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Two days ago I was out for a walk around my neighborhood. It was the ideal kind of summer day; bright sun overhead, wispy white clouds streaking across the sky, and a gentle breeze to keep my body from overheating. I even took the time to lean down and “touch grass” as I passed a lawn that was about five centuries late for a mowing - only to swiftly yank my hand back as a stray cat leapt out with a hiss. I stumbled off the sidewalk in surprise, landing on my butt in the middle of the road, hot pavement scorching my exposed calves.

“Ach!” I scrambled to get my skin off the asphalt, its noxious heated smell burrowing into my nostrils.

“W-what was that?”

While I was standing up, I checked the ground just to make sure that nothing had fallen out of my shorts - overheated phone, wallet with five bucks to buy a soda, house keys with twenty million obnoxious little danglers - and saw that my little circle of a shadow hid nothing from me. But my attention was quickly captivated by that voice, and as my gaze drifted across the road, I noticed something strange; a shadow, conical in shape, lengthy, and faint compared to mine at my feet.

Following the shade to its origin, I found a girl - no more than a year or two younger than myself, probably - standing in the middle of the street holding a flashlight. She had long dark brown hair that had messy strands poking out in all directions, and green eyes wide and erratic. Her left arm was pulled in tight, clutching the collar of her shirt with terrible fervor, and in her right a flashlight violently shook from her trembling. A flashlight, turned off, being pointed frantically all around in front of her, in the middle of broad daylight.

“Miss?” I called out, concern starting its climb within my voice.

“AHH!” The girl screamed with an intensity that curdled my blood. The flashlight was aimed with straightened arm in my direction, and I found myself taking a step back, as though she were going to attack me with it. But watching her gaze, we never made eye contact, not once. It was as though she couldn’t even see me, despite standing only six feet away from her. “Wh-who’s there?” Her feet shuffled across the pavement, taking step after dotted step, as though she were afraid that taking anything bigger would make the road collapse out beneath her.

The thought that she was blind was first in line, but a stronger, more suspicious idea took over. No one in their right (and sober) mind would be standing in the middle of a street at noon waving a flashlight around like a lunatic. Current working theory becomes: she’s either crazy, or on drugs.

Regardless, I couldn’t just stand around and let this random woman get hit by a car. So I cleared my throat - which put her head on a swivel again - and attempted to initiate conversation again. “Ma’am..? Are you alright? Do you need any help?”

“Wh-who are you… show yourself!” Now the flashlight stayed in my general direction, but even then she was still looking downwards more than forwards. Puzzled, I tried to follow her eyes, but all I saw was.. The extended cone shadow, now curving outwards towards me.

Licking my chapped lips, I swallowed and opened my mouth once more. “What’s with, the flashlight..? You feeling okay?”

The girl’s eyes finally seemed to meet mine, but only for a fleeting second. Still, that was long enough to tell - she was terrified, mortified, as though her life were in danger. (Technically, it was, as long as she continued to stand here in the street.) She pulled the flashlight arm in closer, and the shadow on the ground moved with it. “Wh-what do you mean..?”

A sound - revving, rolling over pavement, cutting wind, and faster than it should be in this neighborhood. She heard it too; her breathing quickened, and the girl started to run, flailing as she passed me by and crossed on a diagonal to the other side of the road, where a muscle car beyond any price range I could imagine flew over the hill and sped towards her.

“STOP!” I shouted, directed hopelessly at both the girl and the car.

She did look behind, turning on her heels very quickly, and started losing her balance. The car did not slow.

I pushed off the road with all my might and reached out. My fingers hastily wrapped around her forearm - which I could feel the texture of goosebumps along the entirety of - and yanked hard. The car rushed past us both, but in the very instant of it all, I felt as though everything had gone into slow motion. We were close enough to getting hit that my skin absorbed the heat that the car was letting off; feel the rearview mirror ever so gently graze my arm hairs; make “eye” contact with the sunglassed tool at the wheel, watching us with shock as we melted into fleshy blurs - before it barrelled down the street and drifted around a corner. We were both alive-

“AAAAYYHH!” Her cries of fear loosened my own grip out of fright, and I received a hard smack in the forearm from the metal light source. I had to start backing away as she swung the flashlight wildly about, clenching my teeth as I held the sure-to-bruise arm in my opposite hand. “Get off me get off me get off ME!”

“Chill out! You nearly got hit - nearly got BOTH of us hit by a car!” I groaned, wincing as pain reverberated from my arm where she struck me.

When I looked back up at her, her eyes were definitely staring in my direction, but she still wasn’t looking at me. More like, through me, still unable to notice my presence. Nonetheless, my words seemed to calm her if only a bit, and she looked as though she had something to say. “We’re… on a road?”

I looked around for a hidden camera, expecting to be punked. When no one popped out of the tall grass, I turned back to her and sighed, throwing my arms upwards for a moment. “Uhh.. yeah… yeah, we’re standing in the middle of the road right now. Are you, like, legit blind? Not trying to be insulting, like genuinely asking-”

“I’m not blind, but… how can you see?”

“What?”

The girl stood up straight, her eyes now focused squarely on my chest. “Will you, come a little closer..”

“Are you gonna hit me with that flashlight again?”

“Just, please… I can’t see you. Please come out where I can see you.”

By this point, I was utterly confused. With the sun beaming down on my neck, I took a step forward.

“Slowly! Slowly… I get scared easily.”

Another sigh escaped my lips. I halved my natural walking distance, moving less than a foot per step. Eight, seven, six… When the toe of my shoe finally entered the conical shadow, I saw her visibly tense up for a moment. A terrible idea had started to weave itself in my brain, but the threads were too thin for me to consider it in any serious sense.

I, to the very definition of slowly, stepped forward and fully stood in the faint shadow. Again, the girl jumped for a moment as I approached, but she was quick to calm, and soon let out a deep breath. “I was worried you were some kind of… I don’t know, I’m just glad you’re human.”

“Seriously, how long have you been outside today?” I was beginning to get frustrated.

“Um, only a few minutes, here…” She looked down, covering her mouth with a free hand, shoulders shaking as she tried not to cry. When she stood up, I could see the wet spot near her eyes where tears were wiped. The flashlight stayed aimed towards me the entire time. “My… stupid friends, they dared me to go into this old house. I thought I could show ‘em up, but…”

I forced air out of my mouth around closed teeth, looking around awkwardly, before offering a hand and introducing myself. She accepted it and shook back softly. “Amanda. So do you-“

Her eyes suddenly widened, and she began slapping her flashlight on its handle. “No no no no… don’t go out, not now…”

The threads began to overlap; I looked at the ground. The shadow was fading and returning in rapid succession, until it finally faded and left Amanda sniffling. I was about to ask what the deal was with the flashlight again, but instead paused as she reached around in the air with her hand. “Can you hold my hand, please?”

“I…”

The smarter part of me was screaming to run. This wasn’t my problem, I’d already stopped her from getting run over. With reluctance, I slowly held her by the wrist, which led her to hurry up beside me. She was gazing around with a great anxiousness, and the new idea of her being a kidnapping victim started to surface.

“Listen, is there a rundown house around here? Like, really close by?”

I scrunched my face and turned around to point - the house whose lawn I’d been letting my fingers run through just before all this strangeness. “Yeah, there’s one literally right there.”

Amanda’s eyes lit up. “Please! Can you lead me to it? Don’t let go, just take me to that house! I can’t see it from here..”

So she was just blind. Still…

“Don’t you have someone you want me to call? Maybe a caretaker or, I dunno, a doctor or something?”

Amanda’s eyes nearly found mine (she only reached my nose), but she gave me a very confused look. “I don’t know how you’re doing it, but I literally can’t see my own hand in front of my face. It’s way too dark.” She demonstrated as such, waving the five digits between us.

Too dark? Not wanting to argue any more, and deciding that this condemned building was at least better than the middle of the street, I obliged. Placing my other hand on her shoulder, I slowly led Amanda to the sidewalk. Assuming she couldn’t see it either, I warned her of the ledge, and she was quick to step up, thanking me. Onwards we went, shuffling down the cracked stone path to the front door. At some point, she must have found her bearings and stepped forward on her own, hand sliding around until it found the door.

Without hesitation, Amanda’s hand threw itself for the knob, and on contact she gripped it with all her might and thrust the door open - which to my great surprise, was not locked. She hurried inside the dimly lit hallway, and began nervously laughing, shaking her arms out to let off energy, or so I assumed.

Standing in the doorway, I bit my lower lip and scratched my head. “So uh, you all good now, or…”

Amanda turned towards me, finally meeting me eye to tearful eye, and sniffed before gingerly coming back. “Aha.. snff, umm, actually. Thank you, for.. literally everything, but could I trouble you for one more thing?”

“What’s that?”

“Will you come with me to see my friends? Just as proof there’s another side. They’re literally waiting outside, just on the other side of the house. Just two seconds, that’s all I’m asking for.”

If her “friends” were really there, then they needed to be told that she needs a checkup. Someone in her life that could actually do something, at least. “Fine. Two seconds, then I’m gone.” But I was keeping my guard up

Amanda laugh-cried again, nodding and pressing her palms together and lowering her head. “I owe you everything. Come on, the door is right there.” She pointed towards the end of the hall, where there seemed to be a door to the back patio. I followed along, watching corners from my peripheral vision in case some goon boyfriend of hers tried to jump me.

As I approached the door, Amanda threw it wide open and laughed again, one of massive relief - and I could only stare. I could see one concrete step, before everything started to fade into the deepest, most pitch black nothing I had ever seen. Amanda waved into the darkness and took off sprinting, vanishing in an instant.

“There you are!” A boy’s voice called out from the dark.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My hands flurried for my phone, swiping to use the light feature. Still too hot, wasn’t powering up. I reached around, looking to see if Amanda had left her flashlight behind - when something poked out through my pocket. A basic ring light on my keys.

“Hey! Come over here, what are ya doing?”

Shaking my head, I turned it on. Barely usable; it only illuminated maybe two feet in front of me. Enough to catch a pair of legs speed walking at me. I gasped as Amanda reappeared before me with a questioning gaze. “You coming?”

“H-how.. where did you go?”

“Now YOU’RE being the weird one.”

“No, stop it, how can you see out there?”

Amanda looked more puzzled and slowly started walking back into the dark. “Uh, with my eyes? It’s the middle of the day.”

Leaning my head outside, I glanced around. There was nothing that said “mid day” to me. I could make out a few feet of the house’s wall in either direction, and a path that led out to what looked like the edge of a sidewalk, but without leaving the doorway I couldn’t see further. Amanda crossed her arms, seemingly annoyed. “Hey, come meet them. We gotta prove it to them or they won’t believe us.”

“But I seriously can’t-“

A boy appeared beside her. He hopped up quickly to the same segment of stone Amanda was on. “Can’t what, ‘othersider’? You’ve gotta be kidding, Amy.”

“I’m not! And you weren’t there, it was awful!” She gave the boy a decent shove, nearly sending him to the ground.

This seemed to annoy him, because his next decision was to snatch the keys from my distracted hands and run off into the dark. “Come on, come get’em!”

“Anthony!” Amanda yelled.

I impulsively leapt off the porch and straight forward, where I saw the jingling lights. As the light spun around and around, it illuminated at least three more faces, all laughing at Anthony acting like an idiot. I nearly tripped on the curb as I stepped off the sidewalk, and the last bit of light I saw was the ring light being shone in my face - and then, total darkness. He had pocketed the keys.

“Give those back!” I shouted, trying not to let it show that the dark was beginning to creep me out. In response I heard the quiet shuffling of footsteps around me. I made a grab anywhere I could hear, but each time I only ended up with air.

“Guys, knock it off!” Amanda screamed. “You’re such assholes! First you make me go in there, and now…”

I lost focus on Amanda’s voice as I received a shove from behind suddenly - I stumbled forward, and my heart plummeted to the depths of my stomach. This is where it’s going.

“Yeah, John! Hell yeah!” Anthony’s voice sounded off on my right. I gritted my teeth and swung a fist in that direction. It missed, but was answered with a very hard punch into my shoulder. Tripping over my own feet, I fell down, hitting the ground hard as I couldn’t tell where it was. As my wrist throbbed, I looked straight upwards. Nothing. Pitch black. Not even a chance of a beam of sunlight or a twinkling of a star.

“Wh.. what happened to the sun?” I mutter, sweat rolling down my cheek.

Anthony and, who I presume to be, John laughed. Another voice spoke up. “Hey Anthony, enough man. You’re just beating on-”

“Shut it! Or maybe you can go home and cry to your momma, huh?”

The dissenting voice did not sound again.

I could hear Amanda gasp. “Oh god… it’s the same for you over here?”

I tried to get back up, but every time I pushed off my knee to stand, someone’s hands struck me from a different angle and threw me off balance - a hand on my chest; two palms under my ribs; fingers dancing across my face, poking me in the eye; my toes being stomped upon by invisible boots; a punch into the gut, when the slapping was getting boring for them. And none of it was visible. I tried to run; they pushed me back or yanked my arm or tripped me onto the pavement. No sign of the house, no shapes of the cruel strangers I'd just encountered. Everywhere I looked, it was all the same. The dark struck out, and there was nothing I could do.

“Hey!” Amanda was shouting from behind; I turned towards her voice, earning myself a kick in the calf. “Can you see my flashlight? The house is over here!”

There was nothing. I told her as much.

“Dammit! I’m coming!”

Footsteps slapped against pavement. I heard a female grunt, flesh hitting flesh, and Anthony crying out as he fell to the ground. “Oww! Amy, what the hell!?”

Keys jingled, hitting the road - right in front of me. I just slapped my hand forward to where I heard the sound and patted around while I could hear Amanda tussling with Anthony. Pinkie finger, grazed a bit of metal - I reached to the left and grabbed a keychain from some trip I’d been on. Good enough.

I dragged the keys back to me and quickly stood up, fumbling frantically but blindly to feel out which attachment was the ring light. Just as I felt one more shove from behind - the silicon button sat beneath my thumb. I hit it and spun around, seeing my other attacker - John - having to wind down another punch he was gonna throw.

My hands extended naturally; as he fell forward in surprise, I pushed him to the pavement, before flashing the light around more; there were two other boys just standing around kicking rocks, avoiding eye contact. And then there was Amanda, being thrown back by Anthony, who turned towards me and pointed. “John, let’s get ‘em!”

I don’t know where I went after that. I just ran. Amanda was calling my name, and I could hear Anthony shouting at her to get off of him, but John was still hot on my heels. When my toes blasted into a curb I could not see, I fell forward on the sidewalk, only for him to catch my ankle. I kicked back without looking, and felt the heel of my shoe push on something soft. With John howling in pain, I painfully picked myself up and kept moving. Anthony’s voice rang out: “Come on, we were just messing with ya! Don’t be such a bitch about it!”

A hard shoulder bump into the side of a house, a shin into a lawn ornament - I only learned what I was hurting myself on after hitting them and giving them a quick spotlight with the ring light. Just as I spotted the perfect hiding spot, the ring light began to flicker. Their voices grew closer - I dropped to the ground and crawled straight forward. My ring light grew dim, then burned out; it was only a cheap little thing, after all. I hurried through the grass - the left side of my face being scraped by the branches of a bush I thought I had avoided.

The voices were still approaching. My hand hit the old wood wall of an open shed, and feeling around I found the open hole that was the entrance before scrambling inside and holding my breath. Two sets of footsteps, followed by John and Anthony’s bickering. I dared not let out a puff of air. I didn’t even blink, regardless of being blind in this dark, out of fear that they’d hear the smacking of my lids.

Eventually, luckily… they left. I didn’t dare come out, not for at least half an hour - or so it felt like. When I finally built up the courage to act, I slowly reached for my last chance of light. I powered on the phone - only for it to die again right away. Despite it being eternal night, it was still hot as hell here. But that phone was my only lifeline.

Powering it on and off repeatedly, I was able to make out a vague path before me, and slowly made my way back to the road before it stopped turning on at all. It was much too open to walk; if I tried, I was liable to walk in circles with nothing to touch and guide myself there. And at any moment, if this was the same as Amanda had to deal with, there was a chance a car I would never see coming could roll up and hit me. I had to crawl, and with haste.

My hands and knees burned against the umbral floor, as I wandered towards where my memory told me the house’s back door was. My heart pounded against my sweat laden t-shirt, but I was determined to find the - my fingers slam into the curb. I hurried onto the sidewalk, keeping one hand along the curb. I felt something sticky and smelly squish under my palm, and I had to call upon every ounce of willpower not to stop and vomit right there from the smell of fecal matter. I just pressed on, feeling out on the right side for where lawn stopped and stone pathway began.

Hands clamped onto my shoulders, and I froze. They had found me. I felt wind against my ear - the breath of one of those kids. A whisper escapes, and my heart bungee jumps in despair. Once I understand the words, I stand and let the hands turn me around, before pushing me back the way I came.

A few moments later, I was being guided up the stony steps, and the door out was before me. Amanda slowly pulled it open, trying not to make a sound that would attract the others presumably. “I’m sorry, for all of this.”

I just ran inside and through the house, staying as silent as the night should be.



Written by RedNovaTyrant
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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