For those of you who don’t know, Regina West (follow her on Twitter) is an author whose first novel is forthcoming from Pandamoon. She also runs a super awesome monthly flash-fiction contest on her blog called “Flash in the Pen.” Each month, Regina posts a different prompt. Sometimes she hosts a guest judge, and it’s always a lot of fun to see what everyone writes.
So this month, Regina ran with the Halloween/ horror theme for the flash-fiction contest, and my little story, “The Sighs of the Shadows” came in second!
Read the story below, and then jump over to Regina’s blog to see what guest judge, Dan Dillard, had to say about it. And while you’re there, give Regina’s blog a follow so you can write for next month’s contest!
The Sighs of the Shadows
Movement under the sheets wakes me from a very deep sleep where I had probably been dreaming. I look at the pillow next to me, but Samantha is gone. Long fingernails slide up my thighs from below, digging into my skin just underneath the hip bone. This was not unusual for Samantha. She loved spontaneous, middle-of-the-night sex, and it isn’t long until she is crawling up the length of my body and sliding me inside of her.
Nights are spent like this. We’ve been married for a month, and the sex has not started to trail off. I throw her off of me and onto the mattress—the room’s darkness surrounds us as she surrounds me. My hand on her shoulder forces her body down as I push upward—added movement. She covers her face with a pillow, and there is a silence that lets me know to slow down, to take it easy for a moment, as she continues to shudder against me.
Then I hear it—a prolonged sigh that seems to permeate the room. It isn’t mine. It isn’t Sam’s. I feel it on the skin of my back—the air that moves because of exhaled breath. I jerk my head around quickly, expecting something. But I stare into the darkness concentrating harder than I have on anything ever, and finally I hear it again—the lingering and pained sigh, and then I see him.
In the corner, there is a man. He stands still, hidden in the shadows. I’m not sure what to do. He stands and watches us. His body moves with his breathing, but I can’t make out any features. I guess I’ve stopped paying attention to the task at hand because Sam asks me what’s wrong. I can’t respond though. My gaze is transfixed on the corner.
Sam sees him, too. “Don’t look at him,” she whispers. “He’s always there. They all are.”
“What?” I ask the question, but then I see them. The walls crawl with shadows—men and women. They all stand as still as a man can stand. They all watch us.
“They follow me. They’ve attached themselves to me, and now, you’ll join them.”
The shape from the corner and all of the shapes from around the room converge on me. I feel their shadow hands solidify around me as they pull my naked and squirming body off of Samantha and into the shadows. I feel the change begin to happen, but I can’t explain it.
Night after night, Samantha brings men or women here. Sometimes she stays with the same one for weeks or months. Sometimes the poor soul only survives one night. As soon as he hears the sigh of the shadows, though, and he looks over his shoulder to see us, he becomes one of us—doomed to live forever in the last room in which he ever loved a woman, watching that woman as she is loved nightly by others.