Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction
Shadow of my Shadow By David Turnbull
I have become the shadow of my shadow.
Wherever he walks I am cast.
I noticed we had become disconnected one cold winter’s night.
The snow had fallen deep. Crisp layer blanketing crisp layer. I was walking home beneath the streetlamps after my evening shift as doorman at the local hotel. My collar was up against the frosty chill. I had my head down as I pushed against the yowling of arctic wind that tossed the snow up in gusting flurries.
I saw my shadow, the taint of an oil stain against the virgin drifts. And noticed that he had separated from me, animated of his own volition, slithering in serpentine coils, like some incongruous black eel.
I drew breath and stopped in my tracks. My shadow stopped. He waited, not two feet in front of me. A cold and patient predator.
I swallowed against the uncomfortable lump that stuck in my throat
I lifted my left leg and stood one footed. I had half convinced myself that what I was seeing was a trick of the light. That my shadow would reconnect and obediently mirror my moves. The unquestioning servant.
I almost screamed at what transpired.
His leg did not lift so much as a fraction of an inch. He elongated, stretching grotesquely as if he were some over-engorged slug, increasing the distance between us at a painfully slow pace.
Despite the bitter cold, sweat beads went tumbling down my spine. I looked over my shoulder. Not a soul was abroad on the winter streets. Just me and my disconnected shadow. Me and my malevolent tormentor.
I could feel the pulses quickening in my wrists. I sucked cold air into my lungs and stepped forward. My shadow danced ahead, snaking away from me, pausing when I paused, waiting when I hesitated.
It took almost an hour for me to reach home. Stopping and starting. Trembling with uncanny terror. He was lurking behind me when I placed me key in the lock, but ahead of me and into the corridor as soon as I opened the door.
I slept with the light off, hoping against hope that the darkness might kill him. But all it did was render him invisible. He prowled the gloom as the wind howled in the blizzard outside the window. Binding his time. Plotting his plot.
No sooner was I asleep that he was on me. Smothering me. Suffocating me. Conjoining with me once more. Subjugating me. Making himself the master and I the marionette.
In the morning he roused me. Dragged me to the riverside. Had me mimic the monstrous movements of his hideous limbs. Had my hands wrap around the neck of the lonely dog walker. Had me strangle him to death. Had me toss his cadaver to the flood swollen waters.
And his dog with him.
I have become the hunger of my hunger.
Where he bids I am bound.
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