Night Becomes Him
I refused to take the elevator. Personal preferences.
A pale, thin woman opened the door. She was in his forties. Long, dark hair. Watery eyes.
"Hello, I have an appointment with Mr. Brown", said I, showing my business card.
She took a look at the small cardboard piece and read: "Miroslav Corbett — Documentalist". She seemed sleepy and out of focus. "I... I thought it was Corbet with only one T."
"It's a common mistake", said I. "Are you Mrs. Brown?".
"Yes. Oh, please, come in."
She invited me to a wooden chair by a table. On it there were some cups, a coffee jar and a small dish with cookies. An old record turntable was playing some awful trumpet jazz tune.
A man in a worn sweater entered the room. He also looked tired, a red stubble, his skin like old paper.
"Mr. Brown, I suppose", said I. "This is Miroslav Corbett. I came to speak about your son."
"Oh", he said, "which one? Are they in trouble?". His face looked sincerely concerned.
"Not yet as far as I know", said I, "Are they at home?"
"Oh yes. Do you want me to... eh... bring them here?"
"If you please", said I while taking a cookie. It tasted like dust.
"Mr. Corbett,", she said, "in your card says that you are a documentalist. What are the matters you usually document?".
"I document... oddities. You know, during the Great Anomaly, many fissures happened in the reality fabric. Some of them were not totally fixed and sometimes creatures and inaccuracies still permeate to our world. My work is to write about them."
"Oh", she said, "do you suspect that...?"
The man entered back into the room surrounded by two boys. I immediately saw the problem.
One of the boys was unclean, brunette and sleepy like his parents. The other one looked very different: milky-skinned, the black and deep eyes of a hunter, quiet but alert, definitely an otherworldly look.
"These are Cletus Jr. and Tusk", said Mr. Brown, "say hello to Mr. Corbett."
"So your name is Tusk, eh?", I said to the out-of-place kid, "What things do you like?"
"I like human activities,", he said, "for I am an ordinary boy."
Ordinary boy my ass, I thought.
"What kind of activities?"
"Like, listening to jazz and going to the school and breathing."
"Oh, that really sounded like what an ordinary boy would say.", said I.
The woman, who seemed to realize that something odd was happening, asked me: "What is the problem?"
"The problem is", said I, "that you don't have two children, but one."
"What?", said the man.
"I have the papers here. Cletus Zebulon and Brandine Sue Brown, respectable suburban hillbillies. One kid, Cletus Jr., 7 years old, mediocre student, awful football player."
"What do you mean?", said the woman, visible disturbed. "We have two boys... Cletus and... Tusk."
"Oh, come on. Tusk is not even a name for a boy", said I.
"I am a real boy", said the odd child. His face already looked somewhat bizarre and his voice sounded like filtered through a reverb effect from a cheap movie.
"Look at him,", I said to her, "he looks, like, six or seven? That is not possible. He wasn't even here last week. He's an anomaly, a creature from another plane. He is manipulating your minds into thinking he is your son. But it's not."
And then to the kid: "Are you listening to me? This is not your family. You should go. You don't belong here."
The kid was having difficulties to look even human, as his contour started to look diffuse. His putative parents were utterly confused and in horror.
"Ok,", said I, "it has been a pleasure. I have to go. Mr. Brown, Mrs. Brown, thank you very much for your attention."
"What?", said the woman, "Are you leaving now? Are you leaving us like this?"
The boy didn't look like a boy anymore: I know better not looking directly at abominations while they are transforming into their real shape, but sure he was pretty hideous.
"I'm afraid I'll do.", said I, "I don't fix anomalies or oddities, nor kill runaway creatures, soul sickers nor mind hunters. I only document the facts. Goodbye."
I left and closed the apartment door, leaving horrid sounds and awful smells behind me.