I just launched the first episode of a podcast I’ve been working on for a while. It’s called The Late Story, and it takes the form of an old-school late-night radio show in which a Storyteller tells a story to the radio audience. The thing is, his stories may not be entirely fiction. New episodes are gonna be released every other Friday on my YouTube channel (and on the podcast’s iTunes page) and I really hope you guys will check it out. This first episode tells the story of Jordan, an average worker, and his mysterious encounter with his shadow…
The sun has set. The moon is up. And you’re all snuggled in your beds while shadows dance across your window. But what if those shadows were alive? This is your Late Story.
Good evening. It’s looking to be another nice, peaceful night. What better time for a nice story? As many of you may have noticed, we’ve been off the air for some time due to… events that I am unable to disclose at this time, but now, we’re back. What better story to begin with than one that involves a fear we all share? Is there something following me? Everyone has experienced this fear at least once in their lives, most many more than that. The truth of the matter, there is always something following you – something you have no chance of ever being able to escape. Tonight, we hear about Jordan and his mysterious experience with shadows. Some listeners may find this story disturbing, but then, isn’t much of life disturbing?
The sun was just beginning to rise over the skyscrapers of the city as Jordan began his long walk to work. Why he walked when he could simply take the bus, he’d never answer. There was just something about the walk that he adored; something he’d never be able to explain even if he had all the words in the world to do so.
To anyone who knew Jordan’s usual routine, this morning would’ve seemed like any other. Nothing outwardly different, weird, startling. For Jordan, this was the very epitome of fear. The previous evening he’d been plagued by a barrage of nightmares, each growing more terrifying than the predecessor. All of them involving what appeared to be an indecipherable darkness – one that no matter how hard Jordan tried he could never escape. In the end, it would devour him, no if’s and’s or but’s. The method of devouring… well, that was the variable.
Regardless, he pushed all this out of his mind. This morning would be normal; today would be normal.
He stepped into the empty crosswalk, briskly walking across the street to allow the quickly approaching cars time to pass. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the glint of something. He wasn’t sure what, but it was there for a brief moment and then – gone.
His pace quickened, Jordan wanting to get to work before anything stranger could happen. The hairs on the back of his neck suddenly rose to alert, as though a cold sheet had just passed over him. He whipped his head around, expecting to see something behind him. Nothing. Just the concrete and his shadow.
He continued on his way, ignoring his growing suspicions. Had his dream become reality? No, that was silly – he must still be dreaming!
A pebble slammed into the wall next to Jordan, as though it had been kicked there. Once again, he whipped his head around expecting to see a small child playing games. Again, nothing. Just the concrete and his shadow. Something was… off, though. He couldn’t place his finger on it, but there definitely was something not quite right.
At this point, he decided it best to avoid the busier streets, and stick to side streets and alleys to get to work. He knew how to accomplish this – some days he preferred the “scenic route” as he liked to call it.
He turned into the alley, leaving the business of the city behind him. He pulled his phone out, plugged his headphones in, and lost himself in his music. He walked peacefully for quite some time until he felt a gentle rub on the bottom of his arm. He looked: nothing. Just his… shadow?
“That’s not right,” Jordan muttered, spinning around to attempt to get a better look at his shadow. As he turned, the shadow stayed in place as though it had forgotten its purpose. As though it were a separate entity from Jordan altogether.
The sound of his foot slamming against the pavement could be heard all the way on the highest floors of the buildings surrounding him as Jordan began to run from his shadow. On he ran, occasionally risking a glance behind his back to check on the progress of the shadow. It was always close behind, its hands reaching forward as though wanting to simply wrap Jordan in its embrace.
Through Jordan’s haste, he didn’t realize he’d taken a wrong turn and he found himself running straight for a dead end. This was it; his finale. The ending of the dream. If this was a dream, he’d simply wake up. There’s nothing to fear. Nothing to fear.
I can tell some of you are beginning to worry. Your pulses have quickened and your breaths are caught in your throats. Relax. It’s just a story, after all. Stories have no basis in reality… or do they?
Before we continue with our tale, I am obligated by the station to provide you with a bit of news, weather, and traffic. I prefer to get these done all at once in order to interrupt the story as little as possible, so here we go.
An update on that meteor that crashed in the local park last week: witnesses reported that odd noises emitted from the meteor. Upon inspecting, emergency personnel were unable to find anything out of the ordinary. It just seemed like a normal, giant meteor crash.
Still, some witnesses believe the meteor isn’t a meteor at all but really a crashed UFO. Several have reported odd humanoid figures moving about the crash site. But, really, all of that should be taken with a grain of salt. Never before has a crashed meteor actually ended up being a downed UFO, so why should this time be any different?
No new news on that mysterious tablet that was found in the museum of history three weeks ago. When asked for comments, Dr. Lyon simply said that the tablet appeared to depict the destruction of a civilization much like our own. The destruction appeared to be brought about by a sudden betrayal by someone the civilization seemed to trust. When asked where the tablet came from, Dr. Lyon said, “I checked the security tapes and the tablet just seems to… appear out of thin air. Like magic. Which is just preposterous. Things don’t appear out of thin air. So, ya know, the jury’s still out on where this thing came from.”
More news on that when there’s news to share.
And now for traffic. It’s 11:15pm, who is out there driving at this time of night? Why is there even traffic to report? This is a small town! There’s nothing to do this late, why are you people out and about? Go home!
The interstate is backed up several exits. Nobody is really sure why. This seems to happen every night. I’ve lived in this town a long time, and I can remember the radio hosts reporting on this strange phenomena every night when I was a young teen. So, the traffic is as weird as ever.
As for the weather? Well, it’s fall and we’re in the northeast of the United States. Do the math. It’s cool and a bit chilly, but mostly cloud free. For now.
I hate having to interrupt our story for these news breaks. There’s literally a news show that airs an hour before this one. What is so important that we can’t take thirty minutes off of worrying about what’s going on around us and just focus on a story?
Speaking of stories, back to ours, already in progress.
Jordan whipped his head around. There was nothing. Not even his shadow. Jordan took a moment. Maybe this was all a bad dream? No. He was definitely awake. But maybe he hadn’t gotten enough sleep and this was all a hallucination. Yes, that was it. He caught his breath. Against his better judgement, he turned around and began to head the way he’d come, retracing his steps in an effort to still make it to work.
The walk to work was mostly uneventful. No weird sounds, no strange feelings of being watched. All was normal and Jordan made it to his job without further incident. In his haste to get off the street, he neglected to notice that his shadow had gone missing.
The workday passed and Jordan put all thoughts of mysterious sounds and shadows out of his mind. As the day came to a close and he began to pack his things, he noticed his shadow return to him. It’s funny how you don’t always notice something’s gone until it returns, and this is exactly what happened with Jordan.
He was startled. Memories of his morning flooded back into his brain. He haphazardly finished packing his things and rushed out the door, ignoring his shadow.
This time, he decided to stick to the major roads. He wouldn’t have a repeat of this morning. No getting trapped in dead ends, no getting cornered by his shadow, the thing that was merely supposed to mimic his actions, not direct them.
As fate would have it, Jordan ended up on another back road. He wasn’t sure how it happened. He swore he’d been following the sidewalk aside the major road and he blinked and suddenly here he was, walking towards another brick wall. He was about to be cornered once again. He turned to face his shadow. Perhaps if he faced it, all of this would end.
The shadow inched closer, agonizingly slow in its approach, its hands once again reaching forward to embrace Jordan. Jordan quietly counted to himself in an attempt to keep calm – can’t afford a panic attack while your shadow has decided to hunt you like its prey. “I’m going to wake up,” he whispered, “this is just a dream. There’s nothing real. It can’t hurt me, I will live.”
The shadow was mere inches away from Jordan, its hand reaching forward. Slowly, it spilled over Jordan’s face, covering it in its unyielding darkness. Jordan shut his eyes, not wishing to witness the horror about to unfold. The shadow covered the entirety of Jordan’s body.
And then. Nothing. No shadow, no Jordan. Nothing. The alley was as empty as it had been five minutes earlier.
The wind rustled through the trees and whistled through the cracks of the buildings. It was just another disappearance that would go unnoticed in this city. The city thrived on its ability to cast a shadow, should anyone be surprised that those in charge were merely shadows themselves? Destined not to exist, else risk exposure for all of them.
No one would remember Jordan. He’d be an empty place in the memory of all those he knew. His apartment would soon be released, his possessions impounded and given away to thrift stores.
A small shadow began to creep into what used to be Jordan’s bedroom. The shadow made its way slowly around the room, as though attempting to absorb all that was in it.
The lights shut off and the shadow disappeared into the darkness.
And so ends the story of Jordan. His story may seem fantastical to you, but know that it is very real, indeed. Cross my heart and hope to die.
May we all learn a lesson from Jordan. Not even our shadows can be trusted in this town. Things are never as they appear and they are always more dangerous than they seem. Those in charge are not always on your side. Perhaps they, too, are nothing but shadows, beings with their own agendas and malicious intents.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps none of this ever happened and I am merely lying to you. I am, after all, the Storyteller.
I will tell you, though, that in my time, I have seen far stranger things than what happened to Jordan. Perhaps one day, I will tell you them.
Until then, snuggle up, sleep tight. You’re safe in your rooms. There are no shadows there that can harm you. I hear you say that your room is full of shadows. This may be so, but turn a light on, and those shadows disappear.
You are safe.
Rest your heads and remember what you’ve learned from the story of Jordan. Always be aware of your surroundings. Take nothing for granted. Don’t assume it’s a figment of your imagination. It’s probably real, and it’s probably deadly.
This has been your Late Story and I’ve been your Storyteller. Join us tomorrow for another story.
Until then, sleep well, listeners.