MicroHorror: Short Stories. Endless Nightmares.

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Color Comes in Snatches by Gwen Mayo
Autumn was my favorite time of year, snatches of gold, tangerine, and red. Cool, crisp images of color, flames of wood fires added warmth and the spice of rich brown cider. Color still comes in snatches, bits and pieces of red, red sweats, red blood, and red fire truck. Sometimes, for a long time, all I can see is red. When I start to see other colors I sit in the floor and rock as if the engine were still there. I bang my head against the wall until red flows hot behind my eyes and blocks out the gray and yellow bits of brain, and the faces of woman and child vanish.

I don't want to think about the faces. The faces show up in my dreams and I bolt upright in bed screaming. When the world is only red I don't have to see silver-white hair glistening in the morning sun. I don't look into the eyes of certain death. I don't hear the horn of my locomotive blasting or the sound of steel wheels on steel rails. Here where everything is red flashing crossing lights and red striped shirts the horror is distant, unreal. The horror flies up quickly, smacks me hard.

Her face makes it real. I don't know their names. I don't know what brought them to the rail crossing, the woman in her red jogging suit, the child on his red bike. Something inside me wants to know what made her stand there watching the train approach. What caused her to choose that moment- that way to die?

I don't want to think about the child, small fingers of his hand clutching the grated lower step of the locomotive. I almost stepped on those fingers dismounting the engine, almost stepped on that little hand... my head thumps the wall over and over again until thinking stops and the world turns warm and red again. I want to stay where it is warm and red forever.

Hot tears don't well in my eyes in the red place. I will myself to stay here where I don't feel the rocking train, or hear clicking steel wheels on steel rails. I will stay here forever. Then I won't feel the impact of that old woman in red, I won't see her blood spatter on my window, or drown in the fear in that little boy's eyes.

Copyright © 2006 Gwen Mayo