Don’t See the Shadowman

 

Many of you will have seen the shadow of a man in your room late at night. Tall, spindly limbed and of twisted proportions. The shadow man stares. He stares at you as you lie in bed, unmoving. Silent. That is until the flick of a light switch or the headlamp of a passing car reveals the shadow man as nothing more than a jacket thrown carelessly over a chair; a pile of laundry aside a standing lamp.

Does this mean that the shadow man never existed? For most of you that is exactly what it means. For an unfortunate few, the Shadowman did not go away when the light was cast.

I was one of those few.

You must never let the Shadowman know that you have seen him. Above all else- never, ever let the Shadowman touch you.

This is my story.

It was somewhere around 2am when I awoke for the first time that night; pulled from a restless sleep by something unknown. My bedroom was mostly cast in dark, but the slightest hint of moonlight leaking through blinds gave one corner of the room over to shadow. It took me a few moments to process all of this, bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived as I was. Blinking my vision into focus, I remember it was the desk that first caught my eye. Squat and square, the books upon it gave its shadow the appearance of some strange, humped animal.
Beside the desk loomed a man. He neither spoke nor moved, but in the dark and alone as I was, it was easy to imagine a hate filled glare in that motionless figure. I can recall that I swallowed a large lump in my throat. A shiver charged my spine, the electricity of it raising the small hairs of my arms. Outside, some small animal rushed the night giving the scene a soundtrack of high-pitched squeaks and rustling leaves.
I sat up. Fear had quickly burned away any sluggishness. The walls of my room closed in on me. Black. Threatening.
 
What the hell. I mouthed. Though out loud, or to myself I could not tell you. My phone lay beside me and I reached for it; turning on the flashlight and aiming it at the stranger in my room. Immediately he was gone, replaced by my desk chair and small rotating fan that had lined up at an awkward and coincidental angle. I laughed then, called myself an idiot and sought out sleep once more.
The second time I was woken, I swear it was somehow darker still. This time was more uncomfortable than the last, though at first I couldn’t say why. The shadows had moved and stretched, twisting into new and unusual shapes. The shadow man still stood, but he held no fear now that I knew the truth behind his deceit.
If I’d known the truth then, I would have been fearful. If I’d known the truth, I would have reached for my flashlight again, used it to dispel the Shadowman from my room. That one small gesture could have saved me.

I don’t remember falling asleep, but I do remember waking up the third time. I was annoyed, tired and growing more uneasy.

“What is wrong with me!” This time I did say the words out loud. I remember because my voice seemed unusually loud. It took me a few moments to realize that this was because all sound had been stripped from the world. No light wind or the noise of a passing car obstructed the silence. Not even the old pipes in my building creaked and groaned as they normally would.

Not quite wise enough to be scared at that moment, I rose to use the toilet and fetch a glass of water from the adjoining bathroom. Returning to my room, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something else was wrong or out of place. The bathroom’s light stretched a little way into my bedroom. Enough for me to make out the sleeping shape of my girlfriend. I smiled and, sold by the promise of warmth and comfort, turned out the light and stumbled blindly back to bed.

Pulling the duvet over me, I wrapped an arm over my partner and whispered softly that I loved her.

She didn’t reply.

For a brief moment I closed my eyes, tried to force sleep to come. But my thoughts kept drifting to the strangeness of the night. So I rolled over, tried to process everything that had happened.

A second later my eyes flared open.

Two nights ago, my girlfriend had gone to visit her aunt. She hadn’t returned. Scrambling, I tore black the duvet— there was nothing there. The bed was empty besides a few untidy cushions. I sat up, searched desperately for my phone and froze. The shadows in my room had mostly lost their shapes now, swallowing up the whole wall until it simply looked as if the room itself were painted black. The shadows had mostly gone.

Except one.

The shadow man remained. Somehow darker than everything else. For a long moment, all I could do was stare. It stared back. I was too terrified to look away. A voice told me not to, that if I looked away it would come for me. My chest vibrated with every breath I took. Sound still refused to enter the room, as if it too were afraid of the thing. My hands flexed and unflexed against the bedsheets. My nose twitched.

I sneezed.

I shouldn’t have.

When I opened my eyes an instant later it was gone. The faint outline of a small chair where once had been the Shadowman. Something impossibly black danced over the walls. Small and round, it crawled like an unnatural creature, forcing me to follow it with my eyes. Around and around. Darting from corner to corner. It jumped behind me. I tried to turn but my limbs became heavy. I could feel the black thing inside of me, warring with me for control of my body.

It won.

All I could move were my eyes. All I could do was watch as the Shadowman came for me. An arm like the crooked branch of a tree, splayed like a shadow but somehow moving free, reached for me. My foot burned where it touched. I wanted to jerk it away but I was powerless. A man without a face pushed its head into mine. I struggled. Trapped inside my own body it was as if my skin were an impossible barrier I couldn’t break. A caged spirit hammering against a prison of my own flesh.

The Shadowman disappeared. I couldn’t see him; couldn’t turn my head. Something hard and very real scraped against my bedsheets behind me. A weight pushed into the mattress. I fought harder, desperate to break free. Movement in my toe; slight and small. A last surge of energy rippled through me and I turned my head- saw something that may have been teeth and a mouth of never-ending dark. I screamed.

The figure disappeared.

Tearing at my sheets, my unsteady legs hit the floor, a trembling hand reached out for the room’s light. The bright yellow hurt my eyes as it blazed, but its blast evaporated the shadow. I collapsed against the side of my bed. In my chest my heart beat, rapid and strong it echoed in my ears. Tears built in my eyes, but outside the faint sound of bird song promised the safety of impending daylight.

It took me some time to overcome my fear enough to stand again. With the last of my strength and will, I dug out my laptop and began an internet search for a man made of shadow. What I discovered there I will not say.

I cannot.

It has been days since I last slept. I stay in my house now. Every light is always on. My room is filled with lamps, nightlights, LED torches. I’ve told my girlfriend not to come home. She must never come home. All I can do is sit and wait. Sometimes I laugh. It is not a sound I recognise, long and full of mania. But it has to be my laugh. Nobody else stays in this house.

Sometimes, when my mind cracks I’ll find myself rocking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, uttering words I don’t remember.  Over and over. Over and over. Over and over. Last night I recorded myself. I needed to hear the words.

Don’t see the Shadowman.

Don’t greet the Shadowman.

Don’t let him touch you.

Don’t let him know

It is the sleep deprivation, even as my mind is breaking, I know that it’s the sleep. But maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s the shadows. There are shadows in our dreams. You may not have considered it. Why would you? They are there though. And so is he.

Listen to my warning and listen well. When you awake and see the faint outline of a man in your room- you must ignore it. You must. Do not make my mistake. It could just be a chair, but it could be the Shadowman. If the Shadowman thinks you know of it, he will come for you.

If you choose to ignore this warning, then whatever you do make sure you follow the second: do not let the Shadowman touch you. On nights when your room feels still and the shadows take shape, keep all of your body hidden beneath your blanket. A stray toe, or a dangling hand is all the Shadowman needs.

You will know my warning as true when I stop posting. I cannot keep this up for much longer, even now my body fights against me; tries to pull me into the black depths of sleep.

Don’t see the Shadowman.