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That Time Again
Written by Paul Landis Delaune

     Itís that time again. I stoop and look in these still waters, inspecting my face. I see no sign
there, but I can feel it. Even blind I would know the approach of that  time. I can feel it in my
bones, my heart, my soul.  Itís eerie.  Itís a sense similar  to that possessed by animals. I dread
this time.  I loathe it with every bit of strength  I can muster. ĎGod, above, why must I be
tormented so?!  Why must I bear this curse of curses?!í

     Once I lived as any other man. I lived among others, working and playing among them. I
loved and I laughed. I had a sweetheart and we were in love. Then my life was filled with
happiness and my future was promising, very promising. Now all that is gone.

     Itís beautiful here and there are many wonders to behold, but I hate living in this awful
loneliness. It has been a long time since Iíve seen another man, or woman. Still, my dreams
are filled with them and at this time those dreams are so horrible. I wish I could forget
them, but I cannot, for they are based upon reality. Here they have no substance,
but once.

     Itís almost noon and the summer sun is shining bright. The sky is a gorgeous blue and
the mountains are alive with activity. Here are magnificent sights that few have
enjoyed, but I cannot share them with any other. At times, I experience a kind of peace.
Itís almost as if Iím a part of the wilderness around me and not an intruder. But an
intruder I am and any peace I find is soon shattered.

     I stand and gaze down the mountain I have climbed. The ascent is getting less difficult
the more I do it. The way is rugged and arduous, but I prefer to be away from my cabin at
this time. My hope is it wonít receive any damage if I am away from it. I tried locking
myself out of it once, but that did no good. A lock is no barrier to me at this time.
It wasnít the first time either. I wish I hadnít thought of that.

     Behind me, concealed by the trees and undergrowth, is a small cave.  Inside, it is dark
and cold, but dry, and I seek refuge there at these times. I carry few of the barest
necessities.  I donít need many items. A couple blankets and extra clothing are all Iíve
brought. I  hope they donít get torn. Sometimes they do.

     Thoughts of my beloved come to me. She was so beautiful and so alive. To me, she was an
angel, a goddess. My times with her were my happiest. I never understood love until I knew
her. Now she is gone and I am to blame. Only the memories remain. They are the fondest
of my memories, except those at the very end, which shall haunt me for all eternity.

     The blazing sun is beginning to set now. I dread its passing. The time is near. Soon the
bright moon will rise. As darkness gathers, I retreat into the cave. Sleep will overcome
me, though I will force myself to stay awake as long as possible, hoping to delay what is
to come. I could start a fire to fight off the evening chill, but the cold wonít bother me for long.

     I sit huddled in the blackness, wrapped in my blankets. My heart is beginning to pound
and I am growing drowsy. I am scared, terrified, but perfectly relaxed. I reach into my
shirt and hold my hand against my chest. Strange, the scar there still hurts, though it
healed long ago. Unconsciously, my fingers trace its jagged line as remembrance of how I
received it passes through my mind.

     It was during the summer, in a dense forest in the mountains of Central Europe.

It was a strange land abounding with even stranger legends. I was hunting with some of
the local citizens when I became separated from my companions and lost. It was then I was
attacked. The beast had me and I should have been killed. For some unknown reason it
left me and I was found lying in my own blood. I wish it had killed me, for shortly after, it began.

    My head is beginning to ache as my heart pounds harder. Tightness grips my throat and
my skin tingles all over. A growing fire begins to burn deep within my frightened soul,
accompanied by a savage hunger. An insatiable craving for meat, fresh from the kill, fills my
belly and strange odors assault my sense of smell. Terrible thoughts begin to fill
my mind and my fear intensifies.

     It has begun! The madness has begun! I try to resist what is happening, but I canít stop it.
Slowly, I drift into a deep sleep as a vicious wildness engulfs me. Down I plunge, into an
awful blackness. The snarls of a wild beast fill my ears and I struggle to come to my
senses.  I hear the tearing of clothing accompanied by more growling and I feel
hot breath against my chest, as I futilely endeavor to lash out.

     Strange dreams begin to form. In them, I am crouching outside, gazing up at the full moon. In
the distance I hear the howl of a hunting wolf and the answering call of its mate. From my
throat issues a similar cry and I leap into the dark forest, running wildly. Meat is what I
seek, but none is to be found. The scent of small game comes to me, but I seek larger prey.
Except for a scent that is strangely familiar, no sign of what I seek can be found.

     Disappointed, I go into a fit of rage. Even the wolves avoid me when this happens. My
anger increases and my mind is flooded with awful memories. I am home again during
that first time. My beloved is there, cringing before me, her eyes wide with horror. ĎNo, no, I
donít want to remember! Oh, god; no!í I remember her sobs and the taste of blood in my
mouth. ĎOH, GOD; NO!!!í Will this nightmare never end?!

     A frenzied confusion swallows me completely and I feel as though I am dead. In this swirling madness my mind drifts like a storm-swept ship. Strange thoughts, distorted images come to
me, but I am unable to distinguish between the real and the unreal, the events of the present
and the memories of the past. If I could focus my thoughts enough to pray, I would, for what
I am experiencing must be from the pits of Hell.

     Later, slowly, very slowly, I come out of the black confusion, as the first rays of morning
begin to appear. I am completely naked and shivering from the chill, though my body is
bathed in sweat. Dizziness fills my head and nausea my belly. My head pounds as my
mid-section knots up in pain. Sometime during the night I ate, though I donít remember doing
it (or do I?), and now it makes me sick. I vomit, bringing relief; then everything goes black.

     When I awaken again, it is noon and I feel so weak. Iíll spend the rest of the day lying
in the sunís warmth, for I am thoroughly exhausted. I try to forget what I remember of
the nightís activity, as I dread the coming of the next sunset. Only when the last night of the
full moon has passed will I leave this place. Then, wearily, Iíll return to my cabin to
continue my lonely existence. Again my life will be quiet and peaceful, until the next time.

     I have contemplated ending my life, but I cannot. It would take a brand of courage I do
not possess. I do not know if it is possible for me to be killed. According to the legends it
would be difficult. I donít claim to be immortal. I donít feel immortal. No matter, Iíll continue
to abide in the solitary wilderness away from all other people.  Fortunately, none have
ventured into the realm of my self-imposed exile.  The only sign of others existence I ever see
is an occasional contrail streaking high overhead in the blue sky. But one day.