Darkness. John felt himself blinking but could see nothing. The darkness looked and felt infinite. It was like… death. John smiled as his mind put the pieces back together of what had happened. He swore to himself he would have never committed suicide but that was before waking up in that domed desert with the zombies and bars that were more of nightmares than mirages.
Death seemed to peaceful. So forever. So…
John realized the only sound he could hear were his own breaths.
Do the dead still breath? he asked himself.
Then he heard Mystery grunt, calling his attention.
John looked and could see two white eyes looking at him.
“Are we dead?” he called out.
“What does that mean?”
Mystery blinked again.
“Okay, fine. Blink once for yes. Twice for now. Okay?”
Mystery blinked. Once.
“Are we dead?”
Mystery didn’t blink.
“Fine. Did I kill myself?”
Mystery blinked twice.
“Okay then, so I’m not dead.”
“Wait, you blinked. Was that a yes for being dead?”
John watched as Mystery’s eyes tilted… the horse was confused. So was John.
“What happened to the bar?”
Mystery’s black pupils shot to the left. John looked and saw nothing.
Mystery nodded once.
“That one was really bad. They were all me. They kept asking my name. And they kept trying to keep me there.”
John touched his waist and felt the outline of his guns.
“So I took my gun. I took it, Mystery, and put it under my chin. I pulled the trigger. I know I did. I felt my finger doing it. I told my finger to do it. I wanted to die Mystery, I really did. Maybe I still do…”
John felt his eyes watering up. He closed his eyes until the feeling went away. He opened them again and Mystery’s eyes were right over his. He quickly sat up.
“Be careful,” he yelled, “you’ll give me a heart attack.”
John’s eyes finally adjusted to darkness and he could make out the faint shadow of himself and Mystery.
“So, this is night then?”
Mystery blinked once.
John started to laugh. He threw his head back and screamed with laughter, letting it echo and carrying across the dark, empty desert. Mystery tilted its head again.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going crazy,” John said in between laughs. “I just find it funny that even when the world ends, there’s day and night. Like it matters anymore, right? What’s nighttime going to give us that day can’t?”
Mystery blinked twice. Four times. Eight times… John realized the horse was saying No, No, No…
John lay back and saw what Mystery was blinking about.
“Stars?” John asked. “Where you telling me there was stars out?”
John didn’t see but Mystery blinked twice.
One of the stars disappeared, then reappeared as if were…
“Blinking?” John asked.
Then John watched as all the stars started to blink. Then he saw something worse than that – they weren’t stars. Not at all. He could see the white that made it seem like they were stars but his eyes hadn’t adjusted all the way to see the pupils… they were eyes.
John sat back up and looked around. There were eyes everywhere. To his left. To his right. On the ground. In the sky. The eyes blinked in random sequence. For a moment, he smiled as it reminded him of fireflys. It reminded him of his grandparents house up in the country and how he’d spend every other weekend there in the summer.
Then it got a little scarier for John – he couldn’t find which set of eyes were Mystery’s. And he couldn’t find the horse’s silhouette.
“This is going to be all night,” John said. He slowly removed his guns from their holsters and lay them on his lap. He then took his pouch of tobacco and lay that nexto him. He took a handful of the tobacco and filled his mouth. He picked up the guns and twirled them a few times in his hands.
Focus, he told himself. Stay focused. And don’t kill Mystery.
John spat and listened as the tobacco sizzled into the sand. John didn’t realize that’s how hot it was, his body must have gotten used to the heat. He kept his focus on the blinking eyes and followed them the best he could as they blinked. If something should suggest an attack, he would start shooting. Whatever nightmare he was living, John was determined to not die… and not do anything stupid like he did at the bar before.
As John sat there spitting his wonderful tasting tobacco, holding a gun in each hand, he couldn’t help but keep asking himself – where are these eyes coming from?