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We Can See You

by Bryan Alaspa 6 months ago in supernatural · updated 6 months ago
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A terrifying short story

Kiersten Sumner first saw the sunglasses at a yard sale which she spotted out of the corner of her eye while driving home from work. Although she worked as a high priced lawyer for a prestigious firm downtown, there was a part of her still the college student looking for bargains. She loved spending her free time looking for sales and hunting through bargains to find hidden treasures.

This particular sale had not been listed in the local paper this morning. Kiersten always checked online for ads, too, and this one wasn’t there. If there was a home along the way of her commute back to the ‘burbs, Kiersten knew about it. This one was just a sign stomped into the soft earth of a street corner intersection. It flashed in her periphery and then gone.

Kiersten slammed on the brakes and made a U-turn which somehow did not cause an accident. She was back at the block with the sign a moment later. The sign was a simple white with YARD SALE handwritten on it in magic marker. Kiersten turned left and headed down the quiet street.

She had left the city proper about ten minutes ago. This was the suburbs, too, but her own home was still another twenty minutes further west. These were standard issue subdivision homes, each one looking like the one next to it. Gray rooftops, white siding. The street went down two blocks, then ended in a cul de sac. The house in the general center of the loop at the end was where the yard sale was.

At first glance, it looked very standard to every other yard sale. There were tables set out on the sloping driveway. The garage door was open, filled with more tables containing more items from within the house. This sale had tables extending into the front yard. Most of it looked like clothes, but also old, vintage, pieces of furniture. This gave Kier the idea there were other vintage items to be found. Perhaps something to add to her collection. Maybe a few records?

Kiersten felt the rush of excitement she always got when she arrived at a sale. The thrill of the hunt. When she stepped out, the breeze caught her, the wind sliced through her legs and up her skirt. It was the end of the summer, the very first day where fall made itself known to the rest of the world. The sun was still high above the rooftops, but it wouldn’t last much longer.

Normally this meant there would be little for her to look at on the tables. These appeared pretty bustling with items, however.

“Hello there,” said a voice from the garage. A woman with dark curly brown hair waved to her from a folding lawn chair. “Thanks for coming.”

“Not a problem,” Kier replied. She did not enjoy engaging in small talk, but this woman seemed friendly enough. “You still have quite a few items here.”

“This is just the first day,” the woman replied. “We decided to do this pretty last minute. Looking for anything in particular?”

Kier shrugged. She was the type who preferred to shop on her own and not be guided by an attendant. “I like vintage things. Old records? Just old stuff.”

The woman smiled and stood up from her lawn chair. Shit, Kier thought, here she comes.

“You’ve come to the right place,” the woman said, then she pointed over her shoulder into the shadows of the garage. “This is all stuff which used to be in my mom’s house. Unfortunately, we have to move her into a retirement home. She’s blind. She’s a little lost in the head. So, we’re moving her. Right mom?”

For the first time Kiersten noticed there was another woman in the garage. Almost buried in the shadows, sitting in an old rocking chair. The chair upon which she sat looked old, which was just the kind of item Kiersten might have liked to buy. The woman in the chair sat hunched over, barely noticeable in the shadows. She had gray hair, but it was so thin across her skull, there was white from the skin beneath more than there was hair. The old woman wore thick dark wrap-around glasses. The type of glasses old people wore when they went to the eye doctor and which wrapped around her eyes on all sides. The old woman rocked very slowly. It was if time itself had slowed down around her.

The old woman did not respond other than to slightly raise one hand.

“I’m never sure if she’s asleep or not,” the woman said. Kier suddenly did not like this woman very much. She seemed cruel to force her mother to sit there in her personal darkness and listen to people haggle over items from her life. “Anyway, all of this stuff is vintage. Great stuff here.”

Kier nodded and tried to busy herself looking at the items scattered on the tables. There was, indeed, a milk crate filled with records. Kier busied herself there, but soon became anxious when she realized the younger woman was standing over her left shoulder watching her. Just what she didn’t want.

There were a few old jazz records in the pile Kier pulled out. She loved listening to these old things on the turntable she had inherited from her father. It was an ancient, heavy, thing with slots on the side of the turntable to store the records. It took up space along one wall of her living room, the flat-screen right above it in a weird meshing of timelines which never failed to amuse her.

“Oh, those are good ones,” the woman said. “Don’t overlook some of the dresses and other items. Right mom?”

Kier cast another glance into the garage. The ancient hunched woman raised her left hand again, barely off the arm of the rocking chair. Somehow the shadows within the garage seemed darker than it had been a moment before. The wind kicked up and Kiersten shuddered. How had it gotten colder here?

Keirsten moved her way down the table. There were plates and pots. There were vases and other things which she recognized were antiques, but not really her style.

Kiersten drifted her way down the table, trying to push the prying eyes she felt boring into the back of her head out of her mind. Finally, near the far end of one of the front-lawn tables, she moved some old magazines to find a small ornately-carved wooden box. It was about the size of a large cell phone, but thick. She didn’t recognize the symbols etched into the wood, but they were beautiful swirls and emblems. There was a fine gold-colored clasp on the front. Kier gasped and picked up the box.

“Ah, I wondered if you’d see that one,” the woman said. Kier was so enraptured by the box, she didn’t even feel annoyed. “Like it?”

“It’s beautiful,” Kier whispered. She hefted the box, something inside rattled. There was weight to this box. “What are the symbols?”

The woman smiled and shrugged. “My mom’s family were gypsies. They wandered all over Europe and claimed they could do all kinds of magic. I’m sure they meant the symbols to convey mystery or magic. I don’t think my mother even knows anymore. Open it up.”

Keir flipped the catch with her thumb and lifted the lid. Inside was a pale lavender lining in perfect condition. Nestled in there was a pair of dark glasses.

“Sunglasses?” she asked.

The woman giggled. “Well, yes, that’s what they are. I think the gypsies said they were special glasses which allowed them to communicate with spirits or...something. I don’t really know. However, in this day and age, they are just sunglasses.”

It looked to Kiersten like there were two dark holes bored into the box itself. The lenses were simple circles, with a wire bridge over the nose. The pieces which went over the ears, however, were thicker, and covered in more of the strange symbols. Kiersten had never seen glass or plastic this dark. The lenses were like looking into the night sky through a ship’s porthole.

“Are the lenses glass?” she asked.

“They are, but lift those up,” the woman said.

Kier did as she was told. She gasped again. “They’re so light.”

The woman nodded. “Exactly. Those are pretty old, too. Well before people wore sunglasses. My mom kept them locked away in a cabinet. When I asked her about them she told me not to sell them, but, as you can see, she has glasses of her own now. I didn’t need them.”

“How much?” Kier asked.

She had to have them. It was like an itch inside her brain. She was already wondering if she could have both the box and glasses appraised. They might be worth something.

“Look, I like your face and all of this stuff must go,” the woman said. “How does seventy-five sound?”

“How about fifty?” Kier countered.

“Seventy?”

“Done.”

Kier reached into her purse and came out with the cash. The woman counted and returned to the garage for a moment. While she was there, Kiersten heard her talking to her mother. Her mother’s voice grew louder, to where she could hear the woman talking, but not make out the words.

Eventually the woman came back, the smile back on her face, but there was something strained behind it. She held cash up in the air, held in one hand.

“Here’s your change,” she said.

“What was your mother saying?” Kier asked.

The woman waved her hand in the air as if swatting flies. “Nothing. She’s old. She’s full of weird ideas. As you might imagine, she’s not too happy about the sale.”

Kiersten took the change and put it back into her purse. Then she paused, picking a few records out of the bin. “I’ll take these, too,” she said and handed more cash over to the woman.

“Thanks for stopping by,” the woman said. “Remember, we’re here tomorrow, too. If you happen to be driving by.”

Kiersten smiled and nodded, but her mind was already drifting. She held the albums under her right arm and the box with the sunglasses rested in the palm of her left hand. There was something weird going on with the box. It felt slightly warm and she sensed strange tingles coming from her palm. She was sure it was all psychological - the thrill of a new purchase. However, it also unsettled her.

“Be careful!”

Kierstend stopped just as she was about to get into the car, unsure of who said the words. When she turned around she saw the old woman with the wrap-around glasses was now standing.

“Pardon?” Kiestenr called back.

“Be careful with those,” the woman called, her voice thick with some unidentifiable accent. “They will make you see things!”

Kiersten felt the tingles from her palms run down her spine to the bottom of her feet. The woman who had taken her money looked distressed and she quickly turned around and ran to her mother. Kiersten couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it was very animated and the woman appeared quite angry. Kier wondered if she might need to put the sunglasses back and just take off with the albums. Then, deciding the old woman was crazy and all of this was just some weird domestic thing, she got into the car.

A moment later she was back on the road and headed home. A few minutes after, she had completely forgotten the strange women and the warning.

***

That night, Kiersten had troubled dreams. Dreams where creatures, little more than shadows with glowing eyes, tried repeatedly to reach for her. The old woman from the garage sale was there, too, but she was trying hard to get through these shadow people. Kiersten got the feeling the woman was trying to help her, fighting off the shadows, but there were too many of the shadow people. Kiersten did not wake up drenched in sweat, but she did not feel well-rested when she awoke for work the next day.

The next morning she got dressed, drank lots of coffee, and had a light breakfast to try and wake up. However, she still felt more like a zombie than a person when she got into her car and drove off. As she was leaving, for reasons she could never explain, she grabbed the ornate box with the sunglasses inside. She didn’t even realize she had done so until she reached her office.

Kiersten stared at the box for a while once she got to her destination. Why had she brought this? She had sunglasses and she hadn’t needed to wear anything to block the sun this morning. Kiersten peered up into the sky through the windshield and saw only gray clouds and spatters of rain.

Shrugging it off, Kiersten left the box in the center console compartment. The rest of the day was a blur as she worked with multiple projects keeping her mind active. Only once, during the afternoon, about the time two o’clock came around, did she feel the exhaustion from lack of sleep crash down. She had just ended another meeting and sat in there as the rest of the team left, looking out the window. The clouds had fled and there was blue sky, bright sun. She would need her sunglasses on the way home, she mused. Her regular glasses, though. Not the odd, bizarrely dark ones she had purchased at the garage sale.

The rest of the day was a bit of a slog. By the time the end of the day came, Kierstend was ready to get out of the office. Thoughts of curling up on her sofa, or just going to bed, filled her head as she left.

“Hey, Kier, doing anything fun for the weekend?” Dale, her friend and co-worker asked as she packed up for the day. Kiersten had completely forgotten it was Friday. How did one lose track of such a thing?

“Nothing really,” she said. “I visited a yard sale yesterday and got some new records. I’ll probably sit around in my sweats and listen to music on my turntable.”

“What is with you and the old records?” Dale asked. “At your age, you should be out doing pub crawls or something.”

“Pub crawls?” she replied with a laugh. “Do they even do those anymore? Show your age more, Dale.”

They laughed. “Do you ever find anything worthwhile at your sales?”

Kier shrugged. “Well, sometimes you find something worth a bit of money. At the sale yesterday I picked up these sunglasses. Supposedly really, really old sunglasses. Get this - made by gypsies!”

They laughed again.

“I don’t know if the glasses are anything,” she continued, “but they look a little weird. The box they came in is ancient and ornate, so that has to be worth something.”

Dale raised his eyebrows. “Gypsy sunglasses? Well, you have me intrigued. They’re probably cursed or haunted or something. You will have to bring them in here and let me see them.”

For some reason, Kiersten’s instincts told her not to tell Dale about the glasses and box being in her car right now. A voice in the back of her head said it was best to leave it alone.

“I will do that,” she said and then hustled her way out of the office.

A moment later she was out in the bright sunlight. The entire area still smelled wet with the odd lake-like stench. As if the office were on the banks of Lake Michigan, with dead fish and seaweed. Kiersten blinked at the sunlight until she fumbled her keys out of her purse and got into her car.

Being inside the vehicle provided an odd comfort. The Honda had long ago lost its new car smell, but the scents within were familiar to her.

Kiersten turned on the radio and found her station. Classic rock. Get the beats pumping and get home. She had plans to kick off her shoes, get in her PJs and watch TV until she fell asleep on her sofa.

She was lost in the Rolling Stones tune when she made a left turn and faced right into the setting sun. For an instant she saw nothing but bright colors and it was like spears into her eyeballs. Immediately she flipped her visor down, but this blocked off the entire top half of her windshield.

Without a thought she flailed around in her car. As if something else were guiding her, instead of looking into her purse, Kiersten’s hand ventured into the console to her right. A few seconds later she had opened the ornate box and remove the impossibly dark sunglasses. A moment after she opened the box Kiersten finagled the glasses to her face.

The entire world went black and white. So sudden was the change, Kiersten slammed on her brakes. The car swerved hard to the right and she had to grip the steering wheel to keep herself on the road. Behind her and beside her horns went off and she was barely in enough control to think about flipping them off.

Kiersten navigated her way into the parking lot of a strip mall. To her left were small independently owned restaurants. There was also a cell phone store and anchoring the end of the little mall was, of all things, a Good Will.

Kiersten found a parking spot, still gripping the wheel, panting, her heart hammering against her chest at an alarming rate.

“What in the actual fuck?” she asked her car. Mick Jagger did not have an appropriate response.

Kiersten got out and looked around. Her breathing sang in and out of her mouth in a way she would have found disturbing had she only been aware of it.

The world had gone utterly gray. This was almost to be expected when one wore glasses this dark and black. The lenses, naturally, would drain the color out of the world around her, but this was an extreme she had not counted on. Also, the world seemed drained of life.

Something moved to her right and her head darted in that direction like a frightened animal. A shape, vaguely human, barely defined, walked across the parking lot. Not far beyond this shape, was another, walking the opposite direction. As Kiersten scanned the area, she realized some of the other gray shapes were cars, but they were ill-defined. Just grayish boxy lumps without distinctive features.

Kiersten pulled the glasses down from her eyes to the end of her nose. Color rushed back in. Now she clearly saw the man walking into the Goodwill store. Down a ways, a young woman was getting into her car. The colors of the cars, reflecting the bright late afternoon sunlight, leaped out at her and a million diamonds of light pierced her eyes. Slowly, carefully, she put the glasses back over her eyes.

It was like someone had drawn a curtain.

Once again all life was gone from around her. The world was gray and nothing seemed to move. Even the man heading for the Goodwill, now just a grayish shape again, moved slower than he had been when she looked at him in the light.

Shivers ran up and down Kiersten’s spine. Something else caught her eye.

Near the edge of the Goodwill building, there was another shape. This one was also vaguely human, but much darker than the shapes of the people walking through the parking lot going about their day like things were normal. This shape did not move. It was just there, as if watching.

Suddenly, without warning, the shape shifted. Two bright pinpricks of light shone out from the top of the shape’s head.

And stared right at Kiersten.

She gasped and took a step back. Then she moved her glasses down to her nose once more. The light shot through the back of her head like a bullet and she squinted. When her eyes cleared, she stared at the spot where the shape had been, but she saw nothing. Just shadows and sunlight. Somewhere birds were chirping away merrily.

“What the hell?” she whispered. More people walked through the parking lot. Two young men standing near a parked car talking suddenly burst out with laughter.

Kiersten raised the glasses again.

She cried out.

The darker shape with the bright pinprick eyes was around the corner and standing away from the building. She could make out the legs and the shape of arms hanging at the side. It was staring right at her.

Kiersten once more cried out when she realized there were now other dark shapes. They stood beside parked cars. Some of them were hunched over, looking at the ground.

There were maybe a dozen of these shadow figures. All of them at least a hundred yards or more from where she stood. The one staring at her intently was the most disturbing. Kiersten turned her attention to this one in particular. Slowly, the shadow figure raised its right arm. She could see no discernible hand, but she got the very certain feeling this creature was pointing at her.

One by one, the other shadow people in all of their various positions and locations, turned their lumpy heads towards Kiersten. Each of them had intense white glowing eyes.She could make out no other features from this distance. Just the eyes.

They moved with insane slowness. It was nearly impossible to tell when they were moving, but soon the ones hunched over stood tall. The others facing away from her now faced her.

“What are you?” she asked.

The shadows did not reply. Kiersten felt fear from the core of her being and through her chest. These beings may have had no features other than the eyes, but she felt intense hostility.

“What are you?” Kiersten yelled.

She yanked the glasses off her face. The sunlight was like a physical thing striking her in the face and she staggered backwards. When Kiersten could stabilize herself she realized the young men laughing near their cars had stopped talking and stared at her.

“Are you OK, lady?” one of them asked.

Kiersten felt a pounding headache form behind her eyes and she pressed a hand to her forehead. The other hand, still clutching the glasses, she held up toward the young man who asked her the question.

“Sorry,” she said, her voice weak. “Just having a bad day. Bad headache.”

Without waiting for a response, Kiersten yanked open the car door and got in. There was a whirring in her ears and she would have sworn she could hear all of the blood in her body rushing through every vein and capillary.

She also felt cold. As if an ice cold hand had reached into her chest and clutched her heart. Kiersten shifted her car into reverse and rocketed out of the lot. She had no idea what the fuck was going on, but she intended to get far away from the staring eyes and weird shadow-people.

Her head throbbed the entire rest of the way home. She deliberately took a long route to avoid the street with the yard sale. She had no desire to run into gypsies or their fucking gypsy shit on tables. Not today.

By the time she got home, she had convinced herself she had imagined the entire thing. The human mind could only handle so much and she was certain it was some kind of breakdown. Maybe she was getting a migraine. Did migraine sufferers get hallucinations? She thought she had read about it somewhere.

The subdivision in which she lived was comprised of townhomes clustered in groups of four. There was a garage for each, short driveways, then a kind of shared driveway for two homes on one side then two townhomes on the other side. At the far end of the communal driveway was an area for additional parking and this was where Kiersten parked her car. Her garage was full of too much shit for her to use as a place for her car. She cursed herself for not clearing it out. She’d have to walk about fifteen feet to her door.

Kiersten sat in her car for a moment and stared out the windshield. There was no one around. The sky was turning amazing colors and the air was getting cooler. She sighed. There was tension in her shoulders and her heart pattered against her ribcage. Had anything she had just seen been real? The implications if she had seen those creatures was terrifying, but the thought she had snapped her twig, gone off the deep end, was equally terrifying.

They were just glasses, she thought. There was nothing weird or mystical about them. They were not gypsy cursed or any of that nonsense. Just very dark, [perhaps ancient glasses. Hell, the woman was probably just yanking her chain anyway and they weren’t really all that old.

Kiersten had to prove it to herself. She grabbed the box on the seat next to her and opened it. There they were. Just glasses. Again, the thought was she was looking at two deep holes in the world itself flashed into her mind. The lenses like some portal into another reality. She felt as if she put one finger on a lens, her finger would vanish through it a bit at a time.

Pushing thoughts of portals out of her head, she removed the glasses, extended the arms and carefully placed them over her eyes. Instinctively, as if she might be struck, Kiersten reached for the door handle. She stepped out cautiously, quietly. When she was standing in the open driver’s door she opened her eyes.

As soon as she did so, Kiersten had to steady herself. Just like before the world appeared gray and drained of color. The houses were gray shapes missing any detail. The grass, trees, lights, front porches, the parked cars, were all indistinct and without life.

“No, no, no,” she muttered.

Kiersten stepped forward. She could make out obstacles in her way as she walked, but not discern what the object was. Was this a bush? Was that a fire hydrant? They held their vague shape, but it was hard to know when the world went from vibrant technicolor to black and white.

She made her way to the end of the communal driveway, then turned scanned to her right. She looked down the road toward the rest of the houses.

“Oh no,” she whispered, the terror so great in her heart she could barely speak at all.

Around the edge of the houses, about two blocks away, she saw more dark shadows. Each of them with bright eyes. They stared at her, mostly, but a few of them looked into the windows of the houses. Some of them appeared in the windows, as if something had let them into the homes.

“Oh no,” she repeated.

One, far away, down the road, appeared to look right at her. Once again, this vaguely human-shaped thing raised its arm. It pointed directly at her. The others in the neighborhood who had not been staring, turned their heads and looked at her, their eyes shining. Bright white daggers stabbed into Kiersten’s face.

“Who are you?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper. “What are you?”

One by one the shapes seemed to get taller, as if standing up from crouched positions. They all raised their arms and pointed at her. Their eyes glowed brighter, becoming almost blinding despite the glasses.

“What are you?” Kiersten cried again, this time much louder. “What are you? What are you?”

When the hand fell on her shoulder Kiersten screamed. She whirled around and when she did, the glasses slipped off her face and tumbled into the grass. Much to her relief, but also tremendous embarrassment, she was looking into the face of her neighbor, Mike.

“Kiersten?” he asked. “What’s wrong? Are you OK?”

Kiersten could only stammer for a moment. The sudden return of color and detail was like a slap across her face. Her head hurt again, with a sickening buzzing sensation behind her eyes. As if she had been out drinking all night. She felt dizzy, too, just to top off the sensation.

“I - I don’t - I don’t know,” she said, tears spilling over her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I need to get inside. I need to lie down.”

“Let me help you get to the door,” Mike offered. He leaned over and grabbed the glasses. Kiersten snatched them out of his hands.

“Sorry,” she said. “but these are expensive glasses. Prescription.”

She didn’t want to, but she felt she had to make a show of it. She put the glasses on her face. The moment she did she saw there was one of those shapes right over Mike’s shoulder. In fact, it appeared to have its arms wrapped around him and its head turned to stare into her. The eyes. The glowing eyes, burned into her.

“I - I need to get back to my house,” Keirsten stammered. “Sorry to bother you.”

“Kiersten, what’s wrong?” Mike asked. “You’re obviously very upset about something. Is someone chasing you? Is there someone else out here?”

Kiersten could only stare at the shadow over Mike’s shoulder. She couldn’t explain how she knew since the thing had no features on its face except for the eyes, but she felt pure anger, evil and hatred coming from this thing. Directed right at her.

“Kiersten?” Mike asked and she realized she had not spoken back to him. She was just staring at him with the glasses on.

“I have to go,” she said and walked away quickly.

She kept her head down, peering over the top of her glasses, but keenly aware of the world seen through the lenses just a few inches below. The grayness. The lack of life. It was disorienting, but she didn’t want Mike to see her yank the glasses off her face and throw them as far as she could manage. She walked back to the car, got the ornate wooden box and her shoulder bag, then ran for her house. Once she was inside, she pulled the glasses off and put them back into the box.

With shaking hands she walked through her living room to the kitchen and placed the box on the counter. She felt like it was a bomb and any movement might set it off. Kiersten breathed heavily over the sink and felt hot tears run down her face. Out of the corner of her eye, the box sat there and she could have sworn it was breathing right along with her.

What was happening? How was this happening?

The fridge kicked on to her left and she let out a yelp. Jesus. She was losing it.

What were those things? Why were they all around?

Leaving the glasses where they sat, Kiersten walked to the sliding glass door which overlooked the lawn on the side of the house. She peered through the heavy curtains. Mike was gone, perhaps back into his house or tinkering around with things in his garage.

There were neighbors walking their dogs. There were green lawns and green leaves on the trees. The sunlight was fading fast, but still bright enough for the houses to appear lit from some ethereal light.

No shadow men. No glowing eyes.

Kiersten let the drapes fall back and turned to look at the box in her kitchen. This was insane. She was losing her mind, right? She had to be utterly insane. She had been working way too hard these days and was stressed out. Finally, she had cracked.

She ran a hand through her hair and took a deep breath. She’d need to take some time off. Maybe she could call in sick tomorrow. Sleep in and then sit on the sofa and watch Netflix all day long. Kiersten had dozens of episodes of her favorite shows to watch on her DVR and she was so far behind.

Kiersten laughed at herself. This was nuts. She would have to do something tomorrow to reassure Mike he was not living next door to a lunatic.

She walked back to her kitchen and made herself something to eat. She pushed the box to the back of the counter, up against the kitchen wall. A moment later she was in sweats and watching television with a large plate of pasta in her lap.

Two hours later, she had fallen soundly asleep on her sofa.

***

Kiersten awoke with a start. She had been dreaming about oppressive darkness. The darkness was alive, surrounded her, coated her entire body, was suffocating her. The darkness had eyes and, to her great surprise, there were teeth, too.

For a moment she wasn’t sure where she was. Her legs jerked and she knocked the plate which had contained her dinner on to the floor. As the world came into focus she cursed, but felt her heart pounding far too fast for having just awakened. The darkness was all around her now and she stumbled to the light, flipping the switch.

Her breath wheezing in and out of her chest, she looked around the room. Just the plate on the floor and her living room. The television had some kind of infomercial with a religious bent to it. Something about sending a man money for magical water. Kiersten grabbed the remote and shut off the TV. Muttering a curse under her breath, she cleaned up the spilled plate and the sauce on the carpet. Kiersten went downstairs to put the plate in the kitchen.

Full dark outside now, of course. Middle of the night. Kiersten felt a powerful temptation to pull back the curtains and drapes. Would she see the shapes out there now that shadows dominated the world? Was it their time to have dominance over everything else?

Nope. No more craziness. She would not lose it now.

She saw the wooden box on her kitchen counter and froze. It was right next to the sink. As if it were hot she walked toward is and then pushed it gently with her finger. There was no feeling of heat. No electrical current. Just a box.

Kiersten felt some relief. She rinsed the plates and left them in the sink. She could put them in the dishwasher in the morning. When she turned around she felt her breath catch in her throat. It was as if she had forgotten how to breathe. She clutched her chest, as if trying to hold on to the last bit of air inside her lungs.

A while ago Kiersten had purchased a small whiteboard to put in the fridge. Just a little thing to make shopping lists or jot down notes. Even though she no longer had a wall phone in the kitchen, she often took calls there and could make notes while talking. It held a small, thin, blue marker on a string, which could be snapped into a holder to keep the marker by the whiteboard’s side.

The marker hung by the end of the string. The cap lay on the floor at the base of the fridge. The tip of the pen hung down, pointing at the floor, swinging and turning at the end of the string. It was as if a breeze blew through, or someone had just dropped the marker after using it.

Although the marker itself was terrifying enough, it was the whiteboard which terrified her. Someone had written on the whiteboard. In shaky, skinny, weird letters.

WE CAN SEE YOU.

Kiersten felt as if someone were squeezing her chest. Was she having a heart attack? Some part of her hoped she was. Maybe a stroke would be better, then this would all be some hallucination brought on by the blood vessels in her brain.

“What are you? Where are you?”

Were they inside? Oh dear Lord, she thought, are they all around me right now? Suddenly she was sure she felt eyes on her and all around. Kiersten spun in a tight circle, looking at the kitchen, the living room. Shadows all over, but nothing with glowing eyes. Then again, she had only been able to see them when the glasses were on.

Did she dare?

“What do you want?” she asked. “What are you?”

If she put on the glasses and saw the house filled with shadow shapes, would she be able to maintain her sanity? Would she just scream and never be able to stop?

With shaking hands, Kiersten reached for the box and slowly opened the lid. The glasses within seemed to almost vibrate as she looked at them. Were there colors swirling and dancing within the lenses? She took the glasses out of the box, unbent the arms and placed the lenses over her face.

The house went gray, as she suspected.

Then she gasped, nearly screamed.

There were three shapes in her house. One was near the leather chair by the sliding glass door. The other was near the fireplace. The third was right near the fridge, right behind her. All of them vague human shapes and all with the piercing white eyes. They were already staring at her.

“What do you want? What do you want?”

The one near the fridge lifted its arm and pointed at her. Just like before, only now the end of its arm seemed just inches from her face. She could not discern any fingers or features of a hand. It meant nothing, just pointing.

“What do you want?”

BRING US.

The words appeared in the center of skull. Burning into her brain. She heard them, but also saw and felt them behind her eyes. She whirled around in a tight circle again. Which one had spoken? Had all of them spoken? Did they have individual thought?

“What?” she asked.

BRING US.

“Bring you where?” she asked.

THE WORLD. YOUR WORLD.

Her brain was on fire. They were in her house. They were in her house. The phrase ran in a loop through her brain. They were all around her. Could almost touch her. How did they get in?

YOU.

“What?” she realized she just kept saying the same word repeatedly, but there was no way to form sentences.

YOU. OPENED. DOOR.

The glasses. The fucking lenses which looked like holes in reality. Kiersten did not understand how she knew this, but she did. They were actually holes and putting them on, she had opened a door. Now they could see her and they wanted to use her to get into this world. To move from the gray world where things weren’t real, to the real world. All of this was just suddenly in her mind and she was certain it was true.

“What are you?” she asked. “What are you?”

There was no reply. The shapes moved toward her, their unformed faces coming into view, the brightness of their eyes growing in intensity. The undulated rather than walked, as if made of liquid or smoke.

Kiersten yanked the glasses off her face and tossed them onto the counter. Her house looked like her house now, but she could feel them in there with her. For an instant, she was sure she could hear them moving. They shuffled along, as if they didn’t have feet or legs which would allow them to step properly. They slithered and slid. Kiersten put her hands to her head and ran.

She ran to her room, pounding up the stairs, running down the hall and sending a framed picture on the wall skittering to the floor. Kiersten ran into the bedroom and slammed the door behind her. Tears ran down her face, feeling hot and somehow accusing, as she slid down the door to the floor. She pushed hard against the door, certain they would come up the stairs and push it open. Perhaps they could just slide through the door itself.

The fear was so intense she nearly screamed and wished she had her phone. Who would she call? Who would understand?

The world seemed to grow darker, the blackness around her slid up her legs and body. When the darkness covered her head, she fell to the floor and was out.

***

The next morning Kiersten awoke and immediately called in sick to work. There was no way she was going to be able to sit at a desk and concentrate on spreadsheets today. Every noise she heard anywhere in or around her home made her jump ten feet in the air.

Were they still in the house?

Nothing else had happened after she fainted. At least, nothing she could remember. Not even a dream. But she was certain they were here. She had let them in the moment she put the glasses on. Somehow those impossibly dark lenses were real portals. They looked like holes, because they were. But why the hell would anyone create glasses which somehow let shadow people into this world?

She had to find the old woman.

Kiersten got dressed. forgoing the shower because she was certain a shadow hand attached to a shadow arm would reach through the curtain and grab her. What would happen when one of them touched her? She didn't want to know.

She was in her car a moment later. Outside, the world was unseasonably warm. Hell itself was emerging late in the season. Figured. She was in hell right now, so why not the rest of the world?

She put the wooden box on the seat next to her and then decided to put it in the back seat. Kiersten put the seat belt across it just to make sure. She then prayed she'd be able to find the place where she had bought the box in the first place.

She drove off, but she was certain things were watching her. Looking at her. Reaching for her.

***

It took Kiersten forty-five minutes to finally find the right street. It was a combination of traffic due to morning rush and the fact every street in the neighborhood where she was certain the garage sale had been looked the same. She needed the dead end. Kiersten found herself getting more and more frantic as she drove. When she looked into the rearview mirror, she could see the wooden box. Twice she was certain she saw it move under its own accord.

When she finally made a left turn and found herself at the dead end street, she felt relief and terror. Now she was certain the woman was all an illusion. She was some sort of demon or otherworldly creature who had set up a shop for the sole purpose of getting rid of the glasses. Now with them gone, the two women would have vanished. Back to hell, perhaps?

There was the house. The yard was empty, but everything looked the same. Fuck it, Kiersten thought. Whoever answered the door she would hand the box and leave. Let them deal with this shit.

Kiersten grabbed the box and trudged up the lawn, not even bothering with the cement walkway. The dew from the morning soaked her shoes and then her feet. Just another thing to really piss her off. She got to the door and wasn’t even going to bother with the doorbell. Kiersten reared her hand back and was about to pound and yell her head off, when the door opened on its own.

The old woman stood behind it, her thick, dark, wrap-around glasses reflected the early morning sun back into Kiersten’s face.

“I knew you would be coming,” the old woman said in an accent right out of Central casting. As if a director had said to get an old gyspy woman.

“Take the glasses back,” Kiersten said. “Here. They’re here. Take them.”

The old woman made a strange wheezing, gasping, hacking sound. It took Kiersten a moment to realize she was laughing.

“I cannot take them back,” the woman said.

“Yes. Yes, you can. They’re right here. Hold out your hand and I’ll put them in it. You then take them back into the house and I go home.”

“You’ve seen them now and they’ve seen you,” the woman said. “There’s nothing which can stop it.Well, almost nothing, but you won’t like the method to keep them in their world. They want to come through. Did you know?”

Kiersten felt her mouth go dry. “Yes, I know. What are they?”

“No one knows their name,” the woman said. “They have been around here since before men were here. They have been condemned to live in a place between our reality and another. All they want is to come through and if they don’t get their way, they tear people apart. They destroy anything they touch.”

The woman laughed again.

“Why did you let me buy them?” Kiersten said. “If you knew this would happen, why did you let me buy them?”

The old woman looked shocked. “I did not. My daughter did. She didn’t want them. I was supposed to be the keeper of the portals. I was supposed to make sure they didn’t get through and then my daughter was to be the one. But she didn’t want to so she sold them. You saw me that day, didn’t you? I tried to stop her. However, the portals also choose the next person, don’t they? It has always been so. I think you were chosen to be the next keeper.”

“The keeper?”

“Yes. I was supposed to make sure I kept the portals safe. You’ve looked at the glasses, right? They look like holes in reality itself. They are. But if kept in the box or worn by the keeper, it can keep the shadow men on the other side. The problem is, if someone with sight puts the glasses on, then they can see the shadows and the shadows can see them.”

“I don’t give a shit about this old legend,” Kiersten said. “You’re the keeper, so you can have the glasses back. The portals. Whatever the fuck they are.”

“It’s not legend,” the woman said. “There have been keepers of the portal for centuries. People like you want to believe there are no rules to the universe. You think you can do whatever you want whenever you want. But there are rules to things and when the portals have been passed on, in whatever manner they pass, then it becomes the new holder’s responsibility. You were chosen.”

“No, I can’t have this,” Kiersten pleaded. “I mean, Jesus Christ, what am I supposed to do as the keeper?”

“You need to make sure they can’t come through,” the woman said as if Kiersten were the dumbest person she had ever run across.

“Jesus, just give me a straight fucking answer,” Kiersten said. “How do they get through and how the fuck am I supposed to prevent it?”

The woman cackled again. “Whoever sees them, reminds the creatures of our existence. They are pure darkness. Pure evil. They would come into this world and turn everything into shadow. Destroy everything, but they are dumb creatures. Once they are blocked, they forget. They go back to sleep. You’ve awakened them and they will keep coming, gaining strength and the ability to touch things in this world until they come right through you. They’ll burst right through your head, through your eyes. Your head will burst apart like an overripe melon and the shadows will come spilling out. A flood of them. All of them.”

The woman had a laughing fit so intense she nearly fell over and then coughed. Kiersten felt like she would throw up. This was all nonsense, of course, right? Then again, she had seen them and they said they could see here. Something had written on the whiteboard in her kitchen.

“So, what do I do? Can I just give the glasses to someone else? Pass it on?” Kiersten said.

The old woman, still coughing her face red, shook her head. “No. The portals have to choose. They have chosen you and you must bear the burden. You have to stop the access. You must wear the glasses, but if your eyes are blocked, you can’t see them and they can’t see you. You keep them locked away.”

The old woman slowly reached up to her face and pulled the wrap-around shades off her face. Kiersten recoiled.

There were no eyes in the woman’s skull. She had only dark red pits where her eyeballs should have been.

“They prepared me when I was young to take over from my mother,” the woman said in her mysterious accent. “Held me down and got the poker ready. They made it so hot it tore my eyes out and cauterized me right up. I wore the glasses for decades until my daughter took them away and now you have them. She refused to become the keeper. Now you woke them up. Now make them go back to sleep.”

Kiersten backed away, nearly fell when she reached the edge of the porch. She shook her head back and forth in a denial which had no voice. There was nowhere for her to go and the woman laughed again, her mouth nearly toothless.

“They can see you,” the woman said. “And they’re coming. Do what you need to do. Do it fast.”

“You’re crazy,” Kiersten said, but the words were small in her head and barely came out via her voice. “You’re crazy.”

Kiersten turned and ran.

***

Kiersten drove home, reaching it in minutes. Several times she thought about pulling over to toss the box and glasses into fields or yards. However, she kept thinking about other people finding it. Perhaps a kid. Although Kiersten was not exactly the most magnanimous person in the world, she couldn’t bear the thought of these hideous shadow creatures being seen by someone else. She wanted to think she was crazy and wanted to believe the old woman was crazy, but she knew what she saw. Kiersten knew what they wrote on the whiteboard.

The fact remained, she believed the old woman.

As crazy as it sounded, as much like some ancient fairy tale, she couldn’t help but believe it was all real. You had only to put on the glasses and see the shadows with their bright, scary eyes to know they were real. They were also evil. Just a moment of being within their presence was enough to confirm their evil intent.

What options did this leave for Kiersten?

Kiersten reached her street and turned right. Her home was just yards away, but did she feel safe there?

Just as she was about to make a short right turn and then another left into her driveway, Kiersten looked over to her right.

One of the shadow people sat in the passenger seat. Reaching out for her face.

Kiersten screamed and yanked the wheel involuntarily to the left. The car went up on the curb and struck the first bank of mailboxes bolted to the ground. Her car let out a loud protest and the bank of boxes tilted crazily to the side. Kiersten pulled the wheel back to the right and the car swerved to the opposite side of the road, nearly ran up the curb. She was so terrified, her foot stomped on the gas instead of the brake and she had to turn the wheel to the left once more to make it into the driveway.

Only then did she find the brake and come to a stop in her parking space.

Kiersten felt so much fear she could barely move. Her breath was ragged as it tore in and out of her lungs. She kept her eyes shut tight for a while, before slowly opening them. She peered into the passenger seat.

Empty.

Had she really seen it? She wasn’t wearing the glasses. Had it been there?

The rational part of her brain, barely a whisper now, told her it had been her imagination. The less rational part of her brain, the louder part, which believed the legend and the old woman, told her she would start to see them without the glasses. More and more she would see them until they could blast apart her head and use your own body as a way to enter the world.

“Oh god,” she whispered.

Kiersten got out of her car. The neighborhood was quiet and she noted both the damage on her car and the leaning mailboxes. Normally this would have been something to really upset her, but right now she had bigger concerns.

Kiersten ran into the house and whirled around. Her house seemed empty. The fridge kicked on and she shrieked.

“I know you’re here,” she said. “I know you’re here, but you need to get out of here. Get away from me. I am not the Keeper. I am not anything. I’m just a woman.”

She ran to the kitchen and put the box down on the counter. Kiersten opened the drawer and removed the meat tenderizer. Gritting her teeth and snarling in a way which would have scared her were she aware she was doing it, she smashed the box. The box jumped and skittered across the counter. Kiersten grabbed the box, looked at it, cursed again.

“What the fuck?” she moaned.

There was not a scratch on it. Nothing. Not even a chip in the wood.

She opened the box and removed the glasses, placing them on the counter. Kiersten raised the tenderizer again and brought them down on the right lens. There was a hideous cracking sound and the lens shattered. With a scream of victory, Kiersten brought the tenderizer down on the other lens. This one shattered, too.

“Hah!” she screamed, bending over and yelling right at the pieces of glass.

Her joy turned to horror as the black pieces of glass moved all on their own. Like tiny bugs, they crawled across the counter and jumped back into the frames. For a moment the glasses were reassembled and filled with cracks, but then the cracks sewed themselves up until two neat, nice, fresh lenses stared back at her.

“No,” Kiersten said. “No.”

A searing pain hit her in the head at that exact moment. Kiersten could not scream, she unable to move. She held a hand to her head, the pain centered behind her right eye. The rest of the world swam away and all that remained was the intense pain and the feeling something was crawling its way through her brain. Distantly, like a train blaring its horn way in the distance, she heard a soft squeaking sound.

Kiersten turned to look behind her and there was a new message on the whiteboard.

YOU CANNOT STOP US.

WE ARE COMING.

The pain ratcheted up and now both eyes were in agony. Kiersten fell to her knees and put both hands to her face. She felt something hot and wet against her palms. When she pulled her hands away she saw blood on her palms.

Kiersten screamed.

Staggering to her feet, Kiersten grabbed the glasses. She forced the arms open and then put them over her eyes. Another scream escaped her.

The creatures filled her house with undulating, moving, shadows. It was like a sea of darkness, nearly shapeless, forming and reforming heads with glowing eyes. They flowed through the cracks of the front door and around the edges of the sliding door. All of them, hundreds, thousands, were coming right for her.

Kiersten ran for the sliding glass door. The ocean of shadows grabbed at her and she could feel their cold touch against her shoulder, legs, and body. Despite this, she ran through them and then straight into the glass. The impact staggered her and she ran at it again, this time the glass shattered. She felt thousands of shards all over her, tearing apart her flesh. Blood sprayed high into the air and she ran onto the patio before collapsing in the grass.

Kiersten heard someone yell her name. Was it her neighbor? She had no idea. There was so much blood running out of her at the moment, but her head still felt like it would explode. Outside, there were more of the undulating shadows. Thousands upon thousands. Oceans of them, all merged together, their glowing eyes brighter than a billion suns, coming for her. She felt them in her head. Was her skull breaking apart? It felt like it might be.

Kiersten knelt down in the grass and ripped the lenses off her face. The real world came back into view but she saw only red. Blood spurted into the air from severed veins and opened arteries. She could see her neighbor running towards her, but it was like he moved in slow motion.

Kiersten grabbed the biggest piece of glass she could find. It sliced open her hands as she grabbed it. With one bloodied hand she lifted the eyelid of her left eye. Without hesitation, and while her neighbor screamed her name again, she thrust the glass into her left eye. Just as her neighbor reached her, Kiersten jammed the glass into her right eye.

The world went dark and she fell face first into the grass.

***

Kiersten’s neighbor Mike stood on his lawn speaking to a cop. He was covered in blood and shaking. Jesus, he thought, I just want to go into the house and take a shower for about three days. The cop was talking, but Mike could barely hear.

Somehow, Kiersten did not bleed out into the grass just off to his left. There was still so much blood across the grass and the flood of it had also stained the patio behind Kiersten. Already the blood was turning from bright red to black.

“You saved her life, man,” the cop said. “I don’t know what could have possessed her to do that to herself, but you stopped her from bleeding to death. Jesus. I can’t even imagine stabbing your own eyes out.”

Mike shuddered. “Where are you guys taking her?”

“Well, to the hospital first, of course,” the cop said. “Once we’re done with that, she’ll probably end up in a psychiatric hospital. She’s obviously crazy.”

“What’s the deal with the box?” Mike asked. “She insisted, even as I was trying to stop the bleeding, I go inside and get it for her. She’s been holding it to her chest since.”

“Yeah, and she wouldn’t let the ambulance guys take it out of her arms when they tried to work on her either,” the cop replied. “No clue what it all means. How can you figure out what crazy people find meaning in?”

All Mike could think of to do was nod.

“You gonna be OK?” the cop asked.

“I don’t know. I think I’ll be seeing her bleeding with the shard of glass in her hand for the rest of my life.”

“Well, I think we’re done here for now,” the cops said as he put his hand on Mike’s shoulder. “You can go back inside. We may need to talk to you some more, so don’t be surprised if you hear from us.”

Mike just nodded again and headed back toward his house. Just as he got to his own patio, he saw the paramedics lift the gurney up and roll it towards the ambulance. He could see Kiersten still clutched the ornate wooden box she insisted he get for her when he was trying to stop her from bleeding to death. There was a hint of a smile on her face as she went. A calmness. He hoped they had doped her up with some powerful drugs.

“Jesus,” he whispered, then he went inside and took a long shower.

***

Kiersten heard them ask her questions. She said nothing. They would understand nothing. She had saved them all, but they would think she was crazy. Of course they would. Fine. Let them lock her up. Let them fill her full of drugs. She had the box.

Kiersten held the ornate box to her chest. It felt warm and alive against her.

She had a responsibility now. She was the Keeper.

“I’m the Keeper,” she whispered. No one seemed to hear or care. “I have to save the world.”

They put her into the ambulance and slammed the doors shut. A moment later, as her neighbors congregated to watch the scene, the ambulance drove off.

supernatural

About the author

Bryan Alaspa

I am an author of more than 50 books and novels. I am also a freelance writer. I write horror, mysteries, suspense and Young Adult books in fiction and true crime in non-fiction.

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