Hey, Shadow Man

It was following me again.

I could see it out of the corner of my eye; a dark blur of movement here, a darting shadow there.

He was back.

I was very small when I first saw the Shadow Man.

Someone called my name, and I woke with a start. He stood at the foot of my bed. Inky black, ominous, and too real.

I screamed, he was gone. A glass of water and many hugs later, I was asleep.

But he was back the next night, and the next night. Every night thereafter, for years.

Closer he crept. Sometimes taller, sometimes small. He sat on the foot of my bed. He tried to hold my hand. He stood in the doorway, sometimes he laid down beside me.

The worst was when he pushed on my chest. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t cry out. Solid shadow, fear corporeal, he watched.

Night terrors, they told me. Sleep paralysis. Overactive imagination. Attention seeker.

Liar.

I stopped talking about him. At night, I cried alone. I barely slept.

As I grew older, I started to see him during the day. A silent, unwanted companion, stalked my footsteps. Always there, always waiting. Shadow Man.

I tried to ignore him. If I didn’t acknowledge him, sometimes he let me sleep. Sometimes.

Pale and empty, I walked home from school, Shadow Man flitting ceaselessly.

I didn’t notice the woman sitting on the park bench, quietly smoking a cigar, and peering at me. I was used to being watched, as the dark silhouette never left my side.

“Hey, Shadow Man!”

Startled, I whirled to face her. She looked past me, at my pursuer.

“Yeah, I see you, Shadow Man. Leave that child alone.”

Shadow Man stepped forward, menacingly solid, too real.

“You heard me, Shadow Man. Go.”

Shadow Man lurched closer. I swear I heard it growl. The woman laughed softly.

“Oh, Shadow Man. I dare you!”

She took a deep drag on her cigar and blew smoke at Shadow Man. A soft hiss, and he was gone.

Shocked, I stared at the woman.

She laughed again. “That will last you a while. Remember, dear. Sage, cedar and sweetgrass. Hurry home, it is getting darker out here.”

I slept through the night, for the first time in years. Shadow Man was gone.

Until now.

I took a deep breath, and turned around.

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Dark, Toothy Things

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“Dark, toothy things.” She said it matter-of-factly, not looking up from her reading. “You should write about dark, toothy things. Things that go bump in the night, winged horrors… night terrors.”

I chuckled nervously and waved my hand as if to shoo away the idea. “What do I know of things that go bump in the night? I can barely sit through a spooky movie without getting jittery.”

She closed her book, and looked thoughtfully out the window. The coffee shop was well-lit and warm, a distinct juxtaposition to the cold, gloomy street outside. “We all know that there is something to be feared in the night. Everyone is at least a little afraid of the dark. It is instinctive, to be wary of the shadows. Isn’t that inspiration enough?”

 

Camping: It’s In Tents

“Did you hear that?” He asked softly, staring over the campfire into the dark forest. We were quiet for a moment, listening to wind whistle eerily through the trees.

“Nevermind!” He laughed. “I thought I heard growling. It must have been my imagination- wait, are you leaving?”

I stuffed my sleeping bag into my backpack and grabbed my car keys. “I saw a hotel at the base of the mountain. I am NOT getting eaten  by a sasquatch tonight. Good luck!”