The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|

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Universe W-78: Beautiful Minds 2
Deji

Old Friends

A warm breeze rustles Deji’s spiky black hair. The crescent moon glows a gloomy orange through a hazy layer of clouds as mist spills down and coats the surface of the reservoir. All the candy in the world couldn’t beat this, a peaceful summer’s night on the dam.

With his back leaned against the cold concrete divider, Deji sits in the shadow of a streetlight with a busted-out bulb. The working streetlights to his right and left provide Deji with just enough light to see in front of him, yet there’s enough darkness for his eyes to pick up the stars; the lake has never looked more beautiful than it does right now.

A car drives by and beams bright lights out of its windows, an army of photons marching in step right over Deji’s head. He hears a voice calling out, “Dee-Jay! Dee-Jay, where are you?”

Where indeed; there not but there, existing unseen as one with the inky blackness of the night that so many admonish for lack of understanding. Not our Deji though; the darkness has always been a second home for him. It accepts him, understands him.

The calling fades as the search party drives further and further away. Whoever DJ is, Deji sure hopes he’ll be okay.

Shortly after the air slows to a calm, it’s shattered into pieces by a sportscar of some kind coming from the opposite direction as the last car. Had they passed each other? The resulting wind reaches over the divider and gently taps Deji on the head. He smiles and looks down to the end of the bridge to watch the headlights follow the road back into the forest. Maybe that was DJ, tearing asphalt on his way home from some nightclub mere moments after his family left to go looking for him. A distant streetlight shakes as the car rumbles by.

Deji has quite a history with this dam, he used to go for midnight jaunts to this very spot with his old gang of friends all the time. They would meet up in the woods and play together all day just to sneak out at night and go for their long, serene strolls above the water. They were all so close, Deji shared everything with his friends… except for his candy. Deji’s caretakers would never let him share his candy, not even with his roommate Koncho.

“Koncho takes his own candy,” the caretakers would always tell him. “Your candy can’t help him, Deji. It’s only good for you.” Don’t they know that sharing is caring?

A motorcycle passes. The rumble from the muffler tickles the inside of Deji’s ears. He’s always liked being in spots where nobody could see him, it makes him feel safer. Less alone. Maybe DJ drives a motorcycle, that would be radical.

Deji looks down to the other end of the bridge and the shaky streetlamp goes out with a flash of light when the biker leaves it in his dust. Deji hears the biker pick up speed before he hits the steep uphill of the mountain road.

‘Uh oh,’ Deji thinks to himself. ‘It’s about to get dark.’

Deji hears voices coming from the forest on the other side of the dam, the side that he came from. Very faint voices, echoes really, the whines of a tribe of concerned humans. Deji scrunches down a few inches further below the concrete divider as a big truck with booming music flies by, what a busy night. On his right side, a little yellow frog crawls out of a crack in the sidewalk and leaps over the divider into the road. When Deji peeks over the divider, the frog is gone. Maybe DJ is a missing pet frog, what a twist that would be.

Unperturbed, Deji sits back down and gazes out across the water. He’s used to seeing things that aren’t there, or rather, things that the other humans can’t see. Nobody could see his friends but him; well, him and his parents. His parents never liked his friends though, they would always try to keep them apart.

By the same effect, Deji’s friends would always tell him not to eat the candy his parents gave him, and Deji would often listen. The candies are kind of nasty anyway, they never taste like anything. His parents didn’t like that though, and neither do the caretakers – it’s been quite a few years since Deji’s seen his parents. Even longer since he’s seen his old friends.

A pair of effervescent eyes peek through the trees near the peak of the mountain, catching Deji by surprise. Headlights probably, and they’re coming down the road in his direction, too. He scrunches down further in anticipation, but… nothing. A few minutes pass and they never hit the bridge. Where did they go? Did they accidentally run DJ over?

Deji scans the dark mouth of the bridge, waiting for the car, for movement, anything. Another streetlight goes out, the furthest one, the one closest to his home.

Then another, and another.

He looks back towards the other side of the bridge and the same thing happens, one by one down the row the streetlights go out with a brilliant flash. Darkness encroaches down the bridge towards Deji, leaving him surrounded, stranded alone on an isle of the unknown that is swiftly being swallowed up by a tsunami of oily blackness. But… is it the unknown?

A knowing smile spreads across Deji’s face. “Hello old friends, I’ve missed you.”

The last two streetlights go out.

Fin