It was daylight when they came. It was strange. Nightmares normally occur in the dark, but they came in the day. It was warm. It was early October, and the ground was littered with leaves. It was just passed lunchtime when they came.
Eddie’s was the gas station at the edge of town. It was the only station that didn’t belong to a chain. Eddie was long dead. His great grandson, Carl, was the current owner of the place. Carl was forty-eight, bald and pathetic. His face was in a perpetual state of discomfort. He acted as the gatekeeper to the town of Dauphin. He was the first thing one saw when they arrived, and the last thing they saw when they left. He had his face ripped off the day they came.
They came on a Saturday. She was skipping. He walked beside her with his head bowed low. He wore a black hat. His face could not be made out under the hat. His hair was long, black, and greasy. She was wearing a pink tutu and looked like a child. Half of her face was skeletal. The other half of her face was freckled and cheerful. Her hair was red and tied into pigtails and both her irises were completely black. She was humming as she skipped.
Carl watched them walking down the dirt path. He walked outside to get a look at the newcomers. He liked to be in the know about each person in Dauphin. As they walked along the path, he stood in the lot to their right. She immediately diverted from the main road and charged at him. She laughed hysterically when he screamed. He fell to the ground, and she pounced on top of him. She used her teeth to rip the skin from the right side of his jaw to the left corner of his forehead. He died from shock or pain or something like that.
The man walked over to them. He took his hat off and pressed it to his chest. He then bent down and ripped meat from Carl’s torso. I watched all of this from the Lawson’s home at the edge of town. The Lawson house was across from the gas station. Their backs were to me as they feasted in the daylight. The sky was blue and cloudless. Wind swept rocks into the air.
My wife joined me at the window. We had both been enjoying our food before this happened. She looked scared. We had only recently arrived in town. I didn’t know what to say. It had been so long since we found somewhere to settle. We couldn’t believe something like this had occurred. She gave me a nervous glance but didn’t speak.
“Don’t worry, Lisa. We’ll be okay in the night,” I said. I didn’t know if this was true. It was the only thing I could think to say.
By the time Carl was found dead, the girl and the man had killed three others. They committed these murders on the same day. They walked into Paulie’s Diner and opened the throat of the host who greeted them. The patrons fled the scene, but the girl and the man were very quick. He grabbed a waitress who flung herself over the counter; she ran outside and bit the neck of Norman Riley, the town chiropractor. I heard Alice Creeley next door screaming her face off about the incident. She was urging her girlfriend to pack up her things.
An emergency alert was sent out and many left the town. Upon leaving, Carl was a difficult sight to miss. I assured my wife that we’d be okay. I felt that we would be safe at night. After all, they came in the day.
That night, Lisa and I went to the Kowalski’s for something to eat. When we got there, I told her that it was a good sign that things were quiet. Unfortunately, the Kowalski’s seemed to have left Dauphin. Our earlier plans had been disrupted by the new arrivals. We decided to stay the night in the Kowalski home, in the hope of getting a better view of Dauphin’s new residents from the centre of town.
We sat until morning. There wasn’t a stir in the night. I awoke midday to the sound of rain. A small voice sang. I could hear her from the open window in the living room. She was splashing around in the rain. She was singing, “It’s raining; it’s pouring. The old man is snoring. He bumped his head on the top of the bed, and he couldn’t get up in the morning.” She was laughing while she sang. I looked out the window and saw her pink tutu against the dark grey sky. She was waving around an arm that she had torn off someone.
“What if everyone is gone?” Lisa asked me.
“Then we’ll go too,” I assured her.
The town sheriff and a few of his deputies decided to confront the man and the girl. That went very poorly for them. The sheriff shot himself before the girl could kill him. At one point, it seemed that one of the deputies might make it into the Kowalski’s home, but the man dragged him back from the porch. He was screaming. The man revealed sharp claws and used them to penetrate the deputy’s back. He dug his fingers into his back and pulled out the police officer’s heart. He kept his head bowed has he ate it.
I watched this at the front door. My wife was sleeping. The girl walked up the footpath to where the deputy lay. She began to drink from the hole in his chest. When she stood up, blood dripped from her chin. She looked up to the house. I thought she saw me. She tilted her head to the right as she squinted in my direction. She almost ascended the wooden staircase, until a hiss resounded behind her. The man beckoned her over to him. She threw her arms up sulkily but turned to follow him.
When night came, Lisa and I began to walk through the town. Our footsteps crunched loudly on the gravel road. There was no light on in Dauphin. The silence was unlike any I’d heard before. Even the trees seemed to hold their breath. We looked for any sign of life. Although I wouldn’t reveal it to my wife, our situation was looking dire.
The stars in the sky served as our only company. Lisa placed her head on my shoulder as we walked. I kept surveying the area, hoping to find some movement in the darkness. I kissed her head, hoping to relieve any anxiety.
It wasn’t until we passed Laurie’s diner that I noticed a sudden movement. To the left of me, blinds seemed to sway. I signaled over to the diner with a nod of my head. We walked over to the glass front door. I pulled on the handle, but it wouldn’t budge. I knocked. Nothing. I knocked again. “Shhh,” I heard from inside.
“Please,” I called, banging on the door. “Please let us in.”
Although there was no response, I kept banging my fist against the door. I figured the inhabitants would grow fearful of my making a scene. This proved to be a reasonable idea, as the blinds flew upwards. “Go away,” a chubby, middle-aged man whispered behind the glass door. Then in desperation, “please.”
“Please, let us in,” I responded. “Let us come inside.”
The man looked at me for a long while. He then looked at Lisa. He turned from us and looked behind him. A woman with grey hair shook her head the moment his eyes fell on her. He turned back to us and shook his head.
“Please, sir,” Lisa said. “We’re scared.”
He seemed like he might relent. He looked back at the woman behind him. There were other shadows peering out from behind her, sitting up in the booths of the diner. Although she didn’t move, there were nods in the background. He turned back to us and sighed. “Alright,” he said. “Alright,” he unlocked the door.
When he opened the door, we stood staring at one another for a moment. I nodded my thanks. My wife held my hand. We stood looking at each other for almost a minute. He seemed confused, turning back to the other people in the diner. “Come in,” he said.
I smiled then. “Thank you, sir.”
When we stepped inside, I began to count the number of people who had taken refuge in the diner. There was an elderly couple, a family of five and the chubby cook who let us in. The family, coincidentally, were the Kowalski’s. Dauphin often gave one the impression that the world was tiny.
I smiled at each person. My relief was unfathomable. “We’ll be alright tonight,” I told Lisa. “Then tomorrow, we’ll set off for somewhere new.”
Her fangs were already protruding from her gums. “Wonderful,” she responded.
Lisa pulled the elderly woman close and sunk her teeth into her throat. The old man, presumably her husband, began to scream. The Kowalski’s followed suit. All of them ran for the door, but I was there in a flash. I locked it and turned to them. They ran to the other end of the diner, cowering in fear. The chubby cook hid behind the counter. I descended on him first, opening his throat with my teeth.
Credit : LB Miller
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