December 29, 2018

Haunting – a short story

Haunting illustration by Tamara-Jade Kaz, showing a young woman under a night sky with eyes looking down on her.
Haunting illustration by Tamara-Jade Kaz, showing a young woman under a night sky with eyes looking down on her.


Just outside her field of vision, Zoe swore she could see something. Nothing more than a shadow, but movement nonetheless. She’d noticed it more and more recently, whenever walking in the dark, usually when alone but sometimes even in a group of friends. Feeling eyes constantly watching at these times was… unnerving to say the least.

For this reason she mostly kept to the lights, main roads, lit paths, everything to minimise vulnerability. Despite all these precautions the feeling was always there, unshakeable. What if someone really was there, Zoe was sure the moment her guard was down he would pounce. How she knew it was a he was due the whispers heard whenever he was around. They whispered a name in her ear, one she never wished to repeat again. Filling her mind with thoughts of uncertainty and unease. Was he dangerous, did she make a mistake locking him out of her head?

There, a flicker of a figure in the reflections of the shop windows. He’d never appeared there before but now there was no doubt of his gender. Yet just as quickly as he’d appeared he vanished out of existence again. Hastening her pace Zoe continued home, feeling unsafe despite the lies she told herself about just ‘being tired’.

This game of cat and mouse continued, their roles uncertain, only their motives clear. Zoe’s to escape and the shadows to catch her. Phasing in and out of windows, puddles, even at the edges of the light. With each movement he became clearer, less of a shadow, facial features becoming more visible.

Trapped in a nightmare, Zoe could do nothing but continue home. There was nowhere else to go, the shadow couldn’t hurt her anyway (or so she told herself), so again the only option was to continue home.

Clearer and clearer he became, but the less Zoe wanted to look. She knew this face, a face from her past long gone, one that had tracked her for years. Never real but never fantasy either, trapped in between. He never caught her but something felt wrong today, he was too clear, more visible than in years. Almost sneering at her, taunting her, haunting her. Without realising she was in front of her house, no memory of even walking up her road as the need for escape clouded her mind. Before she could even register where she was she’d jammed her house key in the lock and slammed the door behind her.

Taking a moment to check everything was as it should be, that she was safe and the shadow hadn’t made it in with her. It rarely did but on the darkest of nights, however Zoe wanted to leave nothing to chance.

Happy with her checks, she headed to her bathroom to remove her makeup before bed. One of her most hated rituals to say the least due to her low self confidence, but for once under all the makeup she didn’t see the man that haunted her… she only saw Zoe.

Zoe’s next piece, The Weight, will be published on the blog next week – Saturday 5th January. If you’d like to share this, or any other of our blogs with a friend, use the buttons below to share the link on Facebook, Twitter or send by WhatsApp.

Illustration by Tamara-Jade Kaz. Find her on TumblrFacebook or Instagram.

If you’d like to write for Make Our Rights Reality, drop an email to morr@youthaccess.org.uk telling us your idea.


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