The shadows on the western wall of his room were creeping Peter out. They had legs and heads. They were way too three-dimensional to be just regular shadows. Appearing with the first morning light at 6:38 a.m. their animal-like shapes changed as the sun moved up in the eastern sky. The sunlight coming through the thin curtains on the only windows in Peter’s bedroom caused light and shadows to be cast on the wall. The shadowy shapes slowly danced in and out of peels of old paint on the wall separating the basement bedroom from the bathroom. As they grew taller the shadows danced faster, sometimes breaking off and chasing each other in circles. Then they would start all over again, as if in a continuous loop of movement.
“If I don’t look at them they don’t exist,” Peter said as he forced his gaze back to his screen where he was inventing a new attack strategy for his game’s murderous dogs. Since his desk faced north, he could completely avoid the shadowy wall. Peter told himself that the shadows will disappear once the sun is above the house, away from the windows. He checked a website which told him that the sun would be overhead at 1:05 p.m. So he just wouldn’t look over at the wall until after that. Peter keyed in new programming commands, munching on greasy leftover scraps of Chinese take-out, last night’s dinner. The hours passed quickly as Peter immersed himself in his killing game.
At 1:05 p.m. the music started. It came from the west side of the room. At first it was only a drum beat but soon violins and oboes joined in. It wasn’t a pleasant melody. It sounded like a dirge, like funeral music, but not the type to be in a sacred place. The music felt like something unholy. He told himself this was probably someone’s idea of a joke so he should just ignore it and it will stop. The music followed a repeating pattern…like the morning’s dance of the shadows.
It was after 1:15 p.m. now. Peter decided to look at the western wall, not admitting to himself that he was worried what he might find. First he checked to make sure that the sun was no longer coming in from the windows. “Okay, now there won’t be shadows,” he said. Slowly Peter swiveled his chair to the western wall.
The shapes on the wall were still there. They were more solid and darker gray. They had more distinct details than before. Now they had faces. The faces had fangs. Their legs extended to claw-like feet. They were still in the black and white world of shadows, but the shapes could no longer be generated by light from the windows since the sun had moved up over the eaves. The dancing matched the slow rhythm of the music.
The music stopped suddenly and the shadowy shapes faced into the center of the room. Peter pushed his chair back away from them. The light in the room dimmed as the creatures prepared to jump off the wall.