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The Shadow

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The clicking of the keyboard was the only noise in the dark room and throughout the house. My hands tapped the keyboard in a seemingly automatic fashion. The clicking stopped, and this time my hands only hovered over the keyboard. The icon in the writing application was motionless, aside from the constant blinking. It succeeded a wall of text.

Dammit, I thought to myself as I raised the near-empty glass of whiskey to my mouth and took a long sip. The potent liquid stung my throat as it flowed down. I leaned back in my chair and sighted deeply, rubbing the black rings around my eyes. My mind was as blank as the remaining space on the page. Once again I had met the terrible monster known as writer’s block, a beast I knew all too well. But this wasn't what scared me, for I knew it wouldn’t last long. I raced through a dozen ideas, testing out the characters and the story’s reaction to them in my head; but none played out. None of them had that perfect formula, the one any reader or writer knows, the flow that keeps the story moving like an untouched river deep in the woods. Now it felt like a dam had been constructed on the river and an unbreakable one too. I began to panic as my head descended into a deep throbbing pain, and it seemed as if the room itself began to darken. The shadows of the normal objects like furniture began to grow long and stretch across the walls. I noticed the shadow of a lamp and a nearby chair grow bigger than the rest, and merge together. I began to blink rapidly as it almost made the shape of a man.

“No! No! No! Leave me alone!” I screamed aloud to no one and slapped my empty glass in rage. It seemed to fall in slow motion before shattering into a hundred pieces once it hit the wooden floor. A deep voice began to speak to me. Not one that came from the outside, but rather from deep inside my own head. Violent images began to flash through my mind, accompanied by a feeling of nothingness and darkness. I wanted to scream at it get out of my head, but instead I returned to tapping away at the keyboard. And this time the dam had been destroyed, and my thoughts now flew freely. I began to write without any stop, determined to finish it.

The constant ringing brought me out of my darkness. I shot up, eyes stinging as they adjusted to the light. I looked down to see slobber all over my keyboard and was overcome with a sense of sharp pain in my neck. I looked up at the computer to see a filled out page.

Well at least I did something good last night, wait I don’t recognize this page? I frantically began to scroll back through dozens more pages, none of which I remembered writing. Suddenly flashes began to come back to me. It wasn’t really me writing it… well, at least I wasn’t coming up with the work. Something else was there, helping me, guiding me. A voice in my head, a shadow at my side. My head began to throb in pain, and I let out a high-pitch grunt. I desperately began trying to get it out of my head by thinking of everything else under the sun. I planted my feet down on the wooden floor and pushed my chair back, hastily getting up and stepping out to the side.

“Ahhh!” I let out a scream as the glass crunched when my feet made contact with the remains of the liquor glass. I fell back into the chair and began pulling the bloody shards out. The phone had constantly been ringing, and after about five minutes I couldn’t take it anymore. I forcefully yanked it off the base and smashed the green answer button.

“What!?”

“Jesus, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?” a calm voice spoke on the other side.

“Oh, hey Liz. Sorry, I just stepped on a bunch of damn glass,” I tried to bring down my tone to match hers.

“What’s a bunch of glass doing all over the floor at your house?” I heard her giggle on the other side.

“It’s just an accident I knocked it over while I was eating breakfast this morning, and stepped on it right after,” I lied, avoiding a truth that would probably result in this conversation ending.

“Whatever, back to why I was calling you. You’re supposed to help me out monitor at this church party, remember?” her voice pitched up at the end.

“My bad, I just overslept. Be there in about twenty,” I hung up and set the phone back at the base. I glanced over at the clock, which read 11:28 AM.

It was a bright sunny day in Huntersville, not a single cloud in sight. I was sitting on a wooden bench at the edge of a small park. In front of me were a couple of dozen laughing kids, and a big, inflatable water slide. Liz had come and sat down next to me. We talked about the party, the drama around the town, new movies; but I knew she was going to change the conversation.

“Listen, Jack, um… have you um uh done what we talked about yet?” she was dancing around the topic and stuttering. I couldn’t blame her; it was a sensitive subject.

“No, I told you, Lizzie, I don’t need damn pills or a damn psychiatrist,” my voice grew sterner.

I hadn’t told Liz about my hallucination, hell, I hadn’t told anyone. But I had told her about my small depression, which was probably the least of my problems.

“Jack please, I know you’ve been drinking a lot recently. I don’t want to see you turn to alcohol to solve all your problems,” her voice had now grown stern too. As much as I agreed with her deep inside, I just hated relying on other people to fix things I could fix myself. Liz had told me before that I was the most stubborn human being she had ever met. She had begged me constantly to talk to a therapist or go on meds ever since I told her about my illness. We continued to argue for a good eight minutes until another moderator came over and told us we needed to be watching the kids instead.

“Just try them once, please. If you don’t like the pills, you can stop. Do it for every other friend and family member you have and me,” she begged as she was getting up to leave me. I could see the desperation in her eyes, and finally cracked this time.

“Alright, alright! I’ll try the damn pills,” I shouted out, looking down with a look of a five-year-old who didn’t get the present he wanted.

“Good,” she smiled a little before turning her back and walking away.

It was now evening, and the long church party had ended. I said bye to Liz and my other friends before driving back home. The transition from the outside world back into my dark house triggered a quick sharp sense of panic once I stepped inside the dark and dull living room, but it faded away swiftly. The more I had thought about it throughout the day, the more I changed my mind about going to see a doctor about my mental issues.

It was now evening, and all I wanted to do was sit down and watch some television. My couch was warm and cozy, and I couldn’t help but drift in and out of consciousness, snapping back up my head to keep me awake. Eventually, I just let the slumber overcome me and dozed off.

My eyes shot open with an instant jolt; a feeling ran through my body like I had just escaped some sort of hell or as just being chased by something. I just shrugged it off as a nightmare. Damn my neck hurts, I thought to myself as I leaned up with a stretch and a yawn. I tried to look over at the clock but realized the haziness of my blind world without my glasses.

My glasses had fallen off my head and been squeezed under my body after I had fallen asleep at an awkward angle. I grabbed them off the brown couch and put them back on; thankfully they had not been crushed. My world became clear, and I could see 3:08 in big red on the clock under the TV. I looked around the rest of the room, which was pitch black and was overcome with a sudden uneasiness like something was watching in the corner or behind a curtain. A sudden chill ran down my spine, and I got up to walk to my bedroom. Before I could take three steps, I heard whispers; ones that sounded like they were coming from all around me. An ordinary person might have been shocked and called the police or ran out, but this was not the first time something like this had happened in my house.

It all started happening when I moved into this small, grey, one-story house right after college, and only a few months ago. There was no bad history, the price wasn’t abnormally low, and I didn’t hear anything from the neighbors; so I assumed the house was perfectly normal. But not too soon after I moved in, I started hearing voices. Then it moved on to things moving around, and a voice straight up speaking to me. I wasn’t on any drugs, so I thought I was either going crazy; or that the house was somehow haunted. And then I began seeing weird things, seeing the impossible. The shadows on the walls would form into a figure, who would come out and talk to me. Sometimes the voice came from other objects too, like my TV, paintings, or phone. Most people would probably try to get some help from a psychiatrist, but I was stubborn. It only happened when I was home alone, and it didn’t happen enough to overwhelm me.

The whispers were mumbled and jittered, and I couldn’t really make out what they were saying, but I felt like I was being drawn towards my computer by the kitchen. I pushed myself up and off the couch, and slowly began to make my way towards it. Everything felt hazy, like I was dreaming, or not really connected to this world; but I knew this was real. I could feel the fear building up deep inside of me. The voices grew louder as I got closer, yet I couldn’t understand them still. It was like listening to twenty televisions at once, inaudible. I didn’t pull out the chair, just crouched down to get a closer look at my screen. The book I had been working on was still up. I took a closer look at the story I had written. A dark horror story about a crazy mutant kid that goes on a killing spree in a beachside resort town. It was disturbing, with vivid descriptions of murder and violence.

What kind of sick mind would write about this stuff?

I began writing in college with a fantasy fiction series. I struggled to get a publisher who would publish it, and even after it was, it wasn't very successful. I graduated with an English major and ended up working as a high school English teacher. It was then that I found the small house that I now live in. I didn’t want to stay a teacher forever; my dream was to live solely off of my writing. And once the supernatural stuff began occurring, I felt even more willing and motivated to write than ever before. I would go to write on the computer and fall into a sort of daze. It’s like I wasn’t directly piloting my body, but rather watching from the passenger seat. The end result of this was a long, bloody, horror story. It was dark and disturbing, but I needed the money and turned it in to be published. It was accepted the first time and ended up being pretty successful. Much more than my fantasy series ever was. But I only half remembered writing it, like it had been a dream. The voices became more coherent over time, and even began to talk to me directly. It became one deep main voice. It would sometimes try to tell me what to do and get mad at me for making “mistakes,” especially in my writing. He even would take on a sort of physical form sometimes, like a large shadow that would come out of the wall. I called it “The Shadow.” No one else so far had seen or heard him at my house. He would go days without talking to me, then show up and almost possess me, and I would be off in another writing frenzy.

So far I had written and published two gruesome novels. I always hated them for what they were but published them anyway. I made sure to do it under a pseudonym, so none of my friends truly knew about this sick stuff. Now I had a freshly horror written story in front of me.

I went to delete the document, but my arms wouldn’t move. It’s like I had an invisible rope tied around me or some invisible force field was covering the keyboard. Cold sweat ran down my neck. I felt frozen in place like someone was holding me there. It was as if it felt like another person was standing right behind me.

“Don’t destroy this work of art,” I heard the voice come from behind me. I spun my head around quickly, but no one was there.

“Come on; you act like we haven’t met before. You really are scared of everything Jack,” it spoke in a serious, straight tone. I was spinning around, scanning every dark corner for the shadow. My eyes stopped on the television. It was supposed to be a recap of a football game, but the reporter wasn’t speaking, instead staring directly at me, like he was actually in my room.

“I know you are thinking about getting those pills. Would you really want to get rid of me? After all, where would you be without me?” the reporter began to speak. I reached and grabbed the remote, frantically pointing it at the TV and smashing the off button. Nothing happened, and the reporter continued to stare at me with a stone-cold expression and unblinking eyes.

“You can’t get rid of me that easily, I’m a part of you Jack,” its words became more convoluted as it spoke, and once again multiple voices began shouting at me, from all directions of the room.

“Stop!”

I let out a scream and chucked the remote with rage at the flatscreen. It shattered into a hundred little cracks, and the screen turned black.

“Now Jack, do I need to come visit you myself?” the voice was now coming from inside my head. I put up both my hands to my head and squeezed as I fell to the couch. The knob on my bedroom door began to turn slowly. I grimaced in utter terror as the door slowly opened, revealing pitch black darkness behind it. I began to feeling came over me like I was in a trance, the same feeling I had when I was writing, and I got up and began to walk into the darkness.

I strained every fiber of my muscles to stop, but I wasn’t in control. I clenched my teeth and looked down as I entered the room, the door slamming shut behind me. Slowly my legs carried me to my bed. I laid down on top of the covers, staring straight up at the ceiling. I tried, but was unable to move anything. My eyes began to adjust, and I made out multiple shadow figures surrounding my bed out of the corner of my eye. Tears began to flow out of my eyes as the sense of hopelessness overcame me.

“Hmm, hallucinations, voices, depression; and even losing control over your body. Mister Robertson, I think you are suffering from a severe form of schizophrenia.”

A tall skinny man in a white suit was speaking to me in a calm and soothing tone. I was leaned back in a black recliner. I had put off any sort of help for months, but last night was too much. I didn’t get any sleep. Instead I was terrified and trapped on my bed like a huge invisible rock was pressing me down. Even if I lost my writing ability, I had to get rid of whatever The Shadow was.

“And you said this has been going on for months now, why haven’t you reached out for help before?” the psychiatrist continued.

“It was never as bad as it was last night.”

And it helped me write… I continued in my mind, careful not to let that part slip.

“Well the standard procedure for this is two weeks with antipsychotics, and your reaction to it,” he stared with an emotionless gaze, waiting for a reply. I imagined he had done this hundreds of times before.

“That sounds good, thank you,” I replied.

“We will start you off with a bottle of 28 pills for 45 dollars. One pill in the morning before breakfast, and one at night before bed,” he said. I agreed, signed a contract, and was on my way.

On the way home from work I picked up the prescription from a local pharmacy. I felt joyful at first, but that feeling slowly seeped away from me the longer I drove. I had been relying on these horror novels as a source of main income. I don’t think I could carry on writing with such depth and description without the aid of The Shadow. I knew my fantasy series wouldn’t get me anywhere. I would be stuck teaching an 8th-grade English class for the rest of my life. I shuddered at the thought, then slammed on the brakes. I was so lost in my own thoughts I hadn’t noticed the light in front of me turn red.

The closer I got to home the more I convinced myself not to take the pills. I parked my grey sedan in the small driveway and got out, noting how empty the neighborhood was tonight. The moon was covered by clouds, so the only light was coming from the street lamps. From the windows, I could see the inside of the house matched the darkness outside. My mindset instantly changed as I opened the door and stepped inside. There were no voices or shadow figures, only silence; yet I was still filled with a sense of dread. All that convincing I had told myself in the car left my head. I didn’t give the Shadow any time to bother me; opening the bottle quickly and swallowing a pill with a swig of whiskey.

Scared to do anything else but wait, I sat down on the couch and stared into the night. An hour passed, then two, and three. Nothing happened. No Shadow came to visit me. I walked over to the computer, expecting a headache or a low whisper of voice, but was once again only met with silence. The story was a good 2/3 of the way complete. I could try and find a way to finish it, but I doubt it would leave the last part as good as the first. I didn’t understand how these horribly gruesome stories sold. What demented being would delight in reading about another’s horrible misfortune?

Two days had passed, and so far the pills had been working great. Everything was normal. I had taken a break from writing to enjoy the peace. Friday night came, and I went on a date with Lizzie. Everything went well, and I was laying on the couch, watching the news on a new TV. I couldn’t help but feel more confidence than before. My life was now clear from the chaos of The Shadow. For the first time in a long time, I felt truly free. I felt a smile slowly forming on my face. I didn’t need The Shadow to write. I was certain I could make my fantasy stories work; stories with actual happy endings.

My feeling of glee came to abrupt end when a dull pain began to form from inside my head. I went over and took my pill, but the headache only got worse. It felt like someone was taking a jackhammer to my skull. It didn’t take long for a low laugh to accompany the headache. A laugh that felt it was coming from own head too.

“You think you could get rid of me with just a pill?” the voice now screamed at me.

I could see the shadow coming from the TV began to form into a human shape.

“I’m not just in your head Jack; I’m all around you. I am a part of you!” the voice was like someone was holding two megaphones right next to each of my ears. I thought eardrums were going to burst.

“What do you want?” I screamed back.

All the doors in my house were now slamming open and shut over and over.

“I want to take you, guide you into my world. Let me cover your heart like a suit. You don’t have to be scared, just embrace me. I am very real Jack. You cannot run from me, and you can not hide. I’m your dark half Jack Robertson. I want to control you.”

“I really want to thank you, Father,” I was standing on the front lawn of my house. Standing next to me was a short old priest. But I had known him my whole life. He was there for my family when my father ran off. And he was there for me when my mother died. It was Sunday evening. I couldn’t even enter my own home now without being attacked by The Shadow. The pills had completely stopped working. By now I was certain it was some sort of demon. One that was possessing my home and trying to possess me. The only other option I could think of was to have a priest bless my home. I wasn’t very religious, so I didn’t know any personally but one. He was probably only willing to help me out because of our close friendship when I was a child anyway. Now we were both standing outside my evil home. Father Christopher was holding a cross in one hand and a bible in the other. He also had holy water tucked into his belt. He was wearing a black suit and black pants.

“Don’t worry about it Jack. This is the right thing to do. No one should have to suffer from the darkness of this evil world without the light of the Lord,” I bobbed my head in agreement. I was trying to hide it on the outside, but on the inside, I was more nervous than I had ever been in my whole life.

What if this didn’t work? What if we just pissed off the demon more? Could it physically harm us? All these thoughts and more flooded my head. Father Christopher could see through my weak facade.

“Hey it’s going to be ok,” he put his hand on my shoulder. “We are guided and protected by the Lord. Nothing can hurt us. Follow me; I'll lead the way.” He walked towards the front door, opened it, and stepped in. I took a deep breath and followed.

I could feel my breathing pick up almost immediately after stepping in. I flashed a glance at Father Christopher. He looked tall and confident. This reassured me, and my breathing calmed down again.

I’m a grown man, and I'm scared of some powerless ghost, I was starting to feel that this whole situation was just absurd. Father Christopher stopped in the living room and opened his Bible.

“We will start with a prayer,” he said to me. I nodded my head in response.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. “

I was staring off into getting beige wallpaper when I noticed something. It wasn’t a shadow covering it, but almost like thousands of faint, black dots. They were moving around rapidly. I looked around and noticed they were covering everything. It was like I was having some sort of visual problem with my eyes, but I was wearing my glasses.

“Give us this day our daily bread…”

The black dots were becoming more and more vivid now. I felt a sharp pain growing in my head. They all began to come together, and take the shape of a man. I glanced down at the ground and backed up at Father Christopher, who was just finishing his prayer.

“Father…” I tapped his shoulder. He didn’t respond, just stared at the figure, which almost appeared to be coming out of the wall.

“What are you doing?” he questioned it. Suddenly he was flung back onto the ground. I reached out to grab him, but some invisible force started dragging him back across the floor.

“Let go of me!” Father Christopher roared. He tried to grab onto the wooden floor, leaving scratch marks, as he was dragged into my dark bedroom. The door slammed hard behind him. I quickly ran over and frantically tried to open the door. I tried to twist the knob, but it felt locked.

“Let me out of here!” Father Christopher screamed on the other side banging against the door at the same time.

“I can’t, it’s locked!” I screamed back. He didn’t respond directly back to me, just kept shouting. I turned back around to the dark figure, who was standing still. I reached over and picked up the cross from the table, shoving it in The Shadow’s direction. A cluster of whispers smothered all other noises at once, filling my head and quickly getting louder. I dropped the cross and covered my ears.

“Kill him, kill him, kill him…” the voices chanted in my head.

The next two days were cycles of living hell. I couldn’t leave my house, and I was constantly tormented by the voices. They would tell me different ways I could slowly murder the priest trapped in my bedroom. I couldn’t sleep and didn’t eat. Several times I was tempted just to take the gun out of my kitchen closet and put a bullet in my own mouth. Father Christopher’s shouting turned to begging, and then to silence. I couldn’t hear anything coming from the bedroom now; but, He tried to get me to pray occasionally, but it never worked. The high-pitched voices coming from everywhere contributed to that. My phone was constantly ringing, and I finally gathered enough strength to listen to the voicemails the night of the second day.

“You have 11 missed calls, and six new messages,” the monotone voice repeated. I pressed the play button to listen to the messages. They were all from Lizzie, each one asking where I was and if I was alright. Each one grew more filled with worry than the last. But it was the latest one that made me panic.

“Jack I'm really worried about you. I know you just started taking that medicine, and I nor anyone else has seen you since our date. I’m coming to check on you tonight.”

The message was from earlier this afternoon. I should have felt worried for her, but I this point I could only focus on getting the voices out of my head and The Shadow out of my house. I tried to write, as it usually was some sort of outlet for The Shadow, but it didn’t work now. It wouldn’t be satisfied till I killed the priest. I went back down and lay down on the couch, closing my eyes and trying to push through it. I just wanted this to all end now. I didn’t care anymore about being embarrassed from getting help from other people. The screaming in my ears was like a living hell now. Time passed by slowly, but eventually I could see Lizzie’s car’s headlights sweep through my windows as she pulled into my driveway. I would have gone to the door and yelled at her to go away, but it’s like some invisible shield was covering it. I heard the door unlock and open, and Lizzie followed by stepping in. Her mouth dropped when she saw me on the couch.

“Oh my God Jack! What happened to you!” she came running over.

As she ran, the voices in my head switched from “kill him, kill him,” to “kill her, kill her.”

“Stay back Liz!” I stuck my hand out and pushed her away when she got close.

“Jack, what’s wrong with you?” she questioned with a twisted face. I could hear the laugh of The Shadow coming from everywhere. Instead of feeling drawn to the priest, I was now being drawn to the knife block in my kitchen.

“Lizzie you have to get out of here now! I don’t want to hurt you!” I saw The Shadow step out of the wall and glide towards me, encompassing the room in utter darkness as it went. The shadow seemed to merge into my body, and suddenly I felt out of control. My hands acted without me and knocked down Lizzie to the floor. Then my legs began to move me into the kitchen, where I pulled a large carving knife out. This felt like I was watching a first-person movie. I turned around, knife in my hand, and began to walk back towards Lizzie, who was shaking on the floor.

“Jack please, we can talk, we can get help,” she begged.

"Don't let the this control you Jack!" I heard Father Christopher yell from my room

Every fiber of me wanted to scream out, to stop… but I couldn’t. The knife was brought down hard. Lizzie let out a scream as it penetrated her leg. She kicked me in the head with the other one, but that didn't stop anything. My hand brought it back up and down, this time in her waist.

“Jack…” she croaked, tears streaming out of her eyes. I heard Father Christopher yelling from behind my door, pleading me to stop. I desperately tried to erase The Controller from my mind, thinking of everything else under the sun. Again and again, the knife went down and up, and Lizzie’s pleas went silent. Finally, I felt a snap, and I was back in control again. I immediately threw away the knife and cradled Lizzie’s limp body in my arms.

“I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry,” I constantly repeated. There were no more voices, only silence. The priest was now begging me to let him out. I got up and punched a nearby wall as hard as I could, resulting in bloody and probably broken knuckles.

“Goddamnit!”

I looked up slowly as a figure slowly formed in front of me. At first, it appeared as a regular shadow humanoid figure, like always, but then it began to morph into something else. It morphed into an exact reflection of me. I felt like I was looking into a mirror, but his face didn’t show my anger. It was expressionless, like a robot.

“Look what you did!” I screamed at it.

“I did?”

I turned around and reached into the kitchen closet, pulling out my pistol and loading it. I turned around and aimed it at The Shadow, who was also now aiming a pistol at me.

“You can’t kill me; you can’t get rid of me. I’m a part of you, I am you. Deep down inside, I’m a part of everyone. You’re just closer to me.”

“Shut up!”

I could hear Father Christopher telling me to stop, and not to do it, but I didn’t care. I squeezed the trigger. I felt a hot sting in my chest, and everything faded into darkness.



Written by Tide16
Content is available under CC BY-SA