Shadow Dance

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For Now I See

My heart was still pounding in my chest when the sirens and strobing red and blue lights of three patrol cars pulled up to the gate. The police moved with efficiency to conduct a thorough but unsuccessful search of the building and the grounds. They brought in professional trackers with dogs to scour the area. I overheard one of the men tell the officers that the dogs weren’t finding any trace outside the building.

Everyone was questioned for what felt like hours. Unlike TV shows and movies it was boring with no revelatory discoveries or confessions. The sun burned high in the sky before they released me to go home with the obligatory warning to keep myself available for future questions.

I kept my mouth shut about what I’d seen. Who’d believe me? There was no evidence it even happened. Not a trace of the blood that should have smeared the parking lot from Carter dragging himself toward help he had no hope of reaching or pooled where the Dancer took him down. Could I have dreamed it all? I was exhausted after all and with that story fresh in my mind.... By the time I got home I’d convinced myself I had.

That was more than a month ago. Carter is one of the top ten most wanted since his “escape.” I know he’ll never be found. Neither will Jensen. My former colleague had no next of kin so I wasn’t surprised to learn that my bosses pulled strings and dropped names to get into his house and commandeer all his notes and the materials he’d gathered for his book on Digger Drew, including a box from the murder investigation newly delivered by a court clerk. They asked me to finish his manuscript and I agreed. Not for the chance at fame and fortune. If it was ever published there was no way I wanted my name to be on it. I did it to get my hands on everything Jensen had on Carter, to learn as much as possible about what he and his family knew about the creatures they called Dancers. Hopefully I’ll find clues in that mass of papers and tapes that I can use to contact some of his distant relatives. Or enough information to allow me to piece together my own rules of survival.

Because the thing I saw that night at the asylum wasn’t a sleep deprivation hallucination. The Dancers are real and out there. I look up to a shape darting across a road, a twitch in the dark before the lights go on, a skittering in my peripheral vision. Only one or two at first, with enough time between sightings to make me almost think I might have imagined it. Not a gathering or Shadow Dance like Carter described on that recording, but it’s only a matter of time.

And I am afraid, absolutely terrified, that one day, one of them will look back.

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