Excerpt From the Novella ‘The Shadows.’

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Almost an entire month passed by. Usually, once I begin sleeping at night, I am down for six hours straight unless, of course, strange noises or occurrences jolt me awake. But one night, I was unable to settle into a deep sleep. It was the wrong time of the month and I was experiencing particularly nasty stomach cramps. Due to this, I kept tossing and turning on my side of the bed, feeling like I was only half asleep. I was debating whether I should get up to take a painkiller or not, when suddenly I heard my husband begin to mutter to himself. I assumed he was just talking in his sleep. Nonetheless, I turned on my side to look at him. I was still half asleep myself, but I observed something that looked like a figure made of smoke standing next to my husband’s side of the bed! It just stood there looking intently at Gaurav. I closed my eyes; I was sure my half-asleep brain was a playing trick on me. I thought when I opened my eyes again, I wouldn’t see it. I was wrong! I opened my eyes wide and there it stood: the shadow figure. I could see it in the dull glow that originated from the street lights outside and filtered through our window. It looked like it was made out of dark black smoke. But it wasn’t exactly “black.” Black was the closest colour description I could provide.

I felt the creature was composed of vengeance and discontent. I stared at it in disbelief. I could sense it was talking to my husband, but no sound came out of it. Gaurav was responding to it. He was muttering, “Yes…er… yes… um… I understand… I will…”

I didn’t know what to do! I was almost paralysed with fear. The shadow being suddenly turned to face me. It had no face, no eyes, but I could understand that it was glaring angrily at me now. I could tell it was surprised to find me awake. “Sleep,” it commanded. Not a sound escaped from it. It remained perfectly silent. Yet I had heard its wish loud and clear inside my head! “Sleep,” I felt its silent command sink into the depths of my soul. I valiantly tried to prevent my eyelids from closing; I wanted to show it that my will wasn’t subservient to its wish. However, my eyes closed on their own accord and I fell back onto my pillow. For a while, I could feel my mind fighting, struggling to remain conscious. I wondered if it spoke to my husband every night. I had always assumed that Gaurav brushed my reservations aside because he himself had never experienced anything paranormal. But perhaps, unknown to me, the shadows had been targeting him more directly. I found my mind being swallowed up by the darkness and I was sinking into a hypnotic trance. I knew I was supposed to think that I was asleep. But I knew I wasn’t. It was like something held my brain in a chokehold. I wouldn’t form coherent thoughts, I couldn’t dream… some power held my eyes shut. It wasn’t easy but I managed to struggle my way back to awareness and, with great effort, I forced my eyes to open. I turned to face my husband. The shadow-being was sitting on Gaurav’s chest now. I knew this thing was able to read my thoughts. 

I looked straight at it and thought, “I have dominion over my own mind, there is no place in here for you.” I had not uttered a word. But I knew it had heard me. 

It looked amused. I know this is strange. It had no facial features. No distinguishable eyes, no nose, no mouth. But still, I knew it looked amused. “You are being childish,” it said, once again without uttering a sound. But I heard it inside my head. It sounded like a chimney expelling polluted air, it sounded like a fish gasping, it sounded like stepping on rotten fruit. Again, no human words could actually exactly describe what it sounded like. I tried to move. But felt a huge weight pinning me to the bed. “Sleep,” it commanded.

No,” I thought. “My mind is my own. GET OUT.” I gathered all my strength and jumped out of bed. I grabbed my cell phone, aimed it at the bed and quickly snapped a few pictures of this thing. I ran to the door, opened it and bolted out of that apartment…

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