Shadows - Snack Size Fiction

Shadows

The shadows that live on the edge of our nightmares always find us.

The raucous laughter of his fellow crew members rang in his ears as he wobbled down the dock, his steps erratic after so after months at sea. The men urged him to wait until he was steady, but he didn’t listen. He had to see her. 

***

She pushed her way through the bar, hiking her dress up around her knees and tossing her apron onto a table. Her elbow met the soft cushion of what felt like someone’s gut, but she kept going. Regular customers called out, “Goodnight.” She didn’t look back. 

***

The din of yelling men and crashing waves and the misty sea air dissipated as he stepped into the late-night crowds of the city. The slurred speech and angry growls of a crass and wild fishing crew were replaced by a the comforting and familiar mixture of English, French, and Creole. He was home. 

***

The door slammed behind her, cutting off the sounds of gambling and jazz. Her head pounded with the pulse of the streets. Night in New Orleans did not mean peace. It did not bring quiet. But tonight, her heart was waiting beyond the music and noise. Tonight, her heart had come home. 

***

She did not yet know it, but with one, accidental brush of an elbow, she had met her fate. Following her outside, he glimpsed her pale skin in the moonlight, smelled the sweet stench of blood pumping through her veins. The hunt was on. 

***

He pushed against the rush of people, fighting the current. They were heading into town: He was heading out, to the church they had attended since they were children, to the parish that practically raised him, and which would now see him married. 

***

She stumbled down the cobbled streets. The church was only blocks ahead, but the crowds made it seem farther. Her heart pounded, her forehead beaded with sweat, but suddenly a chill made her shiver. She glanced behind her. 

***

She sensed him. They always did. He lived on the edge of their nightmares, only breaking the veil to feed. She shook her head, convincing herself he wasn’t there and pushed ahead. To the church, he noticed. The church she would never reach. 

***

He stood on the stone steps. He could see her. His heart smiled, and he started to call to her but stopped. She wasn’t alone. Her shadow was not her own. His blood froze. He urged his weak legs to descend the steps, to get to her. 

***

She saw him running toward her. But something was wrong. Panic flashed in his usually calm eyes. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled and she froze. 

And then, he was there. 

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Allison Spooner

Allison Spooner brings worlds, characters, and stories to life in as few words as possible. In the last two years, she's published two books of short fiction; Flash in the Dark: A Collection of Flash Fiction and The Problem With Humans: And Other Stories. Allison’s writing crosses genres and has been compared to The Twilight Zone and Harlon Ellison.

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