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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2296829
Does something really lurk in the shadows?
Raindrops tapped at the small, high-set window. The girl in the strangely dark corner of the classroom⁠—Melaina⁠—craned her neck skyward until see could see the gray billows that birthed them. She sat in an oddly dark corner of the classroom, craning her neck to see outside. As the teacher droned on, Melaina found her gaze drifting repeatedly back to the clouds, which seemed to grow darker by the hour. Other students raised their hands, answered questions. They joked and chatted, whispering about after-school trysts.

But not Melaina. Never Melaina.

Her eyes, like two pale moons in her gaunt face, darted from one face to another, watching their animated expressions as they dissected Macbeth and integrated cosines. Her desk was her fortress, her barrier against the world. She was surrounded by people, yet isolated by her own silence. Her classmates were quick to raise their hands, eager to share their thoughts and receive the spotlight. They thrived on chatter and attention, fueled by the vibrant synergy of their interactions. Melaina, however, preferred the murky peace of being unseen.

The sounds of her classmates were distant, almost foreign in a way. It was as if Melaina were on the outside of a pane of glass, watching from outside not unlike the clouds and the probing taps of their droplets of rain. She was a specter taking in the vibrant spectacle of the living world.

As the bell rang, echoing eerily in her ears, she remained seated while her classmates bustled around her, a silent island in a swirling sea of chatter and activity. The isolation she had so carefully cultivated was both comfortable and lonely. For the first time, it actually felt a bit… ominous. She quickly brushed away the feeling, however, and rose from her desk, eager for the one after-school activity she participated in.


The high school auditorium was filled with a buzzing symphony of laughter, chatter, and piano chords. Providing the beat were the shuffles and thumps of feet on stage, learning new dance choreography. Props rolled and clunked, and costumes rustled, the sporadic lines of butchered dialog echoed off the walls. All of it merged into a muffled hum to Melaina.She barely noticed it.

Hidden behind the towering wooden frames, Melaina focused on her painting. She was crafting an eerie forest scene, the dark twisted trees and streaming moonlight creating a haunting backdrop for the play. Painting offered her a sense of tranquility, a welcome respite from the overly colorful world that lived beyond her canvas.

Her paintbrush swirled and twirled, forming shadowy figures and gloomy landscapes on the plywood. Every stroke seemed to deepen the shadows, making them thrum with a life of their own, their silence whispering sinister tales into her focused mind.

Just as in the classroom, in the theater, her existence went almost completely unnoticed. As she rose to inspect her handiwork, the spotlight overhead bathed her in a harsh, artificial glow, casting a giant shadow on the painted backdrop.

She paused, her gaze locked onto the monstrous silhouette. It was her, though a grotesque version of her, its form enlarged and distorted in silent mockery of her petite frame. The quiet buzz of the spotlight high above seemed to grow louder in her ears, its harsh glare making her shadow dance and flicker unnervingly.

A shiver coursed down her spine, the hair on the back of her neck standing on end. It's just a shadow, she reassured herself with a hesitant swallow. Growing unease crept into the edges of her consciousness, but she shook it off.


Melaina's house was silent and still when she arrived home, its tranquility a stark contrast to the echo of the bustling school environment that still rang in her ears. The empty house was dark, save for the lone lamp that she had turned on. It spilled a soft glow across the walls. Her mother was at work, as usual, leaving the house as cool and quiet as a crypt.

Walking into her room, she flicked on the lightswitch, greeted by familiar shadows that danced on the walls. Her room, a shrine to her perpetual solitude, was filled with worn-out books and half-completed paintings. The room was her haven, a sanctuary from the world, but tonight, like everything else had today, it felt different. A sense of discomfort loomed, as if her sacred space had been invaded by some unseen entity.

Drawn to her reflection in the old, slightly tarnished mirror, she studied herself. The tired girl staring back was still her, but a hollower version. Her usually bright eyes were dull and shadowed. She looked pale and gaunt, even compared to normal.

She was about to turn away from the mirror when she noticed it in her peripheral vision⁠—a sudden jerk of her shadow on the wall. She hadn’t moved, but it had. She froze, her heart pounding in her chest. Her eyes widened, and she stared at the mirror, but the shadow remained perfectly still, obediently mimicking her stance as usual. She blinked hard, trying to shake off the surreal sight she had just witnessed.

It must have been a trick of the light, she rationalized. Shadows don't move on their own. She repeated the mantra, hoping to convince herself as her gaze found her reflection once again. Yet, the mirror betrayed the terror she felt.

Her gaze flitted back to the shadow. It seemed different somehow. A shudder ran through her as she realized that it appeared darker, more solid, its edges defined with a precision that felt unnatural.

This was not the first time her shadow had unnerved her. Every other time, it had proven to be nothing, and she tried to calm her thudding heart. This time would be no different. But the echo of her heartbeat filled the silence in the room, every thump resonating with her rising panic. Her mind was a whirl of conflicting thoughts of denial and acceptance.

Determined not to succumb to her fears, she forced herself to look away, but her eyes kept drifting back to her shadow, her silent twin. In the dimly lit solitude of her room, her shadow began to take on a sinister quality, a chilling specter that wouldn't be ignored. She barely slept that night.


After that night, another week slipped by in a blur of mundane normality. The dread that clawed at Melaina's heart remained a constant companion, the seed of fear sown in her mind now taking root. Her sleep was plagued with nightmares, her dreams a theater for her darkest fears.

As evening descended, she sat in her room, the only illumination coming from the soft glow of the table lamp. Shadows draped themselves across the corners of the room like a quiet audience waiting for something to unfold.

Melaina sat on her bed, her focus riveted on her bedroom wall where her own shadow was cast. As silly as it was, she couldn’t shake the feeling that the simple silhouette, a supposed echo of her existence, now seemed to hold a sinister life of its own.

The night was still, the only sound the soft whir of the electric fan in the corner, when it happened. Right before her eyes, her shadow twitched, its movement sharp, contrary to her own stillness.

Eyes wide, Melaina’s breath hitched as she stared at her shadow, its form again still. But this time she knew she had seen it. It was a predator pausing in its hunt.

This isn’t possible, she thought, her rational mind struggling to take control. Shadows don't move on their own. But her heart screamed the truth her mind didn't want to acknowledge. She was witnessing something unnatural, a phenomenon that defied all logic.

She turned slowly, her gaze locked onto her shadow, its slow movement in stark contrast to her inner turmoil. The shadow, a mirror image of her, was even more substantial than before, more real. The sense of dread, the sinking feeling of terror returned tenfold, her worst fears unfolding in front of her eyes. Was her shadow gaining physical form?

Then, the moment passed. Her shadow was vague again, blurred at the edges. Incorporeal. What had happened in that moment? She slipped into bed, pulling the covers to her chin as she kept watch on her silent follower. Nothing more happened, but as the night grew deeper, so did her fear, wrapping its icy fingers around her, leaving her shivering in silent terror for another sleepless night.


Tonight, there was no theater rehearsal. The school auditorium echoed with a deafening emptiness, its vastness intensified by the lack of its usual lively activity. The single spotlight overhead painted a haunting circle of illumination on the stage where Melaina stood. Paintbrush in hand, she eyed the dark shape in the center.

Her heart pounded. Her work had always been a solace, a refuge from her reality. Now, however, it felt like a dreaded chore. Her gaze lingered on the towering backdrop she was painting, the creepy forest scene only adding to the escalating dread in her heart.

Her shadow, once a faithful companion, stretched menacingly on the painted background, its size again dwarfing her own petite frame. It swayed ominously, mirroring her movements yet something didn’t seem quite right. It just didn’t seem in perfect sync with her movement as it should. Like it was… pretending to be it’s normal self. It was an intimidating sight - her spectral counterpart looming over her, unhitched, like a stringless marionette.

Then, without warning, it moved. Her shadow jolted to the side as she remained stationary. The cold terror that had been building up inside Melaina exploded into pure, raw fear. It was real. It was happening. And she didn’t know what it meant, what it could do to her.

She took a step back, her heart hammering against her ribs. The paintbrush slipped from her trembling fingers, clattering onto the wooden stage. I'm losing my mind, she thought, her eyes wide and transfixed on the wayward silhouette. But no, it was not a figment of her imagination. Her reality was morphing into a nightmare, her fear materializing into a dark, living entity that she literally couldn’t not escape from.

Suddenly, she felt a chill run down her spine, a cold wave of terror washing over her. Without another thought, she bolted, footsteps echoing ominously in the empty auditorium.

She ran until she was home. Panting for breath, she threw the door closed. Tears streaming down her face, she ran to her room, her gaze falling upon the mirror. Her reflection was as familiar as always, if more haggard, but the shadow that lurked behind it was a stranger, an uninvited guest.

A whimper escaped her lips as Melaina turned to face her shadow. "Why are you moving?" There was a moment of silence. Then, a deep, distorted echo of her own voice filled the room. "Because I can."

Melaina’s stomach dropped to her feet. Oh God, she thought. I really am insane.Tears welled up in her eyes once again, blurring her vision as she stared at her menacing counterpart. The darkness outside mirrored her growing despair, her world turning into a terrifying parody of a normal life.

While her shadow did nothing further, she couldn’t sleep again that night, too afraid that her grip on reality was loosening.


Melaina sat in class, again a silent island in the sea of voices. The previous night’s confrontation with her shadow had left her drained, her eyes heavy with the weight of sleepless fear.

As the day dragged on, a dull fatigue settled over her. Her eyelids grew heavy, her vision blurred. She fought to stay awake, her consciousness teetering on the brink of sleep. A single thought kept her from succumbing to the sweet release of sleep - the fear of what her dreams might bring.

Her usual routine after school - working on the set for the play - was the last thing she wanted to do. The thought of facing her shadow again, of watching it break free from her, sent shivers down her spine. She made her decision, her mind set on avoiding the auditorium, the backdrop, and the shadow. She would go straight home.

The walk home was strangely quiet, the once familiar route feeling alien under her heavy steps. The sun had begun to set, casting long, eerie shadows that stretched out in front of her. Every shifting form in the corner of her eye had her heart racing, her pulse thundering in her ears.

As she neared her house, she saw it⁠—her shadow⁠—its ominous form rising onto the door in front of her. It felt bigger, more threatening, as if feeding off her terror. Her breath turned to pants, panic rising within her churning stomach. But she had nowhere else to go.

Her hand shook as she reached for the door, the key clattering against the lock. But as she opened it, her shadow surged forward, its form distorting as it slammed the door shut.

Tears blurred her vision as she cried out, her voice trembling with fear and desperation. "What do you want from me?" she whimpered. Her words hung in the air, the silence so profound it was deafening.

In response, her shadow curled into a dark, sinister smile, its form lunging at her. A chilling sensation washed over her, and her vision was swallowed by an all-consuming blackness.


Melaina woke up in a stupor, her mind enveloped by a dark fog of confusion. Her surroundings seemed familiar yet distant. She was in her room, the place she had grown to fear. The eerie silence was broken only by her ragged breath, echoing ominously in the stillness.

Her gaze drifted towards her window. The world outside was shrouded in the velvety curtain of the night, the moonlight casting long, sinister shadows that danced ominously in the breeze. Her heart pounded in her chest, a rhythmic throb that resonated with the unspeakable terror gripping her.

She remembered the shadow, her fear, her desperate plea, and the chilling blackness that swallowed her. She shivered at the memory, her mind a whirlwind of fear and confusion. A sense of dread crept over her, a familiar coldness that made her shudder.

In a sudden surge of panic, she looked down at herself, and her breath hitched in her throat. She was a shadow, an inky silhouette devoid of any defining features. Her hands, her clothes, her body - they were all replaced by a dark, smoky form. She was a shadow, an echo of her former self.

The realization sent a wave of terror through her, a primal fear that took hold of her being. She looked up to see her own body turn to face her. It was her, yet not her. It had her face, her features, but its eyes were cold, devoid of any emotions.

A dark smile curled its lips, a chilling parody of her own. "You always wanted to be a shadow, Melaina. You wanted to watch but never engage. And now you have your wish." Her hands swept down her body. “And I have mine.”

2,498 words
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