This story is by Angelique Perry and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
The Shadow Man
Ann arrived to work at the dialysis clinic early this morning. She didn’t feel like herself today. Eeriness settled around her. She noticed a shadowy figure standing outside the entrance to the building. Ann had experienced weird things a time or two through the years; the feel of a touch with no one around, or a hanging picture swinging without a breeze. Thinking, “It’s just my imagination.”
Ann entered the clinic and strolled to the workshop where the mixing tanks were located. She made the chemical mixture needed to clean the toxins from the patient’s blood, and then went to the clinic to power up the machines. As Ann continued, she saw the shadow out of the corner of her eye, standing next to the wall in one of the patient rooms. Startled, she stopped, her breath quickening as fear crawled up her spine.
Ann didn’t know what this shadow wanted from her. From her peripheral vision, she noticed the shadow stood about six feet tall, with a masculine shape. As she turned towards it, it lunged at her, going through her body. Ann suddenly began shaking from the coldness that went straight through to her bones.
“Who are you? What do you want from me?” she hollered, fear overtaking her.
Silence answered her. The shadow, gone. Maybe she just worked too much. “Yes” Ann thought. “My brain is tired from working so much overtime, causing me too hallucinate.”
As the day continued, Ann still shaken by her experience with the shadow man as she came to call it, tried to think of a sensible reason why she could see this apparition. Numerous thoughts came to mind; could it be the Angel of Death, an evil spirit, a sign, or something else entirely? She just didn’t know.
Ann went to lunch and sat with Lucy. They were talking about the day and some of the patients. Ann told Lucy about her experience with the shadow man this morning and asked her for her opinion. Lucy said leaning back in her chair, “I believe it could very well be a spirit you saw. When I was little, I had seen a spirit at the top of the stairs in the house we lived in. It was creepy at first, but we got used to it being around.”
Ann listened to Lucy’s story intently trying to learn from her friend’s experience. “Later, we discovered that it needed permission to leave our home. So we just told the spirit that their business there was finished and to follow the light to peace and happiness.” Lucy continued.
Ann thought about Lucy’s story. Maybe the shadow man wanted someone to release him. If that were true, she would be more than willing to help him be on his way.
Later that afternoon, Ann came from the back room. The shadow man appeared, sitting in a patient’s chair. Ann stumbled, dropping the tray of supplies she carried. Tears began to fill her eyes. There were too many patients and co-workers around for her to try and release him now. Everyone would think she had gone crazy and call the paddy wagon to come get her, escorting her to the house of the insane.
“Ann, are you okay?” Lucy asked her.
“No, no I’m not. The shadow man is sitting in Mr. Johnson’s chair.” Ann’s shoulders slumped, “Do you see it?” Ann whispered.
“No Ann, I don’t see anything.” Lucy responded, gently placing a hand on Ann’s shoulder.
“Damn Lucy, maybe I’m just losing my mind.” Ann said disappointed. “Can I go home for the rest of the day?” She didn’t know why no one else could see the shadow man. It began to mess with her mentally and she felt she just needed some rest.
“Sure, get some rest and we will see you tomorrow.” Lucy said understanding how Ann felt.
Ann entered her home, her puppy greeting her with excitement. Ann gave the pup a pat on the head, said hello then went to sit on the couch, turning on the television. An icy coldness settled around Ann as the puppy began to act oddly, spinning in circles then standing and barking, then turning and growling. Ann looked to where the puppy stared; the shadow man had appeared again, this time in her home.
Ann jumped off the couch, backing into the wall, fear slowly creeping up her spine. “What do you want from me?” she asked. Slowly the dark figure glided towards her, stopping at the edge of the couch.
“You can see and hear me Ann.” The words whispered to Ann’s ears. “I need your help.”
“Help?” Ann replied confused, “Help you do what?”
The shadow man glided closer towards her stopping just out of arms reach. “Who are you?” Ann asked, voice trembling.
“My name is Mike Smith.” The shadow replied. “I think I may have died in the clinic. I see a light, it calls to me. I am unable to reach it. Can you help me reach it?” has asked in a whisper.
Realization hit Ann like a slap in the face as relief flooded her. This spirit was asking permission to go to the light. As Ann’s fear dissipated, she moved away from the wall, standing with confidence, she said to the shadow, “Mike Smith, your business here is finished. I release you from this world. Follow the light and be at peace. With that, the shadowy figure began to diminish into thin air and slowly disappeared.
Ann returned to work the next day with a lightened heart and a smile on her face. She even had a new outlook on life itself. She relished in knowing she helped Mike find his way to the light. Would another spirit ask her for help to find the light? Who knows, only time would tell. But she would be willing to do whatever she could to help them find peace.