pulled into the lot and George swung the car into a handicapped space.
I furrowed my brow and peered at the blue sign through the cracked windshield.
“As far as I know,” I said, “You aren’t a handicap.”
is justice.” He said, pushing the car door open with his knee. “Why
should a cripple get a free ride? Let him put on a stained white work
shirt. Let him push despair into the pit of his belly and smile at the
customers. I say put down the crutch and pick up a shovel; There’s work
to be done.”
“Preach on.” I giggled, pulling gingerly on the latch and climbing out into the damp air.
began to walk towards the entrance. George produced a large bottle of
muck, licking his lips and teasing it under my nose. Reluctantly, I
took the bottle and poured some of its contents down my throat.
“Keeckkc!” I hacked through streaming tears, “It’s poison! It’s swamp mud!”
no such thing. In any case I’m striking a blow for the common man!” he
said, swigging from the bottle and heaving it onto the roof.
“Testisfy.” I croaked, staggering over to the curb and collapsing into some stinging brush.
pulled me to my feet. The doors to the supermarket slid open and we
stepped inside. I took a few steps inside and stood still for a moment, basking in
the fluorescent glow. A pleasant warmth surged behind my eyes. Outside
the night was steadily becoming darker.
“Remember…” I moaned, “Get in and get out… places like these… they aren't kind to stragglers.”
“We’ve business to attend to,” George said, nodding towards the men's room door as he rummaged through his pockets, “Come along.”
stepped inside the bathroom. The atmosphere was oppressive. Rancid air wafted into my nostrils. I
suppressed a gentle gag. Harsh synthesized muzak croaked from hidden speakers. Mysterious stains streaked the walls and floors. Obscene graffiti crawled across every surface. Somebody had scratched “your gang sucks”
on one of the stalls, along with an arrow which pointed to a gaping
hole in the ceiling tile.
“What is meant by that statement?” I asked, pointing the piece out to George.
paid no attention to me and stood staring across the room. I followed
his gaze and saw a small man standing on tiptoes in front of the
mirror, raking desperately at a crop of thinning hair. He whistled
gently and tunelessly, pretending to pay us no mind, but his eyes
flicked nervously to our reflection every few moments.
“Get lost tubby.” George growled, jerking his thumb towards the door.
The man frowned and blinked his eyes.
“Take care of this,” George looked at me from under his brow, kicking open a stall and sliding inside.
I walked over and began hovering just behind where the man stood. I cleared my throat. The lights flickered.
“Sh-sh-sh-shhhhh…” I whispered to the back of his skull. “They’ve nearly arrived.”
“Wh-what?” His throat bobbed.
“I said, they’ve nearly arrived. I can feel them coming down.”
“Who do you m-mean? What is this?” His teeth clicked.
I rolled my eyes into the back of my head and put my hands on his shoulders, squeezing gently.
Whispering: “I feel them coming across the fields. I feel them climbing into
the ditch. They claw their way up again, with ashen faces…"
"...D-Ditches you say?"
the stall there came a loud clattering and George bellowed. The man’s
eyes widened. His face was deathly pale. He gripped the sides of the
sink and closed his eyes.
come across the lot. Trees withering in their wake. Raven's claws.
Broken and clotted teeth. They’re nearing the door. It won't be long now.”
“Oooh…” The man’s legs began to shake and
he gripped the sink still tighter, his hair falling across his eyes. He
moved his lips in silent prayer.
“At the door now. It slides open and they skulk through. The night
roils in behind them, blacking out the lamps and the lights. By the
hundreds. By the thousands. Hundreds of thousands. The hour is upon us.”
“No.” He blubbered, collapsing to the floor, heaving sobs “Na-a-a-aooooo…”
Shouting: “Now run.”
raised his head and glanced fearfully towards the door. Inside the
stall there was a snap and a whoosh and an inhuman howl, followed by a
"Oh god," he prayed, "oh god."
stall began to shudder and rock, bolts pinging from their sockets. I
felt something strike me in the temple. Fireworks exploded in my head,
dropping me to one knee. I put my hand up and it was wet and
sticky and warm. I grinned. The little man scrabbled to his feet and
froze, jaw trembling. I looked up and around
and saw the black mist was seeping through the cracks of the door and
through the vents in the ceiling. My grin widened and I spread my arms wide.
seeped from the corners of the room, closing in. I felt myself weakening. Hideous
laughter echoed all around. Chunky liquid rushed out from under the
stalls, coating the floor in a thick grey-brown paste. The mist
came forward and rolled up and around the man. There was a scream and a sound like the tearing of think paper. Then... silence. The mist advanced
“No.” I mouthed, holding a hand out in front of me. “Please.”
The mist rushed on, spiraling around my arm. I began to scream. It came through my mouth and rolling cold into my throat and lungs. Ice rushed through my veins. I looked down and saw my skin beginning to blacken.
“More.” I said, the edges of my vision vibrating.
My eyes clouded and I fell clawing at the air, cracking my head hard on crusted tile. I lay on the ground and could feel smooth corrupted blood spurt, seeping out and into the cracks in the floor. Weakly, coughing black blood, I pulled myself to one elbow and moaned.
“Would you please quiet down out there?” George said.
There was a soft crinkling and some paper whisked over the stall door. It glided down and landed in a crumpled ball on my forehead with a soft pat.
“A rose,” I sighed, dropping back to the floor, "Softly... kindly...without puncturing spines…"
Some time later, inky rivulets glided across the room, escaping into the drain in the floor.