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Ben and Josh existed only at night. They bled and ran in the dark and were spotted only where the yellow street lamps shown. No one could catch them. They ran faster than anyone. Josh began clawing at his clothes under an arc lamp as Ben looked down the firefly street, which still held the heat of the sun.

"Christ," Josh said, "Why do we need these clothes anyway?"

He attempted to pull at his sweaty shirt, but then quickly stopped and paced back forth while Ben smoked.

"Look, don't talk to me about the clothes anymore. I mean, they're important for us to function," Ben said.

"You're right, you're right. Hey, let's get some water or something."

"I'm glad to see you're back. I thought you had left forever," Ben said

"Me too."

"May I ask how princess Josh spent the day?"

"In the tunnel by Kirkwood," Josh said.

"Splendid. Did princess meet anyone there? Did princess see it?"

"No, and I still haven't seen it. All I did was think about it and draw on the tunnel walls."

"Come on, let's walk some."

Ben and Josh became more curious each night. The world around them was ceasing to be real and slowly becoming a magical realm. The sky sparkled at night as well as in the day. At first, the sun and moon orbs frightened Ben and Josh, but they got used to them after seeing other things.

"Did you see any portals on the way over here?" Ben asked.

"No, I already told you that, like four times. I haven't seen a new one besides the one by Kirkwood under the train tracks."

"Fine. Fine, ok that's settled. Are you sleeping there tomorrow?"

"I'm not going back there. I stared at it all day. Now I'm scared of going into it."

"The portal isn't scary, Josh."

"Then go."

"I don't want to. It's just fun to look at."

"Then stop telling me."


"But how are we going to see it?"

"We will just wait, and I'm not going to the portal."


It was summer and there were several empty houses. Ben and Josh only used empty houses when necessary. They found a house with no cars around, tested the house by throwing pebbles at it, and crept into the dark house after breaking the glass around the lock with a brick. Organic chocolate milk was number one on their list, but they made due with the normal juices and waters: Fuji, Ocean Spray, Minute Maid, and Popsicles.

They weren't hungry, but managed to eat some cherry pie the family had left out in the kitchen. The dark house scared them and they worried about the monsters in the portals. They sniffed some crushed pills, energizing themselves. The electronic hum in their heads felt like computers warming up.

"I've always wanted to see it," Josh said.

"Me too, me too, we will. We'll see it."

"What are we waiting for?"

"I don't know. I'm hot again. I can't stand it. I really can't man," Ben said.

"I guess. I don't really care. I just want to find out what it looks like."

"That's what we always do."

"Then we should be able to fucking find out."

"Could we find out in the portal?" Josh said.

"I already told you the portal isn't it. Will you quit with the portal already. "

"No, I really like what it looks like in there."

"The graveyard has it, let's go there," Ben said.

"Why are we going to see it there?"

"It's as good a place as any."

"There's nothing in a graveyard."

Slinking along in the night, they came to a large hilly graveyard; several acres of all types of graves plotted the rolling hills. The arc lights continued into the entrance of it, showing some graves, but leaving thousands in the dark.

They walked deep into it and saw a huge stone lady who had been turned black by the rain. She had wings folded above her head to cover herself from the rain that had turned her black in a dripping way.

"Is that it?"

"I'm not sure."

They moved closer to the base of the twenty-foot woman who bled black. There were several phrases in Latin, written in the stone at the base of the woman. The woman stood at the top of the biggest hill in the rolling graveyard. The two could see everything. from her vantage point.

"That's it man. That is it. I swear to god if we knew to read that, it would tell us."

"What if we find out what it means and it says nothing?"

"It has to mean something, it's writing," Josh said.

"No, it does that, but it doesn't mean she is it."

"I'll bet you right now, that this is it."

"What if the writing means nothing? Huh?" Ben said.

"We'll never know, will we?"

"Believe me. It's not it, so we don't need to read this."

They sat on the huge woman and smoked on her cool iron feet. The moon orbs were out in full force and polka dotted the sky before winking back into blackness.


Continued . . .

© 2006 Bryan Swan. Bryan Swan attends the University of Iowa and is a writer of fictions. Currently he is being taught by James Alan McPherson. He enjoys reading stories by George Saunders.


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