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PAST STORIES : 2002

Fear of Shadows

October 4th 1862, 2:30AM

Jonathan Kingsbury drew back from the small window and pulled the shades tight against the darkness outside, at the same time squeezing his eyes shut tight and shaking his head slightly, trying to clear his mind. "Must have been a trick of the light," he said to himself. Moving away from the window he sat down in the rocking chair near the fireplace and turned the knob on the kerosene lamp a quarter turn to the right in an effort to brighten the dimly lit room. It was far past the witching hour and the rest of the household was fast asleep. 

Taking comfort in banishing some of the shadows to the farthest dark corners of the room, he took out a small flask and unscrewed the top. As he tipped the flask up and felt the fiery whiskey begin its slow burn down his throat he felt a cool breeze brush past his cheek. Getting up and moving over to the fireplace He bent down to pick up another log to throw on the fire. "Damn wood basket's almost empty again", he said to himself. He wished it to be full, though he had no intention of going outside to fetch any more tonight. He'd have his son do it first thing in the morning. "It'll be a cold hard winter this year," he muttered to no one in particular. He could see it in the way that the leaves on the trees had turned and fallen so soon this year. And anyhow the Farmers Almanac said it would be a harsh winter, and they were almost never wrong. There was already a look of snow to the moonlit clouds. 

Almost lost in his musings his heart skipped a beat when on the wall he saw a distinct shadow. One that towered above his own dim silhouette cast by the glow of the lantern. Whatever he thought he had seen outside moments earlier was now standing directly behind him. He slowly stood up; at the same timefeeling every hair on the back of his neck stand on end. He willed his feet to move trying to turn around and face the intruder but it was as if his feet had been nailed to the floor. 

"Whho's tthere?" he tried to say in an authoritative voice but it only came out a little croak. Jonathan Kingsbury glanced wildly about the room in front of him looking for something to use as a weapon against the dark intruder. As if sensing his thoughts the thing spun him around on his heels and he came face to face with........what? A shadow? No, it couldn't be, though he could almost see through its..........blackness. It had no face but there were distinct skeletal arms/ hands/claws holding him in place, touching him lightly, yet seemingly piercing his goosebumped flesh. Then a terrible disembodied voice spoke. "I've been waiting for you, but you've known that for some time now haven't you?  We have much business to discuss you and I........... "  Then... a sensation of falling. Falling down a black shaft, whistling quickly and quietly through the cold air as if he might never stop............................