Just a Shadow of a Man


I don’t remember what he said awoke him.  A sense of foreboding?  That prickly sensation of someone being there?  Stealthy footfalls on the carpet?  I can’t recall.

My father awoke and listened.  The quiet suburb seems morgue-like in its stillness at night.  This is a relatively new neighborhood, and not all the houses are occupied.  The loping hills which roll around the town, ripples of the Diablo range, still encroach on the streets and the fresh, black asphalt.  There is little disturbance during the day, and in the dark of night, the quiet is complete.

He heard it again.  Padded steps, whispering across the carpet.

He stole to the bedroom door and chanced a quick glance through the doorway.  He could reach the door from his bed unseen from the short hallway beyond, but then would be in view of the intruder if he peeked around the corner of the hall to the living room.

Silhouetted against the wall of the living room was a man.  Long coat, hat seated low on his head, the figure fills most of the door frame.

My father stretched his hand out to the hallway light.  In a burst of movement he’d turn on the light, surprise the intruder, and strike full-force while he was dazed in the sudden blast of light.

He positioned himself, steeled his nerve, tensed to spring … and tripped the switch.

His coiled muscles froze halfway through their spring.

The hallway was empty.

In the time it took for the light to come on, the shadow standing between hallway and adjoining living room had vanished.

Without a trace.

He stole into the living room to be sure.  Empty.  A glance to the front door showed the lock still secured.  He crossed the living room and entered the kitchen.  Empty.  Another three steps over the cold linoleum floor to the family room at the back of the house.   Nothing.  A verification with the lights on – nothing.  He strode to the sliding glass door and check its lock, and it, too, was secure.

He wandered back to the hallway, and checked on me.  Asleep, peaceful in my room, unaware.  He checked the third, empty bedroom as well, and the closet.  Just to be sure.  To make absolutely certain.  But the lauan doors hid no trenchcoated stowaways, and the house held no secrets from him.

He laid back in his bed and stared at the ceiling for long hours, as daylight crept closer, listening.  But the house held its silence.

===================================================

This story is related to me by my father, and he has never varied the recount in any detail I can recall.  He insists he saw a man standing between the hall and the living room in this, his first tiny house in a quiet suburb in Northern California.  I can’t verify any of the events.

All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
ALL rights reserved.

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7 thoughts on “Just a Shadow of a Man

  1. Sounds like your dad was haunted.

    I don’t think it was him. There are lots of other stories I could tell you to clarify that, but I don’t think he was haunted. My mom’s side of the family pulled some real bonehead stunts, so I’d be more inclined to say it was her, but this is just one incident. 🙂

  2. I love family’s bonehead stunts. My mom loves to hide and my dad loves to not look for her, lol. I really loved today’s story, I think most of us can relate to feeling like a stowaway managed to get in the house. I know he is not the only one that has flipped on lights in an empty house. Love it!

    He tends to be braggadocios about those days — how tough he was, what a macho man, that sort of thing — despite being a wimp. So for him to admit to not having found anyone sort of validated the claim. He won’t, however, outright say it was a ghost. “I don’t know WHAT it was” is the most you’ll get from him now. 🙂

  3. Sounds like you have plenty of ammo to write from your family. Even if it was your mom playing a joke on him. Still, very awesome Dane!

    Nope, not a joke. Mom’s never chimed in on this that I can recall, but now that I think about it, she might have been the one to wake dad up. Maybe SHE heard something and this is what ensued. Can’t remember now. Thanks for reading!

  4. I had a friend in HS that had unexplained things going on but not as the paranormal shows always show things happen at night, these occurrences were most often during the day. I was there after school on one occasion and felt the “cold spot” in the hallway that wasn’t there before and no vents or fans to blow cold air to that spot and I saw items move. Not much but definitely on their own so who knows what your dad experienced.

    Cool telling of the tale.

    Thanks, Delaney! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I know there were many other stories I could’ve told, this was just the only one with a full-bodied apparition as I recall. But yes, many other stories like the ones you’re relating. Thanks again!

  5. Scary and well-written! It’s amazing the tricks our minds can play on us, especially in the dead of night when we’re all alone!

    Hi, Jared, and thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the kind words. I’m not sure my father would say this was a trick of his mind, but I agree with you; we can convince ourselves of a lot when it’s dark and we’re alone. 🙂

  6. It’s heart warming to read something about your father that makes him a hero of sorts trying to protect his family. What if he did see a man, one that was only visible in the dark?

    I don’t know what he makes of it. Last time he talked about it he only mentioned it as not knowing what it was. I guess he didn’t want to try and pin it down. I won’t either. 🙂

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