The Creature Under The Overpass
~ a short story
Sho walked to and from work everyday. Midtown to downtown past crosswalks and the homeless, then fifteen short minutes through the tunnels underneath the roads. He could avoid the heat, get some exercise, and listen to a podcast. In spite of all the fellow yuppies he’d have to stride by, it was an ideal commute.
The builders of this world certainly knew how to connect workers to their places of employment. These were insights the young auditor sometimes carried with him.
He wore custom soles inside of his dress shoes. They gave him a boost, provided his feet with support. He poured a trio of organic mushroom powders into his coffee every morning. They purportedly aided in his focus, his memory, even his longevity. He read like a fiend, and closely followed politics with a dialectical instinct.
They were all efficiencies to his core character. Efficiency was one of Sho’s favorite attributes to the melting mix of life’s misadventurous pot of experiences and expectations. Though he had yet to find happiness, Sho lived his life with pride.
The summer sun pressed down upon his heels even now, at the dusk of a long Wednesday.
Sho was always a stranger to his coworkers. Inside the tunnels, he passes by the smell of dumplings and cannot resist. The kind of work he did, it was crushing his soul and he’d soon realize it. Death metal blasts into his ears as he drifts by businessmen with shaded eyes and silly mouths singing silly songs.
Sho never really thought about where his life was going. He was just going.
Every day, Sho passed under the snaking mega-highways of his city. They were never shorn of honking cars and angry drivers, save for in the middle of the night, when the stragglers were dreaming behind the wheel. Sho rather liked walking at night. When it was empty and silenced, the place seemed somehow more magical. It was only then it felt real, like it had been here for centuries, soaking the earth in civilization.
Passing through the dark and abandoned places of the concrete jungle, this is when Sho felt most proud to live there. In the bayou paths, there was history and secrets and power.
Right now, one foot in front of another, backpack scorching his back, Sho walked under the heated shade of the overpass, from the stretch of downtown sidewalk onto the lurch of mid-urban sidewalk. Afternoon after work. Cars filled with wretched, kindred spirits blazed by him. Together, they returned home after another day in the fiber optic mines of their chosen metropolis.
Sho stopped where he never did.
Something touched down onto his shoulder, dodging the strap there. Liquid. A glob of it. It simmered steam, and stung. Sho screeched and jumped back. Brushing off his shoulder with fury, he looked up.
Fear took hold of him instantly.
In between the concrete lines undergirding the road above, the shape of a “man” in a sprawl appeared. Arms and legs gripping the overhangs, it hung up there in the shadows. Smiling. Drooling. Long, curved teeth wove out of a gaping maw. Elongated legs bent backward at an impossible angle. The creature’s eyes were wide and they lasered down into young Sho’s soul.
Sho froze, knees trembling, car breeze nearly toppling him over.
Impossible, impossible, impossible… thought Sho.
The daemonic little man in the shadows of the overpass’ underside was not really there. It couldn’t be. He’d spent too long at work, stared at Excel and Outlook screens for too many hours. Cracked, the mind screamed out a warning. Sleep. Or run away.
But Sho could not bring himself to blink and free himself from the supposed hallucination.
He stared up at the creature, still unmoving. It watched him with keen, inhumanely focused eyes. They burrowed into bulging brows. Noseless but with a gleaming bright smile of fangs, Sho could not waver from the threat of that expression to study its physique, or notice the whipping tale slapping the inner slab of the long and raised road built all the way back in 1991.
For what felt like an eternity, Sho kept watching. The demon shivered but did not drop, or scuttle overhead. It just watched him. It watched so long that a third eye began to open upon its pale forehead. Above its two soulless windows, another cracked awake. A pupiless abyss, Sho lost himself within its gaze for a brief moment, and shut his eyes against its assault on his psyche.
And that was all the universe needed.
When Sho opened his eyes again and looked up at the creature under the overpass, he found that he was staring into a mirror. There was no fear, after all. Only recognition. With a wave of his hand, the daemon was banished to the shadows. Sho gripped a power within him, borne of his own dreams and nightmares.
It was the power of an esper, a sudden efficiency unto changing the world as he saw fit.
Sho skipped home with a pep in his step. He couldn’t stop smiling as he pointed his fingers up to poke holes in the distant clouds above he used to daydream to… ~