Mr. Somewhere, by C.M. Crockford
The doors of Sebastian’s opened and I spilled out along with a hundred other goth kids. Trish and Thomasina wanted to keep the night going but after some snuck-in tequila and endless dancing to “No Love Lost” (I could still feel the hands of that asshole who’d tried to grab me), I begged off and snuck away to the back alley for a cig. I rested against the miserable sepia wall, gazing at scraps of newspaper from five years ago and faded tags. I hoped the bouncer wouldn’t catch me out here; it was so obvious how young I was. Fifteen and in stark white makeup, the eyeliner faded by now – too young and trying to look much older.
I was about to finish and take the train home to Brentwood when I heard a voice. I still wonder how he saw me – I flatter myself that it was my dirty curls or the thick purple lipstick I had on. Maybe it was just the expression on my face, a sad tipsy goth girl in a filthy back street of ’80’s Hollywood.
“Got a light?” It was a lanky man in his thirties with jet black hair (not without a peculiar striking, feminine quality) who had seemingly come out of nowhere, now taking steps towards the wall parallel to me. His mouth was smiling, but his eyes…burned. There is no other way to describe it, a look I could hardly pull myself away from.
“Yeah, yeah one sec,” I stammered, rummaging through my purse. I took out my lighter as he walked over to me. As he took it, smoothly lit his American Spirit with the panache of the movie stars I’d seen in the old movies my mom always loved, then handed it back to me, I felt a heated, uncomfortable curiosity about him and those eyes. That, and I noticed how his fingers were just a touch longer than they should be.
He inhaled slowly, breathed out. “Thank you.” His voice was deep and cavernous, with a hint of an accent: you could get lost in that sound. I kept staring, taking him in.
“So what do you come here for? To dance?” He grinned again. “I danced with all sorts as a young man. Do you come to dress up?” He gestured to my long black boots and studded leather jacket.
I was never quite sure how to answer this when people asked. “Lots of reasons, I guess, I-I don’t know.”
“To get back at someone, perhaps? To rebel?” The stranger took another drag.
“Yeah, yeah you could say that. I’m Sherry by the way.” I stretched out my hand.
He considered me for a beat then shook it – his hand was so cold and delicate. “Matthew.”
“But yeah, it’s because we feel different. From everybody,” I said, wringing my hands. Of course what I was also thinking was, Because I want to look like Siouxsie Sioux.
“I can understand, believe me.” He looked straight at me while crushing the remains of the butt under his immaculate dress shoes. His eyes suddenly seemed…kind? Compassionate even? The warmth could subdue the cold it seemed.
I leaned back against the wall. “This all just makes me feel like I’m part of something, y’know,” I murmured, looking away from him, “like I’m important to something bigger. I get lost in the noise and just drift away. But – but I also become who I really am.”
“I know. I know.” His voice had become like a sealed tomb.
“How?” I hadn’t noticed just then his coming closer to me until he was only five or six inches away, his eyes intent on mine. It didn’t occur to me until later that his movements had been silent the entire time we spoke. He didn’t make a sound.
His eyes were twins of blistering fire. “I can help you, if you want it. What you seek, your assimilation, your need for a home…you will find these in what I can offer you. Sin. Eternity. A freedom unlike any you have ever known before.”
“What do you mean?” My thoughts had gone blank. There was no city anymore, no sun, no moon, no sea. We were the only two people in the world now, standing in natural, harmonious proximity. All I could hear at all were his perfumed words in my ear.
“If you accept my gift, I will turn you, change your very form.” His hand was steady on my shoulder and I registered suddenly that his canines were elegantly filed points. I thought of wolves and didn’t know exactly why.
“This country, this place, the vast majority here: they live in strict, endless routines, live the same lives as anyone else. They value freedom, their country’s soverignty but they do nothing with this. All just animals grown for production and beeding, locked into endless stimuli. But you long for more. You wish for choice, to not live like the vast overpowering herd. If you say yes, at this moment, you will never truly die, you will live as you are…forever. You will be above them all. You will violate their codes, the pointless moral laws set forth by blustering puritans, and find in that separation…who you truly are. But only if you accept. If you don’t, I will not harm you either; I’ve made no plans for such things tonight.”
I trembled, unable to speak for what felt like eons. A weight like heavy stones felt pressed against my chest before I burst out on what seemed like instinct.
“No, no, I-I can’t. I’m not ready for that, not yet. I don’t even know if I could.”
“Ah?” He looked disappointed; he removed his hand from my shoulder. He gathered himself then, his face showing a strange, uncanny sadness, like a deep yearning. I wondered just what ran through his mind then.
“No, I don’t know if I could do that. I’ve got my life here, my family, even with everything else…no Matthew, I-I can’t.”
A wan smile flashed then disappeared, along with those sharp points.
“Very well. Should you ever change your mind, and think of darker worlds…please, don’t hesitate to ask. All you have to do is call.”
And then he disappeared, fast as a heartbeat. I’ve never been sure of whether the vapor that seemed to dissipate in the minutes after, as I regained my senses and wondered whether all of this was a dream, was the city’s smog or something else entirely.
It’s been more than thirty years since that night. Thirty years of school, a reliable administrative job with few headaches, a nice house tucked away in Oregon, and a good husband: safe, filled with little pleasures. But there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t thought of Matthew’s offer, of what it’d be like with him or with his gift. I’ve had such dreams, dreams of being one with black skies, of feasting on red joy. To be utterly endless and without these petty restrictions. And lately, as the wrinkles start to come in, and the bills come month after month with unceasing regularity, and I wonder what my work all adds up to…I find it harder and harder every night, as I lie there in the dark, not to call the name of an old friend.
C.M. Crockford is a writer and singer currently living in Boston, Massachusetts. His work has been published in Paradise In Limbo, Dark Gothic Resurrected, and the Simply Scary podcast among others. His chapbook Adore is to be released this summer.
Posted on September 3, 2017, in Issue 21: PhotoFlash 1--11 Visions and tagged e-zine, fiction, flash, flash fiction, photoflash, photoprompt, picprompt, spec fic, speculative fiction, The Were-Traveler. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.