"Hey, Alex, you busy today?"
"Dan? No, not at the moment. Mark is working. Why?"
"Wanna come help save somebody?"
"What'd you do this time?"
"I didn't do anything, I'm just short on my rent."
"You want to borrow money?"
"Oh, hell no. Paying for this dump would just be a waste at this point. I need help getting my stuff out before the sheriff comes to evict me tomorrow."
Dan surveyed his apartment. Behind him, Alex stepped inside, shaking his head at the mess. It was the stereotypical bachelor pad, looking as if Dan had never had a girl within ten miles of the place. The couch looked as if it'd been moved in when the building was built in the 40s. There was laundry almost everywhere and dishes everywhere else, and beneath them stacks of books, magazines and hand-printed newspapers. Alex sighed.
"So where are we going to start?" Alex asked.
Dan hesitated. "I'm trying to think of the most efficient way..." He crossed the room and threw open the balcony door, studying the parking below.
"Going to throw everything out?" Alex joked, joining him in the relatively fresh air.
"You're brilliant," Dan answered. "Go pull your truck up under the balcony."
"That's grass down there."
"Don't worry, the landlord won't bill it to you," he smiled. "Just go." Alex left, leaving Dan alone in the room. He started in the far back corner with a military duffel bag, shoving all the clothes he could lay hands on into it. After a minute, tendrils of darkness reached ahead of him, pulling in the clothes that were out of reach. It went surprisingly quickly. Finally he pulled the duffel shut, one long sleeve waving out the top of the huge bag.
Dan dragged it over to the balcony. Alex's truck was parked below, just as he'd asked. He heaved the bag over the edge and let it drop onto the truck bed.
A moment later, Alex's head popped out of the driver's side door and looked into the back of the truck, then craned up to look at Dan. "Warn me next time!" he yelled.
"Okay!" Dan answered, surprisingly cheerful.
"On second thought," Alex said to himself, "I'd better go help him." Shutting the truck door behind him, he headed back toward the apartment building.
By the time he reached Dan's apartment, his friend was dragging a wine box full of books out onto the balcony.
"Oh, no," Alex said. "Do you know how bad that'd be for the shocks?"
Dan shrugged. "You want to carry it down?"
"I'm not letting you drop boxes of books on my truck."
"How about I port it?"
"What about your neighbors?"
"I'm never going to see them again anyway. Here, pick this up." Alex picked the box up like it weighed nothing. Dan looked over the side, studying the location of the truck below and the way the building's shadow lay over it, and then closed his eyes for a moment of concentration.
"Okay, drop it on my shadow," Dan said. Alex obliged, carefully letting the box go over the shadowed part of the balcony next to Dan. The box reached the floor and kept going, disappearing out of sight. A soft thunk below signaled that it had reached the truck.
"How many more boxes do you have?" Alex asked.
"Box up what you've got and then we'll drop everything else loose and I'll put a tarp over it," Alex rolled his eyes. For the next hour or so, Dan slowly made one pile after another disappear from his apartment, mostly literally.
"You taking any of the furniture?" Alex asked.
"Nah, most of that is crap," Dan answered as he shoved pillows and quilts over the edge of the balcony and watched them flutter down. "This is sort of fun."
"Are we done, then?"
"One more favor. Give me your keys," Dan said. He ran downstairs and pulled the truck forward another few yards. Alex watched him run back inside and waited for him to reappear.
"Okay, pick up the couch," Dan greeted him.
"You said you're not bringing it." Alex lifted it easily with one hand, then braced it with his free hand.
"I'm not. I hate it."
"So what am I..."
"I want you to dump it off the balcony."
"Dan, that's really not... I mean, I'm supposed to be a good guy, random property damage is pretty much out."
"Come on, man, I'll never get it that far myself."
"I really can't."
"Okay, how about you get it out onto the balcony for me?"
"I guess that's harmless." Alex quickly carried the couch over to the balcony door, flipped it sideways, and slipped it out onto the tiny concrete space. He was forced to lean it against one side.
"It'll be more satisfying to do this with my bare hands anyway," Dan said, stepping up to the edge of the couch and pulling up on the arm that was still on the balcony.
It didn't move.
"Oh for the love of..." Dan muttered, bracing himself against the outside of the building and trying to shove it. Nothing but the sound of Alex behind him, snickering.
"Unless you're going to help, shut up," Dan muttered, trying to find a position where he could get his back into it. All the pulling and pushing he could manage wasn't doing anything.
"So much for your bare hands," Alex said, laughing.
"Guess there's nothing for it," he said, shrugging, and the dark fronds wrapped around the edges of the couch, lifting it up and over the edge of the balcony.
As he let it go and leaned over to watch the crash, he realized that the kids from the apartment below had appeared on the lawn while he was fighting with the furniture. Almost without thinking, the shadow of the building reached out and swallowed the giant, ugly couch.
"Nice reaction time there," Alex said. Dan jumped. He hadn't realized his friend had gotten that close. "Good instincts. You sure you're not cut out to be a hero?"
"Not my bag," Dan shook his head. "Man, I really wanted to watch that couch smash."
"It's still there, isn't it?" Alex asked. "In the shadows, somehow?"
"Yeah, I guess," Dan answered.
"Well, you can always drop it later, then. Maybe at the cliff outside town. Someplace even more satisfying."
"Good point. Let's get out of here."
five months later
"Come out with your hands up!" the cops yelled, climbing out of their vehicles. Two of them had searchlights, which they pointed at him, eliminating the shadows within reach.
Dan knew he just needed a distraction. He rushed to think of something as the cops closed in.
Then he had it. He concentrated for a moment and smiled.
A minute later one of the spots went out with a crash. The cops turned to see that a giant, ugly couch had apparently fallen on the car, and the light, from a great height.
"Much more satisfying," Dan snickered as he stepped into the long shadows the remaining searchlight threw, and disappeared.