Spooky tree- Contributor: FreeImages

Disclaimer: This story includes dark themes such as murder, please read at your own discretion


I write this not as a memorial or as a testament to my life, but as a warning. A warning of what will eventually become of the planet many know as “Earth.” A warning that recounts how it came to pass that the once green world of life and joy turned into a desolate desert of shadows and remorse. A monochrome sea of shrieking and wailing from devils ever out of sight. A land where your own shadow is the deadliest of company. And the hunger… the eternal hunger…

I find it ironic that I, one of the few survivors of die Nacht der erwachten Schatten, the Night of Awakened Shadows, was given the name Nyx. It led to much suspicion towards my very being in the beginning. A constant question of if I was to blame for the death of millions. But when they saw I bled just as easily as them, they let me go free. To die like a dog to the shadows with the rest of them. I think it was then the hunger started. 

It was a boring, dull day in February when the first-ever account of “something in the shadows” began circulating. It was the 16th, I believe, and many simply put it off as Valentine’s Day depression rumors. Many related it to the meme of the fog that was coming and the story died out. Alas, when the body of the harassed reporter was found obliterated in an ebony mist, the joking stopped. Die Nacht der erwachten Schatten came weeks later. When the eyes under the bed and the voice in the closet reached out and brushed the cold finger of death across the world. When anyone asleep in the dark was ripped open with that same ethereal shade to join their gaunt coven. When half the living people screamed in fear, then breathed no more.

I was out on a stroll with my friends, debating the meaning of the murder in February while listening to tunes on the way to the nearby 7/11. It was dark, it was midnight, and it was lonely. One of the guys who passed under the radar began getting jittery and rambling about how “the darkness is watching us” and “they’re eager to feast” and the like. We called him crazy and moved on, as the music droned on. Fate, it seemed, needed to give more warnings. The lights around us shattered as the ghastly screams rose from seemingly everywhere. Our guy, quickly given the nickname Prophet, booked it toward our initial destination while Fallout Boy gave meaning to the madness with an apropos My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark

The shadows claimed Bishop first. Serrated talons connected to the most twisted flesh I have ever seen, all wrapped in knotted, cracking skin that dripped with shadows that carried with them the weight of grief, longing, and hunger. He wasn’t dragged into the afterlife, he was speared. Riddled with holes by the frantic arms before they began to split him in a multitude of directions. Eerie white streaks of light came from his skin before it tore like paper in a child’s hands. And when his lifeless husk crumpled to the floor, an exact version of him stood in shadowed form, howling and weeping while we ran as fast as we could.

Prophet took point, and we all followed. The next we lost was Sasha, Bishop’s secret admirer, followed by Mike and Melia until it was only Prophet, the group therapist Daniel, and myself. One by one the hands found their mark, grasping and wrenching them apart to fill their creed. We luckily pulled into the 7/11 stronghold before anything got to us. The lights were still on, but barely. We were safe. There was nowhere for the shadowy creatures to get to with no connected shadows. A fair conclusion, we all thought, so we took the time to breathe and ponder a wordless ponder.

Daniel broke the silence on the brink of tears, a quiver in his voice. “We… We couldn’t save them! Damn it all, it happened too fast, I…” He fell to his knees clutching his head while Prophet tried to console him. “No, no they could still be alive! They could be there waiting! Fighting back! I know it!” he denied. But slowly, his frantic pace gave way to a different question. “How did you even know they were there?”

“Aren’t you scared of the dark or something?” I interrupted, “does that have anything to do with it?” Prophet looked out of the store mournfully, swallowing his pride and stoic nature and acknowledging the fear in his eyes. It made me intrigued. 

“I’m not scared of the dark. Th-that’s a common misconception.” There was a pause. A silence. He chose his next words very very carefully. “I’m scared of what hides within. Tonight, the darkness stared back at me and laughed,” he shivered, “it said it was hungry-”

“Come on, we’re not gonna talk about food now, are we?! Our friends were just ripped apart and eaten and we’re gonna talk about FOOD?!” Daniel was in full anger now. Swinging wildly with fury in his eyes. His eyes which I swore were a full shade lighter than they were before. 

I looked around for useful supplies, bandaids, or more lights and whatnot, leaving Daniel and Prophet to tend to each other. Despite this being an open 7/11, there were no other people. No bodies either. Just rows of snacks, drinks, more snacks, and a petty excuse for first aid. At least we wouldn’t go hungry, I thought. Bringing back some supplies, I stood behind Prophet and handed him some water and chips while he watched an erratic Daniel pace to and fro while muttering incoherently. In the lighting, his skin was pale and his eyes were bloodshot. He was trying to find a way to bargain with the shadows.

“Hey, I was gone for a minute, what happened?” I asked quietly, opening my bag of Cheetos.

“Not sure,” Prophet sighed, “he was angry enough to almost punch a hole in the wall but began to think of ways to make a deal with the darkness instead.” His face mixed into a pondering expression as he rubbed his chin for assistance. I’d seen him do this before. It was kinda cute.

I sat down next to him and tried to keep a quiet voice going, but it was getting harder. My voice was being lost. “Well, that’s not that good. It’d be better if he’d actually help us get used to staying here until sun-up. Maybe we can make a break to go back home after that.” I finished my bag of chips but needed more. I didn’t want to go alone anymore, so I stayed next to Prophet who seemed to be getting more and more anxious. There was a long silence before anyone spoke again. Including Daniel.

“Nyx?” Asked Prophet in a terrified whisper.

“What’s wrong?” I was curious about this boy once again. Why was he suddenly so afraid? His gaze was locked on Daniel, who had begun staring off into space with a frozen frown as he seemed to grow more pale.

“Do you know the five stages of grief?” The question stabbed my brain instantly and I felt the blood drain from my face. Immediately I knew where this was going. The three of us had made it inside, but there was a way for the shadows to follow us that we didn’t know about. “What happens when he reaches acceptance?”

Without wasting any time, I stood up and slowly backed away while silently motioning for Prophet to follow. My hungering fear grew more and more as Daniel’s eyes glowed white and his skin began to fall away. Piece by piece, inch by inch. Until, eventually, he took his final breath. It was quite peaceful. He died smiling. With a sigh of relief and tears of woe before his body fell away to reveal the shadow inside. But we didn’t move fast enough. Didn’t avoid its detection as the acceptance fell away to the primal need to feed. And as it cocked its head in our direction, I felt the shadows around me buckle and coil in preparation for the incoming onslaught.

We were hunted until the break of dawn in that one store. Chased from corner to corner using whatever lights we could find to protect ourselves. What once was Daniel was now a broken version of him. Eyes of white amidst a pitch-black body that had the very essence of the night seeping into the floor from its splintered shell. The locked and angled polygons that made up the body were mixed grotesquely with the most smooth and fluid veins and bones that could grace the artistic eye. But the face was the ultimate fear. It was still Daniel, no one could doubt that, but the teeth were bared and the skin was just wrong. It shimmered and rippled in the light, but in the darkness, it gnawed at the edges of the imagination. And it hunted us like animals. Laughed at us like children. Carved the area around it with the singular drive to give us the same feeling he had when he died. But we did no such thing.

That night, more than six-sevenths of the world’s population was stripped from reality and forced to inhabit the shadows all alone in their misery. Those who remained did what they could to survive. Batteries and lights, food and water, shelter that was isolated from any human at risk of breaking. Prophet and I stayed together for a while until the fear got to him too. Until his claws were the ones bared against my doors and threatening to bring me to the shadows.

But in the end, I survived. A slave of nothing but my own hunger. Escaping the darkness wherever it appeared. Blocking anything from getting to me. Inviting the people who could prove stable to join me and start a new civilization. We made a stronghold for the rest of mankind where nothing could ever lurk in the shadows again. Where the only fear was of breaking from hunger.

That night of disaster is coming soon. The night when the shadows will become the adversary of life itself. I feel my last breath coming soon, preparing me to go peacefully into the life beyond. I am Nyx. I am one with the night. And when I break into my shadowy form from the hunger I could not satiate, this stronghold will be my personal feast. A shame they didn’t heed my warning.


The fools.


That night was one of many to come.