I first noticed a difference in Sara a week ago when I visited her in her office late one night. The main offices were in darkness and the only faint light beckoning was a small standalone lamp in her own office. Locked for privacy, not that she would have been disturbed, the building was dead.
On knocking the door, I heard a quick click of the lock and the door swung open, buffeting her preened shoulder-length brunette hair behind her as if to emphasise her distaste in being disturbed.
“What?” Immediately I knew she was pissed I’d came. She held the door open and ushered me in with a swing of her arm and a dopey face to indicate I took too long staring at her. I sat down in front of her desk while she swept behind it, she didn’t sit down. The lamp she faced cast a long, darkened shadow trailing behind her, stretching from the floor to the ceiling as it hit the wall.
The shape didn’t look quite right though, the light must have distorted her dimensions. Her arms, as she moved them in front of me, looked twice as long on the wall and with extreme points over her joints. Her shoulders jutted out from her petite frame and her fingers looked long and spider-like.
She ranted and raved about how stressed she was, I can’t remember a word she said because of the spectacle behind her. That shadow was hypnotizing. The figure behind her was morphing as she screamed, becoming more and more demonic with every venomous word spilling out of her mouth. With a final roar she ordered me to leave and so I departed swiftly, she definitely was not in the social mood.
The only reason I find myself thinking back to that weird night is because I’m looking at her again from a distance and it’s worse now. We’re at a charity benefit that has attracted a lot of media attention. Sara’s business is responsible for hosting all of this, celebs from several circles are even aligning themselves with the good press it has generated and so it’s escalated into a red carpet event. Being the woman of the hour, the paparazzi beg for her photo and she obliges, noticeably hesitant.
Watching her get her picture taken is horrifying, the flashes are blinding yet I find myself not looking at her or the cameras, but the grotesque shadow cast from an unknown light source. As if it had a life of its own it remains stuck in place behind her while the cameras flash and create their own snaps of shadow.
Noticeably deformed, this image of horror behind her slithers along the floor, everyone else mistaking it for her dress. I, however, unwittingly knew what I was looking for. Skeletal and equipped with long talons, the mockery of my best friend would easily tower over her by several feet if it stood upright.
The night went on, I cast the image from my mind for the sake of the good cause we were supporting. The champagne was flowing as easily as the conversation and everyone had a fantastic night. Up until the presentation of a cheque to the charity’s founder. Having gained ‘backstage’ access through knowing the focus of the attention, Sara grabbed my arm and dragged me into a back room for a pep talk before going on stage.
At least that’s all I thought she wanted.
On closing the door behind her, she turns to me and says:
“Observant, aren’t you?”
I don’t have a clue what she’s talking about initially, then I see the shadow grow behind her and engulf the corner behind her, floor to ceiling like last week. She replies to my silence with:
“I guess I can show you what I’ll do to every other sorry human that sticks their nose where it isn’t wanted.”
Her voice has deepened and gained a rasp, sending prickled shivers down my spine in fright. Grabbing my wrist and lifting it, I try to pull away and she pulls me close. Voice now alien to me, this isn’t Sara.
“If I knew you wanted a fight, I would have brought the right tools for the job.”
Pushing me back, I stumble and fall against several stacks of spare chairs. My dress catches in between the stacks and I try to pull it out all the while maintaining eye contact with the creature before me.
The shadow had spread well past reasonable boundaries, swallowing half of the room behind its host, a black so absolute I felt a draught coming from its depths. The form had now grown horns, wings and a tail. Screaming for help, I make no progress with my dress and Sara steps towards me.
Grabbing my chin, the puppet I call my friend slaps me with her other hand and pain blazes through my cheek. I see the blood drip down over my dress and she laughs. Searing agony spreads across my face and travels down my body as I slide to the floor in shock. Standing over me, she pulls my hair and ties it in a knot to the chairs behind me.
“That should keep you busy. Now, keep quiet, I have good deeds to do.”
With a click of her shadowy talons, the room is plunged into a cold darkness and I hear the door slam behind her, echoing like it were miles away. Screaming and crying, I try pulling at my hair, it doesn’t budge at all. I’m bound to these chairs without a hope of untying them, that thing tied it well. I can’t see a thing, she didn’t just turn the lights off she robbed the room of light.
I hear something.
A clacking, clattering noise; followed by a long sinister hiss.
I’m not alone.