Windows
By: TG Browning

I don't know how long it takes them to eat us. To devour what makes us, us. Sometimes it seems like it's only hours. Other times, from my own observations, it appears to be months. But one can see the progress that is going on behind the windows. The fading of light. The lack of activity. The breeding of hopelessness. The dimming of sound and rhythm, of vibrancy and connection to the outside world. The graying of the people is something very akin to what H. P. Lovecraft detailed in the Color Out of Space.

But he was wrong. Dreadfully wrong. The Color was not from space, it was the lack of color that comes from within in, when the very hope of life has been sucked from the brain, sinews and gut of those who live behind … the windows.

One can see it in the long afternoons when the autumn winds down and the rains begin. When the leaves fall like thin sheets of lead to rest supinely in the gutters, only to be ripped bodily by grim workers, from the gutters, the catch basins, the drain pipes that lead down to the final wash out into a river that neither needs or wants such refuse.

The lights go dimmer. First it seems like only a single bulb, a hundred watt bulb in a three way light fixture, has gone black. Burned out. Forgotten. But then you discern, from careful observation as you drive home each night that the 100 watt bulb is no longer gone, but replaced. By a 60 watt bulb that, arguably, will last longer and cost less. The other two bulbs in the light fixture, which resides over every dining room table in the apartment complex, slowly, one by one, die. Some times with a frantic, heroic pop that rails against the defeat of light.

Other times, it's just a pifft as the bulb can no longer find the strength to resist the encroaching darkness.

For that is what it is. That what the windows presage. For they do not hold light out, they shutter light away.

The blinds are allies of the looming darkness. At first, each window in each kitchen has the blinds up the slats turned flat to admit the most of the sunsets that grace the west side of the apartment house. Those on the east side, well, those worthy kitchens grab the morning sun and mug it. Throw it into a chair and serve it coffee cake and fierce tea meant to give the light a strenuous feeling of lingering health and vitality.

In Oregon, such encouragement is needed for each ray of sunshine.

But the windows are prepared for this skirmish and they win. Inexorably.

Night comes on. The lights in the apartment house spill less and less into the parking lots, out over the balconies, into the winding, well cared for grounds where flowers and shrubs and green, green ground cover have been so artfully, carefully, tenderly placed. Cared for by grounds keepers who do not live there and hence, seem not to see the darkness of the windows. Oh, if you ask for help from the apartment managers, to get lights replaced, you will most certainly get help and it will be done.

For a time.

The last time I had a man from maintenance come in and fix the lights over the door and on the balcony, he had been wonderfully happy to do so. He joked and shot the breeze with me as he finally got the casing around the front door light free and replaced the bulb, muttering, "Seems like they get so pesky stiff. I don't understand it."

He told me of his labors with the lights, laughing at the coincidences he'd seen.

But then, when I asked him to look at the light over the balcony, his expression drained away into a grim mask. "Sure," he said. "Let me grab a bulb."

He disappeared for ten minutes but then came up the stairs, armed with the tools of his trades and three bulbs. "They seem to short out," he said. "Generally have to have at least two. Dunno why that is."

I shrugged. I was just glad he was going to give me some light. Things had gotten so dim inside the apartment. Only my cat could really enjoy the whole apartment. I felt restricted to the kitchen where I had six lights, not counting the one over the sink or the one over the stove.

He made quick work of it. His brown eyes were set in a tanned, tense face as he finished up. "How long have you been living here?" he asked.

"A year, now."

He nodded. Then clapped me on the back. "Keep up the faith, buddy. Get out more. That helps a lot."

With that, he left.

With that, I began to really notice the … loom.

Not of darkness, but of windows.

They eat the light.

They repel the light of the sun and moon and stars, but artificial light? They devour it whole.

That's why all of the other apartments in this building are slowly going dark.

That's why the people move more slowly, each day. They age. Their pets age. They dim.

I'm dimming.

I fear my kitty, Missed, will dim after me and be left alone, to perhaps escape.

I fear she won't.

The light on the balcony just died. Somehow, they seem to have understood I've been writing about them. Leaving a record of what goes on here. How the light dies. How the people sicken and die and wither away, just because the light of their life – not the light of their eyes, exactly, but the light of the spirit – how it gets filched and frittered away by some thing, or some spirit that infests apartments – it's not just this one.

No, there's been at least ten apartment houses in Salem who have had this problem. All of them had hard wood flooring put in – I researched it. All of the paneling was from one company that used cheap Chinese paneling.

The law suits claimed it was because of industrial solvents – but they were wrong.

All of the apartments had the same contractor who may have used the faulty flooring, but who also used the same windows – triple glazed. The ones in my apartment house all had a funny color to them. A kind of purplish green color that was so faint one couldn't really be sure it was there.

Not until the lights started fading.

That's when I knew.

That's what I know. The color isn't out of space.

It's the color within space. Glazed in, the silicon infested with something from beyond.

This afternoon, before my modem quit working, I read that the company that made the glass for the windows, was based in Massachusetts.

Oddly enough. Near Arkham.

Now why am I not surprised?

There are no lights now. But I got Missed out first. I don't have the energy to get …

Down …

The stairs.


THE END

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