Everything is so still at this hour, hardly any cars in the road, I haven't seen a single soul for the last half hour. Its how I like it, I like the peace and quiet, it lets me think, without distraction. The amber street lights give everything a different tone at this hour, the grey pavement is almost golden at times, only my long shadow before me breaks the illusion, it reminds me that I am still here and kills the sense of disembodiment I get when I am deep within my own thoughts. Its cold tonight, almost bitterly cold, I don't feel it at this stage though, my fast pace has warmed me up. I don't even need to have my hands in my pockets, they are toasty, so my arms can swing by my side now, helping me keep pace, my hands in a loose fist. I have music playing, but I can't really hear it, partly because I am blocking it out, partly because I keep it low at this hour so I can still hear things around me. I can hear my breathing more than my music, as I exhale plumes of amber tinted breath leave my mouth. It must really be cold tonight. As I turn a corner I hear something rustle beside me, I know what it is as the rustling gets more distant. I carry on walking, while thinking nothing more of it. I walk for a few more minutes, everything is automatic now, I am not thinking about where I am going, when I will get to my destination, the music in my ears or anything else. I come across two foxes, maybe one of them is the same one I heard earlier. They are digging through some trash about thirty feet ahead of me, too busy to notice me and my quiet footsteps. Too busy scavenging, surviving, looking for a meal, so they can carry on living through another cold night. As I draw closer one looks at me, straight in the eye, it holds still. I look back at it, straight in the eye. I continue walking towards it, I have no intention of stopping. I am still a distance away but it runs off, I guess it felt like the potential meal wasn't worth it. I hope it finds something else to eat tonight, or returns once I walk away. The second fox is still there, nose in the trash, I'm sure it knows I am close, its scrawnier than the other one, maybe half it size. As I get just a few feet away from it, it stops, and looks up at me, straight in the eye. I stare back as I walk closer to it, but it doesn't flinch. As I pass it, it is still there, this one didn't run. I turn my head to look at it, its nose is back in the trash. Maybe it was hunger, or maybe that fox just had guts, but it didn't run like the bigger fox. Maybe those guts will help it survive into old age, or get it killed early, that's the thing about guts, you can never tell if it will help you survive or kill you off. Sometimes having guts is all it takes. I continue walking for another twenty or so minutes, I still haven't seen a soul tonight. The odd fox scuttering around, or the odd car passing by is the only thing disrupting my peace. Its been over an hour now easily, I have covered several miles and I am on my way back home. I see familiar landmarks around me that remind me I almost home, even though I am still walking on auto pilot. I am getting pangs of hunger now, I didn't eat much today, I didn't have an appetite for most of the day, but this brisk walk changed that. I will be happy to get home, and get some food inside me. I am almost there now. Something catches my eye on the ground, a break in the amber gold. Its not my shadow this time, its someone else's. But not a fox, its another soul walking in the darkness. I start to notice my breathing again, and I can hear his footsteps through the music playing in my ears. I slow my pace and turn my head, I look at him straight in the eye, he stares back at me and carries on walking towards me. I turn back around and continue on my way, then I hear him shout something at me, I hear it through the breathing, through the music. I turn around and stop this time. He continues walking towards me, he won't stop. Our eyes locked together, neither will look away. I don't flinch. I know what he wants, I have been in the same situation a dozen times before. I won't run though, I will stand my ground like I have done all those times before. My jaw clenches, there is no more amber breath, my loose fists tighten, I forget the hunger, I'm still not cold. I brace myself. I am ready for him and his bullshit. Sometimes having guts is all it takes. Warning: Spoilers inside! This story was inspired by something that happened to me a few nights ago, where a guy approached me with the intent to mug me at 3am. Nothing serious happened by the way, after a brief exchange of harsh words he backed off.