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The Shadow Man
I screeched in terror. I yanked my hair, and huddled in a corner of the tiny room, My whole body convulsed. I was sweating and shaking, and utterly alone. Tears coursed down my dirty cheeks, and I moaned in pain. The creature just laughed, and its smoky, inky darkness enveloped me.
I awoke to shaking. My eyes tore open, and I grabbed whatever was holding me, with quaking hands. “Stop, please let me go!”
“Tara!’ the voice was half crazed, but I knew who it was immediately. I clutched my mother’s shaking body so hard she yelped. I looked up into her red rimmed eyes, and knew that this time it had been especially bad.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I kept repeating it over and over until we both believed it.
I was exhausted the next morning. I did not care about going to school, but I went to prevent my mother from worrying more than she already does. She constantly watches me now with fear and apprehension, and it frightens me because I know that the fear is due to me. She waits, wondering what I will do, and what will happen next. Truth be told, I never know, and I am out of control, and that scares me to the very core of my being.
The other children stop their chatter when I walk into the room. The teacher clears her throat, and claps her hand, but it is too late, I just walk silently to my desk. She takes attendance, and as soon as her back is turned towards the board, I hear the first snicker. I whip around, and there next to the door stands the Shadow Man.
I first encountered him two years ago on my sixth birthday. I never know when he will come but when he does things never end well. Although, I should be glad he is alone today. He is an outline of a man, but he is completely black and featureless, and that is the scariest part.
I turn back around to the sound of my name. “Tara, did you hear me?” My cheeks burn red, and I look down to the brown, grainy desk surface. She sighs, and moves on, but little does she knows that there is a monster standing to her left holding a knife.
“Mrs. Tate! Do not move. There is someone behind you with a knife.” The teacher whips around with a scared look in her eyes, and I expect it to be due to what I just told her, but instead she rushes towards me and grabs my arm and yanks me out of the chair. She drags me to the principal’s office, and she quietly discusses something with him, that I can not hear. She then slams the door, and slowly turns around with a pasted smile on her face. She crouches down, and I scream because her face morphs into one of the monsters, and she grabs me.
“Tara, stop! Calm down, your mother is on her way.” Then she releases me, and practically runs down the hallway to her waiting classroom full of confused students.
My mom is silent on the car ride home, or well I thought we were headed home. Instead she pulls up to the local hospital. I quizzically look at her, but she shakes her head, swipes her eye and grabs a duffel bag from the backseat I never noticed was there. She holds my hand very tightly the whole elevator ride up to the seventh floor. She finally turns to face me when we are alone in a waiting room. “Tara.” Her voice cracks, like it does whenever she is trying not to cry, or whenever she is truly scared, but standing there in that tiny room I could not tell which one my mother was. She takes a deep breath, and starts over again. “ This is one of the best hospitals in Colorado. Did you know that?” I shake my head, very confused with what is happening. “The doctors here specialize in cases like yours. They want to help you.” She smiles a plastic smile, and I am still not following, and it must be obvious in my eyes because she stoops down and continues to explain. “You will be staying here for awhile, until you feel better.” I start to protest, saying I feel fine, but she shushes me. “No arguments, you will stay here until you are fixed.” My eyes brim with tears because my mother’s voice is so hard and finally, and because she thinks that I am broken.
The doctors stare at me, and probe me. I am alone, and very scared. I can only see their eyes, because their mouths are covered with blue masks. I start to scream for help, when they raise sharp objects toward me, and their eyes glitter with a hungry anticipation. I know no one will hear me, but still I cry out , but then the world goes black, after someone punctures my arm with a needle.
My body feels very hot, and soon I realize it is due to the fact I am burning and Shadow Man and his followers are laughing and pointing. My heart rate speeds up and I feel so terrified that I am frozen. They looks so horrible, and I feel their sharp claws. I am turning to ash, and I scream.
When I wake up I hear a low humming noise, I pay closer attention and listen to the voices of the doctors. “She is a schizophrenic. One of the worst cases yet, because she is still seeing things even though we have given her the maximum dosage of medication for her age group. Her mother refuses to take her back, and there is no place for her here. Maybe we should-” …then I drown out the rest because I wonder what a schizophrenic is, and why they think I am one.
A nurse walks into the room with a sympathetic look in her eyes. “Hello Tara. How are you feeling today?” I face her, and tell her I am feeling fine. She comes closer, and sits down. “You know that what you see, like the Shadow Man and his followers, are not real right?” I shake my head in a yes motion, but I know the truth, she has never seen them. They are more than real. She looks down at my hands where there are scratch marks from when I tried to attack Shadow Man, and he had a razor. She sadly smiles, and pats my knee. “It will all be over soon.” And with those final words, she leaves the room.
I sob into my pillow later that night. I miss my mother, and have not seen her since I have been here, which according to Shadow Man, has been four weeks. I clutch my arms, because I am cold and the threadbare blanket does not warm me up enough. Finally, sleep arrives and I fall to its icy cold depths.
The next day, all the doctors and nurses come to my room. I find it odd, they have never done that before. They all wear grim expressions. One man in particular steps forward. I inch farther away, not understanding what is happening. Two nurses rush forward, and restrain me. I scream, but it dies in my throat after I am stabbed with one final needle.
The newspaper is empty of an eight year old girl named Tara’s obituary. A girl who died tragically in her sleep at Colorado Springs County Hospital, or so that is what they would say had it appeared in the paper. A girl who had severe mental problems, that frightened the people who came into contact with her. Her own mother had no idea what to do with her, and asked the good doctors of the psych ward at the hospital if they could kindly perform euthanasia on her daughter. No better treated than an animal. One nurse tried to convince the doctors not to do it, but they could not say no to a huge check that could help future patients at the hospital, now could they? One poor little girl who saw a Shadow Man is now joined to the shadow realm herself.