Richard Houchin

Life is Funny

By moonlight the bloodstained cement is black. Haley remembers the splash being smaller. Her straight hair warms her neck. She looks over her shoulder; the street is empty. This brings little comfort, and her rapid breath fills her ears with white noise.

Early morning last week the Marquis had "fallen" from his office balcony. A section of railing was clutched in his hands. Haley kneels before the stain. The rough cement presses through her jeans. She feels the cold sky above her, the starlight on her pale skin making her visible to watchers in dark places. She tucks her hands beneath her jacket and closes her eyes.

The Marquis made a wet sound on impact, and Haley had fallen to the gutter. Before her purse finished scattering it contents, she was surrounded. Grays shouted at her from behind flashing lights, bright even in the morning sun. She groped blindly for her purse. Splashed in the gore of a ranking bureaucrat and surrounded by the civil military, she could only think of keeping her journal hidden.

She had never seen a body before. Reading stories doesn't prepare a person for the shock. Haley looks at her hands and touches her bruised arm. "Who sent you here?" an officer had shouted as he snatched her to her feet. His hand was a vice against her skin, his face lost in the glare. The crunching of boots mixed with the wet hiss of the ruptured corpse. More men in gray uniforms stepped from their city walkers.