Shape of the Future
I felt and heard a terrifying crack as my neck snapped.
It felt like a nightmare dream.
I had to escape the claustrophobic confines of my home and seek companionship. I plunged into the darkness of night. Cloudburst rain whipped my face and a wild wind tore at my clothing. Water overflowed the gutters.
At this unworldly time of night in Jacktown not much would remain open other than one or two bars and the service station on the corner. The taverns closed at one o'clock in the morning, while Johnson shut off his fuel pumps when traffic died down at ten or so. I elected for Johnson's and slogged for the center of town.
However, I never reached the place. Circumstances intervened in the shape of a madly galloping horse that careened full tilt toward me down the wet, lamp-lit street. I had grown up around horses and recognized panic in one when I saw it.
In the saddle I discerned the shape of a woman. Thick, long hair streamed behind her. I imagined her as someone I knew. I stepped part way into the flooding street. Idiotically, I yelled to the flying figure: "Jump! I'll catch you!"
Was this, then, the shape of death that Fate held for me?
Unfortunately for me, she did as I had bid. Though she probably weighed little more than one hundred ten pounds, her plummeting body struck mine with a bone-rattling jar. I fell back onto the curb, with the woman on top of me. Such was the force of my contact with the curb that I felt and heard a terrifying crack as my neck snapped.
Was this, then, the shape of death that Fate held for me? Had some deadly Force led me into this terrible night of hazards?
The woman rolled off me and scrambled to her feet. "Thanks," she said and turned to rush off after the runaway horse.
I felt water rising around me. "Please," I called after her. "I need help or I shall drown!"
She paused and spoke to me over her shoulder. "It's only a dream, Gerald," she said. "It's not the shape of your future."