6.7 Rolling Midnight

by Matt P.

The rolling midnight spread across the old main room of the Border Police Department until it hit the walls, and then it began to crawl up them in slowly creeping tendrils. Like shadowy ivy they crept up until they began to pool at the corners and spread across the ceiling. It was horrifying, and by far the scariest thing that Walter had ever seen in his life.

He turned toward the newcomer who strode in. At first Walter couldn’t tell much about the man except that he was wearing a dark full cloak, but even that turned out to be wrong as the man came closer. He wasn’t wearing a cloak, he was wearing the darkness itself. It curled about him almost fabric-like, but moving in undulating ways that no earthly material could. That cloak was a little bit of self-contained madness, and Walter forced his eyes to move away from it before it could fester in the folds of his brain and leave him never quite the same.

“S-sorry, chief…my dance card’s full.” Walter managed, forcing himself to speak despite the literal waves of terror rolling through him. He hadn’t been that scared when he had been shot at, when there had been a grenade ‘problem’ during training, or when he had realized that his wife wasn’t coming back. And yet now he couldn’t stop it from sending a knock to his knees, and a desire to run like hell to his feet. And calves. And everything else.

The…it could only be called being…stopped in front of him. While the cowl of his not-cloak was up so Walter couldn’t see anything but a low golden gleam that he assumed were eyes, those tamped ember eyes looked mildly surprised. “You should be voiding your bowels now, mortal. Not quipping.” He said, his rumbling basso voice almost mild, almost paternal.

“Didn’t bring a change of pants.” Walter answered through gritted teeth as he forced himself to stare at the creature with the patient, almost professorial voice. His hands shook almost uncontrollably, but he started cursing loudly in his head at them and made them reach down and grab on to his M4 and bring it up. Whatever it was in front of him just waited patiently as if watching a newly interesting experiment that had been previously so boring.

“And what do you expect to do with that toy, mortal?” It asked, almost curiously.

“Shoot you.” Walter explained. He brought it up to about crotch level and fired the attached shotgun, offering a brief prayer to the universality of gonads. The shadows seemed to swirl and lick at the blast for a moment, and when they receded there was no appreciable difference in the quality of the shadow. “Fuck.” Walter cursed.

“Mmm.” The shadow monster mmm’d, before he turned to Ninja Grandpa. “Lacking in subtlety, as always. Where is it?” His voice was rougher, angrier and somehow…disappointed. Walter stared, because it was not dissimilar to a voice he had used with his daughters many times in the past. He expected the shadow monster to say ‘I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.’

Just for shits and giggles, Walter shot him again, this time in the face-region. The shadows twitched, and one licked away with a little effect that Walter could only describe as being the exact opposite of an ember flickering off a fire and dying. The monster turned, and its eyes were not so dull now as a shadowy tendril lashed out. “Enough.” He spoke, with the finality of a deity and the gravity of a collapsing star. The tendril took Walter right in the side of the head, and a different kind of darkness overtook his vision completely.