Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shadow People


This is an unfinished story and for the life of me, I have no idea how to end it.
 I guess it ends on sort of a cliff-hanger. *shrug*



Shadow People
By Floyd Looney
I was just sitting at the computer in the den typing away at the short story when I began feeling uncomfortable. There was tightness in my stomach and I guess I was starting to freak myself out just a bit. The story was not that scary, I told myself, the images in my head were. I was also angry at myself, why could I not put them down in words?
I fancied myself a writer but actually getting the ideas and thoughts down on paper had always been a tough thing for me. It took a lot of effort to just describe the simplest things. The story was crap even though the idea was good enough to actually scare me. I laughed a little at the thought that I had scared myself.
What? I glanced sideways. I was doing that a lot lately. I was always getting the impression that something was watching me. Watching me because I was here maybe? I shake my head and laugh at myself again for my ludicrous thoughts. This was a very large and old house but it was hardly haunted.
Maybe I should write in the day time?
I finished off the glass of water; its ice had melted long ago. I really should get to sleep unless I want to fall over at work tomorrow from exhaustion. The bedroom was next door to this smaller one that might have been a child’s room once upon a time.
The first time I saw this large two-story home I thought it was the perfect place to do some writing. It was full of charm and history and probably a tale or two. It was far removed from the city and it gave me the feeling of being in a different period of time.
I turned on the air conditioner in the bedroom daring me to question the cost of the electricity when I needed to get to sleep as soon as possible. I wondered if the large tiger blanket was childish as I turned off the lamp. Suddenly I had to turn it back on and look around swearing I saw something move near the door to the hall.
This is getting ridiculous. I hadn’t even written the story and I was giving myself hallucinations or something. I blamed it all on my overactive imagination and lay down with the lamp on. Within a couple minutes I had pulled the quilt over my head and had my eyes shut, listening for any sound.
I am way too big to be scared of shadows and imagination I told myself and here I am lying under the cover like there was a monster under the bed. I needed to get a radio, a clock radio with a very bright green time display. I was really angry at myself for scaring me, or something.


I truly despised my job. I worked at the back of a supermarket in the dairy and freezer and bread section of the store. I also swept and mopped the floor several times a day and sometimes helped sack the food and collect the grocery carts from outside. A horrible existence and most of my co-workers had issues of some form or another.
Before I rode my bike back to the old house I skimmed some of the new books and magazines that had been delivered. Stephen King, Tom Clancy and Anne McCaffrey among the books and then there was Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and Strange Tales among the magazines.
The air seemed very still on the way home and I did not see or hear another living thing or even a vehicle. It seemed like a diffused sort of light in hindsight as if the sun had become a low-wattage bulb. It sort of looked the way it would if there was a fog over you but not down to the ground.
I continued pedaling after leaving the asphalt for the gravel and stopped to look at the house before riding up to it. The trees in between the road and the house were swaying slightly but I hardly felt any breeze at all. I thought I was going deaf but when I moved my foot I heard the white stones clicking and clacking against one another.
Every time I come home to this house I get the distinct impression that I am not alone here and this time I told myself to get a dog. I told myself I can afford to feed a dog, just buy a huge bag of feed and it might last two months.
I turn on the computer and soon Yahoo! had automatically loaded. Its front page had a story about some old singer who looked vaguely familiar. I check my mail, eight junk mails and six unsolicited mails from websites telling me they had been updated. One from Odd/Things online magazine told me that my submission had been rejected.
As I sat down in front of the computer I distinctly saw a shadow moving by the door again but as I turned my head it was gone. Where had it come from and why had it vanished? The shadows of a tree do not vanish the second you look at it.
Had a squirrel run across the window? No, it wasn’t a squirrel I could have sworn it was…
That is just crazy I told myself; just absolutely crazy. Was I about to think that I had just seen the shadow of a little man run across the wall?
I get up and walk across the small room to the mini-fridge and I take out a can of soda and a bottle of water. I planned to sit there for hours and just write. Put my fingers on the keyboard until something came out in the English language.
I put my fingers on the keyboard and close my eyes as I tilt my face toward the sky or at least toward the ceiling. No stories at all were coming to me and I was beginning to get disgusted.
Writing was a lot harder than people thought. I guess it’s easy for some people and I wish I was one of them. All of my crazy ideas and thoughts and I was never able to put them down quite the way I wanted to. I just had to try harder or just let the story flow or something.
I go out into the backyard with the glass of water, the grass tickling my ankles inviting me to mow them. I wouldn’t mow them because I am far too lazy and I want to spend my weekends reading and writing. The yard was unkempt to say the least, old trees leaning over as if they would fall over one day for sheer boredom.
I guess I need to get out more. I think I’m seeing shadows that move on their own and trees that get bored. Come to think of it I don’t get out at all. It’s not like I actually know anyone in town.
I did not drink because my father had been an alcoholic and I was not going to voluntarily go into the bowling alley because it might just as well have been a saloon. There wasn’t anything in this town worth doing anyway; the best antique bookstore was all the way in Archer County.
The backyard was going to stay unkempt because I never really came out here and I just did not care to spend time on it.
I get a bottle of water from the downstairs kitchen and go to the living room and just collapse on the couch. Who had I been kidding besides myself that I could actually write something that someone would want to read?
I hold out the remote control to turn on the television set and pause to look at the door to the hallway. I felt as if I was being watched and someone else was in the room with me but there was no one. I looked all the way around but saw nothing moving but that there were shadows in nearly every corner.
I turned the television on and a local newscast was on. I barely heard anything as I spent the entire half-hour looking around at the shadows. An hour after the news went off and I had turned it to a science fiction program I felt better. The idea that I was being haunted by shadows had left my mind.
I spent another two hours on the internet mostly reading posts and articles on science fiction and several writing forums. There was nothing really there to help me out and I saw nothing that would inspire or motivate me to start writing again. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply and I wondered if there was anything that could help.
I opened my eyes and quickly looked into the room across the hall. There was a shadow on the wall and it had been moving. It was now frozen in place. I knew there was not a light source behind me or anything that could cause a shadow. I moved my head a bit but the shadow did not move. It was definitely not being cast by me.
There was nothing else that could have cast it.
I feel a heavy weight in the pit of my stomach but I manage to walk into the hallway and the little shadow was still there. It was now becoming dark outside, I could hear a chorus of crickets strumming their hind legs.
The shadow was barely more than a foot tall and it hadn’t moved since he noticed it. So it obviously noticed him. I chided myself for thinking that a shadow could think or notice anything, it was crazy. Yet I knew what I had seen and I knew it did not make any logical sense.
I stood in the doorway less than eight feet from the shadow and hardly allowed myself to blink. What am I supposed to do now, I wondered. Briefly I considered whether a person could catch a shadow in a jar. I nearly laughed out loud at my own stupid thoughts.
I took my time dropping to my knees and then crawling forward to get closer. It moved a little and now looked more like the shadow of a tiny person than an indistinct blob. I scooted only a little bit at a time, hopefully I wouldn’t scare it away. Whatever this thing was that had been living on my walls.
I’m not going to hurt you. Don’t hurt me either” I said in almost a whisper. Not exactly the kind of exalted words for the history books. I wonder if Captain Kirk or Spock would have started off a first contact with such babble. “We are not enemies okay?” I said with a bit of a smile.
I still wasn’t exactly sure what the thing was but I knew it could not have been anything that had been seen before. I think I would have heard about the discovery of shadow people in school or on National Geographic television somewhere along the line. I would definitely remember it.
I sat there for a few more minutes just a few feet from the wall where this thing was … what? I can’t call it sitting or anything it’s like a 2-D object. Whatever I’ll just say it was there on the wall probably scared of me. In all likelihood it was frightened or it would have taken off when I noticed it. With me getting so close must have been like torture or something, would it be in trouble with other shadow people?
Other shadow people I thought? There had to be others, it made sense. I hadn’t thought about it until I was right there close enough to touch the thing. Probably a very bad idea but it was in my mind and I could hardly resist.
Are you an alien?” I asked lightly, not expecting any response. Slowly I reached my arm out and decided that unless it moved or made it plain it didn’t want touched I would do it. Darn it, if this is first contact let there be contact.
My index finger was just inches from the wall when I saw movement around me and then darkness. Suddenly I felt ice cold on my arm and chills spread through me, I saw nothing but darkness. I couldn’t hear the chirping crickets anymore.
The sun was up bright and early when I woke. There were red marks on my arm, freezer burns.
Why did I wake up in this room? I never use this room. This big house is mostly unused – it was a bit much for a single guy. The sun was already streaming through the window and I hastened to get up and prepare for another boring day of working at a grocery store. I had remembered nothing from the night before.
At work a strange thing happened, a girl who worked as a checker at the front was sitting in the break room with her face in her hands. I knew this was a fifteen minute break because she hadn’t been working long enough to get a lunch break and besides, she wasn’t eating anything.
What’s wrong?” I asked. I thought she was just going to ignore me and I started to return to work when she peeked between her hands and said “Nothing really”
Nothing? This is nothing?”
She smiled vaguely and looked down at the empty tabletop and I felt embarrassed for asking about her problems. “I’m sorry, I should know better than to…”
It’s okay. I’m just tired, I’m having problems sleeping and that’s all really”
I know how that feels. I spend half the night trying to be a writer who can’t write and then I wake up in an empty room” I wasn’t about to be any more detailed than that. My being a loser who works at a grocery store is enough for everyone to know, seeing how I spend the rest of my loser time isn’t going to happen.
They scare me. I try to sleep covered up but it’s hard to sleep with them walking around” she said in a whisper. I didn’t believe what I had just heard. Or I simply disbelieved it or whatever the psycho babbling term for it was.
Them?” I asked. My heart felt as if it had just fallen into my stomach. Something was telling me to run and to get away from there. I loosened my collar and felt some sweat on my neck even though I was still cold from working in the freezer. “Who is ‘them’?”
I’m not really sure” she said. Drat, I was hoping she was talking about her cats or something. I pretty much thought I knew what was coming next. “I thought they might be ghosts or even aliens but they’re not. It’s just really weird. They’re only…”
She stopped talking and looked at me. She was very worried and embarrassed. She stood up and started to leave. “I’ve got to get back to my register, Thomas. I can’t talk any more”.
Before she pushed open the green flaps that served as doors I said “Shadows. They’re only shadows, right?”
She was stunned. Her hands went to her mouth and covered them as her eyes grew very wide, and she nodded before running through the doors to the front of the store. I stood there for a few more minutes, thinking about nothing. My mind was a complete blank.
 _________________________________
THE FOURTH has been released. It is a novel-length science fiction story with elements of space opera and dystopia. It is $2.99 but you can read it free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.
Tara was created in an underground chamber on an abandoned and quarantined Earth, she feels compelled to bring civilisation back to the remnants that survive there.
Greyson is the child of privilege who was exiled from the planet Roma by his own father before taking up with space pirates. He wants to return home and face his father.
Their paths were destined to cross.
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