Short Story Time – The Shadow Man

Short Story: The Shadow Man by MK

Before Halloween I posted two short stories about the Braye Sisters. This is the book that I am currently working on to publish this year. It is a collection of short stories about these two sisters and their experiences with the supernatural.

The Shadow Man is one such story. I have come to really enjoy the short story as a way to help me really hone in on what I want to say in my writing. It has been a challenge but I am learning so much.

So enjoy this new short story!

Anna, 1991

          During the summer of ’91, Anna turned 14 years old. For her birthday, her aunt got her a new kitten. Actually, Aunt Francis had taken one of the dogs to the vet and there was a woman there about to put her kitten to sleep because she couldn’t take him with her and no one wanted him. She was crying but Aunt Francis, being the bleeding heart for animals, decided it was a perfect time to bring home a new kitten.

Over the Spring, Anna’s cat Clyde had died. She had been very lonely without a cat to love. Then her aunt brings home an adorable 6 month old kitten with long grey fur and a big bushy tail. She loved her new kitten and named him Blue because in certain light his grey fur looked blue.

On a beautiful sunny day in August, two weeks after Anna’s birthday, she was playing with Blue in the family room when she saw out of the corner of her eye, Aunt Francis clutching a board. Anna instinctively looks over at her aunt. This woman, who is tough as nails and fears nothing and no one, looks like she’s just seen the Grim Reaper.

Fear washes over Aunt Francis’s face as Anna watches her throw the board into the closet. The closet under the stairs is a deep closet and Aunt Francis chucks that thing like she’s throwing a football. She slams the closet door so hard it makes Anna jump.

Concerned for her aunt, she starts to ask her what is wrong when the woman looks sternly but still with fear in her eyes at Anna. “NEVER, EVER, touch that board! Do you hear me?” Anna finds herself unable to speak and just shakes her head. That’s not good enough for her aunt though. She walks closer to Anna with a much sterner look in her green eyes and says again, “Do you hear me?”

Without hesitation, Anna answers “Yes Ma’am” because she is more afraid of her aunt than that board but she also knows that whatever was able to frighten this hardened, strict, and fierce woman, isn’t something she wants to know about.

Anna doesn’t think about that board anymore after that. She pushes it out of her mind and goes about playing with her cat every day.  She adores Blue. He sleeps with her every night and plays with her every day. Sometimes at night he wakes her up to play at which point she sends him out of her room but mostly, he sleeps by her head every night. Blue makes her feel safe. Her favorite part about him is after her aunt goes on one of her tirades and yells at her calling her every name in the book, Blue lays with Anna while she cries into her pillow.

No one else gets to see Anna cry. Since her sister was sent back to her father’s house two years ago, Anna has felt very alone. She still gets to see her sister but only once a month. She has her brother but they have a different relationship. Her brother is the goofy one. With him, she either gets really annoyed at him following her around all the time or she laughs and goofs off with him.

But with Blue, she can cry. She can let out her sadness and he lets her lay her head down on his body while purring in her ear. She grows closer and closer to this amazing creature and as the months go by, he becomes her confidant and her best friend.

One particular night in November, Anna is getting ready for bed. Blue is usually a very calm cat but tonight he is meowing loudly and constantly. Anna is very confused by his behavior. Then, he suddenly jumps off the bed and starts scratching at the door.

This is very odd behavior for Blue. He loves getting ready for bed with her. He is always curled up by her pillow before she even gets into bed for the night. Tonight he is restless and she doesn’t understand why.

Anna can’t help but feel a little hurt that he doesn’t want to sleep next to her tonight. She had a rough day at school and fighting with Aunt Francis earlier didn’t help matters. All she wants to do is curl up with her cat and drift off to sleep at the sound of his purring.

She doesn’t want to let him leave the room but he’s meowing so much and clawing at the door that she can’t help but to grant his wish to leave. Anna walks over and opens the door, a little frustrated with Blue. In that split second that she opens the door, Blue runs out so fast, it’s like he’s a cheetah but Anna doesn’t even register that he has gone because she is face to face with a man.

Or what looks like a man. Frozen in fear for what seems like an eternity, the man-shaped shadow stands before her, not moving. Anna observes the fedora on his head and it looks like he is wearing a long trench coat. Her immediate thought is of Humphrey Bogart. It’s silly and irrational but the shadow looks like he just stepped out of Casablanca.

He just stands there. This dark shadow of a man. Pitch black. No face. No hands. No feet. She just notices the shape of a hat and a coat. There is a head but no other features. There are pant legs of what looks like a business suit but nothing else.

She just notices as she looks down that her cat runs through the shadow and can vaguely hear him running down the stairs, still meowing. Now she knows why he was so restless. He was afraid. In that one moment Anna quickly regains function of her limbs and shuts her door, slamming it on the shadow.

Her breath quickens and for the first time she realizes that she had stopped breathing. Her heart is beating fast as she slowly backs away from the door, hoping that the shadow can’t come in. She is now painfully aware of how scary her big, wide mirror is as she glances at it on her right. She quickly looks away fearing that somehow either the shadow or Black Aggie is going to show in it.

In an attempt to calm herself, she whispers, “Anna get a grip. This isn’t real.” She says it but doesn’t really believe it. Anna jumps into her bed pulling the covers over her head like she did years ago in her old room. Now curled up in the fetal position under the blankets, Anna tries to think of happier things.

At that moment she remembers her Walkman under her pillow that she’s not supposed to listen to at night but does anyway. She puts her headphones on and pushes play. Like a Prayer plays loudly into her ears. She eventually falls asleep but never moves out of that fetal position.

So there you have it ladies and gents! What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks so much for reading!

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A Christmas Poem (and Happy Holidays to You)

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This week I wrote a little poem for Christmas. I actually took some time with this because I wanted to write a Christmas story but couldn’t come up with any ideas. It turns out that I am good at reading them but not so good at writing them. 

So I thought, why not a Christmas poem? It took me a minute to get this right but I hope you enjoy the read!

A Christmas Poem

The season of Yule has begun

Spreading Christmas cheer to everyone.

The hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping

Decorating the tree and hanging the stockings.

But Christmas isn’t the only holiday that’s celebrated by families.

Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice (to name a few)

bring joy and happiness into view.

Yes, this is a wonderful time of year,

for family gatherings and holiday cheer.

For gift giving and delicious food

and sharing for all, the festive mood.

We sing songs and are merry.

While the snow falls, we fill our bellies,

with cookies and pies and all sorts of treats.

Then as we ring in the new year,

and say goodbye to the last.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Hope the New Year is a blast!

That’s my poem. What do you think? I hope you enjoyed the read. I also hope you all have a great Christmas! Happy Holidays to all!

P.S. I won’t be here next week for Christmas as I’m sure many of you won’t be either. I am taking the rest of the year off. See you all in 2019! Happy New Year Everyone!!

Thanks so much for reading!

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The Dream – (A Poem by Me)

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For many years I have had recurring dreams about a person who used to be in my life. The dreams started shortly after high school, when I no longer saw this person. He used to be a friend but I use the word loosely as we weren’t really friends. More acquaintances and classmates than friends. Nevertheless, I had dreams about him.

It took me a long time to figure out why I had these dreams. These dreams come to me when I’m at my lowest mentally and emotionally. When I’m deeply struggling with something or when I feel like I’m losing control over something in my life.

Once I figured that out, I wanted to understand why him? It could be anyone. A lost loved one. My grandmother who passed away when I was thirteen. Any of my closest friends or relatives. But no, it is this one person who I barely know. He barely knows me. It’s ALWAYS him too. It’s never anyone else.

For a long time I thought it meant something more than it was. Maybe I knew him in a past life. I went so far in my mind to think maybe he was my… I can’t even say it now because it’s a ridiculous notion. Long story short, for whatever reason he represents a part of my subconscious that tells me everything is going to be okay.

I had one of these dreams the other night. As you know I’ve been struggling with several things and this past week was one of the shittiest weeks I’ve had in a long time. I woke up inspired and compelled to write this poem. It’s been several years since I’ve had one of these dreams.

The Dream

I dreamt of you last night

I walked ’round and there you stood

Oh you were such a sight!

I knew it was THAT dream

You come to visit me in our woods

To comfort me in my time of need.

 

And though it was only a dream

It was so nice to see you old friend

In the land of dreams where we could just BE

The time we got to spend

Walking and laughing and finally at peace with each other

We chatted about anything BUT the weather.

 

Conversation wasn’t what was needed

As you already knew

But your presence was what I heeded

Because it was you who gave me solace

And your smile gave me the clue.

 

You’re here because I’m in anguish

The world is trying to break me

But you know that’s outlandish.

 

And as the dawn approached

it was time for me to wake

You look at me without reproach

In my dream you say without a word

That everything is going to be okay.

 

He and I are no longer friends. We haven’t been friends for several years now. It’s funny because while I have no desire to have him back in my life, it was nice to see him in my dream. He has become a muse of sorts and for that I am grateful.

Thank you all for reading!

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P.S.  For all Americans reading my blog – Don’t forget to vote this Tuesday! I know I will!

 

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Halloween Special, Pt 2: The Haunting of the Braye Sisters

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Are you all ready for the next story to Part two of my Haunting Halloween special? In my last Haunting Tale so many people wanted to know what happened. That is awesome! That makes me happy. However, that was the end of that little story. My next story is a haunting tale about a two girls, a black cat, and a closet. This one is not as scary but I hope you enjoy my haunting story.

Without further ado,

Chapter Two: The Cat in the Closet

Anna and Crystal, 1987

The sisters are back together with their little brother, Jack. To help celebrate, Aunt Francis let the three siblings stay up a little later than usual eating ice cream and watching Crystal’s favorite movie, The Hugga Bunch. It’s really the only movie Crystal will actually sit down and watch. TV is not her thing. She’d rather be outside playing baseball and kickball with her brother.

Aunt Francis even had Jack and Anna switch rooms so that the girls could share the room. It was decorated in Lilac colored walls and dark purple carpet. Two twin beds were placed side by side with Anna’s Rainbow Bright set, even though Anna, now a fifth grader, was more interested in ThunderCats and She-Ra – and Crystal’s My Little Pony set, which, ever the tomboy, she hated.

On Crystal’s first night in her new home, it didn’t matter what the sheets looked like. As long as she got to be with her big sister.

And that first night was definitely the most memorable night they shared together. A haunting night they will never forget. They were still too excited to sleep so the girls hopped into Anna’s bed and Crystal started to tell stories. She had a vivid imagination that Anna admired greatly. Anna had a great imagination too but kept everything inside her mind, never to share with anyone. She believed her thoughts were too weird for anyone to understand.

After three riveting stories about pirates and mermaids, Crystal then suggested their favorite game. The Slapping game. That’s what they called it.

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Anna puts her hands over Crystal’s hands. Crystal has to slap Anna’s hands before Anna pulls them away and Anna is very good at this game so she’s confident she can beat her little sister. They play about five rounds, and it’s tied between them. Crystal is better at this than Anna thought.

By the sixth round though, Anna hears a scream come out of her sister she had never heard before. It was piercingly loud but very quick. At first, Anna thought that would wake up Aunt Francis. She had a tendency to wake up at the drop of  a pin but thankfully, not this time.

Crystal screamed than pushed her face into Anna’s lap and burst out crying. Neither of these girls cries very often. In fact, it’s quite rare. So Anna is completely caught off guard with this. Her love and empathy for her sister takes over though and instinctively Anna places her hand on Crystal’s head and starts stroking her hair to calm her down.

She asks in a soft voice, “What’s wrong sis? What just happened?” Crystal’s sobs get a little louder and it’s this moment Anna realizes that her little sister is shaking. She’s terrified of something but what? Anna gently coaxes Crystal to tell her what frightened her so much. She’s crying so hard that she can’t speak so Anna patiently waits for her sister to regain some of her composure.

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It only takes Crystal a minute to calm down enough to speak but she struggles to get the words out. There..was..something..in..the..closet. She points to the open double-door closet that Anna forgot to shut after she and Crystal finished hanging up her new clothes.

Anna looks over and doesn’t see anything. The bottom of the closet is very dark and only the girl’s shoes sit in the light of the room. It’s a long closet though and there are several dark corners that Anna doesn’t want to even think about.

She knows her sister saw something because she is shaking and crying – two things Crystal doesn’t do. Anna also knows there are things in this house that are otherworldly. She has had her own experiences. This house is haunting and scary. She wonders if her brother has had any experiences.

Right now she has to focus on her sister. She has to figure out what scared her so much. “What was in the closet? Sis, what did you see?” Reluctantly, Crystal lifts up her head not daring to look into the closet. She looks at her big sister, not knowing if Anna will believe her or not, and tells her.

“There was a black cat sitting on the floor half in the dark and half in the light. It was wearing a green ribbon around its neck and glowing red eyes. It was just staring at me and its face started to… to…

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Crystal couldn’t finish the last sentence. She pushed her face back into her sister’s lap and started crying again. Anna knows it isn’t her cat because her cat, Bonnie, is a calico and she sleeps downstairs. She never even comes up here. She looks into the closet again but doesn’t see anything.

Anna leans closer to her sister’s ear and tells her she’s going to close the closet. Crystal protests at first. “What if it gets you? Please don’t go near the closet.” Anna ignores her and gets up to close the closet. As she reaches for the door she sees her clothes move just a bit. As if a breeze had blown them gently.

Only the windows aren’t open.

Anna doesn’t know why but she feels compelled to investigate it. She grabs the knob of the door and looks directly into the darkness, past the shirts hanging just to her right. She sees nothing. Just darkness.

But she feels something. A haunting sensation comes over her.

Goosebumps form on her arms in seconds.

She gets a chill down her spine.

Anna closes both doors quickly and turns around to her sister, who is watching every move she makes. The scared, worried look on her tear stained face starts to relax as Anna comes to the bed. “Anna, can I sleep in your bed tonight?” Anna, without hesitation says, “Sure.”

Anna turns towards the lamp by their bed to turn it off but Crystal begs her to leave it on. She leaves the lamp on and looks at her clock. It’s 2am.

 

Thanks so much for reading!

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Halloween Special: Haunting of the Braye Sisters

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Oh October! My favorite month. This month brings out the scary in me. I celebrate Halloween all month long. So in the name of Halloween and haunting, I am going to share a couple of short stories. I am splitting this up between two posts. I am still working out all of the kinks but I’m very excited to share with you what I have so far. I bring you The Haunting of the Braye Sisters.

The Witch in the Mirror

Anna, 1985

Third grade girls can be weird. Anna didn’t have many friends at school. This was her choice though. She didn’t trust people. Not children and especially not adults. While she was friendly enough with her classmates, she kept her distance from them. When the girls would play together at recess, she stayed quiet but friendly.

But when the girls started telling a ghost story, she immediately perked up her ears and listened closer than usual. Ghosts are an interest of Anna’s. She loved to watch Scooby Doo. The gang always hunting ghosts that weren’t really ghosts fascinated her. The supernatural is interesting to her but she doesn’t know why. She feels a strange sort of comfort whenever engrossed in a book or movie with ghosts in it.

She listens intently to the story the girls are dramatically telling. The main character in this story is a woman called Black Aggie. You can’t really grow up in Baltimore, MD without hearing this story. This was the first time Anna had heard about her and she was excited to learn more.

One of her classmates, Heather, tells the story like this:

“Black Aggie was an abused woman who was murdered by her husband. They say he beat her to death. Above her grave is a statue of an Angel but they say the angel looks so sad that it makes people feel eerie walking by it. The legend goes that Black Aggie’s spirit haunts the statue. At midnight the eyes glow red and any person who looks into those eyes are struck blind.

They say that two college students recently went to test out this theory and the boy was struck blind while the girl, who sat in the angel’s lap, was crushed to death. That’s another part of the legend.”

Another classmate, Becky, interjects.

“That’s not how the story goes, She was a nurse wrongfully accused of killing her patients and now she haunts the statue they put up out of guilt. She now really does kill people who try to get close to the statue.”

A third classmate, Sara, disagrees.

“No, no, no. It wasn’t a woman at all but a man. A general who was buried beneath the statue and the statue, because it looked so dreary, got people talking about it. They named it Black Aggie because the family name of the general is Angus.”

Heather jumps back in before anyone can say anything else. “It’s a woman who was murdered by her husband and now she haunts the place. But it isn’t just the statue that people are afraid of. They say that if you say, ‘I hate you Black Aggie’ five times in a mirror in the dark, she will appear in the mirror holding an axe and if you try to run she will cut your head off. If you make it to your bed and hide under your covers, she will smother you and once you’re dead she will drag your soul to hell.”

Anna doesn’t know what to make of this. If there are so many stories surrounding this statue then maybe it isn’t true. After all, it is only a rumor. None of these girls know it to be true. Before Anna can finish her thought though, Becky says, “Let’s all go to the bathroom and try it out in the mirror.” All the girls jump to their feet and ask to go to the bathroom.

Anna watches them squish their faces up to the glass and cover the sides of their faces with their hands to make it completely dark. It doesn’t work. Anna knew it wouldn’t work but she made a mental note to herself to try it at home in her room after everyone has gone to bed. Anna realizes that if all of this stuff happens with the statue at midnight then maybe, in order for the mirror to work, it also has to be midnight.

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Anna’s house is a warm and inviting two story building with a screened in front porch. At night though, it is very creepy. Her room is on the second floor and set off towards the back of the house, directly underneath the attic. Her closet is a walk-in closet that connects to her Aunt’s room. There is something about that closet that she really doesn’t like.

One of the first nights she stayed in this room, she heard drums playing at night. She thought her teenage cousin was up late practicing but when she sleepily told her aunt that he was playing drums, her reply was, “Hon his drums are in the attic.” She heard those drums for several nights at exactly 2am, then they suddenly stopped.

It was enough to feel an energy in the house that she couldn’t explain. She kept telling herself that it was her imagination. Even now that she is waiting in her dark eerie little room in her small bed, for midnight to arrive, she feels the hairs on her arms stand up. “Ugh, enough Anna! There is nothing here.” She whispers to herself in frustration.

She looks up at her Rainbow Bright canopy, concentrating on Rainbow Bright. She wouldn’t be afraid. She is brave. She looks over at her night stand where her unicorn statue stands looking so strong and dignified. Her unicorn will keep her safe.

Midnight finally comes and Anna reluctantly gets out of her bed. Walking to her small, Victorian style mirror that her aunt found at a yard sale, she musters up all of her courage and looks at her reflection. At night the mirror looks very scary. She can barely see herself in it accept for the tiny night light right underneath the mirror.

Anna stands frozen for a moment, not sure if she really wants to go through with this. She thinks about going to hell. Then she reminds herself that she’s already been through hell. If she can survive that, she can survive this. She takes a deep breath, holding onto her unicorn that she instinctively grabbed when she got out of bed.

She looks into the mirror, turns off the nightlight and says the scariest words she has ever uttered. “I hate you Black Aggie. I hate you Black Aggie. I hate you Black Aggie. I hate you Black Aggie.” Anna takes another deep breath then blurts out really fast, “I hate you Black Aggie!”

Nothing happens. Anna stands there for a minute waiting for something to happen. Nothing does. She turns towards her bed. As she does, a smoky image appears in the mirror. Through the smoke is a woman but she isn’t holding an axe. She isn’t holding anything.

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Anna doesn’t stay to find out what happens next though. She runs to her bed, clutching onto her unicorn, pulling the covers over herself, hugging her knees. She stays perfectly still as not to attract attention. Soon she hears footsteps. Her floor is wood so she can hear the creaks with each step. They are getting closer and closer as Anna clutches even tighter to her figurine while sitting perfectly still.

Through the thin blanket, the moonlight is catching a glimpse of an arm reaching towards the blanket. Anna closes her eyes and tries to prepare for the worst. She is going to be dragged into hell and it’s going to be worse than the hell she has experienced here on Earth.

Maybe she deserves this. That’s why she thinks she was abused. Maybe she was just born bad and now she is being taken where she belongs.

She can’t move now. She is frozen in fear. Something she swore she would never do again. She sees the arm reach towards her. Suddenly she hears her closet door open. What could that be? Oh no, she brought someone with her.

As it opens though she sees a light. It’s the closet light and then she hears her aunt’s voice yelling at her. “Anna, why are you still awake? Get your ass to bed now!” Without hesitation, Anna says, “Yes, Ma’am” and lays down, still covered from head to toe with her blankets.

The figure she saw has disappeared but Anna doesn’t fall asleep for fear that figure will return.

Stay tuned for the next story…

Thanks so much for reading!

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