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!
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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