“Beep, beep, beep today is Monday, November 14th, 2001.” The alarm lifelessly spoke into Shadows ear. Shadow lazily arose, holding the sheets tightly to his chest. He peered out the window, the morning frost constricted the outside walls of the nearby houses. Like every other morning Shadow comes to the reoccurring realization that he is completely alone. This despairing, disconcerting feeling is not one Shadow enjoys waking up to. Nonetheless he pushes the thoughts out of his head, and tosses the sheets aside, and rises to a squatting position. After staring blankly at the wall for a few minutes he gains enough energy to walk into his bathroom and takes a shower.
Shadow then walks downstairs, after being refreshed by the seemingly endless bombardment of water. He pulls out his morning cereal, and begins to eat while reviewing his eventless weekend. Like every other day, the small chores he carries out between eating and his drive to work are impulsive. For he had carried the exact same routine for the past 5 ½ years. However unlike most, his favorite part of the day was not arriving home from work, but his journey to work. After checking his pockets for his daily supplies he shoves the keys in the car and backs up into the street.
Leaning to the left, he struggled to pull his iPod out of his right pocket. Trying to maintain the cars steady path, his hand jerked back, hitting his iPod on the car roof. The car shook erratically, his thighs tightened around the steering wheel. Shadow put his iPod into the cars dock, and took back control of the car. He pulled out of his development and turned onto the main road. The traffic was intense, a great disruption to a relatively peaceful morning. Shadow tried to explain to himself why he was caught in this cold metallic mess of cars and people. He cracked open his door, and braced himself for the wall of cold air. He swung open his door and stoop erect above all the cars.
Shadow saw that his usual route was blocked. There was only one opening that looked like it was going in the direction of Shadows work. He decided not to take the chance and take Emerson, with his body temperature dropping Shadow jumped back into his car and slammed the door as if he was in a hurry. Music blasted from his speakers, and he turned up the heat. He continued waiting for another seven minutes, looking at the clock at the beginning and end of each song. Finally, the road opened before him and without thinking twice drove through the congested intersection.
“Freedom,” he thought to himself. He leaned back in the seat with his head slightly pointed up and his eyes glaring down at the road beneath him. Shadow gradually turned his head to the right, the frost still strangling the green life surrounding the road. The asphalt absorbing all the cold of the morning air. Shadows car being the only warm life around them. It seemed as if the trees longed for the warmth, their spines ever so slightly bent in the direction of the road. Shadow approached a long hill that gradually rose to eventually meet the morning sun. He continued up it with persistence, the road was his.
No other cars occupied the stretch of road before him. The warm rays of the sun began to blow away the frigidity surrounding. The temperature seemed to rise higher and higher as he approached the peek of the hill. Shadows mind skipped, he was on the other side. As if he had lost 10 seconds of memory. The cold engulfed him once again, the sun was nowhere to be found. The music lowered, and the light dampened. An oncoming car approached, Shadows perception of its distance was uncertain. He had reached the bottom of the hill, and was now on a perfectly straight path. The car came closer, it was likely a quarter a mile away Shadow thought.
Both the cars speed began to fall. Shadow unaware of this change, continued starring directly at the front seat of the car. The lower half of his body shuttered from the cold. His eyes remained on the car, watching it attentively. The distance had now halved, Shadow began to make out the figures in the car. They were white. People of course, but a blank, deep, healthy white. The color of walls, not skin. He continued watching, completely ignoring any other obstacles that might have the potential to face him. The car was approaching even closer now, time still slowed, and Shadow had to slightly turn his head to the left to continue watching the car. The driver had his head turned facing the passengers seat, which Shadow could now see was not vacant.
The driver was a man, and the passenger a women. He couldn’t tell by any facial features, only by the shoulder length ivory hair she possessed. The man had a hair style very similar to his own, but blank white like his passenger. Shadow saw absolutely nothing out of the ordinary with the scene except for the abnormally colored people. Their cars were only a few yards apart now, each traveling at what felt to Shadow was 10 miles an hour. Shadows eyes were exactly focused on the driver, and the remainder of his vision was being indirectly absorbed into Shadows conscious. The fronts of the cars were now beside one another. It seemed as though the car was rolling by.
The driver head rested, turned towards the passenger. Shadow could see every detail of the others. The mans neck was untouched by powder or paint. It was so perfectly toned, it couldn’t have been anything that could spawn blemishes. The drivers windows were now perfectly alined, and the mans head began to turn. In an instant, the mans head was aimed directly at Shadow. The mans eyes quivered back and forth staring deep into each of Shadows eyes. First on Shadows left, then right, and left, millions of times with each second. Shadows forehead began to hurt, a broad pain spread about his body. He focused on one of the mans eyes, his iris as well as his pupil was purely white. Likely the most terrifying sight Shadow had ever seen. His knees began to tremble, the mans eye sockets were deeply indented into his skull. Creating a shadow below his eyebrows. A natural darkness law in the mans eyes, craving to be unbound.
Shadow twitched at the mans sight, his hair was jelled into single strand spikes. He wore no clothes but displayed no form of a chest. His entire midsection was flat, neither of the mans hand were placed on the steering wheel. Shadow could hear whispers coming from every direction, except where the man sat in front of him. The voices were to scattered to be interpreted. The mans bleached lips opened, but no sound came forth. All was silent, besides the voices surrounding. His lips moved again. Enough to say a few sentences thought Shadow. He could identify a pattern, the voices began to join together. Solemnly Repeating over and over again:
“They are part of you,
Guiding you through the dark.
They are the ones who allow you to wake,
And those who decided when you end.”
A frigid deathly air began to surround Shadow. His body began to shiver, his blood was cooling. He tightly held his limbs near his body. It was getting colder and colder. He hadn’t lost eye contact with the pale white man on the opposite side of the road. The left side of Shadows body, the side closest to the man began to tremble uncontrollably. His breaths quickened, the mussels in his neck tightened from the cold. He could feel the cold creeping up his spine, getting closer to his head which was the only part not yet infected. It felt as though a creature was inside of him.
Shadow constantly tried pulling himself away, it was now so cold time itself had frozen. The cars were perfectly aligned on the road, Shadow and the white man directly across from one another. A force beyond Shadow was controlling him, he tried to jerk his head away, but he did not budge. He was terrified, the voices continued, growing louder and louder. It was as if they were closing in on him. Cold tears filled Shadows eyes, for he could not blink. The mans rigid stare pierced his independence. Shadow was slowly losing control of himself. He gathered all he had left and bashed his head away from the man. He moved only slightly, but it was enough.
Shadows sight was now directed at the brush across the street. Small yellow eyes glared back at him. A low dark voice that came from beside Shadow said “Good.” Shadow felt as though he was dropped into the sun. He wasn’t able to acclimate to the temperature change that befell him, and his body became numb. His eyes clamped shut, and his head rested on the steering wheel. His tall lean body was cramped in the confines of his small car. The vehicle continued on straightened road, with Shadow resting inside. His eyes fluttered open, it felt as though he awoke from a long sleep, but he was not drowsy.
He sat up in the moving car one vertebrae at a time and extended his arms to clench the wheel. Shadow was unaware of what he should do, he remembered everything clearly. And worrying that he might forget he continued thinking about it. Trying to decipher what it all meant. After about 5 minutes of thinking, he pulled into a local coffee shop that he passed by every day to and from work, but had never gone in. He rotated himself towards the door and stuck out his legs. He shifted all his weight onto his legs and erected himself over his car, he collapsed. The back of his head banged into the car beside him, but he felt no pain.
He law on the oil soaked asphalt, praying that the car alarm wouldn’t go off. He sat up quickly, blood rushed down from his head delivering a dizzy feeling. Shadows deep brown eyes uneasily flopped back and forth, much like a boat in rough water. He brushed the back of his head with his hand, feeling around his lustrous brown hair for any kind of wound. Shadow felt as though he had been dropped from the sky, and this was his first experience of Earth. All of his senses were heightened, everything seemed louder, brighter, more real.
After a few minutes of waiting, Shadow rose. His eyes focused on the long wooden coffee shop sitting behind a nearly vacant parking lot. Shaking his head vigorously he got up onto his feet, and began walking to the front entrance. His shoes slightly slipped on the dank asphalt below. Once he reached to sidewalk, a heavy stench of cigarette smoke struck his already sensitive nose. Shadows head pounded as the nicotine spread through his body. He felt the sinuses above his eyes fall, the pressure in his skull was intense. The moisture in his mouth dried.
He opened the wide glass doors of the coffee shop. A cold, fresh wall struck him in the face. Shadows felt relieved, and smelled the strong stench of bleach. He continued walking over to the counter to find a young college aged girl who greeted him with a simple “Hi, I’m Cindy” with no expression. Cindy repetitively bounced a pen off of the counter, each sound wave striking Shadow with a small pain. With no response from Shadow, she began to lose interest and her eyes wondered off into the area behind him.
Shadow examined her closely, her gaunt figure was slightly bent to one side. Cindy chewed her gum as if she was superior to those around her. Shadow began to come out of his reverie. Realizing the awkwardness of the situation he ordered a black and white cookie. He was given an odd look by Cindy as she walked over to the refrigerated snacks and picked him the stoutest of the bunch. She walked back over to the counter, and recklessly tossed the cookie in front of Shadow. “$2.50,” Cindy said in between chews.
He reached his bony arm into his pocket, searching around for his wallet. Shadow pulled out a large leather wallet, hardly containing the hundreds of receipts within. He placed the cash on the table and without hesitation, headed for water dispenser. A frantic women barged into the shop, disturbing the peace that was once within. Ignoring the clatter of items the woman was carrying Shadow reached for a cup, and placed it under the faucet. The cold water flowed down, undisturbed on its predetermined path. Shadow couldn’t help but overhear the woman, she was explaining to Cindy what she had to do this morning. Shadow assumed that the woman knew Cindy, because of the level of detail she used in describing her story.
The noise level fell, and peace began to settle in. The woman stopped talking, and all was silent except for the running of water into Shadows cup. A soft feeling entered Shadow, his head began to unclench. He was uncertain of why he suddenly felt this way. After an unreasonably long time waiting, the cup was full. Shadow looked down to his wrist watch, if he didn’t leave now he would be over an hour late for work. He was consumed by the decision to take a personal day, or make up an excuse for being late. Completely unaware of his surroundings, the hand in which Shadow was carrying his water collided with that of the woman who had entered earlier. Her ice coffee surged towards Shadows chest, and in turn his water to hers. The shock of freezing liquid in the early morning caused a chilling pain up both there spines. The contents of both their hands fell to the floor, into the chilling puddle below.
“I’m terribly sorry!” Both of them said simultaneously. They both bent down to pick up what they had dropped. The liquid spread about the floor quickly over the checkered tile. Shadows attention was drawn from the floor to his parter, it was the first time he actually saw her. She was quite beautiful, her head bore shoulder light brown hair. With consoling brown eyes, very soft white teeth. Her skin was slightly freckled, but very clear and clean. She was only slightly shorter than Shadow, and had a very young, elegant impression.
After realizing this strange man had stopped cleaning the unkempt remains of their things. She looked up to find Shadow admiring her. She smiled and introduced herself politely, “Hi, I’m Emily.”
* * *
“Beep, beep, beep today is Monday, November 14th, 2021.” Shadow turned in his bed and reached over his arm to feel an empty void. His eyes rolled back into his head, the date had finally processed in his waking mind. “Clock, what’s the date?” He mumbled. “Today is Monday, November 14th, 2021 Mr. Robert.” Shadow could hear a faint cry coming from downstairs. “What?!?” He replied very loudly. “Come down now honey.” He could now make out what Emily had said. “Alright,” he replied giving showing no effort for the sound to reach Emily’s ear.
He swung his feet over to the side and placed them onto the wooden floor. The splintered strips of wood creaked against each other making a very unpleasant sound. Shadow decided not to take a shower that morning for reasons he wasn’t quite sure of. He looked to his wall, were it was once blank. It was now filled with several 10 year old drawings by his sons. He smiled as he dragged himself to the dresser in which he hid all of his own drawings. He avoided looking at the mirror above for he always looked awful in the mornings and did not want to become aware of his appearance when confronting his family.
He slowly opened the drawer (not sure how to spell). He pushed the many forgotten clothes out of the way until he reached his drawings. They were of that day, 20 years ago. The same Monday, every anniversary of that day nothing had happened. Shadow had thus lost interest, but still remembered everything that transpired that Monday morning. On the seventh year, Shadow believed to have dreamt about that day, he picked up the picture he drew the morning after he had that dream. After studying all of the pictures and reviewing all of his thoughts very carefully he explained the situation to Emily on the 10th year. It has not been mentioned since then.
Emily called him again, and he heard a conversation going on between his family, and he assumed it was about his absence. He hurried himself downstairs, and sat down in between his two 18 year old sons, Ethan and Alex. The table discussion was simple, school, current events, silence. The same routine that they so blindly followed for the past several years. Shadow decided like every day not to bring the subject up. Last time it was disastrous, the one subject alone sprouted a week long fight. It was the perfect stress reliever given that they forgave each other. They were both happy to have it behind them, and times were not as tough now.
Shadow as always was the first out of the house, and he took the usual route to work. As he approached the same hilly road he paid very close attention. He maintained a steady speed, and tried to recreate the exact events that happened 20 years ago best he could in his mind. He became anxious, he frantically looked about the edges of the forest for something, anything. Shadow deeply inhaled, he was now approaching the peak of the hill. The temperature remained the same, it did not get any warmer or colder.
He was now at the bottom of the hill, he was very frightened. It confused him why though, at the time of the incident it was certainly something Shadow did not want to experience again. He tried to decipher his emotions, but found it very difficult. He was now beyond the point of the encounter. He felt very disappointed. There was no music on, no sound besides the low grumble of his cars engine. “Just another day.” Shadow thought.
Shadow looked over his left shoulder to try to find anything he may have missed. The road continued straight and Shadow had no trouble controlling the car. He found nothing, the same terrain he had just passed by, nothing out of the ordinary. He returned his line of sight to the windshield. He let out a wretched scream, the white man was in the passenger seat of his car. Shadows eyes lay wide open, it was simply the most terrifying moment of his life. His scream carried on, the white man did not react at all. He stared directly into the horizon. The man looked exactly as he did 20 years ago, no different distinctions.
Shadow could feel the same cold he did before coming back. He quickly shut his eyes, and opened them. As quickly as he appeared the man was gone. Shadow stopped his long terrified scream, and was now hyperventilating. His head was spinning, he was confused, scared, exhilarated all at the same moment. Shadow did not dare pull over, he sped up to 86 MPH. He wanted to get as far away as possible.
He arrived at work 10 minutes later, still breathing very heavily. Shadow successfully hid his angst from his co-workers. He certainly did not wish for attention in this state. After reaching his cubicle, he lay his head down onto a pile of tousled papers. His day contained nothing besides the occasional bothering from another worker. He felt anger building in him, but he was not sure why.
It was 5:00, time to head home. Shadow rushed out into his car, and sped home completely avoiding the route he had taken that morning. He arrived at home, it was 6:15. He threw his keys onto the dinning room table. “Honey? Where have you been? Your always on time.” Emily asked from the kitchen. Shadow took off his jacket and hung it up beside the door with the others before responding. “Something came up, do you remember that story I told you?” Shadow asked in a very deep voice. He flipped off his shoes and put his bag down onto the dinning room table, then continued into the kitchen. Once Emily saw him she responded in a soft voice “Which one was it?” Shadow sat down on the opposite side of the kitchen table.
They both looked up as the ceiling light flickered a few times. She had a book in her hand, and after examining her husbands face she lowered it and became more attentive. “I saw the white man again.” Shadow said keeping eye contact. Her initial reaction was a lot less than Shadow anticipated. He imagined she was searching her memories of the last time they talked about his encounter. “He was sitting next to me, in the car, it scared the hell out of me.” Shadow was trying to fill the empty silence between them. He began to say something else but Emily cut him off.
“Damnet Shadow, we already talked about this, he’s some figment of your imagination.” Her tone grew tougher. “Look, he is as real as you and me. What we need to do is find an explanation for why he keeps reappearing.” Shadow was very worried about all of this, he wanted it resolved as soon as possible. “We? No, I want nothing to do with this. Your crazy, you are crazy. Like I told you last time we had this conversation, I don’t want my children being exposed to this kind of absurdity.” She stood up and began upstairs, tears filled Shadows eyes. There was nobody to go to, darkness had now filled the sky. Shadow grabbed his car keys and coat, and went outside into the car. Small droplets of rain exploded on the concrete path. He pulled back into the street, and just drove.
Without any care for where he went, Shadow drove. He felt his emotions take control of him, he sobbed. He had not shed a tear for years, out of pain or emotional hurt. After minutes of crying, alone in the dark, cold rain. With nothing to comfort him, he reached the hilly road. He continued down the road, not realizing where he was. His vision was blurred by his tears as well as the cold rain on the windshield. He saw the white man, standing in the cold on the opposite side of the road. Shadow didn’t care anymore. “Emily is right.” Shadow thought. Shadow stopped a few yards in front of the man on the opposite side of the street.
Without thinking Shadow flew his leather coat over his shoulder and stepped out into the rain. He whipped the tears from his eyes, and could see every detail of the bleach white man. The man had his arms crossed and his hands tucked underneath his arm pits, he was shivering in large motions. “What do you want?” Shadow screamed at the creature. “You’re not real! I know it, now leave me alone!” The man tilted his head, looking intrigued by Shadow, but not threatened. The mans eyes opened an abnormal amount, an evil red filled his iris. He stared at Shadow, as if he were stunned. He slowly lifted a shaky arm, and extended a bony finger that pointed behind Shadow.
Shadow kept his eyes on the man, whose finger was turning an inky black. The change of color oozed through his body starting from his finger, and continued to engulf his body. The black color spread about his body like splash of blood rolls down a wall. This transformation was a terrifying sight. Shadow remained still, and appeared to not care about the ghostly act happening before him.
The now completely ebony man opened his mouth and while keeping all else still, let out a scream identical in tone and pitch to the one Shadow made earlier that day. Shadow turned to face the direction he was pointing, darkness.
Note: If I had more time and a larger page limit I would include some more creepy stuff like have the two sons be on their way to the funeral of their dad, and see the white man on the road and then immediately end the story.
Word Count: 4,143
Page Count: 15