In the US, this time of year is all about Fall and Halloween, where the veils thin and things that have passed on can return. Sometimes, that rising from the dead is unfortunate, sometimes the spirits can return things that have been lost. This year, this site seems to have found new life.
Just in time, too, for the Monster Mash blog hop. It’s been some time for me to show up in public, but they’ve been going strong all this time. There are several stories worth seeing there. Here’s a little one that I will add to it.
“I said, hand over your wallet.” A pistol cocks menacingly, the black barrel somehow even darker than the unlit and rarely traveled city street.
“Hey, man. Seriously, you don’t wanna do this. I’ve got like 20 bucks in my pocket, just take it and go. I don’t want any trouble.” The man being mugged had his hands out to the side, slightly raised. Jacket open against the fall chill, he seemed generally more impatient than concerned.
“Well, we don’t always get what we want. Or don’t want. Er, whatever. Just hurry up. Give me your phone and car keys, too.”
Carson relaxed a little bit, comforted by the amateur attempting to rob him. At least the mugger had thought to use a ski mask over his face, but that was about all that this mugger had going for him. He was obviously beyond his experience, especially his choice of targets.
“If I had car keys, don’t you think I’d be using them?”
As Carson watched, the darkness of the building stretched out, silently reaching for the men on the sidewalk. Behind the mugger, the night air seemed to thicken and bend.
“Oh yeah. Just…give me everything. Hurry up!” The barrel of the gun wavered slightly as the mugger shifted his feet impatiently.
“Last chance, man. Take a little bit of cash and scram or, well..”
“Or what?” The sneer didn’t have to be seen to be evident. “You some kind of tough guy? Hey, stupid, I’ve got the gun.”
“Yep, you do, but I’m not the one you should’ve been worried about.”
As realization dawns on the dim witted criminal, his head swivels, looking over the area. His eyes pass over the empty sidewalk, glance at darkened windows above, but they fail to notice anything out of the ordinary in the growing shadows. Thinking it was a trick, the mugger starts chuckling.
He quickly stops laughing, though, as he hears another chuckle close behind. Menacing, it was an unnatural sound more like static on an unused radio channel. The darkness behind the mugger ripples and warps, spreading ink like through the cool night air, seemingly defiant of the laws of nature. The mugger turns to the sound, clutching his gun in both hands like a holy relic. In the moment that it took to register that the darkness was unusual, he was engulfed. Sinking into the shadow like tar, he did struggle. A single muffled pop of a shot carried into the night, muffled by the darkness until it was barely a whisper.
In his thrashing, the ex-mugger once again faced Carson, terror enlarged whites of the eyes standing out against the ambulant shadows. There was no sound as the last traces of the mugger vanished, and the smell of ozone and burnt hair replaced the stale city scents. The shadow seemed to linger in place for a moment, looming toward the scowling figure still standing.
Carson crossed his arms defiantly. “I had it under control. You didn’t have to eat him.”
Sound came from the darkness for the first time, less a voice than a grinding cascade of a lava flow mixed with microphone feedback. Somehow, the overall effect had a pitch that Carson had always found to be a bit intimidating…not that he’d ever admit it. “He was not eaten. As I have tried to explain…”
“I know. Entropy and atoms or something. Still sounds like eating to me.”
“He would have harmed others. His essence was made of laziness and filth. Mostly of light beer. Besides…he might have hurt you.” Somehow, the voice-like sounds seemed to take on a sheepish tone.
“Good. Hey, on the plus side, we won’t have to feed you tonight.” Carson grinned.
“You will not be getting off the hook that easily. You promised me a steak from the Crestwood, and I believe that I deserve cheesecake now as well!”
“How do you even taste it without a tongue?” Carson teased, falling into a familiar rapport now that any pretense of danger had passed. “Come on. I still want to see if we can find some excitement tonight.”
Carson turned to walk down the street, like nothing had happened. Behind him, the shadows stretched and warped, keeping just behind, as the pair moved toward the nice part of town for dinner, avoiding further distractions or delays.
After all, some monsters take their dinner very seriously.