The story so far:
Halloween was coming, and I still hadn't moved.
When the preacher left, the sun was still bright. That was hours before and my unwanted coffee had gone cold. I left the mug sitting on the end table and went to the door. Half-expecting to see the preacher standing at the end of the walk, I stared out into the darkness. He was gone, but the sidewalk and the street were full of other shadows, long and spindly and grasping. It had been an obscenely clear day, and the sky above should have been full of stars, but even though I couldn't see any clouds, I couldn't see any light, either.
Leaving the door open behind me, I went down the walk to the edge of the street. The nearest house was half a block away and hidden at the end of a curving drive lined with expertly-landscaped shrubs and trees. Even so there should have been light and there was none. We had picked this neighborhood because of the schools and the green, safe streets where our children could play. What the preacher had been doing on our anonymous little street I didn't know. He had walked out of a movie of someone else's life and into the hollow that had once been mine. My life, and my wife's, and our children's.
I walked into the darkness.
He had come from someplace south of Denver. The street lead west, and at the first corner I turned left and kept going. There were no cars and there should have been, and no lights in the sky or on the horizon. But the shadows were growing solid around me and I kept going, until I heard the footsteps.
She wore heels all the time, my wife, before the children came. I used to tease her that her new passion for soft-soled flats meant she was trying to sneak up on me, without the click-clack of high heels on our parquet floor. The click-clack in darkness stopped a heartbeat after my own footsteps and I held my breath. Took another step.
The darkness behind me was a solid presence. If I turned around, there would be nothing but a black wall. I knew that without looking, and yet the sound of her steps was behind me. Another step, and another click of her feet on the pavement. Another, and another, and she and the darkness kept pace behind as I started to run. I was at the outskirts of our suburb, where the developement became the farmland and plains it had all once been. The domain of the snakes, and the birds, and Coyote.
The trickster, the Native people called Coyote.
There should not have been light out here. It should have been as black as the nothingness that followed me, but now, ahead of me on the road, there was a single light. A lamp, casting a palid yellow disk on a sign for the bus that didn't run out here any more, not since the Interstate came decades ago. The light wavered in the darkness as I ran towards it, the dark pressing me from behind and the click-clack of her steps keeping pace. I could not look back.
I had spent uncounted hours today with the preacher, but I still couldn't have said the man in the lamplight was him. His face was a haze in my memory, his hair color and the shade of his eyes a blur. The man under the street lamp wore black, though, and he looked at me as if he had expected this.
"Halloween is coming," he said, and he looked south down the road. "And you have a long way to go."