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I Closed My Eyes

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The dances at the Portuguese club in the next town over were wild. No doubt about that. I'd been to a couple, and had an abundance of stories I couldn't tell to the general public. But this one felt different.

I was going with Callie, Trevor, and Nate, and they hadn't seemed to notice anything amiss, so I shook it off. No use being a killjoy. Especially not on the night of the last dance before exams.

We made our lack-lustre entrance, blending in with the herd of teens on the dance floor seamlessly. Someone elbowed Nate, who'd always been a certified knucklehead, and he vanished, probably off to pick a fight with the guy responsible for what I hoped, for the other guy's sake, would only be a light bruise over Nate's ribs.

“Come dance with me, Adam!” Callie giggled, reaching for my arm.

Callie O'Leary was gorgeous. Golden blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and perfect skin. A ballerina with a love of wearing very tight pants, she was the object of much affection from the boys of Jack Pritchard High, and had a herd of desperate, hormonal teenage boys following her almost everywhere she went.

And this small-town goddess was asking me, a mere mortal, to dance.

I obeyed, though I'd never been one to dance well. My arsenal consisted of rocking from foot to foot like I had to use the washroom. Badly. Thankfully, Callie was, how you say plastered, and didn't seem to care that I couldn't dance.

I got really into dancing, dorky as it sounds. When I finally looked down, those huge blue eyes were ridiculously close. On an impulse, I pulled her in and I, Adam the Average, kissed her.

But she went limp. And not the good kind of weak-in-the-knees, head-spinning limp that would be a good sign. A heavy limp that felt suspiciously like dead weight.

“Oh, God!” I screamed, feeling the pole sticking out the middle of her slender back. “Someone help me!”

But no one could hear me over the ruckus. I was just another shrieking adolescent at a crappy teen dance.

“Callie!”

I looked around, desperate for help.

“Callie!”

But no one knew what was going on, and any who noticed the pole sticking out of my friend's back was too intoxicated to realize it meant something serious. That it meant there could be funerals and tears and we would all stand out front of the school by the statue of Jack Pritchard, knowing none of us lived up to our school name when the time had come. Had Captain Jack, firefighter hero, been there, Callie would have lived, we would tell each other.

“Callie!”

Finally, it hit me that large metal poles don't just shove themselves through people, nearly killing them, just for kicks. Someone had to have been responsible. Someone tried to kill Callie.

Callie's lips moved, forming my name, I knew. I knew.

I spied a phone hanging out of someone's back pocket, and desperate, I removed it, dialling 911. Hopefully they could hear me.

“My friend was just impaled by a pole at the Portuguese club and I need an ambulance!” I shrieked.

As soon as I got the words out, I saw it. But I was rooted to the spot by one part fear and two parts Callie. I couldn't leave her here, and I couldn't let her fall. She was still there, but barely. I was more afraid that what little grip her fingernails had on my arms would be lost and she'd leave with it. I was more afraid for Callie than I was of the thing.

It was perched in the corner of the roof, humanoid, but far from human. Its back was straight and rigid, the legs dangling like a frog's legs on either side of the rafter it had chosen as its hiding place. Its head was flopped eerily to the side, limp, while every other muscle in the creature's body was tense.

The lights of the club passed over my face, and when I regained my vision, the thing was on the ceiling directly above me, defying gravity in the most gut-twistingly inhuman way possible. Its head folded in to its chest, it hung from the ceiling, despite its only contact with the wood of the roof being at its fingertips. The creature's arms were spread back, chest open, and legs crumpled up close to its sides.

“Why?” I screamed at it.

Callie tried to pull herself up, using my arms as a ladder. But she was dying and all three of us knew it. That's why the creature had zeroed in on me. Because Callie was no longer a target for anything but the kiss Death Himself would blow past the lake and Jack Pritchard High and right through the walls of the Portuguese club, through the alcohol-soaked bodies that surely belonged to him, and right to Callie, the beauty who had been adored and showered with attention all her life but now that she needed it more than anything not a soul set half an eye on her.

Down the creature came and back up it went, clinging to the ceiling once more. In the blur, I saw blood, yes, but felt the sleighing with more than my eyes. I felt it in the approach of Death. Callie beckoned His affection, but now His work doubled. The creature dipped into the crowd thrice more and I felt my throat tighten. He was coming. Death was coming here, and He, an eternally neutral observer, would take these poor souls away. He would take them away where they could never be hurt again, and would know nothing but peace.

Death was coming, and I wouldn't be joining Him until I could ensure that creature would know pain and torture like Callie would know peace if the ambulance didn't come soon.

The creature dropped down for what I promised myself would be the last time. This time, its stance high above was different. It was motherly. The creature cradled an unconscious Trevor in its arms, stroking his hair with inhuman hands.

Not Trevor. Not Callie. And sure as hell, not me.

I whipped the cell phone at the thing, but it moved, using my friend as a shield. Clearly, physical strikes wouldn't do. So I did the only thing I could think of, and closed my eyes.

When faced with something unspeakably different from anything I'd ever encountered, I closed my eyes.

But that wasn't the signature on my dead certificate, like I thought it'd be. I could hear the creature close by. I swung out, feeling flesh like ice hit my forearm hard. Callie's nails on my arms vanished. It was me and the thing now.

“Such potential,” the creature said. I felt something sharp drag across my forehead, blood seeping down. “Wasted potential.”

I struck it, flailing. I kept throwing out my limbs, desperate to win. Death would not take me yet.

“You're just like my father,” I spat.

“Was he assigned to the San Francisco earthquake back in the day? No.”

“Assigned?” I asked, distracted, but not enough so to make me stop fighting.

It hissed, clawing my bicep. “You don't know s*** about this world of yours.”

I finally managed to get a good hit in, and heard the thing clattering to the ground with a sound like glass. The creature was hard and cold, too, only making the glass comparison more chilling.

“You don't know s*** about me, freak,” I replied, stomping hard on what must have been the creature's head.

“Adam?”

I finally opened my eyes, feeling Callie's back under my palms again. I moved one, hoping and hoping I wouldn't find a pole.

“Adam,” she smiled, moving even closer.

My hands passed through air where the pole once was, and I promptly puked my guts up to the side, images of the creature still fresh in my head.




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