you do. Please agree. It is important to me. But what I wanted to tell you was about the youth I now see standing outside of the video game shop with a motorcycle helmet in his hand, slumped over like an arthritic octogenarian or a sedated chimpanzee. He is swaying back and forth taking small, angry steps at random intervals. I have slowed my pace because I cannot stop looking at this creature. I think he is human, but I cannot tell. One cannot be quick to judge in this day and age. He is swinging his helmet slowly and he raises his other hand, forming a fist, and beats gently on the metal shutters. It is either an act of distraction for himself or an attempt to encourage the shop to open. It is not a violent gesture. I think he is yearning for a fix. I am coughing again now and I focus back on my feet, head down. I am not sure if the creature looks at me as I walk past but I do not wish to dwell on that possibility.
I have to continue my walking. Yes, that is what I have come here to do. I will see if the creature is still in the same place when I complete my first circuit of the town and return to the same spot. I have to continue my walking. The other humans around me are all somnambulant but I am entirely aware. I know what I am doing here. I have to continue my walking. I have a fulfilling day ahead of me, walking. My friend enjoyed walking. People kept on saying he won’t be walking anymore. I didn’t understand why they were all so negative. They were all shaking their heads and crying at the party on the weekend. I think they may have been upset at the coffin that was at the party. I thought it was a lovely coffin.
I am now fully focussed on my walking. I keep near to the edge of the walkway because this is where I feel most comfortable. It is important that I am comfortable while I carry out my task for the day. Before long, I notice a pair of feet keeping in step with my own right next to me. They are shadowing me exactly. What game is this? I momentarily tear my eyes away from my feet. No, that is too violent an expression. I do not tear them. I smoothly redirect my gaze away from my feet towards the face that is walking next to me. (That’s better.) I see an old man, arthritic and slumped, with a fixed grin on his face; a wide grin that initially looks like the manifestation of joy, but is quickly revealed as a grimace. It may be rooted in pain, or it may be an attempt to convey evil. Absolute evil. I am staring evil in the face. I have seen this face before. It continues to stare. I continue to stare. But I keep walking. Light suddenly floods my eyes and the familiar face disappears. The parade of shops has come to an end and I am out in the open. No more glass shop fronts. No more reflection. The reflection has disappeared. It was a reflection. Of course it was. My back is sore. I look back at my feet. I cannot raise my head to look at anything else. I have to continue my walking.