The Shadows

I haven't written anything in this style before, but I thought I'd give it a go! This was originally intended to be for a Halloween competition but I completely forgot about it and only actually finished writing it today!

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1. The Shadows

   You walk down the street with your head down against the bitter November wind. Cold air stings your eyes and the back of your throat, and your breath forms tiny clouds in front of your face. The night sky is starless, the moon obscured by cloud. The street is dark, occasional streetlights throwing pools of light onto the pavement, but you are oblivious to all of this. Your mind is elsewhere: all you can think of is the numbness in your fingertips, and how desperate you are to get home and warm up in front of a fire.

  A sudden noise, like a faint rattling, startles you, and you spin around, your heart suddenly pounding as you cast your eyes across the street behind you. You can see nothing in the patches of light or the shadows. The only movement is the stirring of tree branches in the wind. You pause for a moment longer, before carrying on, casting a wary glance over your shoulder as you go.

  You reach the turning for the shortcut to your house, and you hesitate. The little footpath is dark, but it will take you almost straight to your door in less than two minutes. The longer way is safer, and all your mother’s warnings about taking the footpath in the dark fill your head, but God, it’s cold, and getting home quickly is just too tempting.

  You start down the path and quicken your pace, determined now to get home as quickly as possible. The path is sheltered from the wind a little, and for a moment you feel relieved, convinced that you have made the right choice.

  Then you hear the rattling again.

  Your heart leaps into your throat and your chest tightens, but you force yourself to keep walking. I must be imagining it, I must be imagining it, you tell yourself, trying to slow your racing heartbeat. You hear the noise again, closer this time, and you turn around and pace slowly backwards. You can see nothing in the darkness, nothing but shadows, but the rattling noise is getting louder and louder and sounding more and more like rasping breath. You step back into the pale light of the only lamppost on the path, and the rattling instantly grows quieter again. You slow to a stop and wait. Your hands shake and you can’t tell whether it’s from the cold or from the fear turning your blood to ice in your veins.

  You stand and watch the shadows around you. For a moment you don’t notice anything unusual, but then you realise that the shadows are darkening, growing thicker and thicker until you are surrounded by a wall of darkness. Your breath is shaky and panic wells up in your chest, but in the back of your mind you know that the light is somehow protecting your from whatever it is that is swirling up in front of you. All you have to do is stay in the light. If you take a single step forward into the shadows, whatever it is that’s out there will get you and you don’t want to know what will happen if it does.

  Then the light flickers out and screams pierce the night air.

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