David knew he really had no choice but to follow through with what the spirit said, but the gravity of it all was overwhelming.
“Do it.” The words echoed through his mind, flowing and ebbing with a throb.
The gun in his hand was shaking slightly. He fought to regain control over his hand again, knowing, if he just pulled the trigger, this would all be over.
The man before him was shaking as well, with tears flowing down his dirty face. David wondered if his knees were bleeding from the concrete below them.
The week started out like any other for David. he got up early to go to work, sitting in his little cubicle as any of the other hundred proles surrounding him did. The data flowing through his fingers into the computer system was no different than it always was.
The fact the medical industry was as bulbous and overreaching as it was ensured he would have a job for many years to come.
His day took a turn, though, when, one the way home, he stopped in his tracks at the window of a pawn shop.
Never before had David ever even considered buying a gun. Indeed, he did not like the idea of them existing at all, let alone harboring any subconscious thoughts that he needed one.
Yet, as he looked at this one in the display window at the front of the building, he could not help but acknowledge its beauty, as it sat in a small felt-lined box. The cold edges of it shone in the sunlight as it streamed through the pane of glass, sparkles reflecting into his eyes.
It was old, as evidenced by the way it was made, as was the box it rested in. How old, David could not tell, but, regardless, he knew it would be deadly in the right – or wrong – hands.
Five minutes passed as he stood there watching the machine of death in the window. Another two passed before he set his feet into motion and walked through the door.
The process of buying it was easy and completed before David even realized what he was doing. He was already going back through the door before he stopped himself, staring down into the brown bag he held in his hands and looked at the wood of the box straddled within.
He knew he should turn around and return the item to the shop he had just walked from, but something inside caused him to stay his course.
As soon as he walked through his front door, he sat the bag with the box on the coffee table in front of his couch and collapsed into his seat. The exhaustion which he felt was abnormal; even working an extended shift never left him so jet-lagged.
He stared at the bag for some time, wondering exactly why he brought it home. It was so unlike his normal state of being. He was not a spontaneous man, preferring to keep himself as organized as he could, with little left to chance. His desire to keep his life as pre-planned and the opportunity for change was so strong, it was one of the reasons he had remained single for most of his adult life.
Yet, here he was, sitting on his couch with a bag from a pawn shop before him, containing a gun he would have never wanted to own, and he could explain none of it, even to his darkest, most secretive part of his soul.
He leaned forward, pulling the top of the bag open; removing the box from the bag was easy, though it was a little heavy to do one-handed. The box thumped to the lacquered finish of the table, and he set the bag aside.
The wood grain of the box was rough. Only the age of it gave it any sense of a soft finish. David thought if he touched it in the wrong way, the edges of the grain would splinter away and gouge into his fingers.
Only a small latch kept it closed tightly, which David unhooked. A small, thin shriek of the tiny hinges came to his ears as he pried open the box, and he let the lid slap down to the table behind the bottom of the box.
The black felt of the interior absorbed all light which hit it, leaving only the gun, resting inside, to have the honor of being central in his vision.
David sat back on the couch, keeping his eyes on the gun. It was a large caliber revolver, and, according to the owner of the pawn shop, who exuberantly droned on about the nature of the pistol, it was well over seventy years old. There were six bullets embedded in the felt, each given its own place to rest until the moment they would be used.
It had, according to the owner, not been fired in a long time, but was still in perfect working order.
David felt nervous even having it in his home, but again felt an uncontrollable urge to keep it close by. This did not even surprise him as much as the shock which grew inside as he reached out to grasp the pistol.
He pulled it from the box, and, as he held it in his hand, he twisted it side-to-side, looking at it in the dim light of his living room. Small glowing pools of reflected light entered his vision, shining from the rounded, dark metal. He wondered if the weight of it was due to the gun itself, or the way he felt about it as he held it before him.
The voice echoed across his mind, subtle but clear.
David dropped the gun; he heard it clatter onto the table as he jumped up and looked around.
He could see nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing was out of place and no one was there.
“Wh… Who’s there?” David stammered, every nerve on edge.
After a few moments, he thought it must have been a figment of his imagination and walked to the kitchen. He poured a glass of wine and drank deeply from it, letting the smooth warmth of it flow through him and ease his tension.
When he sat back down on the couch, he started to reach for the gun, intending to slip it back into its box and hide it away somewhere until he could figure out what else to do with it.
“Find him. You must.”
The voice came again, this time stronger and David stopped all of his movement.
“Who’s there?” David demanded again, listening closely. His already frayed nerves were ready to break.
“Do it. Do it now.” The voice was a deep and distinctly male.
David jumped up again, rushing to the door to check the lock. It was solid and undisturbed.
His bedroom was empty, as was the bathroom and kitchen.
No one was there but David, himself. His fear grew as the moments passed, but he could find no explanation for the voice.
When he returned to the living room, his eyes were drawn once again to the gun, sitting where it had fallen from his hands. He stepped to the table and picked it up, hefting its cold metal in his palm as he glanced around again, searching for anything he could find to explain what was going on.
The voice was even stronger as it said, “Do it.”
His grip tightened on the handle of the pistol. “Who are you? What do you want? Where are you?”
“You must find him.” An electric tingle ran through his wrist, running up through his arm. He felt his fingers react to it, pulsing ever so slightly as it coursed through his arm, pulling the trigger back.
His vision shifted, a tunneling of darkness overwhelming his sense of sight, to be replaced by a jumbled scene of concrete darkened by rain as a man knelt before him. The dirty wall of a building was behind the man, with ripped posters and playbills hung almost willy-nilly around.
David could still see the pistol, held out before him, but the arm was not his own; a black jacket covered it, and looked like nothing he had ever owned. He could see the hand, as well, was not his own. This hand was so large it made the pistol look small in comparison.
“Please don’t,” said the kneeling man. It was the same voice David heard moments before.
He heard a laugh come from his chest, though it, too, was disconnected from him, somehow.
The tingle ran through his arm again.
The click of the hammer as it rose and crashed back down met his ears and, as the darkness lifted from his sight, the loud echo of the gunshot struck him in a wave.
“Find him. You must.” The voice, once again, ran through his mind, as sure and clear as it had been in the vision.
He dropped the gun; this time it landed on the carpet with a soft thud and bounced slightly, coming to rest near one of the legs of the coffee table.
His arm ached. He used his other hand to rub at it softly, trying to spread away the dull throb existing there, as he tried to process what had happened.
David was not a man given to flights of fantasy or imagination. He had never even been a daydreamer when he was a kid, preferring to keep himself away from the ones who were.
He was absolutely sure what just happened could not have been real, but was just as absolutely sure it was.
He knew, whatever it was, he could not let happen again.
His first thought was to pick up the gun and throw it in the trash, but he also did not want some poor kid finding it and take it home. he did not want to be responsible for whatever consequences might come from such a thing.
He also knew, though, he could not keep the thing around.
He bent to pick it up, to place it back in the box and call someone about it the next day. Maybe Bryan could take it. he always liked guns and could probably find better use for it than to just have it sit in David’s closet for the rest of time.
He touched the gun at the barrel, and drew his hand back immediately, grasping his fingers in his other hand. It was hot enough to instantly burn him.
He stared at his fingers, however, and saw no reddening of the skin. There was no discernible difference between his two hands.
Yet, it was hot as if it had just been fired.
“What is happening?” David called out again, a keen edge of desperation tinging his voice. Deep fear and confusion ran throughout his body, bathing him in cold sweat.
“Find him.” The voice was more insistent. “You must.”
He stood again, beginning to feel crazed. “Who?” he shouted into the air around him. “Find who?”
The electrical sensation began in his feet and worked its way through the rest of his left side quickly, overwhelming his muscles. Before he could fight against it or move, he was on his knees, falling forward. He stopped just short of thwacking his head into the table by pushing out his arms, catching himself by his hands.
His eyes caught the barrel of the gun and his vision faded again, zoning down to only the end of the weapon. It lifted into the air and his eyes followed it up, staring deeply into the shadowed interior.
The rest of his vision came back in a wash of rain; the cold air and soaking clothing he wore clawed the warmth from him in a heartbeat, but his fear overpowered it as the man held the gun before him.
He could feel the words coming from his lungs, though the voice which spoke was not his own.
“Please, don’t.” His eyes were still locked on the pistol, but he could make out some of the features of the man holding it. His long, lank hair was darkened by the rain and his face, dirt covered and pock-marked as it was, was somewhat indistinct.
His teeth, though, were white as he smiled, a small laugh escaping from his lips.
His adrenaline rose as David saw a small twitch in the finger of the man holding the gun, and then all went black, as a horrendous blast of pain struck his head. He fell backward, closing his eyes as the back of his skull flew away, carrying with it all of his existence.
The pain faded swiftly, however, as he became aware of the carpet beneath him. He wondered if the deafness he now seemed to be experiencing was merely psychological or a result of an actual shot of the gun.
When he opened his eyes and looked at the table, however, he saw the pistol still laying in the spot he had dropped it in, looking innocuous and innocent.
He tried to pick himself back up, to stand and walk away from the apartment altogether. Whatever was happening, he had to get away from it all.
An exhaustion the likes of which he had never before experienced, however, burned its way through his being and he collapsed to the floor, closing his eyes once more.
As he slipped into unconsciousness, he heard the voice, once again insistently pushing at him.
“Find him. you must.”
After four days, David was becoming desperate, wanting the torment to end.
Over and over again, he experienced visions of the man with the gun and his victim, a shadow play echoing again and again, taking control of his senses, his emotions, his very being.
He tried to leave the apartment and could not. The persistent spirit, whoever he was, would not leave him be.
That was one thing David was sure of. Somehow, some way, he had become haunted; likely, whoever or whatever it was had become a part of the gun and David had somehow unlocked the door to let it out.
He could barely eat and any sleep he was able to manage was only through sheer exhaustion, after the visions came for hour upon hour.
The nightmare would not end.
He knew, deep down, the only way to end this was to do as the spirit demanded. He would have to find the one responsible for it all.
When he admitted it to himself, he realized he hated the man, not just for doing what the spirit claimed he had, but for putting David into the position he had found himself in.
What had David ever done to deserve any of this? He had lived a good life, overall. he had never bothered anyone and kept himself clean. He’d never been one to hurt anyone.
Yet, because of what the man had done to the other, he now knew he would have no choice but to cause not just harm, but the termination, of another person.
The change in the chant the spirit had tormented David with for days was almost immediate, when David finally said, “I will do it.”
“Come. Come!” The spirit’s voice and anticipation was clear as it flowed into his mind.
David hefted the gun from the table, swinging the chamber open. One by one, the bullets resting in the felt box took their place. He slammed the chambering mechanism shut, made sure the safety was on, and slipped on his jacket, sliding the gun into the right hand pocket.
when he closed the door behind him, he felt an impetus to move, a pushing at his muscles, forcing him forward.
For hours, David walked, kept on a path by the spirit guiding him on. He eventually became so lost within a part of the city he had never been to that he did not know how he would find his way back home, but it did not matter. The spirit was in control.
David could only hope it would all be over and done with soon. The air was biting, even through the thick jacket he wore.
A series of back alleys was next, taking him even deeper into a part of town he knew he should never go. His fear, however, was pushed down by the thought of the past days torments. Nothing he experienced could compare to the horror show he had witnessed.
“There.” The voice in his head felt almost as cold as the wind.
He felt a release of tension in himself as the spirit loosed him from its grip. He stared down the alley he had been brought to, trying to discern whatever was going on.
It was a dim place, the light from the streets mostly blocked out by the buildings around each side. The walls were mostly brick and mortar, with trash everywhere along the concrete.
At the end, near a doorway leading into one of the buildings, David could see a figure, just stepping away from the entry.
Though he was bone weary, David ran forward, pulling the gun from his pocket as he did. The man had not noticed David’s approach, at least until David reached only feet away.
“Wha-?” he exclaimed as David knocked into him. The breath huffed out of him swiftly as he went back against the wall, then fell forward o his knees. David could smell old beer and vomit on his breath.
He stared into the man’s eyes as he knelt. The man was trying to regain his feet, but was apparently too drunk to do anything coherent. However, the look on his face was enough for David to confirm this was, indeed, the same man from his visions. The same dark, lank hair spread from his pate and the teeth, white and even, the only clean things about him.
David unset the safety on the gun and held it out in front of him, staring into the man’s face as he tried to bring up the courage to go through with what he knew must be done.
“Do it,” the voice in his head insisted. “You must.”
The man kneeling before him saw the gun, finally, and seemed to sober as soon as he did. “What? What are you doing?”
The man’s voice trembled, as did the rest of his body, as he realized what David intended to do. Tears started to flow from his eyes, streaking down his dirty face.
David knew if he just pulled the trigger, this would all be over. He could go back to his ordered life and be done with this whole business.
His finger edged closer to pulling the hammer back. He could see the glint of it, just slightly moving at the back end of the gun. So quick, so easy to do…
As he pulled further, the spirit which had been tormenting him seemed to change in nature. It went from something insistently begging for revenge to something else. David could feel its energy inside, shifting from that feeling of hot vengeance to cold hunger.
He felt the desire of it, streaming through his veins as the spirit grew to become something horrible.
“Yessssss…” The voice, which had always been a subtle male one, became a growl. He heard it not only in his head, but in his own throat, as the spirit pushed its way forward in his consciousness, grasping him with shadowy tendrils. It consumed him in an instant.
“Please, don’t,” the man before him begged, as the finger of David’s hand pulled back all the way, outside of his own control.
The crack of the shot drilled into his ears, bouncing off of the walls surrounding him, deafening him.
He saw the man fall backward as the bullet pierced through his head, shattering his brain and spraying blood all around. The thud of his body, however, David could not hear. The ringing in his ears would not allow it.
The being inside him was cold, and David could sense, somehow, its hunger had been sated. He also knew, however, it had lied to him.
As he turned away from the young woman laying on the ground, revealed in the moment she struck the ground, David knew, somehow, the spirit had gripped him in another vision, making him think he had been facing a trial of justice and a resolution to a vendetta.
All it had wanted, however, was blood. And it would take it in any way it could get it.
David turned away from the macabre scene before him, slowly walking toward the end of the alley. He knew, soon enough, someone would come investigate the noise of the shot and find the woman laying there.
Would the papers put her down as just another random victim of the violent city? Would there be vigilantes on the street looking for whatever gang had committed the crime?
Would they even know the reason for it all?
David did not know, and was beyond caring. He knew his life was over.
When he reached the end of the alley, he turned back once more, staring into the darkness. If he squinted, he knew he would just barely be able to make out the body waiting there.
As he lifted the gun to his temple, he hoped hos own death would be the end of the spirit which had come to inhabit the object. He hoped, in his own death, he could take the evil bastard with him.
As the trigger was pulled and David exited his life, he could hear, washing into and out of his inner core, the sound of dark, hideous laughter, and knew he was not the first to try.