Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Walker

'THE WALKER'
BY KATHARINE MAFFEI
The man walked along the bumpy, rugged tracks. He adjusted his backpack, Not out of discomfort, but a natural fidgetiness he'd had his whole life.The air was cool on his face.The moon in front of him, Giant and orangish. Perhaps one of those super moons people liked to talk about. He liked walking at night. The day was too loud. Too bright. At night it was peaceful. Just him and the tracks. Sometimes an animal would run past or follow for a short distance. They soon went onward to their little burrows, fields, maybe a cave. He rarely saw people. Once in awhile a person or group wandered down the tracks or strolled the little packed down dirt path that ran next to it. He never said anything to them and they in turn never spoke to him. Most kept away from the older man with the ragged bread and ripped jeans with worn out boots. He liked it that way.
Every so often he would slow his pace behind some young hikers and listen to their conversations. The night air always carried sound far so he would remain behind enough so as to not be suspicious. They usually spoke of their homes or families. Some couldn't figure out why they decided to walk the tracks at all. It hurt their feet and the bag hurt their backs. Once he heard a young boy tell his girlfriend the tracks were haunted to frighten her. He had laughed out loud. They both looked behind them giving him a weird puzzled look before moving faster along the moonlight path.
"Silly young people." He mused to himself. He didn't believe in ghosts or any of that such nonsense.
This was his fifth trip up the tracks. Each time he finished he felt tired and accomplished. Then after a cold winter, when spring broke, he felt the pull of his favorite spot again. Here he walked for another trip. In all those years he never saw anything unexplained. No orbs, or shimmers. No shadows that weren't trees or animals. No funny noises. Nothing.
Well, maybe not never.
There was a light that appeared during his second walk. He was almost home when he saw it. It was just sort of there behind him. He wouldn't have even known it was there except it cast his shadow long in front of him. He turned quickly thinking a train was racing for him. He watched it for a moment then continued on. It was probably a helicopter looking for some hiker lost in the woods.
Funny it made no sound though. Also it didn't dart around the tree tops searching. It hung there from the clouds. Beyond the clouds? Maybe.Yes. Funny. It was there not moving. Then gone when he looked back.
The man shifted the bag on his back again. Naturally a fidgety sort. He looked again at the sky. The moon really was glorious tonight.



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