Shadow Visitor (“I haunt” Series)

Shadow Visitor (“I haunt” Series)

Dad’s shadow, dignified, soaring, approached the door’s glazed top.

“Don’t stay up till dawn, dear Daddy’s kids.”

Metallic clinks on the tiled floor of the entryway, then tiny imperative glassy clinks. Mom knocked. She peered inside, through the starched lace curtain fixed over the upper panels.

“Turn the key in the lock. I want to hear it. Now.”

Damian complied with demonstrative purpose, thus ensuring the siblings’ indoor safety for New Year’s Eve night. Smart kid, though my one-year junior.

Chimerical raves

Meanwhile, my eyes glued on the tiny screen, I visualized the entire planet roaring with crazy raves in diverse venues. Ornate tables in bright restaurant rooms, chandeliers hanging from giant ceilings, or fancy clubs booming with music.

Lascivious tango melodies, imperial waltzes, electric guitar screams, and rock beats played in my wishful child’s head. My brain, my muscles, my chest danced. While my bottom rocked stuck to the sofa, and my heart sulked.

Jazzy serpentines streamed across skies, confetti showered on ladies’ glaring shoulders, gentlemen opened champagne bottles. Boom!

The key switched twice in the antiquated lock, though, sealed my loneliness, away from the world’s party. Kids’ fate when grownups celebrate. Thank God I shared the New Year’s Eve seclusion with my brother. And the celebratory TV program.

Why were our parents lingering in the vestibule? The two shadows fidgeted, whispered, garments swished. If they left anyway, then let them depart at once.

A tiny scene popped from my memory box, liquified, glued to my soul to squeeze honeyed dew drops. Baby me squeezing Mom’s fingers. “If you ever leave my hand, I’ll suffocate.” Growth and menacing clouds of old age looming shadowed my babyhood.

Lingering shadows

“OK, we go now,” Dad said.

“Remember to feast on the goodies I prepared and make midnight wishes. But dare not venture out.” Mom’s voice. “My darlings, your festive table beats any posh restaurant’s standards.”

The room’s middle featured a lush table, laid earlier with enthusiasm by the whole family. While carol singing and chattering, they enjoyed unifying exuberance. Dad’s milky-blue irises misted, as usual, contrasting with his army officer’s stentorian voice. While Mom, the household’s supreme commander, played soprano dramatics.

A frosty angel emerging from a fresh crown of fir twigs, inundated in glitzy bubbles, reigned as the proud centerpiece. Plates of hors d’oeuvres—taramasalata, meatballs, cheese bites, deviled eggs, rose petals of ham and salami assortments.

Queen was the traditional boeuf salad, lying on an oval tray, with a lace of culinary adornments on its amber top. Mom’s display of her stifled, inborn artistic drives.

King was the champagne bottle. “We’ll open it in the morning,” Father said when he laid it beside the majestic salad. Dawn’s prospect cast a balmy drizzle over my gloom.

The shadows still twiddled and whispered in the lengthy hallway. Were they leaving or not?

“The cake’s in the fridge,” Mother said. “Don’t exaggerate with your servings, children.”

Then, Dad’s last instruction. “Light no candles or sparklers! Not here, neither in the grand room.”

Mom: “Move the boeuf salad and eggs to the grand room after midnight lest they go bad!”

I heard the brass bolt slide open, weary hinges tweedle, and then the front door clunk—parents left. A coda of glass trembling.

Twinned trails of floral and spicy perfumes teased my spirits, twirling above the gourmet teasers, mocking them. Then whimpered, defeated by smoked salmon whiffs, melted to sobs on the queen salad’s glowing coat.

Phantasmagorical shadows

My eyesight see-sawed between the loud screen and the silent angel, who emitted celestial peace through the medium of green fir leaves. We’ll feast later.

Still unmoved, I tuned into restaurant etiquette worldwide, despite incongruous time zones. Radiant glassware, gilded cutlery, gold napkin rings unified meridians, defying mundane hours.

After tasting some tidbits, Damian joined me on the couch. We tucked our feet under bottoms and watched the zappy Revellion show—variété. Musical programs reeled, interspersed with comedy scenes and circus acts.

We got in the groove of watching the off-the-shelf package. The massive, white wooden door dominated the opposite wall from its central position, an unswerving sentinel.

Despite its see-through torso and the ridiculous grandma’s petticoat of a curtain, it towered over the room with a conspicuous presence. A safeguarding menace casting its mesh over the mock feasting hall. The tall windows flanking it played lower-rank aids, so we minded not their insignificant contribution.

Lulled by the monotonous grind of surrogate entertainment, I found a parallel spectacle. The tiny 60s TV grew minuscule, a ridiculous lacquered wood box blaring and flickering for attention. A mere bug struggling at the bottom of the left window, which rose, pearl shaded, to the palatial ceiling.

Yeah, the chief guardian’s aids benefitted from modern minimal linen shades we lowered at nighttime. A screen for my bug’s show. My mesmerized glance yo-yoed, a cursor now gliding upward on the creamy canvas, next sucked in the TV’s luminous vacancy.

Swayed into metaphysical dozing, I imaged shadows on the mute window’s purported screen. Nacreous, vaporous, grayish, or blank, phantasmagorical shapes thinned and stretched, shrank and dilated. Yikes!

The chill

Soon, a mischievous chill raked in my chest.

“Damian, are you cold?”

“Hey, no. I’m OK.”

Wood smoldered in the sumptuous tiled stove, cozy heat still prevailing in our living-dining chamber. Through the iron intricacies of its ancient door, a silent glow emanated, burnishing surfaces. Mom’s crystalware in the demode showcase lining the right wall, mayonnaise coatings, floating dust specks.

I relinquished my nest, though, and put more skinny logs on the fire. Flames soared, menacing. With my hand sweaty on the cherubim handle, I shut the benevolent wrought-iron portal.

Once I resumed my crouched position, the strange chilliness descended on my spine. My marrow cried, puzzled. Its anguish whimpered, sent sobs to my brain. Oh my God! What the hell?

When tension impregnated my brain’s sponge full, I grabbed Damian’s hand.

“Damian, come closer, please!” Without asking, my little brother complied. Then, impassible, Damian continued watching the agitation on the glass screen.

Veiled shadow

My peepers scanned the static spectacle of the guardians on the front wall. A shadow stuck in the far-right corner, behind Mom’s precious cabinet. Nothing but the case’s reflection in the window’s shade. What else, since it stood in the firelight’s way?

But the outline was far from rectangular. And the ovoid, undulate top, lower.

I gave my brother a jolt. “Damian, look!”


“Shh. The right window. Mom came back to check on us.”

“What if she pretended to leave, only to see how we manage?”

“Sounds like her, yeah. She wants to make sure we’re off blunders.”

Damian stole inquisitive glances at the caricature. After inspection, he didn’t buy my surmise. “If that’s Mom, she must have veiled her head. To ruin her high locks? Hardly possible.”

“Aha, Mrs. Penesh is spying on us. Nosy hag. Her kerchief tops the spooky shadow, not Mom’s veiled coiffure.”

“Let her fall asleep at our window, if she pleases,” Damian said.

“She’d love it, I bet. But strike eight, our neighbors clamber on their colossal matrimonial bed.”

Photo by Viviana Ioan

Noble habits

No matter how curious the aged spook, the couple never defiled their religious routine with meal hours and bedtime rituals. Filthy rich till the communists destroyed their trade and stole their properties, they salvaged noble habits. And Mrs. Penesh, of course, her curious nature.

She spent her daytime with an ear to the courtyard’s gate and the other to our mutual front door. In her head, she sure kept a log of entries and outs—ours, our guests’, the postman’s, the milk guy’s.

Her nighttime MO stayed foggy, though. With her stern husband snoring beside, I imaged Lady Penesh a crazed statue, her hearing and smell sensors sharpened to unworldly extremes.

The former merchant, now in his mid-eighties, counterweighed his wife’s inquisitiveness. A fallen giant who shuffled his boots the length of the courtyard, contemplating the interminable mansion. Once, his asset.

His scarce words, reserved for necessities, ruffled the tightness of his plump lips. Rather than addressing neighbors, he mumbled to spiders and ants crawling on calcareous moldings. Understandable since the communists turned his palace into an assortment of squats and crammed the lawful owner in the most miserable one. Paying rent to your plunderers hurt.

While Mrs. Penesh adjusted to a tenant’s shameful condition, the magnate’s fancy never relinquished his status. The gap between bygone brilliancy and squalid mundanity shortened his daytimes and lengthened his dreams. When I happened in the entryway after eight, Mr. Penesh’s venerable, thundering snores reached my eardrums.

Kerchiefed shadow

The charming art déco lady in sepia photos, though, tied drab cotton kerchiefs under her chin, gossiped, and chatted with housewives. She breathed the agenda of the neighborhood’s gallery—from lawyer to urchin. Romances, syrupy; divorces, tragedy; and academic reports of everyone’s offspring—infamy.

An avid reader of royalty’s secret, and commoners’ showy love stories, Mrs. Penesh starred the detective in the street’s quotidian movie. A role that bled into night settings.

Beyond the neighbors’ frail glazed door, I sometimes glimpsed a lanky shadow tiptoeing. The statue squirmed in bed till her obsession with mundane omniscience pushed her to break time and courtly barriers. So sent her to the spying spot in their kitchenette-vestibule.

Once a powder room, I surmised, linking their huge night quarter to the opulent bathroom. Ours, now, in whose luxurious tub the intruders’ kids played king or queen.

But Mrs. Penesh to leave her hidden vantage point after eight? Never. Till tonight.

While I entertained a benevolent surmise, Damian started shivering. Why? The next-door gran’s snooping spirit outgrew confines—her mind’s and meager abode’s. A premiere, but nothing frightening.

Vaudeville shadow

“Hey, Damian, she’s only surveilling us.”

“She? Laura, that thing is not Mrs. Penesh.”

“How do you know?”

His weak torso quivered, chin shuddered. The sofa trembled at the frantic rhythm of Damian’s terror.

“Baby, what’s got into you?”

Damian grabbed my hand. I held him tight, and he held me tighter.

“Dear me, baby, don’t sob! She can’t see us. The shades are pretty opaque.”


“Mrs. Penesh, who else? Let’s feign indifference. If we don’t make a fuss, she’ll get bored and retreat to her den.”

“No door panes tinkling preceded, as usual, her stealthy emergence. Figure that.”

“The blasting TV muffled the tinkles.”

“Laura, I’m scared.”

“Don’t shout. Any commotion inside will keep her vigilant and more curious. Do you want to welcome the New Year with the hag hanging outside?”

Damian giggled.

“Shh! Let’s slink in the grand room,” I said. “Our Snow Queen’s palace, remember?”

“If she can’t see, she’ll sense our passage.”

“She? Oh, baby boy, love you.” I strengthened my embrace around his body. “You’re Kai-frozen.”

“A chill in my chest. Here, feel my icicle heart! I want Mama.”

“At daybreak, Mama will be near you, baby.”

“Now she’s dancing with Dad. If only they knew…” Damian broke into whimpering.

“Mrs. Penesh will fall off her feet for such lack of sleep. Tonight, she made a fool of herself, and tomorrow we’ll laugh off her vaudeville act.”

For sure, the crone kept her eyes glued to the glass to peer inside. But I trusted her infirm eyesight. The damn shadow will soon liquefy from exhaustion and leak at the window’s bottom. What a laugh.

The shadow

As though hearing my inner derision, the darn apparition set itself in fidgety motion. My brother and I solidified the embrace. Our bodies formed a rock on the sofa, defying the stately sentinels’ mission.

My guts cursed the TV-set flickers that set us in a damn limelight. Bloody bug, bleeding lame jokes and light-hearted songs.

Stuck to the horror screen on the right, the shadow glided mid-ward. God! Damian’s terror wailed to my turbulent entrails. How dense, how strong a rock got?

A million creepers climbed through the tube of my spine, legions crawled on my nape, swarmed in my skull, perforating my transfixed brain. I experienced hairs raising, and I was only eight. Protect poor Damian, an ethereal voice said.

When the shadow projected itself on the mantilla of the guardian door, we averted our eyes in shock. Mrs. Penesh, forgiven her soul, slept beside her old man in their fin de siècle mammoth bed.

Brow to brow, we prayed—Our Father, who art in heaven…

The thing jangled the doorknob with gentle touches. We stopped our prayer. The shadow sucked out the room’s air. Though light-headed, we refused to let the twinned rock disintegrate and collapse.

Faint swishing, stealth clanging, diaphanous breaths gained horrendous clamorous volume. Enough to scare the highest-rank angels’ hearts.

We endeavored to sneak a glance at our forlorn, angelic table companion. The sparkly frost dimmed, its halo dissipating in the penumbra that the TV’s screams, with nonchalance, mocked.

The voice

In a whirl of magnetic power, the shadow slurped our eyesight. We gawked at its spectral whiteness, mesmerized. Then heard it.

“Children, open the door.” The voice, feminine-masculine in undiscernible, confusing proportions, tasted honey, effused soft jasmine fragrances. “I won’t harm you. Open it. Please, my darlings.”

It stood there insisting and begging, and we looked. Our hearing, baffled, numbed its sister-senses, so we forgot how frightful the slimy silhouette was.

In the powder of silence that lay, our heartbeats ticked wild, the charred wood in the stove whined, and the centerpiece angel wept. The feasting table emanated frustration.

A Polar breath coated our bodies’ rock in unearthly frost. Lungs, stomach, entrails, our common heart got ice-brittle. Then a misty halo oozed, droplets budded on skin, forehead, petrified cheeks, haze floated, merged into a gloom gloam, hovered.

The chamber featured a central, multi-dimensional screen, in whose middle the tableau vivant caved in. No other screen. Our diving spirits, the eerie shadow, and the fog between.

Seconds stopped. The planet was still gyrating? White wolves chased deer, elks’ hooves galloped tundras, falcons soared? Waltzes twirled, bacchants clinked, parents beamed?

Shadow’s jingle

“Chill… Chill… Sweet children…” Boiling honey from hell.

“Damian, why did you not slide the front door latch shut?”

“I did what Mom said.”

“Childreeen!” The shadow’s jingle again.

“Why, in hell, did she do that?”

Damian asked, “Who, the ghost?”

“Ghosts don’t exist. I meant Mom.”

“Moms get reckless and clumsy when they haste to parties in fancy dresses and high heels.”

“Anyway, whoever this monster is, did you hear the wretched door to the entryway open?”

“Open, and shut, when Mom and Daddy took off.”

“Blimey,” I said. “The shadow entered while they streamed music hall.”

“Or loud carols and bells, whip lashes and augury wishers, the traditional riot, you know.”

“I’m stuffed with brassy traditions. But for them, we might have catered for our safety. One finger, no more, is enough to slide the bolt and secure that door.”

“Shh, Laura. The thing’s listening, stopped casting her jingle.”

Gender dilemma

A dilemma gobbled my sprouting chuckle: she or he? “Damian, you said her, but which scares you more: a witch-hag or an ogre?”

My brother lapsed into chortling.

“You have a heart for laughter in these murky circumstances?”

“Spectral, Laura.”

“Hush. Forget your little humor and better explain your attribution of gender.”

“Wow, academic language. From which classes: grammar, biology?”

“Specters are phantasms, so they defy academic biology.”

“But not grammar, you say. By the way, how come she speaks our language if she comes from nowhere?”

“Specters understand any language, Damian.”

“Wow, they like grammar. I hate it.”

“Off, baby, now you scare me. Are you no longer afraid?”

“Of biology hags, no, though I find them worse than ogres in fairy tales.”

The spook from hell eavesdropped into enough blabber. “You play naughty, ha?” The voice caught a masculine tinge. “Unlock the door. I have a present for you.”

Damian lessened his arms around me, swiveled his neck full, and replied to the shadow. “We don’t need your present.”

The vaporous vision froze. Such stiffness defied phantoms’ immaterial nature, granted it marrow, a spinal container, bones, muscle, fat. A vessel recipient of wonder, frustration, anger.

But what baffled me was the voice. What hellish anatomy sustained it? Hell’s pits hid arcane recorders for human speech—in living and dead language.

Thinking of grammar, I dared a smirk.

The doorknob

Its spooky source exposed, the shadow lost ground. The stiffer incarnated, the weaker its devious mesh.

As stock-still, the doorknob waited. No stir, no squeal.

“Ah, so you don’t like toys. A pity… Other kids do.” Only pretense, though, vacant words. The voice lacked volition.

What if the spook executed a routine mission and the prospect of failure scared him?

“You still there?” Feminine curiosity. “I’d love to see you, wanted us to make friends.” A lamenting tone. “Speak to me, children.”

Damian and I goggled at each other. “What?”

“That’s Mrs. Penesh’s voice,” Damian said.

“Poor woman, her carcass lies in bed, dead.”

“Came to say goodbye. Cute.”

“Shut up, smirky devil.” My hairs, from microscopic cilia to long locks, stood transfixed. Then flopped, lifeless. The electric current moved on to spark my rage. “Go, open the door, let the lost spirit in!” I pushed Damian off the couch.

“Aha, you’re still there. What troubles your kids’ pure souls, as I intend not to give you a scare?”

Shocked afresh, Damian scrambled to his feet. “That’s not Mrs. Penesh’s ghost.”

“Thank God. Better a—”

“Don’t speak words you do not understand. A turn in the lock will dissipate the mystery,” the strange voice said.

“Two turns,” said Damian.

“OK, as you say. Come, open, my brave boy.”

Damian filled his lungs with air, however stale, then opened his mouth. It gaped, as though to blow blizzards. “Go away! Out! Quit our entryway!”

I inhaled fear—through my skin pores, my crumbling spine marrow, my pupils’ black holes. The doorknob pivoted. Slits, splits, cracks, and gashes lay in ambush.

As I cowered to receive a hail of furies from hell, the chill inside my breast halted. Lull.

The angel

“Laura, sit up!” my kid brother said.

I disentangled my chimerical fears, unknotted joints, straightened my muscles to watch the spectacle on the grand screen facing me.

The guarding threesome, props in a silent movie, glided hither, foregrounding the antique lace stiffened in starch. Under my spellbound gaze, the shadow remodeled shape. Outlines of flapping elbows, head top nodding, in a concentrated intent on its own persona.

She fastened her kerchief under her chin, then zoomed out, melted.

Damian swiveled toward me. “You saw that?”

“I did. A crone in the neighborhood, demented by loneliness, seeking company on New Year’s Eve.”

“What if she steals children left home alone, is demented by envy or wickedness?”

“God, Damian, you are brilliant. The piercing pupils of Mr. Penesh, his wife, the hags stringing outside gates. Jealousy kneads at aged hearts…”

“They envy our youth, right?”

“Think so. When the shadow left—”


“—a strange sadness overwhelmed my soul. Young soul. Still, what incarnated ogre, or hag, melts like that?”

“A witch-hag. Or a wizard.”

“Damian, do you have the guts to sneak into the hallway and slide the damn bolt?”


. . .

We shook off horror leftovers and sat at the ornate table. Feast time!

Damian glanced at our seraphic companion. “Angel, if only you could eat.”

The angel sparked smiles, myriads. Our Revellion appetite sufficed it and pleased the mayonnaise-veiled queen.

While champagne, hushed in the festive green bottle, dreamed of Dad’s hand and ebullient bubbles.

“Let’s light a perfumed candle, Damian!”

“And sparklers!”

. . .

Featured image by Polat Eyyüp Albayrak – Pexels.

About the author

Solar Writer walking on the dark side to bring mind's secrets to light, in romances with a psychological edge. Next Woman blogger showing you how to use the power of SELF to stay young, confident and magnetic.