The Shadow

“The creature sits next to me. The metallic stench of blood fills my senses. Closer now, its cold breath hisses by my ear. I’m losing consciousness, fading, falling down a black hole in the midst of this chaos…”

***

I wake up suddenly, breathing hard. The dream of bleeding walls, still too real. For comfort, I reach out to feel the shadowy warmth purring beside me.

Sitting up in bed, I pet Kitty’s fur as I listen to the house settling. The floors creak and I imagine you walking in the hallway in your lobotomized cold flesh, coming back for me. I whisper, “No, I don’t want you, anymore. You’re dead now. Leave me alone.”

I’m tempted to get up and look outside the door, but I feel the eyes of darkness watching me. And even now, I am fearful of groping hands from under the bed. I turn to Kitty and pull the covers up over me — choosing nightmares over reality.

*

Later in the night, I hear a thump. Kitty is not there. The sound must have been her jumping down onto the floor. Restless, I get out of bed to go find her. The lamp beside me clicks on by itself, then goes dark again. My heart races as I flinch and recoil. Just then, I hear another thump, this time coming from the hall. I barely open the door to take a peek outside, but there is nothing to see. Except the ceiling light, blinking, struggling between on and off.

I hear Kitty meow and see her shadow dart past at the end of the hall. I proceed towards her, when a large shadowy figure steps into my path, with the pale light of the moon filling in around it. My breath catches in my throat and I run back to lock myself in the bedroom. I hear the cat yowl and hiss from outside, but something else scratches at the door.

The door then slams open and the lamps and overhead light strobe chaotically, as a wind blows in from all sides of the room. Knick-knacks, clothes and books whip into the air as the furniture floats up, bumping against the walls.

The shadow approaches. Its eyes are like two small moons peering out at me. Childishly, I scramble under the covers of the bed as its feet hit the floor and scrape side to side. I begin to feel a numbness spreading over me, like a rabbit frozen in terror by its prey. I attempt to say the Lord’s Prayer for the first time in years, but my speech slurs.

The creature sits next to me. The metallic stench of blood fills my senses. Closer now, its cold breath hisses by my ear. I’m losing consciousness, fading, falling down a black hole in the midst of this chaos. As I sink, I see your face appear from the darkness and I hear these singsong words recited in a deep, disembodied voice:

I touch your cheek. / You go to sleep. / It is your mortal coil I seek. / And you are weak.

Again, I awake. Breathing hard. To prove to myself that the spell is broken, I move my body and speak aloud, “Hello?” though I do not want an answer.

I reach out to Kitty for comfort. She’s softly growling, looking towards the window. There beside the curtain, on the chair, I see a shadowy form. I grope for the lamp beside the bed and flick on the light. Nothing is there.

Kitty turns and rubs her purring head against my hand.

*

As the day brightens, I collect all of your old letters and photos. Then I burn them outside behind the house.

I sleep much better the next night. You leave me alone. But the shadow still haunts me.

~ M.