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Fancy Meeting You Here

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You weren’t sure when his presence had become something you couldn’t live without.

It had started gradually. A feeling that someone was there whenever you were alone. The faint sound of something shifting, a bare whisper of movement that your ears strained to pick up, but still somehow recognised as out of place.

It grew from there. Out of the corner of your eye, where you knew you should see nothing but the shadows, darkening places the moon couldn’t touch, you would see something else. They were still shadows, no doubt, but they seemed to grow darker yet darker still. Sometimes they were simply that. Unnatural light devouring shadows that grew darker the more you stared at them. But sometimes….

Sometimes they moved.

In the stillness of night, the darkened corner would shift, like silk flapping in the breeze. Sometimes it would ooze or drip, as though unable to maintain shape.

Over time, the shadow grew taller, somehow seeming cramped under the tall ceilings of your home. The more attention you paid to it, the more solid it became.
When a face appeared, a visage like that of a skull like mask, cracks running up one socket and down the other, the progression seemed strangely natural to you. Your fear began to abate, and with it, curiosity bloomed.

And so you began to speak to it. You spoke of everything, and nothing at all, and with every word, your shadow seemed to gain more presence.
You could see it always now, rather than just late at night within the darkest shadows of a room. It followed you, tall and silent. A dark wispy figure of darkness, with a stark mask of white. Sometimes it stood tall and proud, movements graceful despite its oddly skeletal appearance, sometimes it slouched, low and seemingly struggling to maintain form, dark wisps of shadow falling from its seemingly melting visage.

On silent nights, when you sat as close as you could to your silent shadow, you could almost hear the faint deep static of some strange tongue. You liked to imagine he was speaking for you only, and you could only smile when you would feel the faint ghost of what would be a touch, as you would drift into slumber.

He became a guardian of sorts. Someone to pour your heart out to. Someone to take comfort in. You could feel him now before you would see him. Despite his lack of true form, your inability to touch each other, you would feel the energy that came with him. It was thick, heavy, smelt like ozone and felt like the static in the air before a storm. You knew somehow that he was dangerous. Just as you knew he would never harm you.

There was a kinship between you. You felt it as you passed through the crowds at the shops, the feeling of loneliness would abate with him following so closely. Sometimes, his tall form seemed to almost shield you, black wisps flowing either side of you, as his presence remained behind you, comforting even without a tangible form. In the silence of the night, as you sat in your cold house, you relished in the fact that you were no longer alone. Somehow… you knew he did too.

Of course, things couldn’t stay that way. You didn’t notice at first, on the morning that you woke without his comforting presence hovering in the room. But as the day dragged on, your soul began to sink. He didn’t come back that night, or the next. You drove your body to its breaking point, passing out in exhaustion as you waited in the darkness, aching in your loss.

But nobody came.

You weren’t sure when his presence had become something you couldn’t live without.

You weren’t sure when IT had become HE.

You weren’t sure when THE shadow had become YOURS.

Days turned into weeks, and a week into a month. Monsters became known, the world was excited and frightened and curious. You couldn’t even manage the strength to care.

life carried on as it always does, no matter who it leaves behind. You found yourself simply going through the motions, stopping and waiting at random moments, straining to hear him. To feel his presence. Anything.

When a knock sounded on your door late one evening. You knew who it was before you had even reached it. As you damn near ripped the door off its hinges, your heart skipped a beat, and for the first time in a month, your soul pulsed with fresh life.

He stood there, strange skeletal hand still raised to knock, a hole centred in his stark white palm. He was tall, though you already knew he would be, towering over your small form, but still managing to look so very nervous. His face truly did resemble a mix between a skull and a mask. One socket drooping and blank, a crack running up thickly from the top, the other curved in a nervous expression, a bright prick of light in its centre, and a crack running down from the bottom. His shoulders were broad, clad in a black coat, with a white turtle neck below. Somehow it fit him perfectly.

The silence stretched on for a few moments, the monster before you seeming nervous and unsure. Finally, he spoke, voice otherworldly, echoing strangely, deep, with a faint static sound to the end of each word.

“I, I’m not sure if you know who I am… b-but-“

His words cut off with a startled sound, as you practically flew from the doorway, and wrapped your arms around him. He was surprisingly warm, solid, and blessedly, Real.

You loved him, you realised in that moment. You loved him, and he was here, in your arms for the first time. As you felt his arms, hesitant and gentle, and oh so Real, you spoke up, voice faltering and thick with emotion.

“what took you so long?”