by Megan Neumann
At night they come prancing into the bedroom like they own the place. The static men have no concept of ownership or privacy. To them we’re some kind of prop— the parquet floor beneath their dancing shoes.
Carl and I are holding hands beneath the covers, our bodies already rigid. Then the creatures get started, dancing above us with their static bodies, almost transparent, the edges of their forms nebulous. Only their smiles are real. Their big, white teeth shine down in wide grins. They wiggle their long static hands in our faces. Carl and I lie transfixed.
For weeks, Carl and I thought we were dreaming. Neither of us spoke to the other about what was happening. But then again, Carl and I didn’t talk to each other about much anymore.
That’s what happens when you’ve been married for fifteen years and your life is basically the same day in and day out. What’s there to talk about? We had gone so long without talking I didn’t feel I could talk to him about anything. That’s probably why I never mentioned the static men.
One day he must have been bothered by the silence because he said, “You know, I had the craziest dream last night.”
I said, “You know, so did I. In fact, I’ve had this crazy recurring dream for weeks now.”
That’s how we found out we weren’t dreaming after all.
Every night these static beings visited our bedroom. These men— or whatever they were— paralyzed Carl and me. We couldn’t move as they gyrated, thrusting their humanoid but indefinite forms in our sleeping faces.
Tonight they’re doing their best dance, the best one I’ve ever seen. I bet it’s the best one Carl has seen too. I can’t ask him. My body is frozen, my voice gone. Same goes for Carl. If he could speak, I bet he’d say, “Oh yeah, it’s the best we’ve ever seen. Look at them go. The extra tall one sure is getting down.”
Carl and I have wondered what the beings want. After we realized we shared this nightly ritual, we sat together at our breakfast table brainstorming what could cause it. We bounced ideas off each other. We hadn’t talked like this in ages. Were we sharing a hallucination? We didn’t think so. Neither of us had hallucinated before. The rest of our lives were hallucination-free.
We Googled “static men dancing over your sleeping body.” Nothing relevant came back.
We went to the library, something we hadn’t done in years. Carl and I used the reference section. We perused shelves. Together we carried piles and piles of books on the occult and aliens and parallel dimensions. But there were no answers at the library.
Eventually, we decided we were the only ones this had ever happened to. Or if there were others, they too thought they were the only ones and had never bothered sharing it with the rest of the world. But Carl and I didn’t like to think that was the case. We liked being the only ones.
“You know,” Carl said to me after a few days of pointless research, “I really don’t mind it.”
“I was going to say the exact same thing,” I said. “It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen. If anything, it’s kind of nice. Our own private show.”
“Yeah,” Carl said, “exactly. Our own private show.”
We didn’t care if there was no meaning. Must everything have a meaning? We didn’t think so. Carl and I decided we’d sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Each night we take each other’s hands beneath the covers, turn our heads slightly, and smile. The static men visit us with their exotic dance, and then we sleep, wrapped in each other’s arms, sharing our little secret.
Tonight, after they do their magnificent dance, one of the static men reaches out and touches my face and Carl’s face with each of its hands. He pats us lightly as if we’re his pets. His touch feels warm, and the warmth spreads throughout my body. I feel loved. Then he and the other static men fade into nothingness.
When they’re gone, Carl and I are free to move. I look at him. He looks at me. We’re both smiling. Here is something else we’ll share, a secret to keep us going a little longer.
About the Creator
Megan Neumann is a speculative fiction writer living in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her stories have appeared in such publications as Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Luna Station Quarterly. She's a proud member of the Central Arkansas Speculative Fiction Writers' Group and is particularly appreciative of their loving support and scathing critiques.
World's Shortest Creator Interview
Q: If you could change one thing from your childhood, what would it be and why? (Please include the phrase "hot pink orangutan" in your answer.)
When I was a kid (and even now as an adult), I really enjoyed musicals. There were times when I would break out in song just like people did in musicals, but no one around me would ever join in on the singing. If I could change one thing about my childhood, I'd like it to have had more musical numbers, preferably ones performed by hot pink orangutans.
Q: Fonts. What is the metaphysical meaning of Times New Roman, and is font abuse a crime that should have a corporeal punishment?
Times New Roman is rigidity and discipline. It is a tailored suit. It is a neat package hiding the chaos within.
And no, I don't think font abuse should have a corporeal punishment. A fine would be sufficient.
About the Artist
Our very own D Chang is a designer and game writer from Austin, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in Avast, Ye Airships! and the Cryptopolis science fiction anthology, and he has a janky retro JRPG on Steam. He does the Space Squid illustrations, editing, and other squid stuff.