First story of the year, yay! Today is release day for Scary Gary – a short little story about a harbourer of shadows and his Grim Reaper.
It all started with an image I saw on Pinterest of a man standing in front of a window in the dark and over the entire picture it said:
There’s a reason I’m afraid of my own shadow.
The first thought popping up in my mind was of a homicidal shadow trying to kill the one who’s afraid of his own shadow. It wasn’t meant to become a real story. I just opened a word document and started scribbling, thinking if it made any sense at all it could become a flash, a 300-word story, or maybe a blog post…for the fun of it, you know.
Well, being killed by your shadow has its pros and cons, right? I mean if you just died it would be a pretty boring story. Cue a Grim Reaper named Gary.
As soon as it gets dark, Micah’s shadow is trying to kill him, but even when it succeeds he isn’t allowed into the realms of death. This makes his life pretty lonely. He’ll live forever trapped in his apartment, and everyone he knows will die while he has to live on. The only one who’ll also be around forever is Scary Gary – the Grim Reaper who arrives every time Micah’s shadow gets the better of him.
If he could have Gary by his, eternity might not be so bad.
Micah Thaxter pressed his back against the cold brick wall, making sure no part of him was visible outside the shadow of the building. The air was thick with the stench of urine and the moldering trash that littered the alley.
His heart was stuck in his throat, but no amount of swallowing made it drop to his chest where it belonged.
How could he have been this fucking stupid? February meant darkness fell early, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. God, he couldn’t believe he’d allowed it to happen. Again.
After thirty years on this earth, he should be able to keep track of time, but the library had been warm and cozy, the book about the history of European kings and queens captivating, and before he knew it, shadows stretched into the illuminated areas.
He blew out a breath, pushed his glasses into place, and glanced across the street. There was no way he’d make it. If he stepped out into the lit circle underneath the lamppost, his shadow would separate itself from the surrounding shadows and it would come alive.
If he was outdoors when the sun dropped and his shadow got enough light to hold its shape unmarred by any other shades, it got a life of its own. He’d been born this way, had adjusted his existence, and normally all went well. When he wasn’t being stupid or became too engrossed in the lives of long-lost kings, it went well.
His building was right there, his door mocking him from forty feet away, a soft glow coming from his kitchen window. So close and yet so far away.
Filling his lungs with the putrid air, he prepared to run. Every muscle in his body tensed before he leaped. His feet hit the asphalt—one step, two.
A chilling chuckle echoed in his ears. He managed one more step before his shadow no longer followed him. One second it was copying his motions, the next its arms reached for him.
The ghostly fingers grabbed Micah’s shoulders, one hand moved up to curl around his throat as his shadow stepped in front of him to block his path, its feet the only part that couldn’t break free of Micah. The chuckle bled into a manic laugh as black dots invaded his vision.
He tried not to panic, silently praying he wouldn’t have to explain to Gary what had happened. His lungs burned and his pulse thundered. No amount of clawing at the hand choking him made it corporeal. His nails scraped the skin on his throat, but he didn’t have time to think about what the stinging burn or the wetness trickling down his chest meant.
But there was nothing there—nothing except laughter.
Gary! Had he been able to, he’d have cried for Gary, begged him to come. Gary. His heart slowed, his shadow tsk-ing in his mind. His body grew heavy right before his knees buckled. The second before the world went black, there was a crack of lightning followed by blue smoke, but despite Micah knowing Gary had arrived, he couldn’t fight the darkness any longer.
Micah Thaxter has a problem—one scary, inconvenient problem. His shadow wants him dead and isn’t shy about it.
On the plus side, it’s not his time to die and Scary Gary is always there to carry him back to the land of the living. Gary is far too pale, his black cloak a bit out of fashion, and his scythe quite terrifying, but he’s still one of the most beautiful men Micah has ever seen.
Micah may be stuck with a homicidal shadow, but perhaps there’s a way to keep Gary around too. His job escorting souls keeps him busy, but since Micah has already died once today, Gary’s there. So what’s the harm in offering him a cup of tea?