By Nick Dix
Last call is but a moment gone.
The drunks are in the gutters.
A sigh is on his liquored breath
But not a word he utters.
He fumbles for his phone but finds
The thing is dead as dirt.
The fool had left it on all day
And now the phone’s inert.
He cannot call a cab for home
And so he trips along.
Beneath the moon he hums a tune
That he remembers wrong.
He careless wanders dusky streets.
His head is fogged with rum.
He doesn’t care for anything,
Not even kingdom come.
It’s late and streets are desolate
Except for rising mist.
The only ones awake this hour
Are trashed, completely pissed.
In shadows figures stand and sway
And see the man walk home.
Although it seems none pay him heed
One follows as he roams.
The streets are winding with his steps,
Which weave from left to right.
He can’t keep track of his own feet,
Nor two outside his sight.
He doesn’t hear the echoed steps
That come from close behind.
He’s cannot stop the creeping threat
With liquor-addled mind.
The thief is quick to roll the drunk,
His wallet snatched with ease.
The bat impacts his head behind
And soon he’s on his knees.
A conscious glimmer, sharp and brief,
Remains a moment more
Before he falls onto his face,
Out cold to kiss the floor.
Eternity of blackest sleep
Goes by before he wakes.
But still it’s dark when he gets up
And lifts himself from pavement.
The streetlights cast their garish beams,
Which leer a rusty red.
The roads and rolling mists alike
Are stained with curdled blood.
His head is fogged but fear cuts through
The haze like burning sparks.
He isn’t safe alone at night,
And home is still so far.
And now a scabrous yellow cab
Pulls up beside the man.
The driver offers him a lift
And beckons with a grin.
But oh, the driver seems amiss.
His smile is far too wide.
His stare is fixed upon the drunk
Although he has no eyes.
“It’s awful late to walk alone
Would you care for a ride?
I’ll take you where you need to go,”
The cabbie says and smiles.
The drunkard backs away and chokes,
“No thanks, I’m fine…I’ll walk.”
The driver shakes his head and says,
“For now but not for long.”
The taxi disappears in fog,
A phantom in the dark.
He fears to linger any longer
And starts again to walk.
But as he goes on down the road
He starts to realize
He doesn’t know these shadow streets
Or towers by their sides.
The streets are nameless, marked by signs
As blank as ancient graves,
And each one twists and overlaps
Into a snarled maze.
The towers waver in the haze,
Mirages built of scrap.
They’re empty husks, devoid of light,
Not homes but cenotaphs.
The silence shatters when his phone
Begins to ring with shrieks.
He answers quick to quiet it
With hopes for some reprieve.
A croaking echo greets the man,
“For now but not for long.”
He drops the cell and sees it’s dead
As when he first had called.
Dark figures slip through fog and shadow
With shambling, creeping gaits.
They’re hunting for some human flesh,
All ravenous as rats.
He sprints headlong into the fog
In hopes he’ll lose the creeps,
But every step he takes is vain.
They’re out on every street.
The more he runs, the more he’s lost
To labyrinth alleyways.
The haggard figures multiply
On each new street he takes.
His breath and luck run out at once
Upon a road’s dead end.
He’s trapped by hungry fiends behind
And walls of brick ahead.
“You should have taken my advice
And ridden to your home.
It isn’t safe so late at night
When you are all alone.”
The eyeless driver smiles wide
And leads the dreadful pack
To vicious deeds done for no reason
Than joy in violent acts.
Next morning news reports record
The details of a crime
So gruesome it will haunt the town
Until the end of time.
Police describe a trail of blood
That runs down alleyways
And stops upon a dead end street,
Where most of him still lays.
What’s left of him is torn by teeth.
He’s missing toes and fingers.
His sockets gape as does his mouth.
The smell of booze still lingers.
A shot glass sits beside the corpse
Who knows whose glass it is?
But one thing is for certain though,
The blood inside is his.
And on the wall above his head
A scarlet message goads.
In dripping words the message reads,
“Just one more for the road.”
Nick Dix is a poet and programmer residing in north Texas. His poetry has been featured in publications such as long con, The Minison Project, and Hearth & Coffin. He has an abiding fascination with epic poetry. You can find him on Twitter or on mastodon.social @nickdix.