The gloomy, gray day hung over him like his personal rain cloud. Big, black crows cawed at him from the tops of telephone poles as if he were carrion left for them to feed upon. It wouldn’t have surprised him to see vultures circling above. “I can’t wait to get out of this place,” he thought to himself as he trudged through the dirty puddles along the sidewalk. Across the narrow street a youngish couple began screaming at each other, hurling insults as if they were stones. He flinched and ducked into an alley to escape verbal daggers lest he be struck and driven further into despair.
A swarm of rats erupted as if from a rotting volcano from the trash bags behind a dumpster, squealing and chasing him into the closest building. Immediately, the cavernous stairwell posed a great threat. There were too many hiding places in there. Around a blind corner. Behind a pillar. Under the stairs. His mind began spinning and he felt faint. He began hyperventilating. He needed some water to splash on his face before he fell down. A men’s room sign caught his eye and he stumbled forward but just then a piercing shriek filled his ears and drove him to his knees uttering a painful cry. With his hands over his ears and his eyes squeezed shut he prostrated himself on the cold concrete floor, unable to think, paralyzed by fear.
“What the fuck is happening!” he shouted, his thin reedy voice seemingly swallowed by the shadows he felt creeping in around him.
He couldn’t see the rushing tide of legs and feet filing past him. He couldn’t hear the shouts and sirens. Suddenly he was hoisted up by strong hands placed under his arms and carried outside through the fire door. He thought, “So this is what Hell feels like. They’ve found me and I’ve died and they’ve taken me back to Hell.”
The fire was subdued quickly with very little damage done to the building. Sitting across the street on a curb, it finally dawned on Kurt that the shrieking had been alarms and fire trucks. He felt a bit sheepish for having freaked out.