This last short story of the year was inspired by this picture:
I shuddered in the cold air. Was this really the place? Her text had said to meet her here. What was I doing here anyway? Going to some unfamiliar place with a girl I’d meet at the bar one night and exchanged a few words with wasn’t really a smart idea. That’s the kind of stuff that got you killed in this country. I touched the railing and brushed off some snow that fell into the water and promptly vanished. My phone buzzed again, this time it was another text from her that simply read “I’m on the other side of the bridge, come meet me there!”
So I began walking and I kept walking. All around me was water and snow, the sounds were muted in the foggy air and about an hour later, I couldn’t even see the shore behind me, all I could see was the bridge behind me and in front of me and the water all around. The water wasn’t moving that much, the air occasionally blew a blast of air that felt like it was from the arctic.
About another half hour later, I got annoyed, how long was this damn bridge anyway? I pulled out my phone to text her, only to discover that it had no service. Suddenly, the feeling of impending doom swept over me and my whole body told me to run run run and never stop running. But I stopped, knowing that such reactions could kill you, I wasn’t gonna give into panic, I was fine, I wasn’t dead, hurt or bleeding, I was fine.
I decided to turn back, but after another two hours, the cold had really begun to seep into my clothes and my hands were getting numb, but there was no shore to greet me, just more bridge in front of me. I stopped to catch my breath since I’d been walking at a brisk pace for the last thirty minutes and that’s when I noticed something about the water. It was absolutely still… like a mirror. I looked down at it and saw my own reflection in the murky depths of it.
Water shouldn’t be this still should it? What was happening here? Where was I? On some strange impulse, I got out a coin that I’d gotten as change earlier that day and threw it into the water. It hit the surface which didn’t really produce the kind of rings you’d expect it to. The water just.. sort of .. rolled slowly and settled again quickly. Was it even water?
The light of the day was fading rapidly as I redoubled my efforts to get back to the shore again. As I walked I pulled out my phone which still showed no service, now that message chilled me more than the cold weather around me. I stopped after a while and turned around, suddenly unsure of where I was. Had I really turned around or was I walking in the same direction as before?
The footsteps in the snow behind me were proof enough, but when I turned around again towards the direction I’d thought I’d come from, I realized that there were no footsteps leading back! I sat down heavily as darkness kept falling faster now. What was this place?
I was exhausted by this point, there was no end to this space, there was just the endless walk, one that I was giving up on. In my despair and fear, I drifted off in the cold until the darkness came to claim me.
A boot at my back, ow… I got up, pinpricks everywhere on my body, what?
“Hey you! No sleeping on the bridge!” a stern male voice said.
I saw a policeman standing over me, I scrambled up and saw the shore behind him and the buildings of the harbor. I stared at him for a while and then looked out towards the sea where the bridge was still stretching out towards the horizon.
“Don’t go out there, it never ends” I told him as I walked past him, back to civilization.
A few days later, I got another text reading “Why didn’t you meet me? You were almost there!”
When I tried calling her number, all that I could hear as someone answered was the familiar sounds of the cold wind blowing.