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Speculative Horror Fiction

The shadow’s flesh was of a devil’s hide. It silently echoed screams of old pains, pains I hoped never to feel again. This shadow has followed me for as long as I can feasibly recall. Even now, it continues to hover over me. Though I have tried to run from its grip on my soul before, I swear it. I have yet to see it, but I just know it’s always here. For me, and for us all. Just when I’m at my most vulnerable, it will appear once more. You take me mad, don’t you, raving about such a ghastly thing? I assure you, it’s all too real. Most don’t understand or ignore it, until it’s got them in a grip as cold as anything nature could dream of spitting. Allow me to tell you of the last moment the shadow chose to show itself to me. The vividness of this recollection may help to illustrate the danger I speak of. 

We were arriving back home from my father's dismal funeral. It was a fairly small gathering. Me, Julia, and six other distant family members I don’t remember. The mood wasn’t cheery, yet it was far from sorrowful. It was as dead as my dad was in the air. No one had wept, except perhaps my mother who lay next to my dad. If she did, no one there could hear her anymore. Even Julia didn’t cry. She was a sensitive flower, but I told her well as to the type of being he was. It was dull and miserable there. I didn’t talk to a single person. I couldn’t wait to leave.

Maybe it was anxiety, or maybe it was restlessness, but I rose from our rickety bed late that night, devoid of any feeling. The only sensations left in me were the restless cloud of tangled thoughts stirring in my brain. I was a weightless blob of skin moving through the air-in a blurry hellscape like the one that he treaded. 

My body shambled its way to what seemed a shifting, crooked gateway. As I committed myself through it, the passage of earthly time dead to conception, my intoxicated eyes beheld that standing shadow. It had no eyes, yet it burned a gaze of hate through me. It had no mouth, yet it uttered fears and regrets I had attempted to drown out many a time before. I would have run away again, but I was in no condition.

I hate it so much. I hate looking at it. I hate hearing it. It’s the most excruciating phantom to be cursed with. It can do things to you that you are powerless to counteract. It’s like the flu or some disease your body gets afflicted with, except without the luxury of medications to ease the agony. As much as I tried to find some relief, it never lasted long. That shadow always found me and cared not for what I had taken to find any ounce of freedom from its wrath. No amount of physical torture can match the never-ending terror that this shadow ails me with.

Trapped in a strong, familiar state of insobriety, I didn't feel my usual disdain for it. I pulled my figure towards where it stood, and all at once such loathsome emotion took me over-as the ones he vented upon me. I should’ve been petrified, but I was just relieved to be feeling anything anymore. In my flooded ears, I heard the distant noise of steps approaching me.

I dragged my form back around at the sound, the plain upon which I walked collapsing further beyond structure. I laid witness to the ghastly image of myself trudging forward. I couldn’t bear to look at it any moment longer. In an instant, I took his throat into my shapeless hands and proceeded to bash in his face repeatedly-a rush of dopamine flooding my mind as feminine cries echoed all over me.

I thought of nothing but the intense desire to pummel such a horrendous being to destruction. With each swing, I felt true bliss. Joy I haven’t had since the day I married my sweet Julia. I didn’t care about what I was doing, I felt happy. After what felt like a heavenly eternity, her screams stopped. The hideous waste at my knees was limp and unrecognizable.

I of course have realized what I did. Though then, I was euphoric that I didn’t have to look at that thing again, whatever it was. I would weep now at it, but I’ve become numb to all emotion. Still, she did not deserve that, or me for that matter. I thought of anyone, she could free me from the anguish of the shadow. She couldn’t, at least, not forever.  She never stopped trying to, though.

The saddest part of all this is that it doesn’t end with me. This shadow, whether it be alone or one of many, pursues all of us. I know it does. Perhaps you’ve yet to see it, or yet to distinguish its devilish look, but it’s there. Whenever deep-seated fears and angers envelop you, and you feel the world is out of your control, that’s it. The ghastly shadow swallowing you. I only pray that you’ll find the strength I have long lost to beat it back. Not through material means, trust me on that, something richer. No matter how much you want to give in to it, don’t. I have yet to find a way to finish it for good. A part of me doubts it has such weakness.

It's too late for me, as I’m sure it sadly may be for others, but you are not yet lost to it. If you are reading this with any strong sense of worry, speculation, or intrigue, there is still hope for you. I implore you to face and deal with it head on, no matter how much you wish to turn away. Control the shadow, before it seizes it from you. 

December 22, 2023 21:27

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4 comments

Jack Kimball
16:45 Jan 21, 2024

Hi Aidan, Love the mood. You've got talent for horror. Many nuggets: "...as dead as my dad was in the air." "... I took his throat into my shapeless hands and proceeded to bash in his face repeatedly-a rush of dopamine flooding my mind as feminine cries echoed all over me." (Love this one.) A letter of murder, but it does grip the reader. Good job. Keep that shadow OUT of control! Hope to read more from you. Jack

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Aidan Romo
19:37 Jan 21, 2024

Thank you so much for the kind words! I sincerely appreciate them! I hope my future stories to come will be as engaging for you as this one!

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J. D. Lair
15:41 Dec 31, 2023

Is it death, or perhaps inherited alcoholism? Maybe it’s just whatever darkness that follows us all and is different for everyone. Thought provoking!

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Apolonio Garcia
04:34 Dec 31, 2023

At first thought you are thinking its a shallow following a victim with devilish motive. Then we move to the harsh reality of a love one passing away and the only thing how angry you are. But how each one deals with the shallow within us.

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