In her attic bedroom Margaret Murray, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees, clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground. She peed herself and looked at the mess. She hated the fact that she couldn’t control herself when she was nervous or scared. It had brought about divorce and shame but that’s what happens when your entire life has been cursed with the burden of being frightened by shadows. Shadows were something entirely different for Margaret.
The nights were long as she sat longing for love and the touch of a man but she never left the confines of her house. The outside world was too cruel she felt and she didn’t belong anywhere but the home she had created for herself. The downstairs clock rang out every hour and reminded her of how many hours were left until the sun came up. She dreaded windy nights. The nights that brought the trees and shadows to life. She had no visitors in real life but she did have demons that would visit when the moon was full.
She got up from the bed, it was wet now, after all. She dreaded the journey to the downstairs hall closet. When the floor creaked, it sounded as if that was the language of the demons. Every creak would be an invitation for shadow demons to enter her room and every step brought more chance of that. She made sure every footstep was slow and methodical but she knew in the end it would be futile. Her clothes were wet and so were her sheets. She couldn’t lay in her own urine, could she? The thought did cross her mind but she was a lady. She would not. She must get fresh sheets, a towel, and clean sleepwear. She would do it. Her mother wouldn’t allow it to be any other way.
Her mother, Gwendolyn, lived in the basement of the house. At least the memory of her did. Gwendolyn had died twenty years ago and Margaret had put the ashes in an urn and put her mother and all her mother’s belongings in the basement. Gwendolyn had been a shrewd woman and who always demanded the best from Margaret. Her standards were too high and Margaret often fell short of the lofty goals her mother had put forth but she still continued to try. For her, it was a prison of her mother’s ambitions.
Margaret stepped lightly. The floor made no sound. One step down, one hundred left to go. Her next step was quiet and she could feel her bladder starting to loosen. Her third step touched down and the old wooden floor let out a creak. She stopped and looked around for a sign of the shadow people. That’s what she called them, the shadow people. No sign of them, maybe they didn’t hear it. She looked at her next step carefully. She studied it. Where should she put it? As her next step touched down, the silence was deafening. She sighed from relief. Her next step was not as careful and, once again, a creak, louder than the first, rang out from the floor.
As her foot touched down, she looked at it. Then four shadow feet stood facing hers. More urine ran down her ankle, making a puddle on the floor. In a raspy voice, the two shadow people said in unison, “You called.”
Standing face to face with two shadow figures, their faces without any defining characteristics, she tried to speak. “I need to get cleaned up before mother gets upset.” Margaret had been here before. The shadows would be there until the sun came up. The clock rang out from downstairs. It was midnight, which meant she would have to spend hours with them until sunrise. The shadow people kept her company by standing next to her and staring. They brought an evil, unpleasant energy. They had marked her long ago with it and they were connected with her forever that way.
Not wanting anymore shadow people to enter, she stood there the rest of the night. She tried not to move and breathed slowly. She tried not to shift her weight, it might make the floor creak again. The shadow people stood next to her the entire night. Facing her.
The sunrise came and the shadow people disappeared with the rest of the shadows. Margaret stood there exhausted and alone. She smelled of urine and had a faraway stare. Her legs ached as she walked to the door. She would get cleaned up and sleep the rest of the day, which meant she would be awake again for the coming night.