There was never such a day as the day my shadow followed me.
But I didn’t blame the music. It’s just that no one else could hear it.
My shadow had vanished in a passing light. Where it once led my path lay only darkness. It had fallen behind. When I turned to glance the spot it fell, it was gone, replaced by a man that looked like me. Crazed. Grinning. Frenetic perplexia seeping from the corners of his mouth.
He said not a word.
I turned to continue down the path, casting uneasy glances behind every few paces in order to brace the impostor.
Still he followed.
I knew not what he wanted, nor why he had come or come from. My only resolve was to escape his advance.
The volume in my ears increased with my pace.
Looking back, I can’t say I blamed the music. It’s just that no one else heard it. No one else had ever heard it.
To me it was always plain as day. Sounds in a line that would steal your thoughts and please your mind. And when it ended, euphoria, disbelief, and the instant desire to hear it again.
It’s magic would hold until you turned to those around you.
“Can’t you hear that?” You’d say in disbelief. “Surely there is no sound like it!”
But no one had, and no one would, and none understood, for they were all too busy listening to the same sound.
But this was how it was and how it would be. He had lived long enough to know this, as well as he knew his own name.
So he let the music take his mind away from himself and the shadow that followed.
He traveled down the lonely path, in and out of the lamplight until he noticed a pattern falling before his eyes.
There was a stain on the pavement.
A spot of red, every four paces, recurring like clockwork and in time with the beat. He stopped to turn and observe this track.
His shadow lurked under the lantern.
Still there were spots, distinctly aligned, that stretched as far as his shadow.
“That’s odd,” he thought, but the mask of his shadow arrested his thoughts. It’s features were shaded, wicked teeth the only image to emerge from the darkness.
He turned and continued on his way.
The spots grew larger and closer together, their shape becoming more splattered and less of a circle, but the subtle steps at his back kept him from dwelling on these details.
It was then that he remembered the girl. What they had done together. What he had done to her.
It was selfish, really. He only did all for one.
But it was his, and he owned it, and he did not regret it.
It’s just, it would never vanish.
It would never go away.
Splatters and puddles and his curiosity grew strong, until he had become so intent on discovering the source that the shadow that followed him fell behind in his mind.
Where did it come from?
Where had she gone?
The music grew stronger and more intense. Desperately it pleaded for mentation, and this was granted. He had no choice.
Then he saw the bench, and the bag beneath it, and the puddle that oozed from this source. His advance was slow and there was stillness all around. Even the music had fallen to the void. His thoughts became silent.
What was in the bag?
A hand reached and pulled and the contents emerged but the image was split. In that moment his shadow had charged and his mind, reminded of its instincts, began its course of action.
Run! Sprint! Flee!
And he did, for no reason he knew, with the bag in his hand and the music blaring in his ears. It was back, and stronger than before, and it became hard to tell whether he was running from his shadow or whether it was the song that forced his flight. He did not even know the course he must take.
He only knew the desperation to escape.
He neared a group of people and heard their nervous murmurings. They had gathered around something on the ground, but their position obscured his view.
“Please,” he gasped when he arrived, panting and short of breath. “Did you see it? Can you hear that?”
They turned and gasped, splitting to allow him sight of the corpse.
“Here he is, the fiend!” They shouted. “He’s come covered in blood with the girl’s head in his own hand, and now he’s returned to the scene of his crime.”
Then their hands fell upon me and the shouting increased. Words were cast like stones to maim, but their curses could not bother me. I only heard the music, clear as ever, and ceaselessly beautiful.
As they took me away my glance fell back toward the shadow that had followed me. It had gone.
I was alone.
Now when I’m asked of my criminal sins I tell them the truth. I do not blame the music.
It was my shadow that made me do it.