(Short Story for the Haunted Open Mic and Chilling October Writing Challenge)
I don’t really remember when I first noticed him. I think I must have been very young. Too young to know that I shouldn’t be seeing him at all. When I became more aware- I did notice that I didn’t like him.
A tall slim man in a top hat looming in a corner, his features blurred like he wasn’t really there- not really solid- a shadow. And he’s followed me. Every house or apartment I’ve ever lived- There he was. He’d pick a corner- usually in my bedroom and just stand there.
I don’t see him all the time- and almost never during the day and he isn’t scary really-but I suppose that is because I’ve known him quite a while now. He never speaks or jumps out to surprise me- nothing- he just stands there…Creepy but not scary.
Sometimes, when I look right at him I can see his eyes watching me. Sometimes, they look green. Other times they’re dark blue. And I talk to him on occasion- usually to say excuse me when he is looming in a doorway and I need to pass to go to the restroom in the middle of the night. Sometimes I just ask him if he’s enjoying the show. He doesn’t move and he never answers me.
A few years ago I mentioned him to a friend. She’d stayed the night at my place and the next morning she cautiously asked me if I’d ever seen a ghost. It seemed a strange question. Ghost aren’t real I said. “But have you seen anything? Anything different?” I told her about the shadow man and she looked relieved for a moment and then worried again.
“I saw him in that corner looking at you all night.” She said pointing to his corner.
“I know,” I said causally, “That’s his corner.” She wouldn’t let it go.
“That is not normal,” She pressed. But it was- for me. I’d seen this man so long I’d just assumed other people had seen them too—that everyone had one.
After she left I got out my computer and googled Shadow Man. I began to read accounts from all over the world- shadow people. This wasn’t new and it wasn’t just me.
In one article a psychologist was trying to explain the phenomena of Shadow people, He said that it was really just all in our minds. People who had suffered from Sleep Paralysis or Sleep Deprivation could have hallucinations or people left in the dark and afraid might perceive danger imagining an ordinary shadow as a threat. Maybe he’s not wrong but the shadow man’s there whether I’m tired or not, I’ve only experienced sleep paralysis once and I’m not afraid of him- he hardly feel like a threat.
Another article took a more supernatural approach and seemed more like what I was seeing but this did scare me. The woman said that the shadow man is a malevolent creature. He picks a person and he follows them, just like mine. He doesn’t try to scare them, actually he wants them to ignore him, just as I had, so that they won’t take any steps to make him go away. Why? The woman asked. Because no one likes to be interrupted while they’re eating.
According to her the Shadow man was a parasite feeding on a living host, slowly eating the life force, spirit or energy of its hosts. It didn’t want to kill the host because then it would have to find a new one- instead it found a strong spiritually charged individual, attracted to their light and life, and it sustained itself- feasting until the host died.
I was stunned. This thing was feeding on me?! Suddenly the creepy shadow in the corner didn’t feel so harmless. But the article ended without a resolution! How do you get rid of it!?
I’ve read more over the years about cleansing yourself and your space, banishing evil, fighting it with pure love and even attempted a séance to ask the man to leave but there he stands, still as a statue, watching me, even now…eating.