Human nature is cruel. That was what was going through Rin’s head as she stared though her window at the man laying in the street. No one came to help. No one ever came to help. They were used to seeing bodies in the streets. Rin wouldn’t help either, wouldn’t even come out of her house. She was cruel as well. Such is life. He was going to die there, and not a single person would lift a finger to stop that.
The next day, the body was collected and given a proper burial. Like that would make everything all right. The next night someone else died, with people watching fearfully though their windows, never bothering to help. After all, why would they risk themselves to help someone who was practically dead anyway? So they watch, never bothering to really care. After all, that other person was out after dark, didn’t they deserve what they got?
That’s the way it always went. They buried the dead in the morning, like they cared, and then went about their day. After the sun went down, they locked themselves in their homes watching the outside and were watched in return. Inevitably, some unfortunate soul who was unable to get inside in time lay dead in the street and they watched that. That was the way things were. Even Rin, who knew it was all wrong, watched the people die in the night, and continued her life in the day.
“It’s not safe!” That was the justification. Ever since the night became what it was, nobody would venture outside after dark, not even to help a fellow human being. “You can’t help anybody if you’re dead,” was another of the favorites. So, people were left out there, afraid, alone, with only the malevolent night to cradle them into their agonizing death, knowing that not a single person cared enough to help a fellow human in their time of greatest need.
It was dark again. Rin sat by her window, like she did every night. She looked out at the cold night, fearful. The night looked back at her, hungry. All was normal. She saw small cracks of light from other houses as they watched, same as her. All was normal for them as well.
A person came careening into her view. She felt the familiar sadness at watching yet another person die. This one was young too, probably a teenager. A girl, from the look of it. Her sadness grew even deeper. It was always worse when someone so young was taken.
The girl thrashed violently, the plaything for the unseen night, and Rin felt something she had felt no night before. A heat had formed in her belly and was spreading. She knew what she was going to do. An icy shot of fear went through her to combat the heat and to stop her. She stood up. Fear would not win that night. She left her window and opened her door to the dead night. Another shot of fear as the night turned its attention to her. The heat rose and snuffed out the fear and she ran, reaching the girl in seconds. She leaned down and picked up the girl.
“It’s going to be okay,” she whispered as she stood with the girl cradled in her arms. The girl turned her head and looked at her with unseeing eyes. She smiled faintly.
Something caressed Rin’s cheek. The cracks of light of people watching and doing nothing began to fade around her. Soon, there was nothing around her but black. She stumbled as she made her way toward where she thought her door was. The girl’s whooping, labored breath was still in her ears, she was alive. The howling wind she hadn’t noticed before grew louder and then, stopped.
She could no longer hear the girl’s breathing. Was she still alive? Rin began to run, hoping to find a door, any door. Something grabbed her lungs and all the air was forced out of her. She took as big a breath as she was capable, but no air would come. She fell to her knees, still clutching the girl. She could feel the night all around her now, waiting for her to die. She smiled at it. She was going to die, that much was certain. Still, she felt at ease knowing just one thing.
She wasn’t just watching anymore.