Horror and Thriller Fiction posted February 4, 2023

This work has reached the exceptional level

In Plain Sight

by giraffmang


Joe Kingham sat alone by his typewriter, staring. Staring because he had nothing else better to do. He’d picked a spot about eight inches above the typewriter on the unpainted wall. And he waited. He knew the words would come – eventually. They always did. He just had to sit and wait. A titchy spark flared somewhere inside his mind and his hand hovered over the keys, but his imagination refused to fan the flames and it was gone. His hands returned to their resting place in front of the machine, drumming out an incessant beat. Sometimes his hands had a life of their own and it took a great deal of conscious thought to get them under control – like today. Movement caught the corner of his eye and he could have sworn his hand just gave him the finger. He chuckled. Probably just my imagination. Nah, no way, it’s been MIA for weeks now.


There it was. The whisper. Joe had been hearing it for a few weeks now. It had started like a low drone but more recently had solidified into an actual word and it was becoming more frequent. The whisper was soft, yet dripping with darkness.

JOE. Louder this time.

He briefly wondered if his muse was playing tricks on him, but he discounted this theory since it seemed she’d long since departed along with his imagination. The pair of them were probably having a good old time with some new artist. Damn it, I can’t even write any of this stuff down.

A light blinked on… off… on… off… he looked down. His bloody hands were at it again. Pulling the little chain hanging from the desk lamp. On/off, on/off. Bloody Hell! This is getting me nowhere. Maybe I need some sleep. He rubbed the heels of his palms into his eyes and yawned.

Yes, Joe. Sleep.

An icy shiver ran through Joe as he looked over his shoulder, but the little room was empty. He pushed his chair back, spun away from the desk and tried to get up. Pins and needles assaulted his legs and feet. He tried to reach down to rub them but to no avail. The snug material of the chair refused to let him go. He seemed to sink into the fabric as it moulded to him, enveloping him in its worn leather skin.

The chair rotated back toward the desk until Joe was once more facing the old typewriter he preferred to the laptop. Three dark letters sat emblazoned on the stark white paper.


He didn’t remember typing them but wondered if his hands had been up to their old tricks again. He hadn’t heard the tap of a key, nor the caressing thump that the arm gave the page as they kissed out their message.

“What the hell is going on?” Joe spoke aloud as he struggled to free himself.

A low rumbling filled the air, almost like laughter. Then as suddenly as it began, Joe was free from the chair’s dark clutches and on his feet. The deep-red leather back of the chair filled out once more to it normal proportions, cracking and popping as if exhausted by its efforts. Shaking his head, Joe left his study and headed down the narrow hallway to the bedroom.

He kicked off his slippers, pulled his T-shirt off over his head and dumped it on the mound of dirty clothes on the floor. There’d been a pile sitting there for the last week or so after Christie had walked out. She always did the laundry.

Joe collapsed onto the bed, head in hands. Man, I am losing it. He looked at the pile of unwashed clothes, ran a hand over the unmade bed. When did things start going wrong? When the voices started? Joe had a hard time remembering anything in a coherent manner. Pain shot through his scalp as his hands twisted in his hair and pulled with incredible force. He felt some rip out, others break. He thought he even heard it.


His hand came free of his hair, and he looked about the room, a tic developing beneath his right eye. There was no one in the room.

Am I going insane? His hands were back in his lap, behaving themselves. Unbelievable. Joe threw himself down on the bed and pulled up the covers, not bothering to undress any further. As he began to drift off to sleep, words he’d not heard in such a long time formed in his head, denying him the true oblivion he craved.

‘hidden by the covers, he lies unmoving, still

As if to banish them with just the power of will

But they will come creeping out the dark, murky deep

Striking fear and panic to make the young child weep


‘Parents do not realise his fears are so real

Creaking of the floorboards begins his skin to pale

An itch starts low down, making the poor child quiver

Dread spreads throughout him, his head, his heart, his liver


‘The boy tries to shout and scream but no noise comes out

Very soon they will be here, there, and all about

Inky blackness hides their moves and at last they’re free

Whispering their dark intent, sensed but seldom seen


‘Things they say, what they will do, no one understands

He hunkers down real small but’s stuck tight in quick-sand

Arms and legs won’t function right, cannot move at all

Then catches glimpse of one against the bedroom wall


‘Reaching out toward the boy, fingers inky black

Sweat spreads from ev’ry pore, across his clammy back

Air so tense and cold, his breath he can even see

The darkness lets these monsters roam around so free


‘Will he survive the night with evil lurking near

Feeding off his terror and breathing in his fear?

Darkness swirls above him, searching for a way in

He huddles still deeper down, head all in a spin’


Closer, closer, closer. I’m getting very near

Too late, so sorry ,Joe. I am already here!

Joe woke with a violent jerk at the last two lines, but his arms went nowhere. The bed clothes pinned him down. They tightened and tautened as he lay immobile, his breath stretching out in front of him like a cloud on a listless day. The sheets bit into the flesh beneath his chin. He struggled for breath, thrashing his head from side to side, gulping and gasping. With what little breath he had left he screamed, “STOP!”

And it did. Almost as if it never happened, bar the wet sheets and aching neck. He flung the sheets from him as far as they would go and swung his legs from the bed. The floor was icy cold, and he withdrew his feet back up into the bed. He sat there, rubbing his neck and eyes and taking deep breaths.

Jesus, I’ve not heard those words since dad was still around, but the ending… what was it?

“Things they say, what they will do, no one understands;

Then the lights come on, and the shadow men are banned;

Like a great big glowing knight, Dad stands in the light;

Monsters are now gone… well, until tomorrow night.”

Joe. Dad’s no longer here.

The voice seemed to reverberate around the room, growing in intensity. Joe rushed to the bathroom, spun the taps on full and threw water at his face. Reaching above the mirror, he turned on the shaving light, and noticed the movement behind him. His elongated shadow appeared to shimmer for just a moment – almost imperceptibly. Joe eased himself around. Am I going mad?

His shadow pulsated and stretched until it touched the bathroom door. Then the door began to move, closing itself. Joe knew the door was heavy. It had taken him and two of his mates to hang the damn thing.

My shadow moved the door. Am I dreaming?

No, Joe. You’re not dreaming. I’m here. I’ve always been here. Waiting. For you. When you get frustrated. Scared. Angry. Depressed… you let me in. There is no escape. I am a part of you. Attached, if you will. I am the darkness, the sickness that lives within all. What do you think your shadow  is?

A low, disturbing laughter filled the small bathroom and didn’t stop.

Joe ran from the room, down the hall and burst from the apartment, barefooted and bare-chested. He sprinted through the night rain, it pounding off him as he ran. His shadow kept pace, chuckling the entire time. The gate to the recreational fields was locked, but Joe scrambled up and over the chain-link fence and out onto the baseball diamond. Pausing, he scanned the perimeter, spotting what he was looking for on the far side – the electric box. He jogged over, trying to ignore the taunts of his shadow. He grabbed the biggest rock he could find and hammered the padlock on the electric box until it snapped. He flung it aside and flipped the breaker switches for the floodlights.

Brilliant white light filled the field and Joe laughed. Got you now.

Joe ran into the field, adjusting his angle every few strides and watched with glee as his shadow got smaller and smaller.

No… No… No…

When joe hit dead centre, the only noise to reach his ears was his own ragged breathing, the drumming of the rain and the hiss of water steaming from the floodlights. Exhausted, he collapsed to the ground, casting no shadow at all. He sat in the relative silence, smiling, letting the rain wash over him along with the relief. “Yeah, Shadow. Where the hell are you now?”

Joe enjoyed the stillness and quiet for a few moments then something else erupted the solitude. A low rumbling laugh.


I’m underneath you….


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