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The Shadows are Coming for You

by Lily Peavey

I am nothing but a watcher. I only see, never speak, never act. I stalk the darkened alleyways, searching for everything and nothing. My eyes see the secrets the people do not know, my ears hear the screams that they do not want to.

My night begins in the way most do. I prowl the abandoned streets lightly, leaping from trash cans to the sidewalk and dashing across the road. The lights remain bright in the small houses that they dwell in, while individuals inside continue tending to their offspring or animals they own. I am proud of my freedom that they wish to have.

They could not take it away from me. I am faster and leaner and sleeker than them. But above all, I know the darkness. I know the shadows. I see them, for the nighttime is my home that they cower away from. They are too afraid of the darkness to witness what happens inside it. The darkness that their own minds fabricate.

It is funny, in a sense, that with all their inventions, all their power, they cannot overcome their terror of the dark. The young ones leap into their beds, burying themselves under the covers, clinging to the blankets; too afraid to walk down the darkened hallway to get water in the middle of the night. Before their slumber, they close their door tightly, reassuring themselves that nothing can get in. They check behind the shower curtains, look under their beds, and peek behind closet doors, always paranoid that a monster is lurking for them.

It’s peculiar, their hypocrisy of fearing what lies in the darkness, yet celebrating the exact fright on one night. The night when it is them who prowl the streets, not me. The ones who hunt for horror, hunt for fright, and feel incredibly alive through the darkness in itself. On that one night, I hide in the treetops that provide meager protection; hidden from the screaming, crying young ones who should not have ventured into the darkness. The ones who truly fear it the most.

They have always, since the beginning of their species, feared the dark. All who come from the dark, like me, are outcasts. Even living within the dark, the monsters can see you. They wait until they can grab you, their vengeance unsatisfied with just one kill. But there are others. The ones who are watchers, not hunters. However, it is important to be aware that watchers aren’t better than the monsters, as we are all still products of the dark.

We watchers have seen anger at its worst. I was there when the people pulled pumpkins from the ground trying to harvest them, only to be greeted by rot. I was there when the monster grew tired, finally giving up, and bared its hideous teeth for all the world to see. I was there because that is the day that someone saw me, that they birthed the myth of my so-called evil to which they call a curse. To escape, I vanished into the night, knowing that their fear would be the death of me. So now I wait, hidden in the shadows, tucked away from their terror of my legend.

So now I must only watch as the young ones are taken. It only happens that one night, during the unknown witching hour. When the monster’s starvation has finally reached its peak after a year of hunger, it can restrain itself no longer.

Despite the young ones' fears that the monster will come for them unless the doors are locked tightly and the closets are firmly shut, the monster will come. It hides in the shadows under the bed, writhing and smelling its prey, waiting for its new meal to ease its hunger until the next year.

I have seen the monster every year and have seen what it does. The scenes do not affect me anymore. After hundreds of years, I’d like to believe there is nothing that will scare me. But they scare their victims.

They are tall and thin, with a wide, smiling mouth. It will never stop smiling - it cannot. Its teeth are always showing. Rotted, yellow-brown teeth, each one sharpened to a lethal point. Each one, stained with blood. Sometimes it is dried, but when I see the monster, it is always dripping, its face smeared with blood. Its arms are thin as twigs, but always drag along the ground. Its nails, with blood underneath them, make a hideous and terrible sound as they drag along the floor, no matter if it is carpet or wood.

The monster’s eyes are horrible. They are pupil-less, they are pure globes of white. If you ever see them, there is no longer hope. You are already dead.

I do not know who it will come for this year. If it will come for a baby, wailing in its crib. If the monster will come for an older one who is just on the cusp of escaping this curse, because the monster only takes the young ones. Or if it will come for someone in between, as it often does.

But I will watch. No matter where the monster slinks out of the shadows and into the glaring light of the moon, no matter how old its victim is, I will be there. I will watch as the child screams and shouts.

Because it is all I can do, all I will ever do. But you are vulnerable. This curse will never end. But, as I have said, I do not know who the monster will come for. It could be anyone. It could be someone who you have never heard of. Or it could be a brother, a sister, a sibling. A partner, perhaps. A best friend, a classmate, someone you despise. But there is still a chance - a small, one-in-a-million chance that maybe, just maybe, it will be you who disappears that night.


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