The Loose-Skinned Bicycle Creatures

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
The highly impressionable Benjamin M. is plunged into a surreal world of ghouls and spectral visions. His fall and salvation are as comic as they are absurd.

Submitted: November 24, 2011

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Submitted: November 24, 2011

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Benjamin M. woke early one morning to the unfamiliar sound of rain. He rose wearily and made his way to the window where an unusual sight awaited him. The streets were awash with rain. Murky reflections appeared in the gutters barely visible through the heavy drizzle. The leaden sky seemed to be venting its long suppressed malice on the city below. It was a spiteful rain, the type that gradually soaked you to the bones and went out of its way to embitter the mind and dampen the spirits. ?

He’d lived in this quarter of the city for some time now, yet he struggled to remember the last time it had rained. It seemed almost incongruent that the dusty streets were now a damp darker version of their former selves. M. blinked but to his surprise the dismal autumn morning remained unchanged. The rain continued to fall with spiteful insistence. Dismissing this melancholy turn of events he began to get ready for work.

M. left the apartment under the protection of his umbrella, his collar turned up and head slightly bowed. The rain persisted. To his right he heard the swishing sound of a car’s tyres turning into the deserted courtyard whilst the steady patter of rain drummed on the flimsy canopy above his head. He walked on, his mind already turned to the tasks that awaited him in the office and the familiar faces that would greet him. But then he came to the junction, and stopped. His attention immediately snapped back to the present. A look of incredulity set upon his handsome features. A number of strange creatures zipped across the otherwise deserted streets. They glided across the rain-soaked tarmac without sign of either legs or wheels. Only their faces were visible. Human faces, slightly grimacing against the stinging rain, they stared out blankly into the middle-distance. From their scalps down to the ground only a loose brightly coloured skin that glistened like wet leather could be seen. It stretched out in front and behind them, almost taut in places and yet hanging in a listless fashion, divorced from the rest of their being.

One of these strange creatures drew closer to M. still staring blankly through the pouring rain. M. stood frozen to the spot in horror yet the creature didn’t even acknowledge his existence. As it turned the corner its loose skin flapped in the wind and a shower of rain drops fell from its lilac back. His head began to spin. Visions of the unfeeling loose-skinned creatures swam before his eyes until he was no longer standing but falling into an abyss, crawling, screaming, clutching in vain as he was smothered by their rain-drenched hides.

Something rumbled past and his crotch suddenly felt wet. He came to his senses in an instant. The voice of a truck driver rang in his ears as the vehicle sped past him, sending puddles flying towards the pavement in its wake. For now the road was clear and with the realization that he was going to be late M. made his way hastily to the office.

As he sat down at his desk M. surveyed the office, Comstock muttered discontentedly in the corner, Rossman listened obsequiously to his superior and Clayton leered at the voluptuous typists. Everything was normal. His colleagues were going about their daily business as though nothing had happened, as though the spectral creatures were a mere fantasy of M.’s over-active imagination. Could that be the case, had he imagined it all? Were they a nightmare brought on by fatigue? Worse yet, was he the only one who’d seen them, and so the onerous task of dealing with these creatures lay squarely on his shoulders. The rain continued.

M. reached for the papers on his desk and with a determined effort set to work. A fraud case, under the name of Chichikov, was at the top of the pile. Well thumbed and notorious throughout the department, it demanded his full attention. He looked up, the rain beat down on the thin pane of glass to his right. Tap, tap, tap. An ever-present reminder of what awaited him outside. He dismissed it with a shake of his head.

Minutes and then hours passed. The rain drummed persistently against the window. With his head in his hands M. stared at the paper, but only saw a sea of names swirling before him, Vorobey, Rilo, Korotkov. In his frenzied mind they took on the form of demons, with agate eyes and hideous flaps of loose skin, taunting him as they rode noiselessly past. Tap, tap, tap went the rain. A crash of tea cups could be heard followed by Clayton’s lecherous cries as the typist bent over the shattered remains, but M. could not escape from his reverie. Could he talk to anyone about what he’d seen? Impossible, he’d be laughed out of the office. Could it really all be a figment of his imagination? Inconceivable! Realizing the hopelessness of the situation M. sank further and further into the pit of despair.

As the clock struck six Benjamin’s heart skipped a beat. The office was closing; it was time to go home. Looking out of the window he saw that the shower had turned into a downpour. Taking up his umbrella he steeled himself for the coming ordeal. The street was surprisingly quiet. A young couple cowered under a bus shelter and a few taxis sped past with scant regard for the treacherous conditions, but there was no sign of the ghoulish creatures. M.’s relief was palpable. He let out a deep sigh and in spite of himself he skipped home gaily through the puddles humming tunelessly to himself. The nightmare was over.

M. soon found himself at the junction where the morning’s terrible visions had taken place. Around the corner an intermittent beeping could be heard, high pitched and mechanical it was almost smothered by the heavy rain. Meep! Meep! There it was again, and louder this time too. Failing to heed this warning M.’s next step was one into abject horror. A spectral face, seething with fury and framed by a luminous blue tent, had screeched to a halt in front of him. Benjamin stood petrified, his eyes locked with the demonic pair just inches from his face. The creature shouted something incomprehensible, which could only be interpreted as a volley of expletives, spat in M.’s direction and then rode off into the night. Benjamin stood in the middle of the road, mouth agape and with foul smelling trousers. He let out a high pitched scream and ran home, his arms flailing like a lunatic’s, his umbrella discarded like a broken bird on the wet tarmac.

Coming out of the lift Benjamin walked past his roommate’s electric scooter and mechanically opened the front door. Samuel was sitting in an armchair drying his feet by the fire. M. walked past without acknowledging him and made for the haven of his bedroom. Passing Sam’s room something caught his eye. Looking closer Benjamin saw the skin of one those monstrous creatures hanging on the balcony, below it a dark puddle was slowly forming. M. walked as though in a trance back to the living room. Sam sipped his tea and then readjusted his newspaper. He looked up at the ghostly white and thoroughly drenched figure of his roommate and said with the most unassuming air, ‘Dreadful weather isn’t it?’


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