(Please excuse the woeful type-setting and spaces, once again WordPress refuses to play nice.)
His descent into damnation began on New Year’s Eve. Dirk, a wanted murderer and penniless drunk had spent several hours stumbling around his barren apartment in a suicidal daze. Through the fog of liquor and regret, he had grown quite attached to the idea of ending his own life at the stroke of midnight. Yes, that will do just fine, he thought as he struggled to his feet, using the nearest piece of furniture as a crutch. His blackened fingernails dug into the back of the leather sofa until the material creaked, and his dirty, bare feet clattered through mounds of discarded beer cans. The man had seen better days.
It had only been how long? Six, maybe seven months since Dirk gave up his life and went into hiding. As he closed his eyes some lingering, terrible memory rushed back to him. Rain. Endless, cold, uncompromising rain. The sound of squelching mud followed, and visions of a man unrecognisable to him now, frantically digging a shallow grave by some dark and lonely roadside. A shudder ran up his spine as he recalled the feeling of that sodden mud between his fingers, mixed with the still-warm blood of his wife and son.
Murderer. That’s what you are. That is all you will ever be.
Dirk had punished himself for their death since that fateful night. It troubled him to stare through the steamed windows of his squat and look down at the New Year’s revellers congregating in the brightly-lit square below. To him they were nothing more than blind, ignorant pigs chasing the idea that somehow, come tomorrow, everything would be better. Just like that, as if by magic. He smirked and scoffed drunkenly at the notion then turned to rest his back on the glass. Face buried in his worn hands, he let out a grief-fuelled shriek as the haunting visions returned.
Outside, lines of latecomers shuffled slowly along icy side walks, edging closer to the throng of bodies in the square. Those who had found a place to sit looked on at the large digital clock erected there, warming themselves in the glow of its harsh neon display. They laughed and reflected on the year that was, before looking to the next in hopeful anticipation. Resolutions and vows were made that wouldn’t be kept. For a moment at least, all the harsh realities of the world could be resigned to background noise. All that mattered was the countdown, and the fresh start that followed. It was getting close. Not much longer.