Sunday Morning Walks
by Eric J. Krause
I loved walking on early Sunday mornings. I felt like I had the world to myself; no one wanted to move before eight or nine. Just me and the occasional other walker or jogger, whom I sometimes acknowledged and sometimes didn't. Depended on how groovin' the song playing on my iPod was. Or how crappy my week at work was shaping up to be.
That particular morning was bliss. I saw only one other walker, and she was on the other side of the street. I didn't need to play the ignore-or-say-hi game in my head. After her, no one else existed.
About halfway through my walk, I must've snapped fully awake. That or an inexplicable super mood hit me, overtaking my already good one. The world seemed bigger, brighter, in Technicolor. My shoes felt lighter, my legs springier, and my lungs stronger. I could walk all day. Even my iPod, loaded only with my favorite bands, played nothing but the absolute best songs. The only blight on the otherwise perfect morning was the sound of sirens wailing in the wind.
I stopped walking, but kept my legs and arms pumping for the sake of my heart rate. I looked back, but no sign of any police cruisers or fire trucks. Same with straight ahead. In fact, there were no vehicles at all.
Something up ahead, though, did catch my eye. If I was seeing clearly it was at the corner of my street, about a mile down. It made me think of a shimmering doorway, though I guessed it to actually be a full-length mirror catching the sunlight and other reflections at odd angles from this distance. A figure stood next to it, though I couldn't make out any details.
As I continued on, the sirens still pierced the morning air. At times they seemed right behind me, though I found no sign of their source. I turned up my music, but I couldn't mute their screaming voice.
The shimmering thing on my street corner captured my attention. The closer I got, the more it looked like a doorway. Maybe the person next to it was waiting for a delivery truck? But this early on a Sunday? And what could be causing that weird, swirly refraction of light? It couldn't be a normal mirror, if it was even a mirror at all.
The closer I got, I still had no answer. The man waved at me, and I saw he was nothing but skin and bones. I also noticed the sirens had stopped.
"You've arrived," he said in a voice that growled with disuse.
"Yeah," I said. "Just went for my Sunday morning walk." Before I could ask who he was, he pointed a bony finger behind me. I turned and gasped.
I was back at the halfway mark of my walk, looking down at paramedics fiddling with a dead body. Wait. My body. A car with a cracked windshield and dented hood sat half on the sidewalk and half in the street.
I turned back to the strange figure and even stranger doorway. We were again on my corner. I felt like I should be in pain, both physical and mental, but I wasn't. An air of ease, the same I'd felt the entire walk, stuck with me.
The figure said no more. He pointed to the doorway, and I nodded. The shimmering, swirling patterns were so pretty. I stepped forward.