The Shadow Walker
Long ago. We lived without fear. Walked where we wanted, talked as we wanted. We did not know what was brewing in the darkest corners of our world. When he awoke, we were none the wiser. Then. People started to disappear.
Silently, without a scream or the frantic sounds of a struggle. From parties and other crowded places. Where it is easy to lose sight of your friends. He took everything, and we didn’t even know that he was hunting us down.
One. By. One.
Here I leave everything that I know for the future generations. If by some miracle humanity prevails. In these pages, you will find my knowledge and everything that I have heard whispered in alleys about him.
We call him the Shadow Walker and none know what exactly he is. Yet there is no doubt. That there is something twisted about him. Something dark and wrong. As though he were not meant to walk on this earth.
I have never managed to catch a glimpse of his physical form. Usually when you believe him to be near, you run. Every man for himself. You don’t turn around to see your friends dying. You couldn’t live with surviving if you did.
I have been told that he is black, the perfect colour for blending into the night. His skin the consistency of fog. He appears to shift and move in the air above you. He does not have a face, and he makes no sound.
The only warning you have of his impending arrival. Is the faint crackle of his cells as he glides through walls and even entire buildings. He doesn’t enjoy light. There is a rumour that enough exposure to it may be the end of him.
Don’t take me for any kind of expert. I’m just a simple farmer. John Metal is the name my father gave to me. The men in town I call my friends have always joked that I should have been a blacksmith with a name such as mine.
The truth is though that I always felt safer in my home. Far from the others. Why would the Shadow Walker ever come here? Especially because my wife and I leave all the lights on at night. Should the rumours about his light sensitivity be true. Those lights could have saved our lives.
You are reading the words written by a man who is very much alive. Dead only on the inside. I was a fool. Tomato plants and a few lights were never going to keep him away. Everyone has lost someone to the Shadow Walker. I thought I was different. Fool.
My wife’s name was Clara. I can’t say that you would have loved her as much as I did but there was barely a soul who despised her. Her eyes had a way of catching the moonlight and becoming a deep forest green at night.
Her and I married young. People used to joke that we looked alike. We both shared accursed red curls and fair skin. She was much more beautiful than I am though. Even before the gray strands crept their way into my hair and the wrinkles set into my skin.
I am only a farmer, and I could not give her many of the material possessions that a man owes a wife as kind as Clara. How I wish now that I had found a way to bring out her shining smile more often. If I had worked harder, she could have had those lace dresses she was always looking at in town.
I know the other women scorned her for her tattered brown work pants and stained cotton shirts. Practical clothing for a woman on a farm, but in town. It was laughable. I saw the red colour in Clara’s cheeks as she heard them whispering.
She was strong, and perhaps it makes me less of a man when I say this, but I believe she was stronger than me in many ways. When the Shadow Walker came, I saw her strength with my own two eyes.
She protected our daughter Fae until the very end of her life. Fae was only three summers old. She had her mother’s smile, and my unsteady gait. I remember silently apologizing for passing that to her when she first began to walk.
I remember that night, how all the lights in the house went out. The world around our home grew silent. As though even the tiny insects were afraid of what was coming.
We didn’t realize, still certain that a few lights would keep us safe from him. Clara was washing up from dinner and I was tucking little Fae into bed.
“Da, Da, Da!” she’d only just started saying my name. Clara and I had a bet that Fae would say ‘Mother’ before she said ‘Father’. The penalty for losing was cleaning out the horse stables at dawn. I was looking forward to my sleep in.
It was a night that began like many others did. The curse of that being that I can’t recall many specific details about the night that the Shadow Walker came. I can’t remember if I told Fae that I loved her. Or if I kissed Clara goodnight.
I remember running one hand through Fae’s soft bronze curls and closing our bedroom door. I know I would have double checked that the lights were on and all of them working. Washed my face, and gone to bed.
Of the moments before his arrival. I remember only this. It was the silence that woke me. Out of all things, it was the lack of noise that jolted me out of a peaceful slumber.
I opened my eyes, and I saw nothing. The lights that we always kept lit had gone out. The house was covered in a blanket of darkness so thick it seemed as if my very breath was disappearing into its depths.
I think I knew even then, but I refused to believe that he would come for us. I should have taken those precious moments to wake Clara and grab Fae from her room. We should have started running while we had the chance.
As hard as it would have been to stumble through the tomato fields in the dark. As hopeless as it would have been, maybe they would have survived with me. If only we had run.
I heard the soft hiss of… Something. Almost like a serpent but much louder than any snake I have encountered. My blood froze in my veins, because my half-asleep mind had finally come to realize what I should have known the moment I woke.
He was here.
I held my breath and reached one arm across the bed. I shook Clara awake and heard her gasp in the blackness beside me. I put my outstretched hand over her mouth to stifle any sound she might make. Hoping that he was simply passing through our home.
If only that had been the case. A fool’s wish is all that thought turned out to be. Wasted time. Something the mind doesn’t think about in the moment.
There was that silence for another tense minute as we lay there like statues. Paralysed with fear and a growing sense of doom.
Then we heard it.
The high-pitched scream from Fae’s room. It was a scream of pure terror, the kind a child should not know. It awoke something in Clara, some deep instinct that told her to protect her child. Whatever the cost.
I grabbed her arm as she went to run for Fae, trying to hold her back because I knew that she would die if she went in there. My hand around her arm was nothing compared to Clara’s love for Fae.
She ripped her arm from my grasp with strength born from pure desperation. I didn’t follow her, I became a coward. I stayed there and listened as my wife’s running footsteps halted and Fae continued to scream, it was blood curdling in intensity.
I never thought that I would know what someone’s body hitting the floor sounds like but I do. I know it intimately. Of all the things from that night that I recall. It is the most clear.
I didn’t see her body hit the floor, but I heard it and had to hold back my own scream. In the heartbeat that followed my little Fae’s screams cut out.
My family was gone, and I was the only one who remained alive.
Alive, but nowhere near safe. A mouse in a cement den with a hungry cat made of fog and darkness and something so evil that it does not even have a name.
I’m ashamed to admit that I did not, could not, fight against him. I didn’t even attempt to retrieve the bodies of my beautiful wife and my precious little girl. I leapt out of bed as soon as my muscles remembered what they were for.
I jumped out of our bedroom window. No shoes and shirtless, and I ran. He didn’t chase me. It isn’t that I somehow escaped death. It is that death did not seek me in the first place.
I know I am lucky, most who have the Shadow Walker enter their homes never survive to write about it. Yet, I feel anything but lucky. Even after he took everything from me I have no clue how to put an end to him.
I don’t know what he is, I don’t know how he kills.
I want revenge for what happened to my family but it is the wish of an old and withered coward. The hands who write this are wrinkled with age. It has been many years since I lost Clara and Fae. I am not young enough to seek after answers now.
Perhaps light is the key, but it would be a man with a death wish who would try and find out. For what if the rumours are wrong?
Can you imagine?
Standing there, flanked in darkness, with a single flickering flame on a stick. Your hands shaking so much that you can barely hold it in front of you. Your legs about to give way underneath you.
Him floating before you. Dark and angry and everything that nightmares are made of. You, a single light the only hope that you have.
He would come towards you, slowly, almost hypnotically. For a moment you would believe that it was going to work.
Hope is not to be taken seriously. Hope is for something that you know in your heart won’t really happen. Hope is just wishful thinking. So while you hope that the light will keep him away, you know in your heart that standing before him is Suicide.
He stretches out one hand, that is like a brief wisp of smoke, barely there and almost impossible to see before it is gone. You feel the breath from the mouth that he doesn’t have on your face. It smells like ashes from the hot volcanos to the South.
You are gone. There is no more you. That is what happens when you come to meet the Shadow Walker. At least as far as the stories go. None who get close enough to give an accurate description have ever returned.
I believe, and these are simply the ramblings of an old coward who wishes to release the burden of a lifetime of survivors guilt. I believe that there must be a way to stop him.
Yet, we cannot ever hope to conquer him if we scurry around like frightened mice. Whispering about him only when we dare. We have to find out what he is and where he came from.
I know this may sound like something that is too frightening to comprehend. A quest that only a fool would undertake, but I think if anyone ever finds these notes. That this is truly the only way.
Long ago on a night when liquor had given courage to us fear-stricken men. I heard that there was someone who escaped the Shadow Walker only to die not long after. In his friend’s arms.
The dying man was ghostly pale and speckled in sweat, but he told his friend something that at the time I thought was nothing, but now believe may be everything.
“They did this” he whispered as he gripped the hand of his friend with a grip that left bruises that lasted for weeks after he was gone. He was delirious for no one dies completely in touch with themselves.
The blood clogged his insides and he never did tell his friend who he was talking about, but I think I am the only one who wonders at what he would have said.
We cannot scurry like frightened mice forever, and we can’t leave our children to inherit this… This darkness.
I am far too old to venture out in search of whoever or whatever is responsible for the Shadow Walker, but someone with the strength and the bravery to face the greatest of dangers could do it.
No, not could. Must. Someone has to put a stop to him, find his origins and hopefully a way to kill him. If he can be killed.
You see many people wonder what death looks like but not everyone. People who have survived an attack by the Shadow Walker don’t need to wonder.
We already know.
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