Reuben Solomon

Donít Read This at Night

A street, home only to decay, spread before two endeavourers. Buildings of rusted steel on their left are accompanied by the equally green of the moss on the sidewalk and gutter. The road had nearly vanished into itself, leaving but a fissure to nowhere as a reminder of its once triumphant existence. The few remaining street lamps gave everything else that wasn’t already green a hue of that same color instead of the dull grey light which they promised. The travelers, as if worlds apart, spoke to one another as if through parted mist. “Aren’t you afraid? I mean, it is ‘its’ day, after all,” came from one.

“No. They’re nothing more terrible than me,” was the only reply as its speaker walked up the stairs garnished with a rusted handrail into its dwelling, adjusting the bandages covering his eyes.

The two friends then parted, the original speaker on his way home as well for he couldn’t risk being any later. The boy with the bandages entered his dwelling. The light inside the house showed everything for what it was, however green still. There was a table with three chairs and a gas stove; the rest fell into nothingness. At the table sat a squid of sorts, as to say a human with tentacles four limbs and fish eyes. His stained t-shirt seemed out of place on his otherwise bare body. At the stove was a heaped mound of flesh wearing an apron. Previously she had been trying poorly to light the stove, but now her full attention was focused upon the new arrival to the room. The light showed the intruder to be a normal male save for the bandages which on anyone else would obscure vision.

“My baby!” The mound bellowed and with that rushed over by dragging itself over its bulk several times to the boy and wrapped itself around him, “Don’t do that again, I told you to be home earlier, I was worried!”

“I’m fine, mom,” the boy pushed away from the pseudo hug after this utterance.

“Well, sport,” said the squid, which was presumably the father while looking at the broken clock propped up on the rotting wooden table, “It’s about time for bed, don’t you think?” He meant it as more of a command than a question.

The next sensation that was known to the boy was that he was snuggling into the tattered covers of his rusted steel frame bed with the lone light bulb floating on a cord above his head as if from nowhere for the ceiling and the rest of the room was veiled just the same as the kitchen. It was at that point that the bulb started to flicker. The pulsating threw shadows to the ends of the room where they collected and took form. A smile of bright white spread in the shadows and with that the boy woke up in a panic, shocking the bulb back to life and dispersing the shadows. “MOM!” he screamed into the darkness as sweat streamed down his face.

The mound was in there in less than a second. Wrapping herself around him once again she whispered, “It was just a bad dream, just remember, there’s nothing more terrible than us. There’s nothing more terrible than us.”

Once again the boy found himself drifting to sleep. And once again, the light wavered, conjuring the same smile as before, this time with a body of following black to accompany it, blending with the darkness of the rest of the room. Upon awaking this time, he called for his father, who came as quickly as his mother did the last time, who, in fact, was right behind and took up her job of comforting again.

“It was nothing. There is nothing more terrible than us. There is nothing more terrible than us,” she chanted as the boy ignored her and turned to his father.

“Dad, can we replace this light bulb?” he whined.

“’Fraid not sport, me and your mom only have one between us and you got one for yourself. If it’s not working right, you’ll just have to put up with it for awhile.”

This time, he was ready. Alone again he made no attempt to sleep; he sat poised waiting for the light to fail yet as before. His time was rewarded as the ripples returned, this time by the foot of his bed. He spun to meet it while removing the bandages with an, “Aha!” His face was sunken deep into his skull, the area around his eyes was a pale gray and fissured just like the road, leading to his lidless eye sockets. The eyes themselves where supported by a dark ring and were a deep red with no pupil and cracked just like the rest of his face and the road. With a grin he sat there just counting the seconds until the stare would petrify the shadow. His grin faded as the shadow’s grin widened.

His parents never reacted to his final scream and all they found in his bed the next day was the bandages and the remains of a once decent bulb.


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