Once in a long time, we look up to that black sky and we see something, moving, sparking, bringing itself into being within our very gaze, and we understand why we were looking in the first place.
Bedraggled and clumped together by the elements, Diregard hunched his way along the street, each crevice of glass and stone, those entryways and staircases, each a temporary oasis against the constant atomizing blast of particulate existence, the invisible eroding of self via being. Leaning back against himself with a self-regarding groan, his breath expelled into the night air as useless evidence of his temporal vitality. The air moved through him, an ethereal sandstorm eroding his consciousness as it wobbled through the well-worn patterns of self-recrimination and eventual acceptance of his wretchedness before lurching back toward more practical matters, like whatever food might be found when the relative comforts of home were realized. He felt sick.
This evening had started as many do, with a flimsy excuse to drag himself to a local watering hole to await the arrival of friends and/or acquaintances and/or whatever he could get, none of which were in attendance. The loud music, illicit cigarette smoke, and dribbling away of money that could not, in all good conscience, be spent, the bobbing faces of those half-known or falsely recognized, and the acrid, armpit smell of fear of not belonging had drifted away now in the long lonesome trip home, replaced only by the pure animal control of not pissing yourself in public.
The streets were all wrong. For someone who had lived in the area for almost a decade, to be turned around like this was alarming. Edifices that at first triggered a warm glow of familiarity twisted into strange configurations, unwelcome sheets of concrete and brick and iron window bars guarded rooms lit from within only with the blue flickering of a television. His footsteps became titanic, their scuffs echoing through the streets, the only other sound the sepulchral rattling of leaves as they skittered and eddied along the empty streets. Thoroughly spooked, Diregard started repeatedly checking behind him to see if anybody was following him and the sixth time that he did so, he had turned back around before realizing that this time somebody was.
Synapses now suddenly firing with shocking lucidity, he increased his speed, the sound of his passage drowning out anything from behind him. The figure, glimpsed only momentarily, was that of another man of average height, wearing some kind of overcoat, otherwise an indistinguishable silhouette.
It was a male voice, slightly uncertain, a certain quaver causing a pause and a turn, to discover that the stranger was almost on top of him. Wild-eyed, with a corona of gray hair blazing outward from a rat-like, unshaven face, bearing a heavy funk of mildew.
"You dropped this back there."
One hand, cupped, held outward, completely distracted him from the other, seen only in retrospect, a quick flash of light and then darkness.
Diregard awoke in a sparsely-appointed, windowless room. He was sick in a pot containing a defenseless bedraggled palm of some sort. There was a painting in here, that he felt drawn to, that he couldn't look away from.
The painting was small and square and mostly gray, it depicted some sort of shed, set in a backyard. The style was clearly attempting to be realistic without much success. The door of the shed was open and an indistinct figure was halfway through it, and bent over. It was unclear whether this was because the figure was carrying something or whether it was just a bulky individual with particularly poor posture.