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Watching Them Change

By Matt Roberts All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Horror

Short Story

Thea pulled out of the grocery store parking lot and her check engine light came on. She had been having issues with her car lately, with that light coming on and then, a mile down the road, turning itself off. She had the car checked before, but the mechanic found nothing. So when she saw it this time, she thought nothing of it.

She turned onto her street and the car began acting strange. It wasn't reacting when she hit the gas, stuttering itself down the road.

"Oh no, not now! I have groceries!" She looked at her dash and the check engine light had gone off again, but the car was still acting up. This was a first. She also glanced at the fuel gauge and she had plenty. She should, she had just put thirty dollars in it the night before and the grocery was the only place she had been since, besides driving home from the gas station. Neither were that far, and her car wasn't a gas guzzler.

At least I'm close to home if it dies, she thought to herself. I can carry the groceries from here if I have to.

A few blocks from her house, the car finally gave in and puttered itself dead. She coasted it to the curb and parked it. "Dammit," she sighed loudly to herself. She drew in a deep breath through her nose and blew it out of her mouth. Remaining calm in these situations was something she had been working on lately. Blowing up over things she couldn't change was controlling her life in a bad way.

Calmed and under control, she got out of the car and gathered her groceries. She had been using totes for her groceries since her store had stopped using paper bags, and she was thankful for them now more than ever because they had handles. Six bags would be heavy and difficult to carry home, but if they had been paper bags it would have been impossible.

As she walked to her house, which she could see just down the street, she saw a neighbor out cutting his grass. She didn't know him well, but she knew his last name was Collins. Or maybe his first name was Collin. She wasn't sure. Either way, he was a nice man, always kept his place clean, and he was unmarried with no kids that she knew of. Thea stopped and stared at him for a moment, shocked at what she saw. He had a strange orange glow around him from head to toe.

She had heard of aura’s before, and had heard of people being able to see them around others, but she held no stock in it. She didn't believe in anything like that. But there it was, right in front of her. The sun had started to go down and it was currently behind the trees in Collin’s back yard. It wasn’t casting the aura around him, and for that matter, there wasn’t an aura around anything else.

Collin turned and saw her staring at him. Thea started, then blushed. She lifted one hand as best she could with three totes full of groceries hanging from her wrist and waved at him. He smiled and waved back.

Thea continued on her way down the street, completely embarrassed by what had just happened. He probably thought she was attracted to him. After all, he was out cutting his grass with his shirt off, and he had a decent body. He had been sweating, and his form was glistening...

That was it. He was sweating and the light from the sun, although hidden behind the trees, was shining off of him. That was the orange glow she saw.

She made it another two houses before the heft of the bags in her hands was wearing her arms out, so she stopped to set them on the ground for a moment.

"Can I help you with those?" came a male voice from behind her. She spun around and saw Collin there, or Mr. Collins, sweating and out of breath. She hadn't even heard his mower shut off. He was smiling at her, still with that brilliant orange glow around his entire body. From up close, she could tell it most definitely wasn't the sun reflecting off of him.

"Oh hey, you startled me. Sure, thank you."

He picked up four of the bags and she grabbed the other two. She let him lead the way back to her house so she could stare at the glow around him. She heard someone talking across the street and glanced over to see who it was. Another neighbor, Joyce, was saying goodbye to her husband DeAngelo. The two were fairly new to the neighborhood, and just as nice as they could be, but Thea noticed that same orange glow around them as well.

Her walking slowed and she stared across the street at them. They both stopped talking and looked around to stare at her. Caught off guard, she smiled and waved as she had done with Collin, but they didn't smile or wave back. They just stared.

That was unusual, and not like them at all, she thought. She looked up and saw Collin had made it to the steps that lead up to her front porch and was waiting for her, so she hurried to him.

"Thank you, uh... I'm sorry, is it Collin or..."

He laughed. "Yeah, Collin. And you're Thea, right?"

She nodded as she pulled the keys from her purse as quickly as she could. "That's right. Thank you so much for your help. My car died on me up the road a bit."

"Lucky for you it didn't die earlier, eh?"

She forced a laugh and got her door open. She motioned for him to go in first and then followed him in.

"Could you turn on a light?" he asked. The inside of her house was never lit up all that well no matter how bright the day was outside. His glowing, however, lit up the entire inside of the house. Could he not see it?

"Oh sure," she replied, and flipped a switch next to the door. The light in the hall came on, only it was a bright blue.

"Thanks!" Collin said as he turned from the hall into the kitchen.

She barely heard him as she stared at the bulb on the ceiling. After he walked out of the hallway the light went back to the white light that it had always been. Why was it blue? For that matter, why was he orange? And why did the light change when he left the hall, rather, why did it change while he was in the hall?

She walked into the kitchen and saw Collin had already turned the light on in there. It was also blue. The mix of blue and orange light in the kitchen was blinding, and really messing with her head. She set her totes down on the table and sat down in one of the chairs, holding her head with one hand.

"Hey, you okay?" he asked after he set the totes he was carrying on the counter. "You look a little pale."

"I'll be fine. Just worried about that car of mine," she lied. Well, the car was on her mind, but not nearly as much as the glowing man in her house.

"Everything is here. You gonna call a tow or something?"

She stood from the table and smiled. "Yeah. Hopefully it won't take too long for the shop to figure out what's going on."

Collin smiled. "Alright, well good luck with that! I'm gonna go finish up my yard. Then it's nap time." He laughed as he left the kitchen and turned the corner to go back down the hall. As soon as he did, the kitchen light went from blue to the regular white light it always put out. Thea's head immediately felt better.

She followed him to the front door, noticing the hall light was blue again. Collin got to the open front door and put his hand on the handle to the screen door. He stopped. Thea stopped just a few steps behind him. She was holding her breath.

"Oh yeah, I almost forgot..." he said, and turned around to face her. His eyes were completely black and his brow was rippled. He reached forward and grabbed her by the arms, holding her tight. Thea screamed and felt her head swimming again as it had been in the kitchen.

Collin opened his mouth and his tongue snaked out of it at least a foot. He leaned in close to her face and she could feel her energy being sucked from her mouth. She couldn't breathe.

Panicked, she kicked wildly with her knee, hitting him twice in the gut which seemed to do nothing, and then finally in his groin which made him grunt. He closed his mouth for a second and Thea could breathe again, her energy back completely.

She planted her feet and pushed into him as hard as she could, backing him up to the screen door.

"Oh no, not until I get my soul little girl!" Collin cried out. He looked up at her with those pitch black eyes and smiled an evil smile.

She screamed again as he laughed deviously. He opened his mouth and came at her again. She got her foot up onto his stomach and pushed as hard as she could. His hands slipped off of her arms, his nails clawing her skin, and he went back with a crash through the screen door and tumbled down the steps onto the sidewalk. Her screen door hung by the bottom hinge and leaned awkwardly on the porch banister.

Thea slammed the front door and locked it. Panting, she ran into her kitchen and looked out the window. Collin got up from the sidewalk and didn't even look up at her. He went back to his yard and continued to mow his grass, as if nothing had happened. He was still orange, though.

Thea caught her breath and wondered just what in the hell she had experienced. She glanced out of her window again and saw other neighbors glowing, but behaving like they always did, for the most part.

From her left a little girl rode up the sidewalk on her bike towards Joyce's house. DeAngelo had already left, possibly for work, but Joyce was sitting on her porch watching the girl ride closer to her house. When the girl got to Joyce's driveway, Joyce flew off of her porch quicker than she should have been able to run, and snatched the little girl up off of her bike.

Thea held her breath as she watched it unfold. The little girl screamed but only for a moment. Joyce opened her mouth and her tongue oozed out, long and disgusting. She put her opened mouth up to the little girl, as if she were going to kiss her, but instead held the girls face just a few inches from her own. Thea watched a thick, white smoke come out of the girl's mouth and go into Joyce's.

Once the smoke stopped, Joyce put the girl down on the sidewalk where she just stood, motionless. Joyce's orange glow was brighter. She turned from the girl and went back to her porch where she sat down again. The little girl moved and Thea was shocked to see she was now glowing orange. She got on her bike and rode off up the street.

Thea went to her couch and collapsed. Her mind raced. What was she going to do? Where would she go? Could she go anywhere? What was going on with these people? Where did it start? Can it be stopped?

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Thea jumped up, her heart pounding. She started to go for the front door but looked up and saw her hall light was flickering from white to blue and back. Her eyes grew wide. She walked back into the kitchen as the knock came again at the front door. Outside she heard a man call out, "Hello?"

Thea looked out of the kitchen window but couldn't quite see who was standing on her porch. She walked around the kitchen, pacing, trying to think of what to do next. The man knocked again at the door. She paced some more.

A minute had gone by and she hadn't heard anything. She looked out of her kitchen window and saw her mechanic was waiting for her in the driveway, but she didn't want to leave the house. Sure her car needed fixed, but was this the time? Would she even get it back? If she planned on leaving she would need it, but she wasn't sure if they would let her leave, or at least get very far.

How did he know she needed him anyway? She hadn't called. Maybe Collin had, but how did he know who her mechanic was? It didn't matter, the mechanic was glowing orange as well. Everyone outside was glowing orange. The mechanic looked up at her in the window and smiled.

All of her neighbors came out of their houses, one by one. The little girl on the bike rode back by Joyce's house and dropped her bike on the ground. Joyce joined her and they walked across the street. Collin could be seen coming that way as well.

They were all looking her way and she watched them all change. Their eyes went black, their brows rippled, and they were all smiling. They all gathered in front of her house, their glowing orange auras were so bright she had to squint to see out. They all began rising slowly off the ground, up into the air, hovering in place. Not one of them took their stare from her in the window.

Suddenly vertigo overtook her and all of the lights inside her house went blue.

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