— B.R. Yeager

THE FIRST THING I NOTICED, even though I couldn’t really see it, was that it’s big. It’s real big. When it came into the house, it filled all the rooms up. Something changed in the air, a smell or an aura or something, and I heard the wooden beams creaking and the living room window broke, spraying glass into the wild brambles of the yard.

I was getting back from town with Ennis’ meds when it showed up. The sun had set. I drove up the overgrown dirt road to our home, branches and thickets scratching at my truck’s windshield which is so dirty it’s almost opaque. There’s four of us—Rachel, Ennis, Trevor and me. We live out here in the mountains because there’s something wrong with us. Nobody knows what it is and nobody cares to find out. All we know is when we try to live among normal people, bad things happen—and we’ve tried hard. This is all we can have, and we found each other because of it. Our families are gone. We have no social ties. We can’t make friends or maintain relationships. We got a dog, and it died. It got sick because we touched it.

When I got to the house, Trevor was there waiting. He was half-dressed for work and standing on the rotting porch. He works security in a parking garage right now, so he’s usually gone all night and asleep for most of the day. He’s the only one of us who can hold down a job for very long. He’s addicted to weed and DXM, and he’s not all that nice but sometimes he puts his arm around my shoulder and lets me sleep in his bed, so I’m in love with him.

“Have you ever swam in the ocean?” he yelled to me as I approached.


“Have you ever swam—”

“No, I heard you. Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

“I’m in at ten-thirty tonight, Holt, have you ever swam in the fucking ocean?”

I thought he was probably more stoned than usual and it made me nervous. Ennis had just been fired from Publix after two weeks of tersely greeting customers and stocking shelves and trying not to behave like a schizophrenic on the clock. Trevor couldn’t lose the security gig. We were running out of places in town to apply. Rachel’s mom sent money sometimes, but it was never enough and Rachel fell too easily out of her good graces for us to rely upon it much.

“I went to Florida once, with my dad.” I said. “I didn’t swim in the ocean, but I went to the beach there.”

“You know how the water is all clear, and you can see everything below it? Like, way out?”

“Sure, I guess.”

“What do you see out there?” He pointed to the woods. I couldn’t see anything. It was dark. “Doesn’t it look like water?”

I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about, and to go inside. I was tired. Rachel was on the couch watching TV, so I said hello and she just mumbled something back. I like Rachel fine but didn't ever seem to like me much. I don’t think she trusted me. I entered Ennis' room without knocking and tossed the white pharmacy bag onto his bed. He was naked at his desktop computer, skinny and pale and leaving a stain of ass sweat on the torn-up leather office chair.

“Thanks,” Ennis said.

“No problem. Does Trevor work at ten-thirty tonight?”

“I don’t know. Hop off his nuts, why don’t you?”

“Okay, you’re welcome.” I said, and left. When I went back to the living room, the front door was wide open. I could see Rachel and Trevor standing near the dirt road at the edge of the field. Something else, too, as I got closer. I could see them silhouetted against a portion of forest that appeared different from the rest; it was minute but there was something shifting, something alive about it as though the night itself was breathing.

“I think it’s moving.” Rachel said.

“It is. It was further away when I first saw it.” said Trevor.

It became harder to ignore the longer that I stared. It ebbed faintly, turning in the dim, polluted light, seeming to overflow its bounds all the while remaining impossibly within them. In a way, it was something magnificent.

“What is it?” I asked finally, conceding that there was an ‘it’ at all.

Rachel looked at Trevor, and he just shrugged.

“C’mon, let’s go back in.” I didn’t think staying near it was a good idea. If it was coming towards us, it was imperceptible to my eyes. But I still wanted to get away. Inside, Rachel pulled the couch over to the big front window and pressed her face against the glass.

“Is it still there?”

“No.” she said, and leaned back. “What should we do?”

Nobody had an answer. Trevor brushed his teeth and went to work. We both wanted him that night but since he was gone Rachel took Ennis and I went to bed alone. She loves Trevor too, I think. We all do. I wish he only needed me but I need more than just him, too. We all need each other.

In the morning, our house was enclosed in a bright, reflective film. Ennis woke me up and brought me outside, where Rachel was on the porch and Trevor was standing near the remaining section of fence. The thing was slightly more visible in the sunlight; it was now a barely-wavering transparent cylinder all around us. Trevor was just outside of it. They were arguing about having him come through.

“You can’t stay outside forever.” Rachel said, exhausted. “What if it doesn’t go away? What are you going to do?”

“I’ll go back into town. Somewhere else. Fuck this place, what the fuck do you mean? The fuck is this?”

“All your shit is in here, dude.” Ennis said.

Trevor picked a stick up off the ground and tossed it into the film. There was almost no resistance, just a little ripple as the object passed through and came out the other side. He had been right before. It did look like water.

“Give it to me, then. It goes right through. I’m not worried about my shit.” he said. “I’m not doing it.”

“Would you really leave us?” I came close to face him.

He looked back at me and his face wavered slightly in the mirage. At that moment I was completely terrified. Something awful would happen if he went. To him, to whoever he found and took down with him, to the rest of us left behind. I didn’t think we could stay together without him; if he went now, our world would fall apart. There was an energy in the air then that seemed to confirm this, that said yes, it had to be us. He couldn’t go. None of us could.

I reached through it. It was thick and I had to reach far to get to him, craning my neck and holding my breath. I pulled Trevor in, and it got warm inside and felt right somehow. Everyone started shouting but the sound was muffled and my ears were filled with roaring. When we came back through, we were slick like newborns. Trevor pushed me off and punched me hard in the face. I took it well. I was proud of myself. He stormed inside and slammed the door, but it was okay. Everything was okay. Rachel looked at me with pity and maybe a little envy, and followed Trevor in. It was best she went to him then. She could commiserate with him, but inside I think she was as relieved as I was.

“You’re bleeding, bud.” Ennis said, and rubbed my back.

Ennis and I decided to keep watch on the strange anomaly, but eventually we gave up. It seemed foolish. The thing really didn’t seem to be moving, and it wasn’t like we knew what to do if it started. We went about our day. Ennis and I watched TV and drank beer and wondered what we would do when we needed more beer. Rachel joined us for a while, speculating that we might be experiencing a rare weather phenomenon. Trevor didn’t come out of his room. When it got late and he hadn’t gotten up for work, I went in to check on him. His room was dark, sparsely decorated: a few posters of attractive women on the walls—I tried not to let things like that bother me, but it would have been easier if there were men, too—a leaning, red-tone wood armoire that had come with the property, still filled with relics from somebody's dead grandpa, a bong all brown and slimy with resin and a boxspring and mattress slightly askew on the floor. Trevor was asleep or pretending to be asleep. I sat down on the bed.

“Are you mad at me?” I asked that question because it sounded pathetic, and stupid. I thought he liked me more when I was that way, but he just rolled over, away from me.

“Can you talk to me?”

“Fuck off.”

“Did you really wanna leave so bad?”

After a moment he sat up. He was thin in a junkie way, we all were, but he was still broad-shouldered and lean and his skin was soft and brushed lightly with dark brown hair. I really did love him. I pretended to be pathetic only because I was.

“There’s nowhere else to go.” he said.

I kissed him and he pushed me away, then I kissed him again and he relented. He put his hand on my waist and I looked at the streams of blue veins stretching over his knuckles.

“I felt it.” Trevor said. “When I was inside. It’s like us.”

I knew what he meant. I had felt it, too. It was more than like us; it was one of us. It could make us whole. I looked out the window at its shimmering foil in the moonlight, the boiling black surface of it all churning and wet. We weren’t looking for it, but it found us.

“Did you like it, too?” he asked, and I knew we were going to keep it. Then I got beneath him and we made love. That’s not what it always was with him, but this time it was love.

The next morning it came inside, and the house shook, and the windows shattered. The air changed and it submerged us. Trevor and I woke up and we couldn’t get out of each other. We didn’t want to. We were so together. Rachel came in looking for us and when she found us, she screamed. It was only an impulse. She tried to run, but she didn’t have as many legs as us. We took her in and she’s happy to be here. It feels good. It feels like the right thing to be. We found Ennis in his bedroom and he screamed too, and Rachel tried to grab him but he slipped past us and got into the living room, then out the front door. When, after a moment of hesitation, he tried to leap past the edge of the now-encompassing dome glimmering in the sun, he was bisected at a crooked angle, spraying red and crumpling into the grass.

“It's okay, Ennis.” we soothed him. He gurgled and choked on his blood. We kissed him, and we took him in and comforted him, and we replaced his missing limbs with ours. We held him in our arms and he took his place there. He had never before felt peace like the one we have.

The shimmer that surrounds us is leaving, for now. There was something broken about us, but it fixed it. Now there are others that need fixing. We'll be okay here. We don't need anything more than what we are. When we set off down the road our footsteps sound like horses, and we never walk alone.


Castor's Walk