Estimated reading time — 13 minutes
The following interviews were conducted with the foreknowledge that names and locations would be kept private. Therefore, they have been changed to respect the privacy of those involved.
Every night before I went to bed, I’d research odd phenomenon in small towns. Towns so small that no one would have even known they existed if it weren’t for the paranormal. Recently, I had only found a few places of note and those not even that interesting; so I kept at it in the hopes of discovering something groundbreaking, something really spectacular, something very unusual. The last story I finished was based on a woman in red that roamed the halls of Millville’s oldest mansion. That, my friend, was the story that got me noticed, but this next one, this next one will be the one that really does it. I know it will because it will be all true. There will be no fiction. And to drive that point home I have decided to change things up a bit. Instead of writing a story and adding my own artistic flair, I’m going to transcribe interviews of those affected by whatever I find; a story by the people, so to speak. And now we wait. We wait in great suspense for the phenomenon that will break them all. The occurrence so truly horrifying it doesn’t need fiction. Luckily for you, faithful readers, neither of us had long to wait.
One night, not long after I wrote my last post, I received an email; anonymously, of course. I have transcribed this email in full for you here:
I hope that this email is getting to the right person. I live in a small town in Pennsylvania called Huntington. It’s the kind of town where everybody knows everybody and their pets and nothing out of the ordinary has ever happened here until recently. It started out as small sightings, you know, slight movements here and there leaving everyone thinking it was a trick of the light or tired eyes, but then it got worse. As it turns out, we in Huntington have independently moving shadows!
I know you don’t really cover things like this, you’re more into fiction and ghost stories but we don’t really know who to contact or where to start. I read your “Lady in Red” and I’m hoping that maybe you can help us. The really weird part in all of this is that it only happens to one person at a time. The shadows haven’t done anything harmful or threatened anyone, not that they could, but it’s extremely unnerving.
A few of us and myself think that if you or someone in your field came down here, it might give us all some relief. Please help us.
The Residents of Huntington
I won’t lie to you, my interest had been peaked; although I held my excitement in check. It just won’t do to run into something head first and willy-nilly, but when I caught myself reading over the email for the fifth time in half as many days, I gave into my curiosity. Worst case scenario it wouldn’t be the break I was looking for, but there would at least be a story in it. Long story short I had bags packed, ticket bought, thumbs crossed, nerves on edge, and myself tucked into a cab on my way to LAX before I really even knew I had decided to go. Although trying to maintain my composure, I was excited. Excited about looking into this, why you may ask…hello, shadows! Could you imagine if it was true and not some sort of crackpot townspeople losing their minds and I cracked this thing wide open? What if I found that our shadows are actually separate entities from ourselves! Absolutely phenomenal! The kind of thing that would get national attention, the kind of thing that would get global attention.
I spent most of my time on the plane dozing and thinking about shadows. I mean, you see kids all the time that are afraid of their shadows, right? Which got me thinking, kids are more sensitive to the paranormal and supernatural, so what if a kid is afraid of their shadow because they can see it for what it really is? And the more I thought the more excited I got. I must have dozed off at this point in the proceedings because my next entry came after I touched down in Pennsylvania. From here on out loyal readers I will simply transcribe for you my diary entries and interviews with the townspeople. I will not add anything nor will I subtract anything. You can draw your own conclusions.
Day One, Morning
This town is definitely as small as the email promised and I have gotten a few odd looks. They seem none to fond of outsiders here. Never the less I have pushed on and currently sitting in the agreed upon meeting place. It’s a quaint coffee shop in the middle of town. No Starbucks here. I’ve been careful to be sure that I would arrive first, before my first interview with the composer of the email that started all this. I knew I would need some time to gather my thoughts before she arrived; she is a punctual lady, as I see her preparing to waltz through the door promptly at half past nine. It seems that our punctual lady is actually the anonymous email writer, Brenda Tharp. She has three children, two twelve year old daughters in which are twins, and an eight year old boy. The following is my interview with Ms. Tharpe:
I: I read your email, and you mentioned that shadows move independently? Could you go into more detail?
B: Of course. The first time I noticed it, I was reading a book in the living room. The kids had already gone to bed and I needed a little peace and quiet, some time to myself;, so I picked up my book. As I was reading, I noticed that the shadow coming from my thumb looked as though it had started to stretch across the page; Almost like it was skimming across the words. I thought maybe one of the lamps had moved, but when I looked, they were all still. The second instance was during a study session with my son. I was helping him with his math homework and I saw my shadow look to the books and reach out like it was trying to grab them.
I: So you’re telling me you saw your shadow reach out and attempt to grab the books from your son? Of its own accord?
B: Yes. To be perfectly honest with you, it really spooked me; until I told my neighbors about it, Billy and Sandra. And he said that his shadow was doing strange things too.
I: Wait, I thought you said this is only happening to one person at a time?
B: Yes and that’s true. It had been a few days since the incident with my son and I hadn’t seen anymore movement. It has stopped moving altogether since I’ve told Billy. It’s almost like the shadow switches from person to person. Almost like it’s moving between us and once we find out it moves on. Billy even claims his shadow tried to speak to him!
I: Billy’s shadow tried to talk, like with words?
A: Well, not your normal everyday speech, more like sign language. His shadow was pointing to things, moving its arms about, tilting its head. Like I said in the email, they haven’t done anything harmful, but seeing our shadows move has gotten this town on edge. Some of us have even gone missing…
Day Two, Noon
I have decided that today I should talk with Billy about what Brenda mentioned in her interview. What she had to say is incredible to say the least, but I’m still a little skeptical. All I have is the word of one woman and who knows if she’s crazy. I have noticed that the town seems to have changed its demeanor toward me. I stayed in a cozy little bed and breakfast last night and this morning everyone I’ve passed seems downright friendly now. Brenda must have had some nice things to say about me. They do say that word spreads quickly in small towns. But I digress, according to Brenda, Billy’s shadow actually conversed with him; the way she tells it, they held an actual damned conversation! I’ve been keeping an eye on people’s shadows since I got into town, and as I suspected…nothing. That proves one of two things. Either Brenda is crazy or if she is telling the truth, she is right about the shadow only afflicting one person at a time.
As it turns out I never made it to Billy’s house. I ran into Brenda along the way and she is taking me to speak with the local authorities. They have their own suspicions about the entire situation. I haven’t been able to get too much out of them, open investigation and all, but I have gotten them to speak about the missing persons. Turns out a couple of elderly people have gone missing.
The police have agreed to take me to an abandoned house where all of this apparently started. We’re headed up that way in a few minutes so I will make my next entry and transcribe my interview with the officers when we return. If this all turns out to be true…God, I am just so excited about all of this. Don’t wait up for me.
Day Four, Night
So, I haven’t written for awhile. I’ve been meaning to write but to be honest I can’t really remember any details of the past few days except, except that something changed once we left that house. I don’t know, everything was fine until one of the cops went missing. We searched for hours. They even started a search party but we never found anything. Strange now that I think about it that no one called in the state cops. You would think they would in a situation like this, but it was only ever people from the town. In fact the more I think about it the more I realize I’m the only one here that’s not from the town…
And in all this time we still haven’t found Officer Nolan. We found no trace of him that night or any night since, but I’ll tell you what we did find that night…shadows! At first there was nothing and then there was everything. They were just everywhere but only in one part of the house. I’m not even sure what kind of room it was but it was windowless. We turned a corner and went under an archway and there they were. They were all just kind of grouped together, it was weird. The room was completely empty except for this big glob of a shadows just clumped up there in the corner, but there was nothing there to cast a shadow. Of course when the cops shone a light on it, it disappeared, but the second the light turned off, it was back.
Later that night I caught back up with Brenda and she told me of the woman who used to live there in that house and how her husband drank extensively and abused her. One night, she decided enough was enough and threatened to leave. Her husband freaked and killed her with the shotgun that hung on the wall behind his chair. After that, he burned the house to the ground, killing himself along with it. The strange thing was, later that month; the house appeared in the exact spot, abandoned. And what makes it even stranger is that no one in the town seems to find anything weird about it. Everyone I ask acts as though it never happened. They agree that crazy bugger offed his wife and burned the house down, but they seem unable to associate that fact with the fact that the house is still standing.
I have to be honest with you, the more time I spend here the more uncomfortable I get. It took a lot for me to even write this entry. I’m sorry steadfast reader, but I feel I need to take some time off from this. Maybe take a day or two and drive to the next town over. Just to clear my head. Maybe I’ll try one of those cheese steaks people keep trying to get me to eat, heart attack on a plate if you ask me. Hell, I might even try that five pound cheese steak sandwich contest. Who knows? See all of this has me starting to feel like my old self. Maybe that’s all I needed.
Day Five, Morning
My fucking shadow moved today! I woke up and it was against the wall next to my bed, just staring at me…I think. I don’t know, but it was definitely sitting up. Not where it should have been and I’m not even sure the light was right for me to have a shadow. Not exactly something I like to wake up to. This must be how Brenda felt, it’s just so unsettling. It feels just wrong, perverted in a way, almost dirty.
Anyway, after a few seconds it seemed to look around room, then finally focused on my laptop, but when I got up to move and shifted out of the light coming from the window it was gone. What the hell is going on in this town? Needless to say, I am a little shaken after this morning’s events so I am putting my cheese steak adventure on hold. All I feel up to is a nice hot cup of coffee, somewhere in the bright light of day. Somewhere I can’t possibly make a shadow.
Updated at 2:40pm
Good news restless reader; they found that cop, the one that went missing! He claims that he went to investigate a sound and says he must’ve passed out in the woods. He keeps saying something about blood pressure, blood sugar, something like that. The thing that gets me though, is how no one found him during all of those searches. I’m sure someone must have gone into those woods. Anyway, I’m off to see about interviewing Officer Nolan later.
Day Eight, Night
Okay…again, sorry for the lapse in writing, but a lot has happened and I didn’t want to miss any opportunities. So, I didn’t get the interview I wanted with Office Nolan he, was “unavailable for comment at this time,” BUT that doesn’t matter because the shadows are starting to pop up more and more. And not only that but they seem to be appearing now at the same time! It’s incredible. And they’re all trying to communicate, not with each other, but with their owners.
Oh! And my shadow actually told a joke, I think anyway; it was a knock, knock joke. It had to do with oranges I believe. Totally weird, I know, but I laughed anyway.
Through all this there’s been one question that’s been swirling around in my head. What happens to the shadows when you shine a light on them? Since they seem to have life, albeit a weird half life, what happens when their source is taken away? Where do they go and what happens to them? Since I have proved to myself, and hopefully to you faithful reader, that these shadows do exist…beyond any doubt, I will take this question on as a new part of my investigation. What really does happen when exposed to the light? I believe it might have something to do with that that night at the abandoned house. I’m headed over there just as soon as I finish this entry. Good night my readers, I will update you tomorrow.
Day Twelve, Night
There’s something wrong. Brenda claims that she never met me and Billy hung himself this morning. The cops found him hanging from the family tree outside his bedroom window. On top of that Brenda’s son has gone missing along with a few other townspeople. And that cop, Officer Nolan, he disappeared again. Although if you ask anyone else in this crazy town they act as though he was never found to begin with!
I went back to the house last night and everything was the same. Exactly the same accept that clump of shadows in the corner. It was still there all right but when I saw it this time, it was…pulsing, like an organ, or a heart, maybe. When I approached it though, it tried to whip out towards me. I of course, being fond of my life, ran my ass off and about busted my head open when I ran into the front door. I must have passed out because when I woke up the sun was fully up. That my friends, was this morning, and that’s when I first noticed things were different.
Now Billy is dead, Brenda is amnesic, several people are missing, and the town is in total chaos. There were also a lot of random fires throughout the town all day…
Day Fourteen, Afternoon
All of this is connected to that damned house, I know it! That blob of a shadow is doing something to this town. Brenda has been found guilty of murdering her son. She seemed so cold, blank actually. Her daughters are with their aunt on the other side of town, but I honestly don’t think it’ll make a difference. At this point I don’t think anything will make a difference.
Day Fifteen, Afternoon
They’re gone! Everyone’s shadow is just gone; even mine! I can’t conjure mine up no matter what I do. I even tried to make those shadow creatures kids make on the wall and nothing! What the fuck is happening? I tried to go to the abandoned house again, but the cops have it tightly guarded. I couldn’t get anywhere near it. They know something. They have to. The only question is what? And why are they hiding it? I will find out, rest assured devoted reader, even if it kills me. Actually, I’m going to sneak in later tonight. Those cops can’t stay awake all night. Some of them have to go on break eventually and it’s not like they have that many cops in such a small town. I’ve decided, I’m going in and I’m going to try to communicate with the shadow blob. God, help me I come out alive. God help us all.
Day Sixteen, Night
I’ve made a mistake. I should never have gone into that house. I don’t even know how to describe it to you, except that the entire inside was pitch black. My flashlight had no effect, even though the batteries were still good. And the street lights penetrated nothing although the windows had no covering. Looking out the windows was more like looking in than out. I was groping around trying to find my way to the room with the shadows when it all started to shake, the house I mean.
That’s when I ran, faster than I have ever ran before. And I came back here to the bed and breakfast. I tried to get a ride to the airport from someone in town, but it was like trying to talk to a wall. With everyone! They would all just stare at me like I was speaking a different language. And the car I rented to get here, it’s nowhere to be found. I haven’t moved it from the curb since I got here and I always have the keys with me. But it’s gone, somehow it’s gone. After I finish this note, I’m going to pack up all of my gear and just walk to the airport. I should have more than enough on my laptop to get a real investigation started once I get home. Get some help here.
Day Seventeen, Morning
Everything is fine today, as usual. There’s nothing to really talk about. Why do I write these entries? Nothing ever happens to me of any interest. I can’t see anyone ever reading them. Curious…Funny, really, they serve no real purpose. And yet, I keep typing away. Typing, typing, typing…
I saw a bird land on the branch of a tree today. It was brown, which is a color a little too close to black and gray to be of comfort. I prefer the blue birds. I talked to a person over the phone as well. They could understand me, and it made me happy. Finally, I am heard. And breathing…it’s so interesting to feel…and to touch things. I had no idea that oranges were so…gradient. I feel bad for the recent events, it was necessary and today is a day to remember, to be free, and free I will be free to enjoy it but I can’t help but to think of the others, the others who did not get as lucky as me. When will they see the blue of the sky and feel the touch of the breeze?
I have realized through careful study of how he worked, that I can reach out to others. There is no one to read my entries but there is an audience for some of my other typings. I have located a group of ghost hunters online that are desperate for a story. I think I may reach out to them. I believe I have a story that would interest them, a story that would interest them so very much…
I am a resident of Huntington, PA. I am under the impression that you are looking for a story of supernatural interest. I believe you may find the situation in our town right up your alley. It seems that our shadows have begun to move independently from our bodies…We hope to hear from you soon.
The Residents of Huntington
Credit: Daphne Danz