I sprint around the corner into the alleyway, my feet skidding on the wet tarmac as I almost lose my balance. Everywhere is pitch black. I shoot a glance behind me. They’re coming. I can see the eyes glistening menacingly, punching holes through the night. I need to get inside, somewhere well-lit – they thrive in this darkness. The shadow men. Supernatural beings with no physical form, confined to the dark corners and shadows. They’re pitch-black, making them faintly visible against the gloom my eyes are adjusting to. I turn back to face the direction I’m running and suddenly all the breath is knocked from my lungs as I clatter violently into a chain link fence. I fall back hard onto my hands, grazing the skin from my palms. I can feel the blood running down my wrists as I blindly cling to the fence and haul my way up. I jump over the top, landing with a thud on the other side. I stop to grasp my breath, thinking I’d bought myself some time. Then I remember; they’re not constrained by physical obstacles. I see them slowly coming after me, getting closer and closer, knowing it’s only a matter of time before they feed. I feel a tightness come around my throat and an unnatural breeze on the back of my neck which makes my hairs stand on end. I fight the thoughts in my mind telling me to submit and tear myself from their deadly embrace.
How did I get here? How did I find myself running for my life? It had all started so innocently, a small article in the corner of a page in the middle of the newspaper. ‘Attack of the Shadows’ it read. I’d laughed, reading a ridiculous story about reported sightings of ‘killer shadows with red eyes’, and people going missing only to have their remains found a few days later, as piles of bones. I’d thrown the paper aside with a grin on my face, admiring the lengths to which journalists were going to create news stories these days. That evening, the last of the sunlight casting long shadows across the street, I caught a glimpse of two red eyes glaring at me from a shadowy corner. I dismissed them as a trick of the light; I’ve never been one to believe in ghosts. When I got home, I’d forgotten my key. I called my friend and he said I could come over to his, and I thanked him and started on my way. By this point the sun had gone down; the shadows now covered the streets. It was at times like this, I remember thinking, I wish I lived on a main road. The ones with streetlights. I, however, would have to navigate the ten minute walk in the dark. I noticed that it was unusually quiet; there was not a single person in sight, which was strange for this time of day. I pushed the feelings of doubt to the back of my mind. It had started to rain; as if this evening hadn’t gone badly enough already. I had barely walked a few metres when I suddenly felt incredibly uneasy; like I was being watched. I kept my head down and kept walking, but the feeling didn’t go. The rain was soaking through my jumper, chilling me to the bone. I looked up, and became paralysed with an indescribable fear. Several crimson lights flashed at me in the distance, moving towards me at alarming speed. This can’t be real, I told myself. It was a stupid story. Yet they continued to come for me. As the realisation dawned, I saw only one option. I ran.
Bursting from the other end of the alleyway, I dart my eyes looking for somewhere to run. I can’t see; my eyes are adjusting to the dark but too slowly. I take out my phone to turn on the torch but the battery’s dead. I look left but see only silhouettes and red eyes floating in the black of night. Going back isn’t an option. I see a light glimmering in the distance, to my right. It’s small but it looks like a lamp. The rain is torrential now and hammering into my eyes, blurring my already limited vision. I run towards the faded light. As I get closer, I see I’ve been deceived. It’s the shadow men. The red glow of their eyes illuminating the darkness. I’ve been lured straight into their path. I can hear my breath, hurried and nervous, my heart beating out of my chest. I’m sure I’d be sweating but I can’t tell for the rain. I turn to run but before I can react, they’re on me. Swirls of shadow, flashes of their red eyes. Their attack is savage, like thousands of razor-sharp teeth and claws, ripping all the flesh from my body, reducing me to an unidentifiable pile of bones. I watch from outside myself as my body becomes nothing, the shadows embracing me; my soul slowly being corrupted by the darkness. I’m one of them now. My mind is filled with more and more of their malicious thorns, tearing into every positive lobe in my brain. The memories of love, happiness and kindness are destroyed, replaced with dark, twisted thoughts and an irresistible urge to slaughter all life.