WWC 124: Contingent Aberration

Cover Image

Rain thrummed ceaselessly against windshield and side windows. Hurried droplets, running down the cool, fogging glass to join growing puddles on cracky tarmac, were faintly illuminated from dim street lamp light above. Every now and then they glistened with lightning or headlight, more vehicles joining the line every few minutes, lights soon dying, clearing night's black stage for the next source of white, reflecting off the rain glaringly against the dark. Thunder rumbled not too far away and a sudden gust of wind, stronger than before, threw the rainfall inexorably sideways against the windows, patter louder now, closer to his ear. Brennan watched. And he watched moths tumble through the billowing curtains of water, blown away from the lamp they danced around. He tried to concentrate on the nightly scene, nature's play of light and shadow, willing his thoughts to remain silent.

The task grew harder with every passing second, the ticking watch at his wrist mocking his effort louder with the hand's every step. Time passed by and left him waiting. Waiting for the ferry, to cross the river and continue on his way home. Home where nothing was waiting anymore. Thoughts wandering again, he found himself aimlessly traipsing through pictures and emotions, a night stroll down memory lane. For a moment he felt rain on his skin, wetness and cold of the night he shambled through.

But the liquid coating his frigid hands was warm, not rain at all. His eyes, blinking through a wet haze, refocused on the car shielding him from the weather. He willed the hot rivulets leaking from his eyes to recede and then grabbled for the radio, searching for distraction of any kind. But it still declined him any sound that could stifle his roaring inner turmoil, refused to function. He should have had it repaired before a trip this long.

Suddenly something slapped against the windshield, right at eye height. A moth, drenched and windswept, thrown against the glass were it now stuck, dying slowly. Blinded by light it had flown into the artificial flame but didn't burn, drowned instead. It was soon washed away, down into a sea of puddles. Brennan averted his gaze, and once again memories crushed down on his mind, fast-forwarding in front of his inner eye. His wife, his daughter, the dog Tara had fished out of a trash can, drinks with his colleagues, Christmas parties, this huge project he had been assigned to that could have made his career. And there it was. This one sentence he had said. When he first met him. This inept but innocuous comment he wouldn't have made if he hadn't had too much wine that evening. One glass wine, one erring phrase that provoked, that called forth the monster hiding in the outwardly ordinary man and had ultimately broken through months later. If he hadn't been drinking, if he had left earlier like his wife had asked him to... One little apparently insignificant decision made differently and nothing of the calamity would have happened.

Someone honked the horn in the long line of cars behind him, startling Brennan out of his reverie. His hands, colder than before, were wet and tensed white, strained around the steering wheel. His face too, where it had rested against them, was damp. Again someone tooted impatiently. Hastily he rubbed his face dry with a sleeve and started the car to make his way onto the ferry. The line in front of him had already dissolved. For the rest of the tour there was only one thought on his mind.

Just one little apparently insignificant decision made differently and he weren't on his way to an empty place.

Created: Apr 25, 2017


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