Red Chuck Taylors.

[Another excerpt, which might give you a clue as to what sort of story this is.]

I don’t know if it was real, if it was part of everything that happened later, if it was a dream. I don’t know.

I got up out of bed and squinted the sleep out of my eyes. The sky was light, but the sun hadn’t risen; the world was painted in shades of pale blue and gray. I ran my hands over my face. I stepped into my jeans and pulled on my jacket without bothering to put on a shirt. I left my Chucks where they lay, piled in the corner of my room next to the makeshift bookshelf I’d built out of filched plastic milk crates and pineboard.

The air was cold, cold, cold on my face as I stepped out my front door, pulling it quietly closed. I stood on the porch of my house and felt the chill rising up through the boards and the peeling house paint my dad had covered it with years earlier.

There was no one on the street. No cars. No sound of cars from Main Street or Bradbury Street, a few blocks away. No big trucks bringing produce into the grocery store, three blocks down and a block over. No sound. Nothing. Not a bird.

I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out my Luckies, but the pack was empty. I crushed it and put it back. I blinked, slowly. If I was thinking, I can’t remember what I was thinking. Nothing.

And I looked up, and saw a pair of shoes dangling from their laces, hanging off the power line at the corner, slowly twisting back and forth. I’d never seen them before. I squinted at them.

They were my Chuck Taylors.

I walked down to the corner, my bare feet rasping on the cold cracked concrete of the sidewalk. I looked up.

They were definitely my Chucks. I could see the anarchy symbol, carefully traced onto them with dozens of precise ballpoint pen strokes.

There were shoes hanging from the power line at the next corner, too, but I couldn’t see what kind, so I walked across the empty, silent street.

They were also my Chuck Taylors. The ‘A’ stood out against the red canvas like an accusation.

I just looked at them. And then I looked at the next corner, and saw shoes hanging from that power line.

And the next, and the next. Down Cedar Street, at every corner, a pair of red Chuck Taylors with a black ‘A’ lettered over where the ankle bone would sit in each shoe. I could see them down at the corner of Bradbury, hanging from the street light, which was blinking red. Beyond Bradbury, they dwindled into small dots, swaying back and forth like they’d just been thrown there.

“All places shall be Hell that are not Heaven,” I said out loud. I think I said it out loud.

Someone else was there, standing on the corner of Cedar and Bradbury. Someone who hadn’t been there a moment before. Something was very wrong with them.

I turned and walked quickly back across the street, toward my house. I didn’t run. I didn’t want to look at the person down the street. Something was very wrong with them.

I took the steps up to my porch in one big jumping stride. I stepped through the door with a crawling sensation in all the nerves on my back, as if someone was reaching out a hand to pull me back.

I closed the door and locked it. I didn’t look through the window at my porch.

Something was very wrong with them.

I went back to my room and I took off my jacket and my pants and threw them down next to my red Chuck Taylors, which still lay together next to my bookcase. I slid under my sheets and my comforter and I turned my back to my window, because I didn’t want to see anyone who might be there. I closed my eyes tight.

I fell back into sleep, and if I dreamed, I do not remember my dreams.

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  1. For some reason, the person on the corner and the ‘something was very wrong with them’ to describe it sent a chill down my spine. I almost felt the fear in myself – not wanting to look back – in case he was following…

    Hey, not to get off the subject, but I just found out – after all these years of doing html – that you can make more than just a few fonts on a site. I never realized that any old site you make can show any font you choose. Chiller, Papyrus, Broadway, it’s so cool. I’m not sure if the reply section can allow html, but I’m just trying it here as an example…

  2. Well, that’s what I was going for, so I’m glad it worked. It creeped me out too, after I wrote it.

    As for the fonts — the markup won’t show up unless the person browsing the site also has the font you’ve specified.

  3. Billy, the way around this is to specify a list of fonts, which defines a fallback order. Here is a typical CSS rule:

    font-family: Helvetica,Verdana,Arial,sans-serif;

    Precedence is from left to right.

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