The Subliminal Lurker

by TS S. Fulk

It was a crisp autumn morning blanketed 

with a light downy fog. 

The maple and birch trees 

donned in hues of yellow and orange

brought half a smile to my lips. 

The ground still sodden

hinted back to those perpetual rain-riddled days 

that had preceded this one

and which had made me miss 

the gradual deciduous change. 

So the vibrant shock of fire 

through the smoke-like mist 

captured my attention, 

relieved my sodden soul,

brought a smile, or at least half a one, to my lips 

and made me miss, in my inattention, 

something else

something dire. 

However, the jackdaws noticed. 

Don’t they always?

Like a swarm of giant gnats they flew to and fro 

following their agitated alpha 

in a chaotically choreographed contemporary dance 

accompanied by insistent percussive caws. 

What’s got into them? I thought.

I go this way every morning, 

never before had I seen the like

so their corvid fervor 

awoke me from my reverie.

A chill wind began to rise 

like a solo oboe melody creeping amongst the strings.

Dark clouds eclipsed the sun

marking the eventual return of the precipitation 

that has flooded my being.

Like a hare fleeing a fox

my hasty heart palpitated.

And I knew

in my gut

in my soul

in the heart of my memory

it was here

behind me.

The dread of the unavoidable horror

had returned.

Gone was the smile, all be it only half a one.

Gone was the sheer autumnal joy. 

Although I’ll never see it, 

not even in the corner of my eye,

I know the lurker is there

behind me

in the shadows, 

in the cracks,

in the subliminal spaces 

of my mind’s eye.

So be it.

The corners of my mouth formed 

half a rakish grin. 

Let the lurker lurk. 

I opened my umbrella 

and continued toward my destination 

without even an errant glance 

over my shoulder.