Sharing the Shadows

photography, story

Yes, yes I know… I hardly share what’s going on with me creatively on here. I blame school, sickness (oh man…) and reaching out for publications, not too sure if they like things previously posted online or not. BUT anyways, I want to share a story for once. I may post a few poems later this week, but I opened a previous half-done story from… 2011? that I have yet to finish last night because I didn’t want it to die. Your know that feeling if you’ve tried writing before, you start something, it’s the best idea ever, and then after a little while the flame just dies out (mine just lessened for it though, switched to the back-burner for, once again, school! Enough of that though, and on with the story. I wrote it back in September with Halloween in mind, my favourite holiday. I feel a lot of people like the appeal of a darker side, something unusual, but will never harm us as it’s ‘make-believe’… or is it? 


Sharing the Shadows

It’s almost time for me to go to bed. I can feel my body lean forward, and I begin to slouch as the energy built up during the day gives up its cause and dissolves into the air. It becomes harder to keep myself warm. I crave the small bed only a few feet away, to flop down like a rag doll and cuddle into the sheets for the night. It isn’t a very comfortable bed, but when the urge to sleep takes hold, anything that resembles what could be a comfortable area looks so much better than sitting in an office chair.

Something holds me back. The bedroom is a small room, only large enough for a bed, desk and dresser to fit comfortably, but the space behind the desk, behind me, is wide enough for many to stand in. And I feel as though it’s occupied.

It started a long time back as a glimpse out of the corner of my eye, a shadow that I rationalized away as my own, and that I was only being paranoid about the empty air. The cat of my house is especially sneaky as well, and creeps up on me many times throughout the day. I only notice him from these glimpses because he’s so silent. Alex is his name, named after the great Alexanders of the ages. He’s a black American cat that is barely out of his kitten year. He isn’t my own pet, but my roommate’s, though I feel as though he is the house cat. The three of us love him as our own, in all his demonized glory (what kitten isn’t a terror is something I would like to figure out).

Even Alex, normally a cuddler when one of us is alone, began to avoid the space. Throughout the day, everywhere within the small house is his territory where he marches around proudly, but at night… I don’t think that the space is mine anymore, let alone the cat’s space.

When the sun sets and the world begins to dim, the overhead light is turned on. It’s a habit, to create light when it’s still needed for anything. In this case, the burdens of a university student take over the urge to sleep and the light flickers to life for a guide to read by. This time is fine; every detail of the room is expanded and scrutinized by the fluorescent glow, and the only places left to hide are the places unseen.

Then that light becomes too much for me. The darkening of the day opens up the primal ebb to my eyes, and they requested the light be dimmed as my body gets tired.  I agree, hoping to keep my eyes in shape a little while longer before the prescription eyeglasses take precedent over my normal, unsheathed vision, and turn on the dimmed lamps placed around my room. The glow from the two small lamps is very comforting and envelops the room in warmth that my body can’t feel anymore, though my mind can perceive it.

And that is where the predicament I am in now begins.

The ambience of the room should be inviting, allowing me to relax, but my entire being tenses in anticipation. The shadows are undefined, spreading and reaching around the room. They claw into the small crevices that I could see easily moments before, and with the lack of decisive lighting my eyes grow weak to find their origins.

Alex is nowhere to be seen. The stuffed elephant he normally steals from under my computer monitor has vanished with him.

Over the months, the kitten wore into a mature cat, and he would stare for hours at me like a scientist studies his subjects, considering, until the energy crept back into his still-young mind and he darted off to do God only knows what. Mainly, he would bring from my room a small stuffed elephant that was about his size as a newborn, the grey, floppy ears hanging out of his mouth as the beady black eyes staring out in front of Alex’s path. He wouldn’t play with it though, only bring it to me and scurry away once I grabbed the stuffed toy out of his mouth. Curious little bugger. And an annoying one, too. That elephant is the one thing I would depend on, the one ounce of my childhood I brought with me when moving out, and the inanimate toy’s absence now pushes my fear forward.

There is something behind me. I can feel it.

I rationalize that it’s only paranoia of an empty space, and that nothing can possibly be in the house, let alone the room. I’m alone for the weekend, everyone else has left for their boyfriends, or a retreat somewhere; I’m not sure. All I know is Alex is downstairs, Adrianne and Nicki are gone, and there is something else there.

In the daytime, in the exact same position as I face the draped window and skyline painting hanging on my wall, the fear is nonexistent. On rainy, less lit days, it’s still only a room.

But at night when the darkness easily sneaks into my room, the white is there. I don’t know why it is white, I can’t even turn around to confirm that it is, but I just know.

Just as I know it’s finally starting to move closer.

Days of standing there, watching, are over.

It has been there a while. I don’t recall when exactly that I was alert to the presence, but it grew. At first, it was a small inkling that I could turn around easily, glance at the alarm clock as if that was what I was meaning to do, and continue on with studying once I reaffirmed that I was alone.

Tonight, the most I can bare to look is slightly over my shoulder. The wall next to me is barely in the light from the desk lamp, mainly engulfed in the obscure, and doesn’t offer any comfort. The lamp directly behind me does nothing to ease the panic either; it shines brightly on that side of the room and unimpeded as ever before.

I know that you’re not there, I think to myself in a calming, reassuring thought. And I know that you don’t care. This house has become less like a home with the white presence, and as soon as I knew the roommates were leaving, I became panicked with the thought of being alone this weekend. It grew, it’s powerful enough to do something, and I dread what that something could be.

Is it truly this cold in the house? The thermostat is set to a very comforting temperature from my trip before I withdrew to my room. Even it can’t push away the force of my room’s visitor.

This house isn’t a new one, I was never told how old is actually was when the three of us moved in; could it be the spirits from before our lease? Spirits can’t harm physically, or that’s what I’ve come to believe through hours of scouring the internet for any evidence of the paranormal. None of that has helped with immense sensation of the real thing.

The floor creaks so slightly that I barely catch it. It’s an unmistakable sound in this room. My breath catches as I wait for the next step.

Maybe it’s Alex?

A cat can’t make that sound, and he never has before. My mind is reasoning against logic.

My eyes desperately want to close, but I unwillingly ignore them. My body wants to curl into the covers like so many nights before, and I no longer think it’s an option. They are forced to stay open; I refuse to go down blinded by panic. Or maybe the panic holds the muscles in place. I don’t think I’ve blinked in a few minutes.

A thought grips me so quickly that I almost forget my circumstance; almost, but never enough to fully pull my attention from sensing the uninvited guest.

I know what it looks like. It’s every fear I’ve ever had, the gaping eyes and expressionless face. There’s no colour, only the white, the shadows of its features, and the black. It’s been there forever, and even with this revelation I still can’t turn.

The air moves again, and all sounds are blocked out.

My neck is cold.

All I can see is white.

I’ve overstayed the nighttime hours, and the white is here to take them back.