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“The Cool Breeze”

02/22/2011

The Cool Breeze

By V.H. Isaac

The western side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington is not for the faint of heart. Residing amongst the musty trees demands powerful inner optimism; without it, one will find themselves lost in the never ending rain and clammy dampness which pervades the region. When it is not raining it is drizzling, when it is not drizzling then it is misting, and if it is none of those; why, then it is on the brink of them all. When, or if, the sun comes out over the course of a week, the pale inhabitants of Washington will crawl out of their damp places of abode to squint unseeing into the bright sunlight. Like creatures of the night, Washingtonians often forget what the sun looks or feels like during the long fall and winter months. In the summer we are always shocked by its presence, only to be dismayed in an oddly glad fashion as it dips breathe the ever present clouds for long term storage. With that in mind, I relate my narrative of the unique circumstances which took place on December 13th, 2008. December, notorious amongst the natives as the wettest, coldest month of the year, feels longer than all the other months combined. The oppressing black clouds and insidious rain have an effect on the mental state of Washingtonians. Such it was on that frigid day I took my dog on a walk in the late afternoon.

Upon leaving my house the smell immediately hit me. For those of you who have never smelled it, the best way I can relate it to you is that it is a stench of extreme sickliness. It is a foul combination of mould, decay, and other unknown horrors which permeates the bitter air with strength that is difficult to bear. The sogginess of the ground as it squished breathe my feet did not help to soothe my disgust. To be sure, I had gotten used to this climate, as I had lived there my entire life, but one can only adapt so much.

Soon I was walking down the gentle slope of 35th street. On my left lay the disgustingly morbid lake, which is surrounded by the expansive cemetery. I could hear the lapping of those filthy waters and tried not to imagine what kind of perverse bacteria and chemicals claimed homage there. In my youth we were told to stay away from that lake; the constant rain would drain through the hidden terrors lying beneath the earth in the cemetery and find its way into the lake. As the sun dipped beneath the dripping trees and the lake passed out of sight I began to hear a strange sound. I listened closer only to be perturbed at what I heard. It was quiet noise, almost a whisper, but a bit louder. The sound gently floated through the darkness, through the trees, the rain, and around the miserable shacks which were leaning against the mossy hills. As I walked, my dog’s hair began to lift in fear at the terrifying sound. He was looking up at me as he whimpered quietly, his large glossy eyes blinking in the gentle splattering rain. The ominous sound became more pronounced as I walked near a particularly disheveled and unpainted house. Finally, I discovered with a shudder the source of the noise; In front of the house stood a thin, weak looking black dog. Its greasy fur was matted and unkempt. I plodded along the sidewalk, and glanced a few times at the moaning dog. Spewing from that beaten animal was one of the most disturbingly shocking sounds I had ever heard in my life—a hoarse cry of absolute despair.

Even though I had my dog as a companion, the depressing nature of my surroundings put me in a peculiarly lonely mood. Around me was a terrible image of the night; a hauntingly strange place which existed in dizzying stupor. New sounds emerged as I neared another group of dilapidated homes. In the house to my left I could hear shouting, combined with the screaming of a baby. Then the hoarse bellowing of a low angry voice dominated all. The baby screamed louder, and the women shrieked more frantically. To my right lied a rickety black house which was being invaded by insidious moss. Green fur adorned the vast majority of the structure, which, adding to its inhospitable tarnished look made it seem uninhabited. However, this idea was quickly squashed as I saw a tall, lanky man huddling with his cigarette in front of the house. As I walked nearer to the man I could see him in more detail; he stood with his arms crossed high on his chest, bringing his hand up briefly for the occasional puff of toxic smoke. The oily smell of cheap cigarette smoke drifted through the rain, striking me with its putrid odor. His eyes flashed over to me with an eye of frantic desperation. I noticed that he was rocking quickly back and forward, and was muttering to himself in quick disjointed bursts. The rain slicked his black hair across his face, and his soaked clothes seemed like they were about to rot away into nothingness. I quickened my pace. I felt like I was walking through a nightmare, one seething with madness and horror. The tree’s themselves seemed to be staring at me in hauntingly. I wondered what unutterable things these trees must have seen over the course of their existence, what horrific mysteries they concealed in their looming depths, what forgotten perversions these trees must have seen as they stand locked in this dying world.

My dog, a yellow Labrador retriever, was whining consistently now. His once bright fur was now splattered in mud. I could see in his soft eyes a powerful desire to leave the wretched place that I roamed. Shutting my eyes I could see how this area used to look like when I was a kid. In the summers, fireflies would hum and race around in the gentle wind. The houses were strong and sturdy, not yet undone by the destructive dampness which makes even the strongest wood rot. Their energetic colors hadn’t peeled away; the moss hadn’t invaded yet. The roads were fresh and smooth, still back from being recently paved. Instead of disturbingly creepy, the fresh trees were young and happy. What happened? The world had decayed away into a decrepit pit, a shadow of its former self.

Soon I took a right and faced the cemetery in full. It was a massively frightful abyss of darkness. No light penetrated its foreboding depths. Behind me I could still hear the sounds of eerie chaos; it echoed past the rain and trees into the unknown. The cemetery was deathly still, the dead need not move as restlessly as the living. As I approached I could feed the chilling winds that swept across the open plains and rough hewn tombstones. I felt the weight of despair on me; around me lay nothing but darkness and rain. The sunless lake glittered in the pale light of the dark moon. Everything good was now lost; lost in the rain, the mould, and the unfathomable darkness. Suddenly, I heard a loud click. In the center of what was previously a black abyss stood a majestic statue, now lighted by massive lights. It was a statue I’d seen a million times, but never like this. There, surrounded by so much uncertainty and despair, stood a statue of Jesus Christ. He stood as stone, his hands stretched out to the world, as if to beckon them into his lingering embrace. I gazed in wonder, shaking from the pulsing energy clearly radiating from the statue. All fears faded into my mind. The soft pattering rain became pleasant; the foul odor became as fresh pine. I looked down at my dog to see his tail wagging gently in the cool breeze.

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From → Short Stories

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