“Let me in.”
He wanted in. The man, with dirty blond hair, wanted in. He wasn’t overly charming, graceful, or particularly extraordinary in his looks. Sure he was handsome, but he was generically so. But he was new. So Miranda Fawson, slim and tall, let him in.
The young man, dripping wet from rain water, white tee shirt clinging to his skin, came in and closed the door. Thunder clapped outside. The young man tried to hide his shivering.
“You shouldn’t let strangers in so easily,” he pointed out. The way he said it wasn’t threatening, just matter of fact. Boring. Miranda would have preferred he been dangerous. But she shrugged it off. She would make him more interesting.
“Mr. Let-Me-In, you should be happy you have a dry place to stay.” Miranda leaned against the hallway wall, decorated with photo frames, smiling coyly.
“My name’s Adam. Look, if I’ve pissed you off I’ll give you chocolate when Sebastian comes around.”
“I hate chocolate.”
This response made Adam, who was trying to hide his shivering, scrunch his face in utter confusion.
“What, are you serious? That can’t be right.” He mumbled. He pinched the bridge of his nose, pausing for a moment before going on. “I hate it when he does this to me.”
Miranda was starting to get curious. “I’ve always hated chocolate,” she noted. “But who’s Sebastian? Your boyfriend?”
Gallons, it looked like, of blood rushed to his pale cheeks. Miranda had been joking, but now she thought maybe she had struck a nerve. Adam looked like he might become a fun new plaything; she liked this.
“No,” he stuttered, his voice slipping into a southern drawl, “He’s my bro. Broseidon. Broseph. Sherlock Bromes. That kind of thing. He’s the one who told me where you live.”
Miranda moved from her spot on the wall and chose to shuffle through a basket of random belongings near her front door. She only listened half-heartedly, and was at this point more worried about finding her Polaroid camera and pushing the bits of her bleached hair that escaped her bandanna headband out of her face. “Why did you need to know where I live?”
“I had a dream about you and this place. Sebastian looked it up for me to make sure you existed, that this was a case we could take on. He’s supposed to be here, too.”
Miranda began paying attention more sincerely now. “You had a dream about me? I’m flattered.” She turned her head around briefly to look at how serious Adam was before going back to her searching.
“Yeah, it happens.”
“Why exactly are you here?”
“Because they’re coming.”
“The black-eyed children.”
“Say cheese!” Miranda had found her camera and whipped around to take a quick snapshot of Adam. He was caught off guard and rubbed his eyes for several seconds after the flash had gone off. Miranda shook the photograph that came out of the camera, knowing full well it would probably warp the image. “The what now? Sorry, you looked vaguely unique while you were trying to defend your heterosexuality. I had to capture the moment.”
Adam gave Miranda a frown, or at least she imagined he did. It was difficult to tell since his face had a continual countenance of unhappiness surrounding it.
“The black-eyed children. Sometimes they’re called black-eyed kids. The name itself is self-explanatory.”
“Well that’s nice. Do they at least do party tricks?”
“They make you feel miserable and stuff.”
“Oh, so that explains your personality. You must’ve run into one.”
Miranda assumed that he frowned again. She clapped her hands together, bending the polaroid photo.
“They ask to come inside, and if you say yes they’ll kill you, maybe turn you into one of them. But they have to be invited inside, sort of like vampires.” Adam rubbed his upper arms. He looked like he was shivering. Miranda didn’t much feel like offering him a towel.
“How do you know they’re coming here again? A dream?”
Adam picked up an old-looking letter on a stand by the door that Miranda had received earlier in the week. He took out the dated paper from the envelope; the note inside was blank.
“You got this,” Adam replied. “That’s how I know.”
Before Miranda could respond there came a soft knocking at the door. “Let me get that,” she said, reaching for the door. Adam grabbed her arm, which instantly pissed Miranda off. She held her tongue.
“Let me do it.” Letting go of Miranda’s arm, Adam went for the handle and opened the door slowly. With each inch that the door opened, Miranda could feel any sort of hope or good feeling seep out of her personage like helium escaping out of a balloon, deflating her soul. Standing there on the doorstep were two average looking teenagers, one boy and one girl, with eyes that looked like they were glazed over with midnight black nail polish.
“Can we come in? Our car broke down and we need to call a tow truck,” said the boy. His breath smelled like scum and Miranda could tell he was lying but she couldn’t bring herself to say anything.
“Please? It’s so cold outside,” the girl added almost as an afterthought.
Tilting his head, Adam looked like he was actually contemplating it. The hair on the back of Miranda’s neck was standing on end; she knew it was a bad idea, and she wanted to shout at the children to leave, yet she could feel her lips beginning to form the word yes. Before she could say anything, Adam responded to the request.
“No.” He slammed the door.
Snapping out of her daze, Miranda choked out a weak “What was that?”
“They’ll knock again. I just like it when they get pissy. It makes this more fun.”
Like a prophecy come true, there came another knock, rougher this time. Adam opened the door quickly. He asked them what they could possibly want.
“Let us in,” the girl said more forcefully, incessantly. “Our car broke.”
“Use your cell phone.” Adam slammed the door a second time, and once more there came a rapping at the door. He flung it open. This time the two teens propped themselves heavily against the door frame, leaning as far in as they could without actually being inside the house. To Miranda, it came off as looking like some force field prevented them from entering.
“Let us in.”
“I said no.” The southern twang in his voice was still present, but less so the more he spoke. “I don’t see your car anywhere.”
“It’s a few blocks over,” the boy replied. Good lord, Miranda thought, his breath stunk like spoiled eggs.
“Then you should’ve tried another house,” Adam expressed coldly.
“Let us in.” The girl tried leaning in farther. This seemed to upset Adam because in a sort of retaliation to her movement he grabbed her face. The black-eyed girl shrieked violently, inhumanly, forget-me-nots sprouting from her nostrils and eye sockets underneath Adam’s palm. The boy turned to run.
“What’s the matter? Don’t run.” Adam grabbed the back of the black-eyed boy’s shirt, pulling the demon into his chest and putting him in a head lock. Flowers instantly began growing from the points of contact between him and Adam, covering his body like they did the girl’s. “You two aren’t even wet. Really, try harder the next time you lie.”
The black-eyed kids were consumed by the forget-me-nots, vanishing underneath their blanket of white. The flowers, just as quickly as they had cropped up, shriveled and died away, leaving behind only a few petals and an eerie silence as evidence that anything had happened in the first place.
Miranda broke the silence. “Do you do this on a regular basis?” Something akin to joy began returning to her system with the absence of the demons.
“Maybe,” was all Adam responded with. He walked out the door, slamming it shut behind him.
Miranda laughed, awkwardly, wishing she had some sort of evidence that what had just happened wasn’t a dream. She looked down at the snapshot of Adam she had in her hand. Grinning mischievously, she walked to a drawer, rummaging through and pulling out a pen and a thumbtack. Using the tip of the thumbtack, she scratched out Adam’s eyes and roughly filled in the scratchings with the black ink from the pen. She hung the photo on the wall between some of the fancier, framed ones.
“Where were you?” Adam asked Sebastian. He leaned against a wall outside a coffee house named Teal Justice. He had no idea what the name had to do with anything. It wasn’t practical, unless the name had to do with the bold colors inside. Either way it kind of made Adam sick to look at.
Sebastian lit a match, and let burn until the flames licked his fingertips like the tongue of a hellhound before letting the crumbled matchstick fall to the ground. All the while Adam gazed in admiration at the light and shadows cast on Sebastian’s form from the tiny fire. Sebastian drew in a large gulp of air infused with the smell of smoke, taking his sweet time in answering.
“Sorry, I got new orders from the Horrorscope last-second. They wanted me to check out a sighting of shadow people at Teal Justice, but it turns out they meant the location in Plumfield, North Carolina.” As Sebastian answered, he kept an eye on Adam, watching carefully as he flinched at the mention of the town.
“Don’t mention that place,” Adam mumbled bitterly. He ruffled his wet hair and stared out at the rain coming down in a light sprinkle now over the town. A silent prayer was had in Adam’s heart for being under a canopy at that moment, as he had yet to grab a jacket.
Sebastian took a small box with a bow on it out of his inner suit pocket and tossed it in Adam’s general direction. With the swiftness and grace of a former jock, Adam skillfully caught the gift.
“Chocolate. For pissing you off and all.”
Adam was slack-jawed at the comment. It took him what seemed a full minute before he was able to pull himself together, opening the box to see five tiny assorted truffles.
“Thanks, I guess.” Adam stared at the chocolates a moment longer before placing the lid back on the box.