Everyone has seen them. I'm sure I'm not the first ?

Dark shapes that flitter in the periphery of your vision. Tantalizing shapes that disappear when you turn towards them. Figures that play with our minds. One minute they're there and the next they're gone.


3. Trains that pass in the night

It would be 6 more years until I saw the shapes again. Six blissful years of childhood. I’d completely forgotten about the dark shapes. I admit that the first few weeks on our return from Filey. I’d had many sleepless nights fearing that the shapes would reappear, but happily this didn’t happen and I settled back into my life in Sheffield.

It was whilst I was visiting my Great Aunt in Northallerton that I once again was acquainted with them. They lived in a rambling large house on the outskirts of the town. At the bottom of the garden the railway ran. When I was younger, watching the trains going by was one of my favourite hobbies. The roar of the steam engines as they roared past was exhilarating. The plume of smoke streaming down the length of the train, almost flat with the roof, the smell of the burnt coal in the air. At night you could see the glow of the firebox as they sped by either on their way to London or Edinburgh.

It was during one of these nights that I saw the dark shapes for the second time. I was once again sat at the window waiting for the imminent arrival of the express. My candle had burned down long ago and I sat with the curtains open allowing the moonlight to flood in through the glass. The combination of the swaying trees and full moon sent patterns dancing on the walls of my small bedroom. I was mesmerized by the movement on the wall that at first I missed the dark shape.

Then out of the corner of my eye I saw the shape. I gave a sharp intake of breath and felt my body turn cold as if a sharp icy blast had hit the room. The figure sat in the dark recess beside the chest of drawers perfectly still. My heart started to pound so loud I thought that this creature might hear it.

If I don’t look at it, maybe it’ll go away was my highly illogical thought. Ironically if I’d looked its way, the shape would disappear altogether. I sat as still as I could observing the creature as best I could. Eyes work better looking directly at an object. It’s really hard to focus out of the corner of your eye without the image getting blurred. I can guess that is exactly what you’re trying to do now, isn't it my friend.

I shut my eyes, willing it to disappear, remembering that night six years ago when I’d first encountered the shapes. I willed myself not to scream for my Aunt. After all I was 12 years old now, no longer a child at least that is how I thought of myself. I tentatively opened one eye, very slowly. The creature was still there. It hadn’t moved at all. I began to wonder if it really was a shadow in the corner when I saw a glint from its eyes.

I nearly let out a cry of anguish at this new development. However I’m pleased to say I just sat there. After what felt like an hour but was probably only a couple of minutes, I saw it move. At first I thought it was about to disappear into the far recesses of the corner, but I soon realized it was just changing its position slightly as one does when they have been sitting in a position for too long.

Although it was hard to make out, as I say it’s hard to focus out of the corners of your eyes, I saw both it eyes looking directly at me. I thought I could see it rub its fingers on its chin.

Then it happened.

‘Can you see me?’

The shape talked! Its voice sounded croaky, almost wizened if a voice can be described as such. Not a pleasant sound but not overtly threatening. Slightly rasping as if it was old and near to death.

I held my breath. It was at that moment the express train decided to roar past the window. As the window frames rattled I turned towards the window to see the train hurtle southwards. Too late I realised that I’d stopped looking at the shape. I turned quickly to where it had been sat. Too late it was gone. I went to examine where it had sat. Nothing was there, no trace that the creature had ever been there could be found.

I sat on my bed facing the wall as before, willing the shape to return and continue its conversation. As the night drifted on I must have fallen asleep because I woke with light streaming through the window.

I shook my head, had I imagined it all. Had it really been there, had it talked to me? As I got dressed I wondered if I was going slightly mad. Was I imagining the shapes, did they really exist? I was hoping that I would see it again the next night, but my parents arrived late in the morning to take me back to Sheffield. As I walked down the street towards the railway station, I glanced back up at the house. To this day I swear I saw the creature watching me go from the bedroom window.

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