The Uninvited Guest

Entry by: Tauren

14th July 2016
Alan put down his tray, massaging his temples as he slumped into the seat. Will this headache never end, he thought, as he shook two of the new painkillers his doctor had prescribed into his palm, washing them down with a slug of his drink, shuddering and making a face as he did, God how he hated taking pills.

He felt the now familiar sense that someone was watching him and not for the first time thought he saw a shimmering movement out of the corner of his eye, he snapped his head around, but as usual there was no-one there.

Two tables away a small boy, three, maybe four years old sat gape-mouthed, staring at him, a dribble of snot running from one nostril to his upper lip, the kid ran his tongue across it, drawing some of the mucus into his mouth, he smiled and Alan looked away disgusted.

“Anyone sitting here?” a gruff voice asked, and before Alan could reply a tray slapped down onto the opposite side of the table, he looked up, opening his mouth to protest that there were plenty of empty tables in the restaurant, then checked himself when he caught sight of his tablemate.

He was the largest man Alan had ever seen, at least six four, with a shaved head, his sleeveless denim jacket peppered with biker gang insignia; but it was the tattooed snake scales that wreathed his throat that really grabbed the eye, Alan shut his mouth and dropped his head.

Don`t make eye contact, don`t make eye contact, he thought, studying his tray, as the man placed a black full face helmet on the table next to his tray.

“You gotta stop doing that,” the stranger said casually.

Without raising his head Alan looked from side to side, hoping he was talking to somebody else; a hand that had the letters H.A.T.E. printed on the knuckles reached across and scooped some fries from his tray, Alan considered protesting, but thought the better of it.

“Your drawing attention to yourself,” the man went on in the same conversational tone, “they`re starting to notice you,” Alan looked up, still saying nothing.

“Everytime you jerk your head around like that, they notice, start to watch you.”

It wasn’t that the biker was talking to him that unnerved him, nor the man`s easy tone, or even that he seemed to not be paying Alan any attention at all as he spoke, his eyes drifting left and right; no it was that when he did speak, his lips didn’t move.

Alan blinked in confusion, “Are you talking to me?” he asked, the biker gave him a disinterested look.

“Here`s what’s going to happen,” he went on as if Alan hadn’t spoken, “I`m going to tell you things, ask you questions, and you’re going to nod or shake your head, you don’t speak, Okay?”

Alan opened his mouth to answer, “Nod and shake, comprende” the man said, his lips still immobile, an edge to his tone now, Alan bobbed his head to indicate he understood, feeling a sudden urge to pee.

“Good," the man said, "so let me guess, you got this blinding headache one night, two, maybe three weeks ago and haven’t been sleeping properly since?” Alan dipped his head once in surprise.

“And you feel like someone’s watching you all the time, and you`ve been seeing things out of the corner of your eye, but when you look around there`s no-one there, you`re starting to think that maybe you`re going a little crazy?”

Wide eyed Alan bobbed his head again, how does he know all this, he wondered.

“The good news" the man continued, "is you’re not going crazy, the bad news is……… you`re not going crazy.”

To Alan there was a surreal aspect to this one sided conversation, he`d never realised before how much he`d relied on being able to see the other persons lips move.

“To answer your question, no I`m not a ventriloquist, the things you half see, we call them the Glimmers. The eggheads, those that can see them, say they`re out of phase, do you know what that means; out of phase?” Alan nodded to confirm he did.

“As far as we can tell they come from a parallel universe or alternate dimension, someplace else anyway. They can see us, but can’t touch us; but they do have these doohickies that can. Most important, they can`t hear us, they can read our lips, but sound waves, Nada, so now you understand?” he gestured towards his mouth.

Alan nodded.

The man leaned forward, “There`s three of them in this restaurant right now..... Fuck don`t look around, what’s the matter with you?”

Alan who had been in the process of twisting around in his seat, froze, then slowly turned back to the big man.

“And if they think you can see them they`ll erase…….shit; two of them are coming over, pretend that your burger is the most fascinating thing in all the world, whatever you do don’t react to them, look straight ahead,” the man took his own burger from its carton, staring at it.

Nervously Alan fumbled his Big Mac from its wrapper, wondering what crazy thing the man would say next, when he felt the pressure at the base of his skull, the place that housed the stem.
The primal part of his brain was screaming Danger, Danger, suddenly it felt as if he was being scrutinised.
There was a prickling sensation at the corner of each eye and he saw, did he see something, what were those things shimmering at the edge of his vision.

He focused on the burger, eyes wide, he could hear his breath coming in short gasps, beads of sweat popping on his brow, his eyeballs felt as if they were simultaneously drying out and watering, he was sure he was making small keening noises.

“Take a bite,” the man hissed through clenched teeth.

Alan`s stomach roiled, the last thing he wanted to do was put food in his mouth, sure he`d retch if he did, across the table the shaved headed man took a bite from his own burger, then lurched to his feet.

“Goddammit!!” he roared, every eye in the place turned to look at him, saw who was doing the shouting and dropped their gaze just as quickly, only an open mouthed Alan kept watching him.

“Goddammit,” he shouted again as he leafed through his sandwich. “I said no Goddam Pickle in my burger,” he waved the offending green slices at the counter staff, who were desperately trying to ignore him.

“I hate Goddam pickles,” he threw them down in disgust, they made a splat noise when they hit the table top, “Useless Goddam burger flippers,” he bellowed.

He sat down and glowered at Alan who was still watching him, “What the fuck you staring at?” he snarled, and Alan went back to studying his burger, taking a hurried bite from it.

They sat in silence for a minute or more, Alan chewing on the food in his mouth half afraid to swallow, unsure of the consequences.

Then the biker said in a calm voice, “It`s okay their gone,” once he was again Mr reasonable.

And it was true, the shimmering and sense of being watched had passed.

“Sorry about that, but you looked like you was about to crack, had to do something,” Alan looked up again, the man sighed and put down his burger, “T`aint the same without pickle,” he said, “Now where was I, oh yeah.”

“If they figure out you can see them they erase you, they don’t kill you, one moment you`re there, the next,” he snapped his fingers, “You aint, and no-0ne will remember you, fuck knows how they do it.”

“Vhat do they Vant?” Alan hissed through clenched teeth, fighting to keep his lips still.

The man smiled, “Not bad for a first attempt, you want to relax the lips though.”

“You noticed how it seems like everyone and their Ma is suffering from depression these days, like it’s a goddam epidemic?” Alan nodded, there`d been that piece, he remembered, in the paper last week about suicides having tripled in the past year.

“Well that’s them; they got this gizmo they use for siphoning off a hormone called serotonin, ever hear of it?” Alan nodded again. “Anyway it kind of controls our moods, that’s what the eggheads say and when we lose too much, we crash and burn.”

“Here’s the thing, about one in a thousand of us, you and me for instance, we have a reaction to the process, you could say we`re allergic, we get headaches and then we start to be able to see them, you`re nearly there I`d say.”

He smiled again, but there was no humour in it this time, “I remember the first time I saw one of them full on,” he shuddered at the memory, “Whoo boy they are Uggleeyyy, I nearly upchucked,” he studied Alan as if seeing him for the first time, and then in a half laugh said, “Man, you are so fucked.”

“So it’s more bad news, good news, the bad news is, if they know you can see them they erase you, the good news is, if they know you can see them.. they erase you,” he smiled again at Alan`s obvious confusion.

“Thing is they must have a weakness, eggheads think something about being able to see them must make them vulnerable, otherwise why bother, and no they aint figured it out yet, we wouldn’t be having this little chat if they did, now would we?”
Alan shrugged.

“My name is Ted by the way; does that thing have Hotknot?”
Alan glanced down at his cell phone and nodded.

Ted took out a smartphone of his own and placed on Alan`s, “Now you`ve got my contact number and I`ve got yours, remember, voice only, no texts, no emails and don`t tell anybody about this,” Alan nodded dumbly.

As the man calling himself Ted stood, he said, “Oh yeah,” and reached into a jacket pocket, pulling out a foil wrapped bar, and slid it across the table, the label read 100% pure chocolate.

"For the headaches,” he said, “painkillers are no good,” he tapped the chocolate, “the purer the better.”

“One last thing,” he said as he picked up his helmet, “You got a bike?” Alan shook his head.

“Get one!”

“Why?” Alan asked as Ted pulled the helmet on.

He flipped open the visor, “Cause they can`t read your lips with your lid on, maannn; they can`t read your lips with your lid on.”
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