If you were to ask any teenager, in the year 1956 on a Friday night in the small town of Waderton California; where is the coolest and most popular place to be in town? Then your best and most likely answer would be the Still Ridge lookout point up on Harveth Ave. Known as the teen couples getaway, this hundred foot cliff side is prime location for the older teens of Waderton High to come for some good leisure and a little romance. With the school year coming to a close and their futures seeming bright, many of the senior class have made their way out to Still Ridge in either their parents car or the makeshift hot rods that were common in those days.
As the array of cars come forth, they line the edge of the lookout like conquering heroes standing above the crashing waves one hundred feet below. The setting sun and its rays of light cascading across the washing carpet of salt water glistens and reflects the last days burn and restores the fresh night air. The gulls retire to their nests and all that can be heard is the distant sound of the rolling shore and murmured tunes of car radios. Among the youthful rally is Todd Henkler and his girlfriend Rachel McClosky pulling up in a blue and white ’55 Doge Coronet. As the couple sit and stare at the wild blue darkening wonder of the ocean, Todd flips on the radio. A moment of static sound flickers off and on with every turn of the knob until Todd finds the station he was looking for. Just in time to catch the announcer they’ve all heard countless times before.
“Hello everyone, this is Lionel Wethers coming at you from the sunny coastline headquarters of WACK 83.5, bringing all the hip tunes down from the the Rock’n Dance Party in sunny side Los Angeles California. So put your hands together and get those dancing shoes on for your host Burt Lancrest!” Cheers from the audience erupt while jiving music blasts from the car radio.
“See, I told you we would get the broadcast out here Rachel.” Todd said.
“Well that’s good, I was worried about not hearing it. We never miss a show.” Rachel said as radio host Burt Lancrest starts off. Todd, holds up his finger to signify the importance of listening.
“Hey hey hey, this is Burt Lancrest and welcome to the Rock’n Dance Party! Now let’s begin the show with all your favorites, starting with the king of rock Mr. Elvis Presley’s Don’t Be Cruel!” The crowd quickly cheers as the song begins to play.
“Damnit, I love this song.” Todd says while drumming his hands on the steering wheel.
Rachel smiles and slides over on the seat and puts her head down on Todd’s shoulder as she smooths out her long pink skirt. “Todd, why can’t we go see Burt Lancrest live some day?” Rachel asks. Todd calms his drumming down to a light tapping and puts his arm around Rachel. “Eh, I’m not one for all that dancing stuff. Besides, I have other ideas in mind.” Todd says while looking deep into Rachel’s eyes. The two share a long passionate kiss as Don’t Be Cruel ends and quickly goes into That’ll Be The Day by Buddy Holly and The Crickets. Rachel smiles and says “I love every Buddy Holly song you know.” Todd smiles back and continues absorbing the sensation from Rachel’s lips.
The two seem to escape into numb endlessness as the world around them fades into a blur and all that matters is the inside of the car and the sweet sounds of the radio. Songs pass and go as the broadcast cuts into commercials and then back into the favorite songs of the age. Most of the melodies seem like ghosted memories as the sun sets entirely and for this night alone, their love and embrace are the only things that matter. Not until later when the host speaks out does Todd and Rachel brake from each other.
“Welcome back to the Rock’n Dance Party, again I’m your host Burt Lancrest and right now we’re gonna simmer things down with a new one for all you cool cats. This one comes from a new group called The Five Stains and they have a love song for all of you called In The Still Of The Night. Now guys grab your gal and hold her close for this one.”
As the song begins, the strumming repetitive notes from the piano and bass instantly produce the tone and ideal mood. Then the angelic male vocals chime in with soft vocalization. “Shudup shudeo, ba dum dum shudup shudeo.” Over and over they continue until the lead singer comes in with “In the still… of the night, I held you. Held you tight. Cause I love you, love you so. Promise to never, let you go… in the still of the night.” His voice echoes in Todd’s heart as every emotion he has ever felt for Rachel, piles out in this one moment.
Todd places his hand into Rachel’s and they grip each other as if caught in a raging storm. The melody and the singing coming from the radio fill Todd and Rachel with a passion incomparable. Todd breathes in Rachel’s scent and fully intoxicated by her being, brings her closer. As the two proceed into their fervor, Todd takes one moment to open one eye just a sliver, enough where the lashes causes the images of sight to blur and shimmer. Even in the blending of colors and shape did Todd notice something out of place and opened his eye wider and glanced to the back right window of his car.
There, outside positioned just yards away appeared a dark shape. It hovered just inches away from the earth and seemed to be breathing and exhaling in size as if the night was amassing into one form. But this darkness was black. Blacker then the deepest black with no depth of tint or shade to give it dimension. It was so black that the nightly environment about it looked faded, ill and lesser. Like the mass was a focal point of darkness on a painted canvas. Thinking his eyes weren’t processing the lights from the cars and the moonlight correctly, Todd pulled away from Rachel and rubbed his eyes. The song continued on to the second verse. “I remember. That night in May…“ Todd shook his head and everything seemed to slow in motion. “What’s wrong Todd?” Rachel asks looking perplexed from the interruption.
“Ehh, something… with my eye.” he mumbles as he rubs the sockets and squints. “Maybe you’d like to open the window? Rachel says as she turns to her doors window hand crank. Todd quickly grabs her shoulder, jolting her backwards and making her look scared. “Wait, wait.. just wait!” he bolts out in urgency.
“Todd, what the hell is wrong?” Rachel says. But Todd simply ignores her and stares back to before. Moving his head like a bobbing bird, curious and unsure of his sanity. The shape still appeared to be floating there. But not at all floating, just simply there and existing apart from its surroundings. The wind blew outside, you could see it in the palms rustling like flags. But this… thing… just stood there absent of motion like the world moved free of its position. The axis of the earth could shift and still it would stay in place as if it was stuck on the lens of your eye and if you moved left, right, up or down; it would remain in place and not alter in perception. All awhile, Rachel looked intently at Todd and the radio played on.
“Your precious love. Well before the light. Hold me again…” the song rang out.
It morphed slowly from a round oblong shape to a sharp cracking v-shaped top and bottom. Todd quickly remembered his sixth grade health books and instantly recognized something that of a woman’s vagina. Todd seemed awed by its presence and inside his stomach dropped as he looked far into its murkiness absence that seemed to channel on for eternity. His mind swam and his heart pulsed as what was once fear become numbing deafness. He couldn’t feel the air about him, nor musical notes coming from the radio. He did not even feel nor realize Rachel’s hand was grabbing his face and yelling wildly. “Todd answer me, this isn’t funny anymore.” Rachel finally made herself look in Todd’s line of sight and beheld what had his attention and still the radio played on.
“What… is that?” Rachel said.
From its edges flowed a black mist that diffused outward like reversing currents. But the air and everything visually standing close, behind and in front seemed to arc to its presence. As if everything around it was stretching inward like a plunger sucking in water as it humps up and down. Then appearing out from the edges of the blackness came what seemed like roots but moving slowly. Sharp fringing roots that seemed to move like rips in the air. As if tearing open the very structure of the air itself. Outwards these tentacles spanned and they seemed to pull the mass forward by gripping the very fabric of the air. Reaching and spreading in spastic movements coming ever closer and still the song played on.
“With all of your might. In the still of the night.” went the song and as the “duwap, du waaa” of the vocals with the saxophone solo began, the shape moved ever closer.
“Todd, we need to…. we… we need to leave. I don’t like this.” Rachel says as she pulls on Todd’s sleeve. Todd’s head shakes and he seems to come back to reality. “Where am I? Rachel, what are we doing here?” Todd asks. Rachel just shakes her head and anxiously grabs Todd’s keys. “We need to leave, there’s something out there and it’s coming for the car.” Rachel says. Todd simply smiles and says “There’s nothing to be afraid Rachel. Everything is just fine.” as Todd simply turns his head to the front and coldly stares to the coast. “Let’s just listen to the music.” he says.
The black shape advanced right outside Rachel’s door. Black root-like tendrils reach outward towards the car window. Rachel bellows a scream and spastically throws herself up out of her seat and onto Todd. Kicking and wrenching herself to get over him and out the other door. But the black roots find their way in through the cracks of the car and edge closer and closer. One finds the door handle and wraps itself around the latch, pulling it and opening the door. Todd smiles and says “Nothing… to… fear” as one of the roots grabs hold of his arm. Other roots follow through the now opened entrance and soon Todd is bound in many black tendrils. Rachel screams and tries to reach for the door until she feels a tug on her ankle. As she is pulled backwards Rachel digs her fingers into the upholstery and fights whatever is pulling her back. More roots take hold of her and their touch is cold and lacking feeling. Like chilled air itself was gripping her and still the song played on.
Todd is yanked outside the car and held upside above the ground. As Rachel tries pulling herself away, she hears a sound as the seats fabric begins to tear. For this moment, all time is slowed and Rachel counts the stitches pulling upward and out of the seat as she is thrust from the vehicle. Arms erratically punching at nothing. She screams and tries looking about her.
All the other cars are still there and all their passengers are just staring at the coast. Not even noticing the screams or this black shape outside their vehicles. “Help me! Fucking help me!” Rachel screams. The tendrils wrangle Rachel tighter and lift her higher like a caught fly bound in web. Rachel looks to Todd who hangs motionless and mesmerized. Then out from the black voided mass comes out two more tendrils. Thick as tree trunks and and waving like ocean swells. Like its source, they too are black and lacking depth. Both seep out one going underneath Todd and the other below Rachel. As Rachel looks down the blood flooding her brain makes everything seem slow and stuck in sap. The song haltingly plays in its third and last verse.
“So before… the light. Hold… me again…” it rings in countless echoes as if playing down a long corridor.
She cries and withers in the cold grip binding her. The tendrils ends stop and look upwards toward Rachel, as if looking directly at her. The head of the tentacle bounds up to a large mass and seems to expand like balloons. They bellow a harmonious moan like a dying whale and a sliver of gray peals open revealing a gaping mouth. The only thing in this black mass to resemble something of shape and form. Inside the mouth Rachel beheld an abysmal black void for a throat, sappy mucus connected to all sides of the throat with lines of grayish molars protruding outwards in various directions. Like a field of rancid bone did they channel the inner walls of the tendril and the stench wafted up to Rachel and she hurled her insides. Which the tendril ground as food.
Then out from the tendrils mouth came a deep base like tone, like the throat was clearing and spurting to clear the passage way. As the last verse of the song comes to its inevitable closing “… In the still of the night.” There is a pause and Rachel realizes her doom. With one last blast from the radio “In in the still… of the… night.” rings out one last time as the “Shudup shudeo, ba dum dum shudup shudeo.” becomes a cadences for the grinding gray teeth as the tendrils lead Rachel and Todd into their personal black portals.
The mouths close in around them and the crushing of the teeth tear Rachel and Todd like pieces of meat caught into an old grinder. Passed back and forth, jarred to and fro. Rachel screams in agony as her bones crush from the chomping and mashing. Blood seeps into her mouth, screams become a gargle and all awhile the song from the radio keeps playing. The falsetto voice rings out as a climactic ending for the melody also marks the ending of Todd Henkler and Rachel McClosky.
As the song fades to nothing the black shape pulls its tendrils inside. It too then fades away, and the other on lookers of Still Ridge go back to their night of romance and radio opera. The still of the night came and it held Rachel and Todd in the month of May.
Credit : nscovell
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