The man was still there in the morning. Lyn said not to look but how could I not.

        He was out there all night I said.

        How do you know she said.

        He’s wet I said. He’s all dripping. He’s been standing there all night in the rain.

        Well don’t look at him she said.

        How can we not I said.

        Like this Lyn said, and she shut the blinds.

        Shutting the blinds didn’t make any difference, the man was still there. Lyn knew that. She started to hum like she does when she’s nervous. I just stood there and looked at the blinds.

        What if I said.

        What? Lyn said.

        What if we let him in I said.

        Lyn didn’t say anything, but her eyes went big and her mouth went small. 

        If he wanted to come in he could I said. Or he could try to scare us at least. But he’s just standing there doing nothing. I think he’s okay.

        You don’t think him standing there is trying to scare us? Lyn said. Her voice was even smaller than her mouth.

        No I said. If he wanted to scare us he’d do something scarier.

        How do you know she said.

        I know I said.

        Lyn nodded then. She knew I knew. Or she knew me well enough to at least believe that maybe I knew. 

        Alright I said. I’ll be right back.

        I took the bat from next to the fold-out chair and opened the door and went outside. The man didn’t move as I walked across the lawn. I walked right up to him and he didn’t do a thing. I had the bat, so I wasn’t scared of him. I wouldn’t’ve been scared of him anyway.

        Cold out here I said to him.

        The man moved his mouth a bit, like he couldn’t be bothered shrugging. Don’t mind it he said.

        Wet I said.

        Don’t mind it at all he said.

        The man was weird, but it made me like him. He’d been standing out on the lawn twelve hours in the rain. No universe where that’s not extremely weird. I liked him a lot.

        What are you doing with that bat he said.

        Nothing I said.

        He said nothing to that, but the nothing was heavy.

        Insurance I said, tapping the bat. Just in case.

        In case of what he said.

        I’m not going to use it I said.

        So why have it he said.

        Do you want to come in I said.

        The man said nothing, he just looked straight ahead at the house.

        Might as well if you’re gonna stand out here giving us the spooks I said, and laughed a bit. Then I stopped the laugh since it sounded phony. I didn’t want him to think I was nervous. I wasn’t: I had the bat. I was the one who’d come out and invited him in. I could take the invitation back and bash his brains in if I wanted to. I just didn’t want to. I liked him, like I said.

        So do you want to come in or what I said to the man.

        He didn’t say anything, but he started to walk. He walked straight up the lawn and into the house. I stood there on the lawn with the bat, sort of smirking like my grand plan had come off without a hitch. To be honest though, I didn’t really know what had happened. 

        When I went back inside he was already sitting down. There was only the fold-out chair for furniture, and he was sitting on it. Lyn was standing over by the wall. They weren’t saying anything, but it felt like they’d been talking. It felt like they’d known each other a long time. I don’t know how to explain it, but there was that kind of old friendly energy in the room. More than that: they liked each other. Like liked, I mean. It didn’t make any sense, but I could tell. Lyn, as you can imagine, is a drop-dead smoking hot babe, but the man, this guy, well he was just terrible looking. He’d been standing out in the rain for ages, which didn’t help, but even without that he was ugly at best. His hair was all ratty and long and green like seaweed, and his skin was white, wet white, like a book that’s been in a drain. His eyes were small and his nose was big and his mouth was redder than it should’ve been. I hadn’t noticed how weird he looked until he came inside. Out on the lawn he hadn’t seemed so bad. I’d wanted to invite him in.

        Make yourself at home I said to the man, in a just-kidding kind of way. 

        You don’t live here the man said.

        I laughed again. Nobody lives here I said.

        You don’t belong in this house he said.

        Belong? I said.

        You’re a pest the man said. A pestilence.

        A what I said.

        Like rats Lyn said. She was still standing over by the wall. She had her arms crossed and she was watching the man. He means like bugs.

        Like weeds the man said. That won’t stay dead.

        Who sent you Lyn said to the man.

        He turned to her and smiled. His teeth were furry and pebbled and fucked. Not sent the man said. Sentient. Then he started to laugh. The laugh sounded like a cat stuck in a drainpipe, or like a frog that’s halfway under a lawnmower. There are many of us he said, his voice all phlegmy and purry. I am many.

        I tried to roll my eyes at Lyn, but she wasn’t looking at me. She was looking at the man. The man was clearly crazy and a loser, but Lyn liked him. She liked him a lot. And that made me angry. Sort of really, really angry.

        Listen buddy, nobody lives in this house, or on this street, or in the whole friggin’ suburb I said. Which was true. It’s why me and Lyn had come. We wouldn’t squat in a house where people lived or belonged. We wouldn’t step on other people’s toes like that.

        And where did this guy live, anyway? Where did he get off judging the way we lived? What gave him the right to say this shit? 

        I am elected the man said.

        Pffft I said. Oh yeah, by who?

        By whom he said.

        What I said.

        You mean by whom he said.

        I took a step forward. The fuck you say I said. I took another step, maybe a half a step forward again, toward him. What the fuck you say I said.

        Relax said Lyn.

        I decided to relax for a while. I went to the back room and checked on the locks, which were locked. Lyn came into the room after me, so I decided it was a good time to get a bit of the old joking going between us.

        Oh man I hate that guy I said. I shouldn’t’ve let him in.

        Well you did said Lyn. So we might as well listen to him.

        Lyn was wrong. One bad turn does not earn another. You’re wrong, Lyn I said. One bad turn does not—

        Oh shut up Lyn said. You listen to me. This whole thing’s been a mess so far, no help from you. So I’ll be doing what I think is right from now on, thank you very much.

        I thought about saying this is just like you Lyn but decided it wasn’t in my best interests. Then Lyn went back to the front room and left me alone, which was also just like her.

        I wandered over to the window, the one window in the back room, and took a long look at the yard behind the house. It was a good yard, a good size. Half an acre, then a fence, then nature reserve past that. It was the kind of size you could easily put a pool in, or maybe a big deck with a jacuzzi. Or you could put in one of those little Japanese water garden things that Lyn loves. Or you could put in a trampoline and a swing set for the kids, if there were kids. Me and Lyn hadn’t talked about that, not specifically, but it was a good yard for that, a good yard for kids.

        I was thinking about that, just dreaming a little bit, when I saw what was coming up and over the back fence from the reserve. I stood and watched, since what I was seeing couldn’t be real. Then when it kept coming, sweeping across the yard toward the house, over the swing set and the trampoline and the water garden that would never be there, I decided it was real and I turned around and ran.

        I got back into the front room and said there’s something and Lyn said not now. I was about to speak again, to protest, but shut up quick when I saw what was happening. What was happening was Lyn and the man were getting it on. Lyn was on the man, horsey-style straddling him I suppose, and the man had his arms around her, his hands on her back. He was all over her. And I mean really all over her. His hands were on her back, as I said, but they were also on her shoulders and her thighs and the back of her head. He had what looked like six pairs of hands, all grabbing and rubbing and squeezing Lyn. And I say hands, but that’s more just a ballpark word. What they actually were is not easy to say. They looked like something out of a swamp or a bog, like something dead that’s been in water a while. 

        Holy fuck I said.

        Not now Lyn said, or sort of said. The words seemed to come from her mouth, even though her mouth was full and overflowing with this sort of scummy mossy green growth, and even though the words sounded like they were spoken in Lyn’s voice, they sounded like another voice was saying them too, like there were two voices talking together, both coming out of Lyn’s mouth, and Lyn’s voice was actually the quieter one, the smaller one of the two. The louder voice, the bigger one, sounded like the man’s. The man didn’t have a mouth anymore, not that I could see. The man’s mouth was inside and talking out of Lyn’s mouth. Their voices were the same.

        Fuck fuck fuck I said, backing the fuck out of there. I went to the back door and felt in my pockets for the key to the lock. Lyn’s got the fucking key I said, to myself I guess. I raised the bat to bash the door down, then stopped when I saw what was outside the door. It was what I’d seen coming. I’d almost already forgotten. It was a man. Men. People, I guess. Or that was their shape. It was the shape of people, masses of people, only the thing is they were plants. Weeds. Spiny and leafy, and dripping with vine and wetness. They were trying to get inside. A couple of them were taking turns pulling and pushing at the door. Some of the others were banging on the windows with their swollen mist-licked fists. A lot of them were just standing there watching. Though they didn’t have faces, I could see them watching me. They wanted to come inside. And as the door began to rock on its hinges and the windows began to shatter, I realised I wanted to let them in.

        I ran. Through the front room, past the gooping, heaving sac of sap that was Lyn and the man, out the front door and onto the lawn. At the sound of a big groan I stopped and turned and looked back at the house. It was already entirely covered by weeds. The whole place looked suddenly ancient, and overgrown. I looked up and down the street and watched the weeds crawl up the walls and doors and roofs of all the houses. All those empty houses. The weird thing is they looked right, somehow. Like how an old falling-down temple in a forest looks right.

        Then I heard a rustling, a sort of quickening, and I looked down and saw that the weeds had got me too. They were coming up out of the lawn and binding round my feet and shins like tiny pythons. There were creepers at my kneecaps, vines around my thighs. They were squeezing and eating into me, I could feel them. It doesn’t sound right, but I could taste them too. I thought for a second about screaming and bashing the weeds with the bat, but then I suddenly decided that it was okay. It actually didn’t feel too bad. And besides, I would’ve cracked my legs badly if I took a swing. So instead I put down the bat and kept standing there in front of the house. I really felt okay. There was no problem. Honestly I kind of zoned out for a while. Then I started to walk.

        I walked for a long time, not knowing where I was going, not seeing or hearing anything around me. Eventually I stopped and woke up to myself. It was daytime, and the sun was coming down hot. I was standing in front of a house. I didn’t think I knew the house, even though it pretty much looked like any other house. I didn’t know where I was. Was it my house? Did I have the key? Where was Lyn? Something about Lyn. Something had happened to Lyn.

        I was thinking, or trying to think, when the front door of the house opened and this guy came out, this sort of nerdy-looking guy. He came right up to me, like he knew me or something. I’d never seen this guy before. I liked him, though. I wanted to get to know him. He talked to me for a while and I couldn’t really catch what he said, I was still trying to think. Which was hard going. Like getting traction in mud. I felt like more than me, like there was too much of me in my mind. Then all of a sudden there was this click and the noise inside me died down, and the nerdy guy said would you like to come in?

        I looked at the guy then looked at the house, and then I started to laugh. In that moment I saw why I was there.

       Well? said the guy, nervous now. Do you want to come in or not?

       Yes I said. I really would.

       Then we followed him inside.

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