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My Mother's Shadow

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I know it seems silly but this feels like the only way to alleviate the stress that this nightly terror has wrought upon me. You see, I’ve always felt that writing is a release of the soul that allows even the basest emotions of the human heart to be laid bare upon a blank sheet of paper. In the hopes that it will cleanse me of my nightly torture and permit me to find some semblance of peace I’ll tell my story to the world. Perhaps letting someone else see and understand my situation will somehow placate the unrelenting specter that haunts my nightmares. I pray in some small way my words will bind the thing so that I can sleep without fear.

I suppose I should start from the beginning. For the sake of anonymity I’ll go by Jay. I live in a small town in southeast Georgia where everybody knows everybody and you’re more likely to marry your high-school sweetheart and settle down than move anywhere else. Unlike many, I had the “good fortune” of living in the same home all my life. However this house wasn’t always what some would call a happy home.

Honestly, if the walls of my childhood home could talk they would scream like stark-raving madmen about every brutal fight and rage filled moment they’ve ever borne witness to. My parents often fought as they tried to piece together their shattered marriage and my father would leave and disappear for months on end. Although I had a broken family there was always someone there to make my childhood trauma bearable that person was none other than my mother.

My mother was a woman of unequalled grace and incomparable wisdom. She was a hard working woman who sacrificed everything for her family and taught me and my two sisters the values of home and family. Unfortunately as my sisters grew older and started families of their own their relationship to my mother and the family in general fell by the wayside. This left me and my penitent father to stand at her side when she was diagnosed with cancer.

That was the beginning of the dark times for what remained of my family. My mother withered under the near constant onslaught of Chemotherapy. The treatments left her a shell of her former self barely wrong enough to move. Unfortunately even this was not enough to rid her of her illness. Soon the cancer had progressed enough that the doctors had to take her tongue in order to prolong her life.

It was then that her voice was forever silenced and her slow painful decent into death began. She became unable to eat or take medicine normally and had to be fed through a tube connected to her stomach. After a few weeks she began to make attempts on her own life by overdosing on pain medication. At one point, we had to keep guard over her medicines until hospice was called in to oversee her in her final days. One incident during this time led to me having to slam a heavy metal box on her hand to keep her from overdosing

Shortly after that death came calling for my mother ripping her from this world in a flurry of pain and anguish I would not wish upon another soul... Her funeral passed and soon after the last of her physical holdings, the house, became mine. Distraught, I reluctantly took up her role as the home’s owner and the pillar of our family. For the first few nights her last request and the ghastly wheezing of her dying breaths played on endless loop in my mind. I don’t know if it was the stress of the ordeal or if something in my mind had snapped, but that’s when the dreams began.

It started out small. I would awaken in the dream startled by varying sounds. I would be afflicted with paralysis and I would only be able to move my head. The room would always unnaturally cold and the windows would be coated in black ice. I would have a hard time breathing and I would feel like my lungs are being crushed. As I look toward my closet doorway I catch a glimpse of a set of crimson eyes that stare at me from the darkness.

As the years go by my torture has evolved. The gleaming red eyes have long since been given a form. To my dismay, it is that of my mother. I am well aware it isn’t her but given that it is an exact clone lacking only her soul I have taken to calling it her shadow.

The shadow eventually began to approach me from the darkened closet. Sometimes the damned thing would make its way to the end of my bed and stroke me almost lovingly with a skeletal hand. Her touch is always freezing and her skin is pale dull gray pocked with the freckles my mother had been proud of in life. On the rare occasions when these caresses would reach my face I would be assaulted by a smell that can only be described as the gut-wrenching stench of a decomposing corpse followed quickly by my cheek being coated by the slimy remnants of decay. Looking back, these incidents, while sickening to recall, were tame compared to what this wicked shade would have in store for me.

Every few nights the shadow of my mother would return to plague my dreamscape. Sometimes the damnable thing would even tear into its own flesh with its long yellowing fingernails and reveal clumps of black maggot infested tissue that I could scarcely recognize as a set of cancer ridden lungs. Other times she would literally force-feed me large chunks of its own putrid skin. All the while I would be frozen unable to move a muscle as this twisted visage of my mother continued its horrific ministrations. I wish I could say that was the extent of things, but I am not so lucky.

Soon the dreams developed in to fully fleshed out scenarios wherein myself and the shadow would engage in an unwinnable game of cat and mouse the wraith seemed to take delight in. It seemed that no matter what I did I could never outrun or outwit that shambling husk and she would drag me kicking and screaming back to my bedroom. Once there, that vile thing would throw me onto my bed with little effort before restraining me with an unnatural strength. Then, it would open its mouth revealing rows of jagged teeth before lowering its gaping maw to my stomach. Like some sort of beast it would proceed to savagely consume my tissues and non-vital organs.

As if evisceration were not enough it would take care to keep me conscious. I could feel every moment of the agony that thing put me through. Within the dream, I knew I was little more than a plaything for this masochistic hell-spawn and no force on Earth could sever its hold on me. My only hope would often rest with the coming of the morning. I knew the waking world was the one place the shadow couldn’t harm me as it has to this very night.

Even now I fear sleep always driving myself to the point exhaustion before succumbing to fatigue. I know it waits for me and I fear that one day even wakefulness will not save me from the creature. For now, my dreamscape is a prison and I its weary prisoner. I pray by penning these words I will bring peace to my spectral torturer. Maybe with the conclusion of this story my mother’s shadow and I will be able to rest in peace.

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