“Our Mutual Friend”: A Short Story for Haunted Passages by Stephen Langlois

 

MY DAUGHTER ARABELLE, SHE WAS the first to hear them. They woke her Thursday night before last, tapping on her window. Maybe not tapping so much as clinking. I heard the same sound since. Right here in the kitchen and elsewhere, too. A quick, sharp, hollow sorta sound. The sound of digits what ain’t designed to be touching no glass nor wood nor any other fixture of this here plane of existence.
Our mutual friend says this oughta interest you.
She heard them talking, too, Arabelle did. A high keening kinda talk what ain’t hardly intelligible to the human ear. I heard it myself just the other night, keening from back behind the bushes and back further still from inside the culvert what passes under Route 7.
Not just that.
Arabelle saw them. Three or four of them right outside her window looking like small bald-headed children what ain’t got no clothes on. What ain’t got normal-looking skin neither. Kinda colorless and loose-fitting from the way Arabelle describes it. I since seen them myself and that’s the way I’d describe it also.
Our mutual friend says this in particular oughta interest you.
Our mutual friend ain’t the sort to mince words. As you well know. Says I’m better off without Cheryl. Says I’m better off not pressing charges. Our mutual friend says the system’s rigged against men like me. Says the system’s rigged against pretty much all of us. Got a lot to say about international banking, too. I myself ain’t too educated on all that. Got a lot to say about the deep state. I ain’t too educated on that neither. Got a lot to say about false flag operations here and in Europe, too, and Turkey. Got a lot to say about the craft what crashed in Kecksburg back in 1965.
Did I mention the eyes? Our mutual friend says I oughta mention the eyes.
They ain’t at all like the oval-shaped eyes we got. No, their eyes are big and round. All black, too, and sunk so far back into that rubbery flesh of theirs you can’t hardly see them. You can’t see them unless you happen to catch them shining in the light off the back porch.
Our mutual friend says you’re an expert when it comes to this kinda thing. When it comes to eye-shine. Our mutual friend says you’re an expert when it comes to the different kind of eye-shine different kinds of creatures give off.
Saw three or four pairs of them eyes just the other night, shining off to the side of the porch. Ain’t ashamed to say I was frightened. Ain’t ashamed to say I went into the closet and grabbed my 12 gauge Maverick. Would’ve gladly shot a slug or two into their midst, too, but by the time I got back all them eyes were gone already. Like they knew somehow what I was up to.
Our mutual friend says you got experience with this sorta thing. Our mutual friend says you helped out them folks over in Pike County. Says you helped clean up that mess in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Says you spent some time at Dugway Proving Ground. Says you were involved in the battle down in Dulce, New Mexico. Says you two fought right alongside one another.
Our mutual friend’s got a lot to say about Dulce. Got a lot to say about Ravenrock, too. Says it’s one of a handful of underground bunkers what were constructed during the Cold War so as to ensure what our mutual friend calls the continuity of government. Says the president ain’t even got security clearance for such a place. Says the president ain’t nothing more than a figurehead. I myself ain’t too educated on all that. Says the shooting in Vegas weren’t nothing but a false flag designed to chip away at the Second Amendment. I ain’t too educated on that neither. Our mutual friend says they didn’t really shut down Project Stargate in ’95 like they say they did. I don’t know nothing about that at all.
As far as them things on my property are concerned, I saw them again last night. Arabelle did, too. They were standing there right on the porch. Right on the edge of the darkness. No more than three feet tall. Totally naked. Serious eye-shine. That skin of theirs all folded over itself until it was the wind came along and lifted up a good many flaps of it. Fluttered like that for a solid thirty seconds or so, that skin of theirs did. Loose-fitting. Like I said. I was what might be called transfixed. Paralyzed maybe. So much so they were gone already by the time I got the back door open and the Maverick cocked. Like they knew full well what I intended to do.
Not quite sure what to expect this night.
Our mutual friend says maybe you’d be willing to help me out. Our mutual friend says you’d like to catch one or two of them things. Our mutual friend says if we can’t catch them we oughta just blow up that culvert where they been holed up.
I got enough dynamite out in the garage to get the job done. Enough so as we might end up taking down part of Route 7 along with it all.
Our mutual friend says we ain’t likely to get caught. I certainly ain’t in no position to get caught what with having to look after Arabelle and all. Ain’t no way I’m gonna let her end up back with Cheryl, but our mutual friend says if we do get caught we’d beat the domestic terrorism rap. Our mutual friend’s got friends what could help us beat the domestic terrorism rap for sure.

 

 

Stephen Langlois is a writer and photographer living in Southern California. He is the recipient of a NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship from The Center for Fiction as well as a writing residency from the Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Joyland, Lit Hub, Hobart, Barrelhouse, and Split Lip Magazine, among others. Visit him at stephenmlanglois.com.

Image: wattpad.com

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