A Strange New World
Pixabay image by Natan Vance
I decided to have a go at writing a short story. This is my first short story ever and response to D. Wallace Peach’s March speculative fiction prompt. The guidelines can be found in the link above which are to write a poem, story or anything that you want based on the Pixaby image. There are no word limits or style restrictions, but Diana asks that we keep it family friendly. Write and post your response, then link back to her original post.
Walking down the boulevard of what was once our thriving neighborhood, I feel my heart pounding. Each doorway, shadow, and alley represents the chance of an unpleasant encounter of the strange kind. Ever since the shadow walkers arrived, New York hasn’t been the same. We hear whispers of the same thing happening across the country. There is no TV, radio, or internet. Mass communications have long since gone silent.
It happens every full moon. As the moon grows to fullness, the strange shadows emerge. An eerie silence fills the air with dread. Time stops as does my heart. I feel the dark presence, then a shadow walker emerges from the night. It glides down the empty street. I want to run, but I know there is no escape. They melt unto the paths like liquid death, smooth and silent. No sounds, no eyes, just shadows of what once may have been a person taken by the shadows. When the shadow reaches a person, the person vanishes, leaving only a dark hint of a person.
No one knows what really happened. Doctors claim it was an infected animal that bit the first victim, disease spreading from a rabid wolf. Conspiracy advocates claim it was the result of genetic manipulation gone wrong. Others claim an alien invasion. Or the planet is simply dying and we are paying for the consequences of our actions. All we know is these creatures stalk the edges of the city. And each new victim, in turn, becomes a shadow walker. There are so few people left, the city is returning to nature. The stores, homes, and streets are empty, filled only with dust and shadows.
Of course, we had many warnings. Hurricanes, tsunamis, mass extinctions, extreme weather, ocean acidification, and more. All the symptoms of climate change that we were too slow to acknowledge.
Fear, dread, and panic fill me with each step. Should I even bother to run? The shadow walkers already rule the city. I decide to run, despite the fact that you can’t escape your shadow or a shadow walker. My heart pounds. I race around the corner and hide behind a trash dumpster. I feel the darkness reaching out to me, calling me back home. The sun moves in front of the moon, and the shadows begin to change.
A strange blue light appears, the moon glowing from around the edges of the sun. This is unlike any solar eclipse I’ve ever seen. Usually, the light is yellow, orange or red. Time stops as my head begins to buzz. The noise inside my head grows. It won’t stop. Please make it stop.
Relief, silence, and peace fill me. It seems I’ve been called back home to Alpha Centauri. The human experiment has been canceled. They are deemed too greedy, noisy, and violent. I return to the land of blue in Centauri, filled with peace, quiet, and unity. We exist only as consciousness, having long since outgrown the need for bodies. Every once in a while we inhabit some new species on a different planet. It’s a friendly mission, simply merging with their consciousness, and allowing free will to unfold. We are silent observers hoping to find a species and planet that will bring organic life back to the galaxy. Like humans, we were too slow to see the signs of a dying planet.