Silverwood: Chapter 11

Somewhere in the city, the back door of a nightclub swung open into an alley that would be about wide enough to drive a small car through if it weren’t so crowded with dumpsters and junk. Music and noise and a rectangle of light spilled out, along with a young couple who stumbled around laughing. The door was in the mouth of a giant cartoon clown face painted on the brick wall. The door fell shut again, hitting a block of wood placed there to prevent anyone getting locked out.

The couple were festooned with skinny jeans and shaved heads and the glint of jewelry and studs. Fancy punks. Things started out alright but as they talked their voices turned argumentative. Pretty soon there was shouting. The young woman broke away from her companion and threw open the door and stormed back inside. The band was between songs. The man leaned his back on the wall, arms crossed, looking down at his expensive boots.

A few dumpster-lengths away, a shadow came loose from the wall and moved down the alley toward the man. The figure was unusually tall and its shape rippled around like a long coat. It drew closer but the man just glared at the ground. He didn’t look up until the figure stood just a few feet in front of him.

“You know you really ought not to be out here at this late hour,” the figure said in a gravelly and worn voice.

The young man startled but regained himself. “Yeah, whatever.” Who was this guy telling him what to do. People are outside by themselves because they want to be by themselves. Not because they want to talk with random jerks.

Before the young man could add any insults or expletives to his brush-off, a needle-like protrusion about the length of a tennis racket shot out of the figure’s arm and straight into the man’s abdomen.

The young man froze. His eyes bugged and swam around. He stared up at his assailant. What he saw was a pale elongated grey face with yellow eye slits. The emaciated face of a Tromindox that had not fed in some time. The young man made an attempt to push off from the wall but he couldn’t control his arms. His hands balled up. His legs gave way and he slid into a sitting position. His skin turned black and his spiky hair extended into a mess of tentacles. He began to lose shape altogether. Soon there was nothing left of him but a terrified pair of eyes in a wriggling black puddle.

With all this effort the Tromindox was looking pretty globby itself. It reeled in its prey until the smaller shape was absorbed completely within its own. Satisfied that it had the upper hand, the creature expended the additional energy to return to a more humanlike form. It shuffled away, unsteady but stronger. It was already buzzing with new brain-energy.

The door scraped open. A wide man in an undershirt hauled out a bag of garbage. He flung it into the dumpster and took a quick look up and down the alley. He wiped his hands on his pants and went back in.

Later on the young woman would come back out into the empty alley and surmise that her date had left. She would take this as a sign that they had broken up and would not call him for a week. It would not be until he had missed several days at work that the police would finally enter his untouched apartment.

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