Text: Creatures of the Night


Creatures of the night emerge silently. A quiet walk down the street is startled by their sudden dark shapes, by the sound of their armor grating against the shadows. They disperse quickly, but there is a feeling of cohesiveness, of silent mutterings. We try not to move quickly, sudden movements draw attention, but movement must continue.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Darkness has barely fallen, but it falls hard in the unlit spaces between lives, leaving long hollows of moving shadow. Buildings, cars, trees…all become distorted in the hustled gloom of a city night. Where do we look? We can’t make eye contact, not with these creatures of the night, so we grip our belongings lest they fall to the ground and draw in those prying intentions.

Breaths quicken and steps falter as paths are crossed, disturbed, altered. Our steps bring us closer to the main city, though we stick to the edges. More of the creatures emerge, their presence at once aggressive and scurried; the blackness of their silhouettes is blurred, creating a disconcerting haze of unknowing in an area which, during daylight, is so well known.

We continue on, eyes scanning the side roads for potential shelter, but always, always, keeping one eye on the silhouettes. Explosive laughter sends us skittering to the side, teetering on the edge of composure, as their dark shadows burst into glare-ridden street light circles and bright colours pull our attention. The colours appear out of place, garishly vibrant in the established gloom.

We’re getting too close now: we can hear the breaths drawn between overacted laughter; can sense the claustrophobic smell of perfume mixed with cologne mixed with alcohol. They know we’re here, they can sense us as well, though their eyes refuse to stray to the corners of the city night. Our clothes are a camouflage for them, allowing their eyes to skit over our presence while their anxious hostility is extended, marking their territory.

We keep going, a Saturday night just another excursion to find shelter. More of them are coming, the late hour giving their steps even more urgency, and we slowly pull further out as their territory expands. Even without light their presence becomes distinct, their boisterousness setting them firmly apart from our own skulking shadows. A brief respite as they’re all tucked safely inside the overwhelming closeness of their destinations, breathing alcohol through their pores and seeking out new companions. We breathe easy through our own sour smells for a while.

But the respite ends as the early leavers fall over themselves to escape what’s become unpalatable. They continue dribbling out, some fighting for greasy eats, others too busy holding someone close. By now their comforting haze has blocked us out of their sights, and they forget about our presence. We move closer, watching their weekly ritual become messier as the night begins its transition to morning. Their territory retreats as their vision blurs and the first signs of dawn appears. The city will soon be back in the hands of the workers, and will be scrubbed clean of the evidence of the creatures of the night. And then, we too will be brushed aside from the daylight gaze, until dusk falls and our time to watch over the city is born again.  


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  • Anonymous's picture

    15.04.09 — Gretchen Miller

    oh spooky, and beautiful...

    oh spooky, and beautiful... who are these watching shadows?
    reading it of course one thinks those others are the threat - but perhaps the 'we' are the threatening ones... what is the difference between watching over, and spying on?
    i like the ambiguity expressed in this. it's very elegant.
    can you find an image for these unexpressed beings? somewhere in the shadows perhaps?
    thank you,
    (City Nights, Producer)