Mervin sits hunched on the stool in the run down koin randorii at just past three in the morning, reading a cheap California Raisins comic with paper 3D glasses. He hates doing his laundry in the middle of the night, but it’s the only free moment he has between his classes and his job at the pool hall in the same strip mall. At least it’s Friday–no, Saturday now, he reminds himself. No class in the morning, so he’ll be able to sleep in.
Beneath the rumbling of the tumble dryers, Mervin fails to hear the door on one of the washers creak open. A pale, billowing figure emerges and lets out a faint moan.
Mervin remains oblivious.
The figure, dripping cold beads of water on the warped linoleum, stalks closer to Mervin, moaning louder and louder with each wet, sloshy step. Finally, it’s almost upon him when Mervin turns from his book.
“Oh, hey Jeff.”
“Dammit! I was sure I was going to scare you this time!”
Mervin rolls his eyes and sets down his comic. “Jeff, I’ve been doing my laundry here for months. You’re just not creepy anymore.”
“Oh, come on! I’m totally creepy! Look, I was trying something new this time.”
Mervin nods to the puddle that’s formed on the floor. “Soaking wet and moaning? Did you never see Ringu?”
Jeff shrugs, flinging water from his ephemeral shoulders. “Hello? Mutant bedsheet creature? Do you think I get out of the randorii very often?”
Mervin thumbs over his shoulder toward the television mounted on the wall. A pale man in a black hood stares back, unblinking. “Don’t you get cable in here?”
Wringing out the edges of himself, Jeff sighs. “We would if we could, but you try calling a cable guy to come out here. The shadowlings scare everyone away.”
Outside, miniature humanoids no more than four inches tall skitter around, their bodies absorbing every trace of cheap fluorescent light emitted from the randorii.
“God, Jeff, they’re just like little bugs. You step on them and they go crunch and you move on with your life.”
“Yeah, well most people prefer bugs that don’t screech bloody murder when they’re crushed underfoot.”
Mervin sighs and sits back down, thumbing through his comic. “Look, it’s not my fault if you can’t get anyone else to come in here after dark. Hell, I’d probably avoid this dump too if I had the time.”
Shaking what approximates his head, Jeff says, “You’re a cold man, Merv.”
“Yeah, well I’m not the one who’s soaking wet after going through a cold/cold cycle.”
As usual, this is a piece based on i09‘s Concept Art Writing Prompt feature. Please feel free to leave feedback in the comments, and let me know what you’ve been writing this week!