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Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

“Into the Dead of Night” Suburban Epic

“How do I know you’re not lying?” a voice whispered.

“I’m not!” a second voice pleaded. “I know how this sounds, but you have to believe me!”

Suddenly, a car pulled onto Elmwood Avenue. Its inquisitive headlights surveyed the street like beacons in the night. The two figures dove behind a pair of brick columns, swallowed by the shadowy veil of night. A cool breeze blew through.  The car’s headlights silhouetted the columns as it passed, casting shadows on the front wall of Grant Elementary School. The pair  sighed a breath of relief.

“Alright, Julio,” Amari asserted. “You’ve got some serious explaining to do.”

“You wouldn’t believe me.”

“Who said that?”


Silence fell. Amari scratched his head uncomfortably while Julio paced the parking lot frantically. The two remained silent for just shy of a minute. Amari’s mind raced. What was on Julio’s mind? Something was clearly bothering his friend, but he couldn’t figure out what. He knew he’d have to dig deep to get to the root of things.

“Julio,” Amari consoled. “You know you can talk to me, right?”

“I know, it’s just… can I trust you with something?”


“Are you sure?”

“What, did you murder someone?”

“Don’t ask questions. Just follow me.”

Julio led Amari out of the Marc’s Plaza and down Detroit Avenue. They cut onto Mars,  eventually stopping in front of a historic home. The ornate residence looked straight out of the Victorian era with a circular study affixed to the corner of the building. A dark beige colored the exterior with maroon shades framing each of the many windows. Julio’s cat laid nonchalantly on the porch. It glanced up at him as he stormed by. Amari stopped to pet the cat, but it batted his hand away, leaving jagged claw marks down the back of his hand.

“Ouch!” Amari yelped.

“That’s Jonesy, watch out. She doesn’t like strangers.”

When Julio stepped inside, his mother accosted him in the doorway. Julio pushed his way through the den, leading Amari back past the kitchen. A drop of sweat rolled down his temple. Julio ushered Amari into the basement and slammed the door behind. The two felt their way down the stairs. Julio flicked a switch at the bottom, illuminating a single hanging bulb at the base of the stairs. Two boilers sat in the corner next to a fridge and a washing machine. Thick layers of dust coated the vintage appliances. 

Amari sneezed violently. Meanwhile, Julio stumbled to the back of the basement. Amari heard him drag a bag of something out from behind the stairs, but he couldn’t see what. It was too dark. When Julio stepped into the light, Amari froze. He felt his breath shortening; his chest tightened painfully. Julio hadn’t dragged a bag before him.  He’d dragged a body. Julio sensed Amari’s alarm and dove in front of the doorway. He held out his arms like a crucifix and glared frighteningly at his guest.

“Please!” Julio screamed. “Let me explain!”

“You did murder someone!”

“It’s not what you think!”

Suddenly, Julio’s mom cried out from upstairs. “What’s going on down there?” The two boys froze.

“Nothing, mom! We’re playing a game!” Julio shouted. He held a finger to his lip as he gaped at Amari. A few moments passed and Amari’s shoulders relaxed.

“You want to tell me what the hell is going on?” Amari stuttered.

“I don’t know!” Julio whisper-shouted. “I was driving home last night and hit this thing with my car. I thought it was a person, but…”

“How long were you going to hide it?”

“I don’t know! Until it started stinking, I guess…”

“So, a few days?”
“That’s the problem. I’ve had it for a week and it hasn’t decomposed at all.”

“This is freaking me out, man.”

Julio got down on his knees and lifted the cadaver. He placed it on a folding table and unwrapped the tarp, revealing a skinny humanoid. A web-like membrane had encased the body since Julio last checked on it. It was like the creature wanted to protect itself. Its silvery cocoon glistened beneath the dim light bulb, which hummed as the boys stared in horror. The fleshy corpse beckoned them to avert their eyes, but they couldn’t look away. It was all so alien. They could have wrapped it up in a tarp and buried it, but their curiosity had proven to be dangerous. Amari couldn’t help but whip out his pocket knife.

“What are you doing?” Julio snapped.

“I’ve gotta get a better look…”

Amari punctured the membrane at the neck. He peeled it away to reveal a dark, insectoid face with pincers like razors. There was an element of primal fear upon seeing its visage, both of the boys’ fight or flight instinct kicked in full-swing. They took two steps back, just to be safe. Suddenly, one of the creature’s pincers began to twitch. Amari’s grip tightened as he thrust his knife forward. Julio reached for a nearby shovel, clenching it between sweaty palms. The insect’s exoskeletal body began to convulse atop the table; a viscous liquid dripped from its split jaw. The horrific image brought to mind an exorcism. With one final, violent eruption, the specimen shot up and off the table, splatting on the ground with a sickening squelch. Its entire body went limp like a deflating balloon. 

The boys sighed a breath of relief. Just as they relaxed their shoulders, the creature’s chest exploded, giving birth to a smaller specimen. The offspring bore little resemblance to its carrier, void of human likeness. It scuttled viciously across the ground before leaping high into the air. Amari shrieked. Julio met the creature mid-trajectory, however, knocking it to the ground. Before it could even begin to writhe in pain, Julio impaled it on the end of his father’s shovel, severing it in two. The crawler’s body flatulated against the steel shovel head while the boys recaught their breath. A few moments passed before either of them acknowledged the other’s presence. 

Eventually, however, the boys snapped out of their adrenaline-fueled trance. The two exchanged a knowing glance when they met eyes. They nodded in tandem, grabbing the tarp from the basement floor. They tightly wrapped the insectoid creature and its larva inside, condensing them as much as possible. They dragged it up the stairs and out the back door, into the dead of night. Without speaking a word, Julio plunged his shovel into the dehydrated earth, flinging a pile of rocks and soil behind him. A few minutes later, the boy had dug a shallow trench in the corner of the yard. Amari stuffed the creature into its makeshift grave. He left quietly immediately after the burial. When Julio went inside, his mother was waiting curiously.

“What were you two doing back there?” she asked.

“Taking out the garbage,” Julio muttered.

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