The Midnight Men
by Lee Moan
The Robinsons were the first to go.
It was the all-pervading purr of a powerful motor engine which dragged me from a deep and blissful sleep. The LED display on my alarm clock said: 12:03. It wasn’t unusual to hear cars on our street at that time of night–people being dropped home after a night out; nightshift workers heading off–but something about the drone of that car whispered to my subconscious. Something was not quite right. I went to the bedroom window and looked down the moonlit street.
The Robinsons lived on the other side of Cedar Road, about four houses down. Sitting in the road outside their front gate was a huge black car, bigger than any car I’d ever seen, the make and model alien to me. The headlights were on full beam, sending twin shafts of white light down the street. A man dressed in a black hat and overcoat stood beside the car, staring up at the Robinson house. I watched the static figure for several minutes, wondering all the time if it was all just a very odd dream, until he reached in through the driver’s window and punched the horn.
“Ben, what is it?”
Sally was sat up in bed, her face washed in moonlight from the gap I’d made in the curtains.
“Dunno, sweetheart,” I said. “Something going on with the Robinsons.”
She came to the window, huddled close to me, the warmth of her body fighting the chill which had seeped into my bones.
Just then, Phil Robinson emerged from the front door of his house, his arms around the shoulders of his three daughters. Shortly after that, Lea Robinson came out, clutching herself, and even from this distance we could see she was crying.
“My God,” Sally said in a hoarse whisper. “Do you think they’re in trouble, Ben?”
“What, like running away from crime lords? That sort of trouble?”
“I can’t imagine any other reason why they’d be leaving in the middle of the night.” Sally chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully. “Ben, I think you should go down and speak to them. Something’s very wrong.”
I was about to protest when we both sensed a presence in the room. It was Caleb, standing in the doorway with his eyes shut.
“Mum, I can’t sleep,” he said, pointing to the window. “Noisy car.”
Sally slipped her arm around his narrow shoulders, and then turned to me with that familiar look: the raised eyebrow, the cocked head.
“All right,” I said, grabbing my dressing gown. “I’m going.”