Five O’Clock Shadow – C.R. Smith

The woman’s mouth was moving yet her words made no sense. It had been a long night. My eyes were still adjusting. It was always a shock to walk out into daylight after working underground. The square was deserted as usual; that peaceful time of day before rush hour kicks in. “Sorry, can you run that by me again?” I said. The woman was obviously distressed about something.

“Like I said, officer, he only stopped to redo his shoelaces. I told him to hurry — I thought we were going to miss our train — I was always telling him to double-knot ‘em. He— ”

If only she would get to the point. I rubbed my eyes. A full English breakfast had my name on it. “Yes, yes, madam, now, walk me through it again, step by step — slowly this time.”

“All he did was sit on the wall. The shadow came out of nowhere.”

“The shadow?” My eyes swept the area. There was nothing out of the ordinary.

“I couldn’t understand what he was shouting about at first. I thought he was mucking me about. Then I moved closer. It was eating him. There was nothing left. His feet were — gone.”

“What do you mean by gone!?” I leaned forward. No alcohol detected on her breath.

“You know — nothing — zilch. His feet were just— gone,” she said, waving her arms around. ”He couldn’t stand. His legs just ended. I tried to reach him but couldn’t get close enough. He begged me for help. I didn’t want to leave him, but there was no one around. I ran as far as the ticket hall before I found someone.”

She was becoming hysterical, her voice rising.

“Take your time,” I said, looking down at the brick wall. No obvious signs of blood.

“When we got back, he was screaming. I heard him before we turned the corner. The shadow was all over him, his legs were gone. The man with me ran over and tried to grab him. The shadow got him too — I think — it happened so quickly. We were all screaming.”

I nodded. Her screams had alerted me.

“The shadow ate both of ‘em,” she said, between sobs.

As far as I could tell there were no signs of a struggle, or any sign of the two men for that matter. Reminded by my rumbling stomach I was off duty, I decided to let someone else deal with the woman. “Give me a minute,” I said, rubbing my stubbled chin. “I’ll get someone to take your statement.”

The least I could do was pretend to believe her. I turned around to call it in. When I glanced back a shadow was eating the woman’s legs.

 

 

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C.R. SMITH is a Fine Art Student whose work has been published in such places as 101 Words, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Train Flash Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk Fiction, The Horror Tree, Glove Lit Zine and Ad Hoc Fiction. http://www.crsmith2016.wordpress.com
Twitter @carolrosalind

 

Image: Kaylah Otto on Unsplash

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