The Shape

Unbeknownst to five people, a mysterious shape haunts their suburban neighborhood as they begin their Saturday night of party and relaxation.

1

The street lights struggled, flickering on Blue Veil road as a shadow swooped across the street. Later, a network technician will arrive home not realizing the swooping shape behind him. Four teenage girls will have a girls night out with a shape outside their windows. 

Cars came in less numbers as day turned into night and each neighbor lining the road returned home from work. Some of them would later leave home to go out for a night of fun, a date night, or a movie night and leave their kids in the hands of babysitters and teenagers home alone trusting them to the machinations at their disposal. Parents hope their teenagers make the best decisions and some even pretend that they don’t commit debauchery and sin. Some people living on Blue Veil live on their own in a solitary life, returning home after work to play online games, drink Mountain Dew, eat cheetos, and watch any number of streaming services available. The lights turn on one at a time in each of the homes as the garage doors close. Nobody suspects somebody, some shape, stalking their street.

Blue Veil could very well be described as your ordinary neighborhood street. This particular night though, something sinister will stalk the street that this street would never suspect would ever stalk their street. No neighborhood, no street, no city, ever thinks that it would ever happen to them. They are always surprised.

The shape, somebody, something, will roam the street later at night. They called it the shape because that is all the survivors and witnesses saw. The sex of the shape is unknown. Nobody could tell what it was. Jody, a sixty-five year old woman, living at 652 Blue Veil told police the shape was a towering six foot five. Henry, a seventy-two year old man, living at 716 Blue Veil told police the shape was a measly five foot four. The contrary heights were due to the fact that they saw what they named it, only a shape. It moved fluidly. Like a slush. Like a dam releasing its hold of a rivers force. It moved with a float, a grace, like a sheet in the wind. They saw only a shape.

2

Joey spent his stormy Saturday night watching online videos with his laptop warmly placed on his lap, quite appropriate for the name ‘laptop’ but not good for his future prospects of spreading his seed. He waved his hand down his shirt to wipe off the crumbs of his meal and put his hand down his pants to relieve an itch underneath ignoring the tapping of the tree’s branch outside the window and the continued tapping on the roof of the pouring rain. He closed his computer and contemplated looking in the fridge for something to snack. His television even had on Netflix even while he was looking at online videos. Joey was quite the multitasker despite his awkward appearance. Day and night he spent his time in front of his computer and television stuffing his face with snacks. 

The tree outside the living room window continued tapping. Joey rolled off the couch pretending to make a hero landing, with a stiff posture standing straight. He stretched his back and finished knocking the crumbs off his shirt. He picked up the remote to turn it up to block out the branches tapping sound. If he cared even a bit about maintenance he would have trimmed the branches of the outside tree. Joey stepped behind his kitchen counter, pulled out a plate, opened up his refrigerator, pulled out a jar of jelly to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He cut off the ends of the bread. He spread jelly on one slice of bread, wiped off the blade on the other slice of bread and spread peanut butter on the other half. The lights flickered. The AC cut on and when it did the lights would always flicker. It was natural to him, the lights flickering, when the AC cut on, but whenever friends visited they would always look around wondering why the lights flickered. The door knocked. Three times. Joey looked up from his plate to the door wondering who would be here at this hour.

Joey stared through the peephole. He saw a shape outside but couldn’t figure out what it was. He backed off from the door and as soon as he did the door knocked again. The knock pounded with a furious force he wondered what was important enough that couldn’t be accompanied with a declaration of intent. Staring through the peephole again he saw nothing but a shape out in the street, further away this time than before. Joey took a few steps back, paused, then a few more steps backward. The door pounded again. The tree tapped against the window behind him. Knock. Tap. Knock. Tap. They occurred in quick succession. Confused, he sat on his couch. Without knowing, his throw blankets covered him. He had no weapons of any kind, besides kitchen knives. The knocks and taps continued for two minutes. Joey tip-toed to the kitchen grabbing a knife and stayed behind the counter watching the muted television. He cowered behind his throw blanket. A cheap, but soft, one from Wal-Mart.

The power went out. Joey kneeled to lower himself behind the kitchen counter. A crash made him drop the knife and cover his ears. Rain poured in through the window following the tree branch that came first. He went to the window, keeping himself a few feet away, and stared outside. He stumbled across the coffee table to grab a towel from the closet to hang over the window to at least block out the rain from coming in. He began strapping the towel to the curtain above and tape the sides of it. He taped the right side and caught himself noticing the quiet. Everything was quiet. The rain ceased. No tapping, no knocking. He looked above at a piece of an unbroken window and saw a shape. The shape. Behind him. He was paralyzed. Unable to move his muscles he stared at the window. The shape came closer. He saw his life. The crumbs. The games. The TV. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Nothing else. Then a shadow of a knife rose. His legs were cemented there. The shadow rose slowly. Then the shadow came down like lightning and struck. Thunderstruck shaking windows. Joey lay in a puddle of blood under the broken window he tried to fix with a towel. Nobody would find Joey’s slain body for days and by then the house stank of rotting flesh. Only one thing was missing from his house, a kitchen knife on the counter. They knew that because of the blood on the knife holder.

3

Abby put on her Hello Kitty oven mitts to take the pie out of the oven. She tossed it on the counter, saying “ta-ta-ta” as it was very hot even threw the oven mitts, to chill before bringing it to her friend’s house across the street for an end of the school year party. Sarah lived across the street and she and Abby had grown up together. Parker lived a few blocks over and always brought the fun to the parties. But they weren’t usual seventeen-year-old girls. They never drank at their parties and if they did it was less taking shots of vodka and more sniffing it. This party was more or less a loser girls night out to say screw the school. So yes, there were shots of vodka involved. They invited a new friend they met that had the unfortunate pleasure of starting school in the last week of school. Her name was Lindsey. Abby, Sarah, Parker, and Lindsey were four friends in a neighborhood of ordinary measure that enjoyed the weekend nights of sniffing vodka and eating pie. 

This particular evening Abby, Sarah, Parker, and Lindsey met at Sarah’s at eight to think about sniffing vodka, snack, and gossip. Abby rushed the freshly baked pie across the street, scurrying fast to get out of the chilling winds and to escape the coming darkness. Parker and Lindsey waited on Abby sitting on the front porch with a blanket thrown over their legs puffing fake cigarette smoke into the air.

“Hey girl!” Parker said, “what you got there?”

“An apple pie,” Abby said. She proudly held it up showing her friends her creation.

“Very original. I’m glad it wasn’t pumpkin. That’d be a bit racist, don’t you think?” Lindsey said, being the only black girl in the mix she would quip being their diversity friend for hire.

The group barged into the house surprising Sarah all at once. They crammed themselves in the box kitchen finishing the apple pie together then tetris-styled themselves on the couch. The TV had random reality shows they went back and forth on. Laughing and gossiping about celebrities their lives would never be like.

“So Lindsey, any word from Derrick?” Parker asked.

She fumbled with her fingers, staring at the ground. “I haven’t talked to him,” Lindsey said, “not since that night.” Lindsey added with a bit of sorrow and a tone of I don’t want to talk about it. It’s been a few months since the last week of school but they are all well aware of her last week school activities with a boy she met at the end of the year party.

“He shouldn’t have hit you,” Sarah said.

“We should beat his ass,” Abby said, “but at least we got his car!” The girls laughed. Lindsey gave a slight laugh at this, not wanting to look her friends in the eyes.

“I just don’t know whether to forgive him, wait it out, or let him go,” Lindsey said.

“Let him go.” Lindsey’s three friends said at once.

Parker rose to sit next to Lindsey staring her in the eye. “You don’t have to live in fear, Lindsey. You ran away, but we’re here for you. We can help.” Lindsey nodded and cried welcoming the presence of her friends. 

During the end of the year party Lindsey had been talking to a guy she met the last week of school, Derrick Burdick. Or as Lindsey’s three friends referred to him, DB – douche bag. Lindsey cosied up to him at the party, then in the pool, and finally in a bedroom. They kissed, made-out, but like all boys, Derrick wanted more and Lindsey did not. When she refused his advances he smacked her, not once, but two, three, four times. He apologized later on, of course, said he was drunk, of course, but that’s what they all say. This was not the first guy to hit Lindsey, but she kept that fact away from her friends.

Abby changed the subject, making jokes about their teachers and parents. All was well.

In the midst of their laughter, the lights went out.

“What the hell,” Sarah said, “the power went out.” Sarah rose to find a flashlight. The other three girls remained on the couch cuddling under the blanket to keep warm, always fighting for each of their proper coverage. A shadow went by the window. Sarah walked from the kitchen flinging out the drawers fumbling through each of them but to no avail. “I’ll check the bedroom.” She tip-toed carefully not to stumble into any furniture or tables on her way to the back. She disappeared from complete sight into the darkness behind the back bedroom doors.

“Hey – I saw something by your windo-” Lindsey said, cutting herself off staring at the window. Her face lacked emotion, her eyes resting on the see-through glass or maybe it was the pale moon. No, something moved out there. A shape. Lindsey thought it was…still out there. The shape stared directly at her.

“What’s the matter, Lindsey?” Abby asked. She shrugged Lindsey’s shoulder parting her brunette hair from her face. Parker rose and wrapped herself around Lindsey, but something too caught her eyes. Something dark. Unnatural. A shape. A shape outside. She only caught it out of her peripheral but something was there. Parker squinted to focus on what was on the other side of the window in the dark. She shook her head thinking it was just her imagination. But what was happening to her friend Lindsey was not happening in her imagination. Something paralyzed her in fear. 

A scream.

“Sarah?” Parker could barely throw up the words out of her mouth. She couldn’t feel her lengthy legs but her mind was fine. Lindsey was like a paraplegic. Abby ran to the back room where she saw Sarah go to find a flashlight. Lindsey moved her eyes towards Abby running into the back. She disappeared into the void of the bedroom, into that eternal darkness from which she will never return.

Abby entered the bedroom, whispering out to Sarah. Where are you, she thought. “You better not be playing around!” she said. She waved her arms in front of her, careful not to stub her toe on anything. But there was something in there. Something darker than black. The shape. Her eyes winced at a ghastly sight. A shape she never imagined could be seen. A color she never imagined to be possible. Her voice had no time to let out a scream before her throat split open with that crimson color brightening and reflecting all possible light back to any unsuspected viewers eyes. Her friends remained ignorant of their two dead friends laying on the carpet in the bedroom. Staining it with crimson liquid flowing out of their bodies. The shape moved.

Lindsey remained frozen with fear. Parker shook her friend repeatedly, as she laid on the couch in a catatonic state. The scream she heard earlier was brief but deafening. Parker rose to contemplate moving her legs to follow Abby or remain with her frozen friend on the couch. She stared into the abyss, into the back bedroom. She screamed. Something stared back. She stared into the shape that could not be possible. The shape appeared still. Like a large stone in a windy field. Relentlessly refusing to move despite nature’s best attempt. But there was an outlining movement of the figures’ presence. Something was moving. Something was going on in the mind of the shape and behind the black eyes that she knew stared back at her. Parker wanted nothing more than to escape, to abandon her friends, but something in the shapes impossible figured kept her where she sat back down on the couch next to her only remaining friend.

The shape approached wielding a large knife in its left hand. A black void, a shadow, waved in and out like a pulsing light around its body. The knife remained still along its thigh hanging down, slightly pointed towards Parker and Lindsey. Parker found her courage, her courage to escape. It was fight or flight. It’s natural and instinctive. Nobody can escape the instinct to either fight or flight. Some people see an insect and run. Some see an insect and stomp on it. Parker ran. She leaped over the coffee table to the back door struggling with the lock, the shape moved its left foot towards her. She opened the door but the shape struck her with its blade slicing open her shoulder. It slammed the door. She wrapped herself around the shape but it grabbed her hair. She gripped the windows curtain to escape and pull herself up but the shape gripped her by her hair raising her up to eye level. She was two feet off the ground. The shape stuck the knife in her back, over, and over, and over. She screamed but it took mere seconds for her voice to transform from a loud squeal to a dying whisper. Blood splashed on the curtains as they went still with Parkers hand falling to the grips of gravity. And so the shape ended another life. Parker’s body dropped to the floor with a thump on the wooden panels near the back window.

Lindsey turned her head towards her dying friend. The shape stood over her, perfectly straight and salient. His body was resolute. His head turned to the side. Black eyes beamed through Lindseys’ soul. She found the courage in her heart to move her muscles and escape. The shape seemed to teleport beside her to grab her but she threw herself on the floor crawling like an alligator between the coffee table and couch, rising herself off her hands and knees to run to the front door. The shape stepped, one foot at a time towards her. Lindsey threw the door open slamming it into the wall knocking off pictures breaking glass and she ran into the street. 

She ran. She turned her head, the shape was behind her. She ran as fast as she could but the shape was always behind. Tears rolled down from the fear of what followed her. No matter how fast the shape closed the distance as he stepped in a walking pace, one foot at a time.

The moon shone its light onto Lindsey as her legs gave up. She fell face first into the black tar pavement.The shape stood behind her. Its color was just as it was, darker than black. Darker than the night. Darker than the pavement it stood above. She looked at it for the first time and couldn’t make out who it was. “Why are you doing this?” The shape made no acknowledgement of her words. Lindsey thought it floated above her like an angel. Or a demon.

The black of his eyes pierced her. These were like two tiny black holes. Absent of light.

“Why? Why?” Tears fell onto the black tar pavement. Crimson tears.

The shape lowered in a glide to be on her level. Looking eye to black eye. Lindsey and the Shape stared at each other, for all intents and purposes for there were no eyes for her to stare into. But she felt them. She felt them staring back at her. For the first time in her life, she was no longer afraid of the unknown. Lindsey wanted to run, but she faced her fear for the first time in her life. She knew what was going to happen. The shape lunged and Lindsey collapsed over. She laid in the street for hours before a car drove along to discover her body in a pool of red.

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