The Shadow Thief
Maryland, United States
I still remember it like it was yesterday.
People were scared and bewildered. They ached for a drop, one measly drop, of good news. They had been drunk with the same messages everyday; all the radios spilling out information of what they called “The Shadow Thief”, droning on about locking your doors and windows. Scaring people straight–those radios. On every television, they showed pictures of an eerie, pitch black shadow, although everyone knew that the Shadow Thief was not only a shadow. Everyone knew about the thief breaking into homes and killing anyone he sees awake in the darkness of midnight. Whether it be with a knife or a gun, he always spilled the blood of whomever’s eyes he saw open. Everyone knew he was much more than just a shadow. Everyone knew he was much more than just a thief.
I, personally, did not see the threat of the Shadow Thief. While people were terrified of sleeping at night, I was able to unlock my doors with ease. Let him come in; I didn’t mind.
I was told too many times that the Shadow Thief would trespass if I didn’t take the time to lock my doors. To shut the windows. To set up an alarm. I was told that he would come for me personally and slit my throat. That he would not be satisfied until he could drink the wine cascading from my neck, like a waterfall. He would not be satisfied until he could feel the red, viscous gore dripping from his bloodstained teeth to the floor, painting the fresh white tiles crimson red.
He never came.
I was convinced that the Shadow Thief was a myth, a fraud. Just a story to frighten people on the radio. “How do you explain all these murders? These break ins?” I was asked. I did not know the answer to these questions; I didn’t know the answer to the countless funerals for all my dead friends I was forced to attend.
Every single night there was at least one murder. The police were all over the place, keeping an eye on every corner of the city. Numerous houses reported that they were robbed, that the Shadow Thief snuck in. Somehow, they say, the Shadow Thief breaks into their locked houses without sounding any alarm, without waking a mouse. My dog, my cat, my medicine, my money, my jewelry, has all been stolen, they say. But for me, not a penny from my house was taken.
Nights were quick. I fall on my pillow at night, and then, as quick as light travels, I open my eyes to a bleeding sun shedding its golden rays of blood. I was… happy.
My friend once told me, “Please, lock your doors. I care for your safety. I don’t think the Shadow Thief is fake, I think he’s a real threat.” His voice faded as he spoke, leaving a distinct touch of gentleness I saw in so many people. His eyes glistened in the light, and he seemed so perfect and innocent. Anger flooded my body. The blood burned in my veins and rushed to my fingertips. My fists were clenched, like they were holding on to my vexation, refusing to let them go.
“You think you know more than me? And you call me your friend!?” I said arrogantly.
The next day he was dead. When I attended his inevitable funeral, I whispered calmly in my thoughts, almost so that I couldn’t hear them, “See, you warn me of my safety, and I find you dead the next day. I can take care of myself perfectly fine. I’m still alive, and I haven’t even locked my doors!”
One year had passed, and the Shadow Thief was still alive. Too many people were dead, too many funerals had to be planned. If only we knew who the Shadow Thief was. So many people could have lived…
Only six months later, I found my hands bound behind my back. I was sent to a big house where everyone looked at me with disgust, and a man wearing a black gown made loud noises with his small croquet racket shouting loudly in my face that I was going to die. One man accused me of doing things I never remembered doing. I tried telling him that this was a lie, that I never did anything like it, but I was shut up by the man in the black gown. Another man tried to defend me, but I didn’t think he did such a great job, because moments later I was in a little cubicle with bars raised to the ceiling.
I cried on my hard, stone-like mattress, begging any God to let me go. “I haven’t done anything wrong,” I cried. He wasn’t responding, so I figured He was too busy for me.
They showed me jars full of blood and money, claiming to have been found in my house. I refused to believe them. I denied everything they accused me of, telling them, “I haven’t done anything!” Yet the next day they brought me outside, under the bright sun, under the hateful eyes of those who lost their friends and family because of the Shadow Thief. “We will do what you did to us!” A man with a dark aura approached me with his large, blood-curdling machete. I knew at that moment the men and women spiraling around me would not be satisfied until they could see the red wine cascading down my neck, like a waterfall. That they would not be satisfied until they could see the red, viscous gore water the soil on the ground. They wanted to see the scarlet flower that my blood produced when it fertilized the soil.
I suppose the Shadow Thief killed me in their own shadows after he was done using mine.
Now, I sit here on my bed of thorns, recalling what feels like yesterday, while my blood and tears waters the bush that lacerates my flesh. I must ask, is the Shadow Thief breaking into your own homes? Is he pilfering your belongings, or might he be stealing something more?
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