Evolving Emotions: Fear- Short Story

Trigger warning: Strong language, mild gore, horror theme

The Man

“Get out of here, asshole!” 

“Screw you, Stace,” Cole spits, pushing up from the couch. Stacy shoves his back, causing him to jerk forward as he stands. Stacy’s complexion is unmoving, with hot rage steaming beneath. Whether it be in spite of the absurdity of the argument or the embarrassment he feels, Cole gestures with his middle finger, boldly displaying it before disappearing up the basement steps. 

Cole’s palms slam against the door, causing the tattered screen to bounce before settling in its original position. Standing on the porch, Cole shakes his hands at his sides, hoping to reduce the sting. Before heading out, he checks his watch: 7:00 pm.

The block is illuminated by a soft, warm glow, characteristic of picturesque summer evenings. The delicate breeze and pinkish sky evoke a sense of calm in those traversing the patchy sidewalks, apart from Cole. 

As he grumbles toward home, his scowl deepens into a defiant squint. He holds a hand to his forehead to take in the view. At the tree line lingers an impatient August sun, barely holding onto the sky, wishing for dark winter nights. Its light pours between each pine needle on every tree, producing beams that project onto homes bordering the street.

Cheerful people cross Cole’s path, accelerating his fury. They amble without intention or direction for the sole purpose of breathing in the evening air. One such passerby approaches Cole from a great distance. As he gets closer, a white cane comes into view. It passes the pavement like a pendulum, sweeping back and forth. The man looks to be in his late sixties. His face is worn and tired with age, accompanied by browning age spots. His white hair is intact but thinning and almost the texture of cotton. His walk is a hunched shuffle, slow and effortful. 

As the man approaches, a chill runs down Cole’s back, causing his hair to stand atop his skin. The clicking of the cane crescendos as the man reaches him. Despite wanting to look away from the man, Cole finds he cannot. He is by no means a sight to behold but remains inexplicably captivating. 

The man is a few feet away, still sweeping the ground with his cane. “Boy,” the man calls, “I am looking for Empyrean Drive. Do you know where I can find it?”

Cole blurts, “Can you really look for it? You seem pretty blind to me, old man.” 

The corners of the man’s mouth contort into a smile.

Despite the warmth of the sun still hanging in the sky, a cool breeze rushes past them both. Cole shivers, and abruptly, a realization overwhelms him: “If he is blind, how did he know I was here?” Cole looks back at the man to find his features strangely distorted. Up close, the man’s face is almost skeletal. Defined curves and jagged edges make up his emaciated aspect. Cole’s stomach twists as he observes the man’s sunken eyes. The skin surrounding them is scarce, giving the eyes an unnaturally placed appearance as if foreign to the face. The eyes themselves are large and oddly round. Grey hues swirl in spiraling patterns around obsidian centers. Each eye is thickly glazed over, yet the blackness deepens, and the pupils dilate the longer Cole stares. 

“Do you know where I can find it?” the man happily asks once more.

Unable to speak, Cole continues in his perusal of the eyes.

As he does so, shadows creep onto the man’s flesh, shrouding his skeletal appearance. 

Finally, Cole draws his gaze away and looks to his feet, now disguised in the black of night.

Cole rubs his arms with clammy palms, attempting to soothe himself. “Look man,” he finally starts, “I’ve never heard of that street and I really need to get home.”

With that, Cole begins walking, which soon evolves into a frantic jog. 

After passing two blocks, he stops, sucking in shuddering breaths. “Shit, that guy was weird,” he declares to himself. Lifting his head, he observes that the sun has set prematurely. “Also weird.” Cole reads his watch: 7:05 pm.

“What the hell? It’s only been five minutes? Is this thing broken or something?”

Two clicks. Cole whirls around. Two more clicks. The darkness is thick, the stars and moon dulling fast. Squinting, he finds the man. 

“Stacy is very upset with you, boy.” 

“Fuck you, man! What is your deal?” Not wasting any more time, Cole sprints, scraping the pavement with the soles of his shoes. 

Click. Click. Click. The noise is in Cole’s ears, growing louder than his breath. 

Click. Click. Click. It gnaws its way through his ears to his brain. The sidewalk is enveloped in pitch black. Each step is taken only by faith. 

As Cole sprints, he can’t help but question, “Where is everybody? The street lamps? The moon? Anything?”

“Do you know where I can find it, boy?” The question arrives, conveyed through the air by the clicking echoes.

Up ahead, a single street lamp remains, illuminating Cole’s home. Not stopping, Cole rushes to the door. He gasps in relief as he locates the key in his pocket. His hands shake violently, making it near impossible to push the key into the lock. With a succinct click, he twists the door handle, pulls upon the door, and slams it shut.

Cole is greeted by solitary darkness. The blackness consumes his wood-floored hallway, the kitchen table, and everything else. A pang of panic rushes through his fingertips as he reaches beside the door. There is no light switch. Vigorously brushing his hands along the wall, he feels nothing.

Hopeless, he presses his back to the door. His forceful pants slow to trembling, shallow breaths. As he sinks to the floor, he realizes that the tapping has ceased. Now enveloped in strange darkness, he cannot see his hands squarely in front of him. 

Something knocks into the door. The walking stick. “Let me in, Cole.”

“GO AWAY!” Cole screams, fear ripping at his throat. “Go away, go away, go away,” he mutters incomprehensibly.  

“Do you know where I can find it?” The man’s voice is lower than before. “Do you know where?”

“Please go away,” Cole whispers through pleading sobs. Despite the blackness of the room, he squeezes his eyes shut. 

“I know you’ve seen it,” he says in a distorted, otherworldly tone.

“Seen what?” Cole asks, gasping for breath. 

“Cole. Let me in, Cole. Let me see you.” 

Upon that last word, a violent pain rips at Cole’s eyes. He gasps and clutches at his eyes. It is as if they were set ablaze by hell’s fire. The scorching compels agonizing screams and pleas for mercy. Each optical nerve twists and tugs under immense strain. Cole rocks back and forth before getting on all fours, face pressed to the floor. Then, everything stops. The pain disappears, although the panic lingers.

Cole opens his eyes. “It’s over,” he thinks, as something trickles down his cheek, seeping into his mouth. It is vile and metallic. “Oh, God,” he cries. All is black. No figure, shape, or object, not even the floor or street lamp outside, is visible. The void is all that is left. The viscous blood continues to flow from his eyes as Cole’s breathing diminishes. Finally, he slumps to the ground.

“Thank you, Cole.”


The Poetry Corner – 9 March 2021

[To read an introduction to this column, please see the first paragraph of the previous post here]


This week I would like to share a poem I found recently from the Nigerian poet Gbenga Adesina. The following poem I discovered in the Fall 2020 issue of Narrative magazine. It is titled “Across the Sea: A Sequence”:






                        Across the Sea: A Sequence                       

                        Gbenga Adesina            




Across the Sea


The bottom of the sea is cruel. — Hart Crane.


On the sea, your prayer is not to the whorl scarf
of waves. Your prayer is to the fitful sleep of the dead.
Look at them, their bodies curve darkly without intention
and arrow down into the water. What do you call a body
of water made of death and silence? The sea murmurs
on the pages of this book. There are bones buried in the water
under these lines. Do you hear them, do you smell them?


In the panic of drowning, there are hands lifting babies
up in the air, out of the water, for breath. A chorus
of still pictures brought this news to me, to us. Because we do
not see the bodies sinking, because we do not see their mouths
already touching water, the hands lifting up the babies look almost
ordinary. Like the Greeks lifting their newborns unto the sky.
What is the failure of dead? That they sink?
Or that they sink with what is in their hands?


The children of God are upon frightened waters,
And God being hunger, God being the secret grief of salt
moves among his people and does not spare them.
The children of God are upon frightened waters.


There is a child whose protest is of eyes.
She has crossed the water with her mother,
they are shivering, waiting for her father, two days now, they are
shivering for a father the mother knows would never arrive.
The mother holds the child, she says to her, gently:
“It’s a brief death. Your father has gone on a brief death.
He’ll soon be back.”


A man is bent on his knees, wailing at the waters.
He slaps his hand on the wet sand and rough-cut stones
the way one might fight a brother.
He grabs the shirt of the sand as though they are in a tussle.
The stones here carry the island’s low cry inside them.
A landlocked grief. They say the man was a newlywed.
Now his vows are inside the water.
He claws at the sand. He wails: “Ocean,
you owe me a body. Ocean, give me back my lover.”


Think of the boats. The timber comes from Egypt.
They are cut into diagonals and made pretty. They
are polished by hands. Their saplings are watered by the Nile.
The White Nile flows through Khartoum
before it puts its teeth into the Mediterranean.
The waters and the trees eat bodies.


The children of God are upon frightened waters,
And God being hunger, God being the secret grief of salt
moves among his people and does not spare them.
The children of God are upon frightened waters.



The silence is a prairie country. The silence
is the silence of hospital sheets.
The silence is of IV tubes, veins, quiet siren of ghosts.
The silence is the silence of what
is dappled invisibly by a body
that is no longer human but not yet a ghost. The silence in your
body has lodged in my throat.
Silence, can you hear me? The silence is of lime,
and kraal stones. The silence is not shadow
but the light of a body buried under a mound of rough stones.
The silence is the silence
of hands. Hands, wire-vine hands, can you hear me?
The silence is the silence of broken ribs.
The silence is the silence of the head,
shorn and shaven. The silence is silence of a bandage wrapped
tight around what is sunken, what is fallen in the gait of the head.
can you hear me?

The silence is silence of blood,
seething through filament of bandage.
Blood, can you hear me?
Father, blood, Father can you hear me?






I have read this poem multiple times and every time I discover something new about it. Each section is a separate scene, but they are all connected by themes of water, death, and the struggle for connection and survival. The language, images, rhythm, line breaks, and everything is so striking to me, by the end I’m left speechless. What do you see in it? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!