01 Aug Shadow of Doubt
“Shadow of Doubt”Written by Dale Thompson Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 12 minutes
1 Corinthians 13:12 – Young’s Literal Translation 1898
“..for we see now through a mirror obscurely, and then face to face; now I know in part, and then I shall fully know, as also I was known..”
We see through a glass darkly. Irresolvable shadows from immemorial times, like ebony skies creeping in glaucous fashion, swallowed every star and vanished the sad, waning moon.
Joseph Turing was an unassuming, quiet man who lived alone. He stood 5 foot 5 inches tall, or approximately 165 cm tall. He was thin; he loved food but had a high metabolism. His heritage was German, though he had never visited the country. At 50 years old, his eyes had grown sad, giving the appearance of a scolded puppy. When he spoke in his soft eloquent tones, his voice was strong but would always trail off in broken bits and pieces at the end of a sentence. His mind was richly fertile, productive, rich in thought. He was a man of learned ability. As an avid reader and educator by profession, he had always sought greater understanding and reached for the stars. He had achieved prominence in academia but shied away from popularity. Joseph had never married.
He used the old cliché, ‘I was married to my work.’
He tainted a perfectly good one shot of coffee with three sugars and pure cream, drinking up to 12 cups a day. His collection of books and vinyl records was something to boast about, and when he was not reading at home he was listening to music. Speaking of homes, Joseph had recently shifted houses, or as they say in America, he had moved from one house to another.
Joseph was so very happy to have finally gotten out of the cramped, moldy apartment he previously resided in. He wouldn’t miss the noisy neighbors above and below. And next door to him, although the Indian couple had been pleasant for the years he had lived there, he wouldn’t miss the asafoetida fragrance of the curries he often smelled through the thin walls.
His new dwelling was much more spacious. He had bought a 2-bedroom art-deco home with a shallow recessed porch that had a flat projecting canopy, and he now had a full half acre to himself with neighbors far enough away that even their power tools and mowers were faint. The realtor had worked hard to get this sake, and when Joseph was presented with the final selling price, he realized his dream of owning his own home was now a reality.
After about two weeks of settling into his very own home, things started to become strange. The bathroom had been upgraded from the tired old look from the 30s when the house was built. The rest of the house remained original with the parapet walls, trapezoidal, zigzagged and triangular shapes, chevron patterns, stepped forms, sweeping curves and sunburst motifs, sleek and bold, geometric in shape.
The strangeness was actually the updated bathroom which had become completely redesigned, all except the frosted window. The window was typical; it allowed in sunlight but blurred all of the images on the other side. This opaque window scattered the light, creating a translucent effect. It was one evening when the sun had put itself away, and the moon had awakened, rising into a starlit sky. Joseph had visited the bathroom for his evening shower when he caught a glimpse of a shadow through the frosted window. He was immediately unsettled. There should be no one or no thing outside his house, in his yard, on his property at this hour of the night. He waited and watched.
There it was again, a fleeting dark image passed by the window as if it were pacing back and forth. Joseph was not a brave man, though he was not a coward. He understood the limits of his physical abilities. This ambiguous figure on the other side seemed as if it was staring into the bathroom. Quickly and with an unwholesome terror, he flicked off the light switch. The image disappeared. Joseph took a pause to reflect. He then flicked the switch on, and there it was. He immediately turned the lights off, went to the kitchen and retrieved his largest knife from the butcher’s block. Normally a knife in his hand would not feel awkward because he was accustomed to cutting up fruits and vegetables, yet due to the circumstances, with the possibility he might have to use the knife in a violent way, the knife was awkward in his closed fist. As quietly as possible, he made his way to the front door where he slowly opened it and peered out. There was no other car in his driveway except his own. With considerable dread, he slipped out of the house and made his way to the side, leaning protectively against the wall. As he reached the corner of the back of the house, he argued with himself in great debate if he should take a glance at the back of his house. His fecund caution stagnated every verdant notion, throwing his stability completely off the page into a prelapsarian time of primitive conjecture within his troubled mind.
He uttered a German phrase that he often did when excited or nervous: “sturm und drang,” which simply meant “storm and stress.” He quickly stuck his head around the corner and pulled it back with the same swiftness. He saw nothing because he had not opened his eyes. He remembered a quote from his reading: “When a man sees what is not there, he will soon pray for blindness. If blindness does not come, he will pray for death. Nothing is as awful as death. I pray for death.”
Unyielding and determined, he forced his down drawn eyes open and took a nimble peek. There was no one there. The relief was refreshing, but the uncertainty remained. He summed it up to imagination and returned inside to shower. Joseph loved this shower because it never ran out of hot water, and he had no neighbor who could control the temperature unexpectedly with a twist of their own tap. The shower restored his frame of mind and he weighed the events of the evening, now believing he had cleansed himself of the uncertainties, restoring the repose which he had before the fluke with the frosted glass. He gave his body a good towel dry and ran a comb through his thinning hair. As he turned to exit the bathroom, his heart skipped a beat. There on the glass, in undeniable plain sight, was a
dark hand pressed against the frosted glass.
What did this mean? It was the exact symmetry of a human hand. Instinctively he wrapped the towel around his body, and with gaped mouth, he peered at the smudge on the other side of the frosted glass. His right hand fumbled for the light switch, and when his fingers fumbled over it, being careful not to look away from the frosted glass, he flicked the switch off and then back on. Turning the lights on again, he took a step back because now there were two hands, open palm, stretched out fingers pressed against the glass. He flicked the switch off and on again, and this time a face appeared. It was the side of a woman’s face with the cheek pressed against the glass. He could discern it was female because of the long hair, small hands, and from features he could make out that obviously would not normally be those of a man’s profile. The face stayed pressed in one spot while the hands seemed to caress the glass. Although Joseph was feeling sickly, he moved toward the window. He moved as a grief-stricken man, his face deprecated a severely wrinkled frown as a man perplexed in the midst of solving a puzzle. The face turned and faced the glass, the tip of the nose prominently pushed lightly against it. Joseph was practically mortified by this time, but he pressed on with difficult speculation, dismissing the wistful and restless agitation at his own pensive mood.
The image slid its body hard against the glass, its arms, breasts, fingers stretching and flexing, clawing seductively, making light scraping noises with its nails. This shadow, the silhouette of this woman intrigued him, excited him, but the nagging, pulsating throbs of blood in his ears caused pressure on his temples with an intensity like a balloon swelling and about to burst. He’d had more placid days than this one, certainly. Dizziness embarked on him acutely, and in a euphoric stumble, he was drawn into a calm amiability that soothed his sharp concerns. It was at this time his hand reached the frosted window, placing his palm against the dark outline of the unknown hand. Enormous warmth and ecstasy surged through his body, relentlessly gripping him like a python. His rubicund face glowed, causing his fair face to appear pink and spotty as the oxygen was being cut off from his lungs. It was at the moment of completely passing out that he was bone-shakingly jolted. Whatever force had engaged him disengaged, and he wobbled to the floor like a rag doll. Joseph was drained, he lifted his eyes to the frosted glass, but there was nothing there. The shadow figure had left no trace. Demanding answers for his own peace of mind, hemorrhaging emotions foreign to him, he arose. He never knew he possessed such sensitivities.
Rattled but not dissuaded, he stumbled through the house like a madman, not even considering the knife he left back in the kitchen. He stormed outside and around the house.
Although there was very little light from a superbly hidden moon, he looked for any hand prints on the frosted window. He found none, not a print, smear, nor even one fingerprint. His eyes were adjusting to the lack of light, and he scoured the ground meticulously for footprints, but no footprints were visible. He got down on all fours to feel the ground with his bare hands, but he could not detect a single indention, and the grass had not been trodden upon. Disturbingly, the grass beneath the window was warm and dry, unlike the damp grass he had run through to get to the back of the house. He wasn’t about to reveal his own insecurities, although his raw, quivering nerves were on display. Joseph returned to the inside comforts of his house, and with his thoughts presently undecipherable, he was curiously depleted of energy and starving.
When he entered the kitchen, he noticed the knife he had taken with him on his first panicked run to the back of the house. He was thankful that he did not have to use it, but frustrated that his examination of the backyard had produced no answers. He was greatly discomforted. After he had made a sandwich and poured a glass of milk, he scoffed down the meal as a man famished.
The strangeness of the event played on his mind in such a way he had developed a voracious appetite. One sandwich was not enough to get his energy back. He retrieved a large bag of chips from the cupboard and creamy onion dip from the refrigerator, and in a few short minutes, he emptied the entire bag. Feeling the need to be set free of his trepidation, he pensively made his way through the hallway to the bathroom door. He could not see the frosted window from the doorway. Stretching his neck out, craning it like some odd fowl, he strained and leaned forward and then the window came into view. He chuckled to himself because it was merely a frosted window and no dark impressions were apparent.
Shrugging his shoulders, worn out from his mental retrospection and crude tabulations that did not add up, the aftertaste of the onion dip was not as pleasant to his palate as when first consumed. He decided it was time to brush his teeth. As he brushed his teeth, removing the taste from his mouth, the mirror held a lucid reflection of the frosted window just over his right shoulder. Joseph rinsed his mouth, keeping one eye on the window in the mirror. He spat for the third time, dropped his head down to splash water on his mouth and when he raised up, with water dripping from his chin, there it was again! The dark impression of a hand on the other side. Fraught with horror, he mindfully waited in his weirdness and pathos, holding his breath in some sort of self-taught ritual. Conceivably if he did not breathe, the thing he feared would simply ignore him and disappear. But it did not disappear. The second hand appeared pressed lightly against the glass as before. Consequently, the bathroom light dimmed, and a light appeared outside, which illuminated the thing on the other side of the glass. Moreover, the light revealed a full silhouette as the thing removed its hands and took a step backward. Still seeing this revealed through his mirror, Joseph saw a full dark female body motioning to him with one hand as if to beckon his company. Helplessly confused and mortified by this exasperating, mysterious figure, Joseph could not control himself, and he turned from the mirror to the window. Instead of resisting, he waved, and in return, the female figure waved back. Unable to make out a single feature of the female, he could only imagine from the shape of her body and the long flowing hair that she must be beautiful. He was now ungoverned by his own willpower, and he did not care. He was fully committing to the excursion of the day, allowing this foreign influence to impede his rational thinking. He deliberately lost his inhibitions and touched the frosted glass. With a total lack of judicious presence, he placed both hands upon the glass. The female image, shrouded in bleak darkness, approached and laid her hands against his. A powerful light, magnified brighter than any Joseph had ever witnessed, lit up the entire window in such a manner as to reveal the facial features of the female on the other side. She appeared as beautiful as Joseph had imagined. The reality was greater than he could dream. Feelings of love, warmth, comfort and peace cascaded from the top of his head through his body to the souls of his feet. His consternation had completely diminished and there he stood, illogically, hand to hand with this alien being. In this critical moment, Joseph cared not if he lived or if he died as long as he could touch her.
When Joseph awoke, he was cold and shivering. He was drenched in cold sweat and lying curled into a ball on the hard bathroom floor’s tessellated tiles. The incomprehensible had left him lethargic, overwhelmed and with partial amnesia as to what exactly had happened. He no longer saw the intense light from outside. It was morning, and the female shadow in all of her allure was no longer there. Joseph rolled his body up onto all fours, then gingerly pulled himself up to his feet. His back was sore; he had a stitch in his side. His head wobbled like his brain was loose and swashing around in his skull. With blurred vision, he went to the sink and splashed cupped handfuls of cold water upon his face. The cold water was a relief for his hands, as this was when he first realized the pain. The tips of his fingers and palms were burnt as if held over a fire. An insatiable appetite gripped his gut like a bear emerging from a winter’s hibernation. He realized it was morning, the darkness was gone, the female was no longer in the frosted glass, and his starvation took predominance over his scorched fingers. Practically running to the kitchen, he fed like a wild hog on an entire box of cereal, drank the remainder of the milk, and he swallowed a dozen raw eggs. This did not satisfy his famished condition. Like a man starved on a deserted island or a prison camp, he could not control his starvation. This feeling of malnutrition was met with the fifth deadly sin of gluttony. When Joseph had devilishly devoured practically every edible thing in his house, he collapsed on his sofa and there he remained, comatose, until night revisited. The mayhem of the previous night and the indescribable events of the morning were behind him now as he awoke with nausea and heartburn, eating away at his esophagus with a burning acid reflux from the pits of hell. Hardly remembering what all had occurred, he was ashamed; he felt dirty as if something unholy and intimate had been forced upon him. The disgust of violation, the uninvited maltreatment, the unsolicited ravishment; the profane experience was unimaginable. What sort of surreptitious encounter had he been through? Was it spirit, poltergeist, alien abduction? No answer he generated would suffice.
Joseph loathed himself at this moment. He avoided the bathroom, went to the bedroom, put on a change of clothes and then ventured to the garage. There he found a hammer hanging on a hook over his workbench and got himself a pair of safety goggles for good measure. He thought if this was a spiritual thing, the frosted glass was the gateway. He needed to make sure, for his safety, he would not be assaulted again, whether by demon or extra-terrestrial. He was a man on a mission and marched himself into the darkened bathroom where the frosted glass window was hardly visible. Night had come and this is when she appeared. He was confident in his decision to smash the glass once and for all. He flicked the light switch, and there she was in all of her contradiction of exotic darkened vixen and resplendent apogee. Joseph hesitated. Why? He did not know. He raised the hammer up over his head. The figure on the other side of the glass placed both hands on the glass as she had done before. Joseph called to the figure. “Don’t make me do this! Go away!” His reluctance was a fear he may never feel again the way she made him feel now. Yet the logical side of him realized she was destroying him, and she must go.
The figure refused to or could not answer; she waved her hands against the glass and then pressed her body against it as she was done before. Joseph began to become overwhelmed with erogenous sensations, a prurient desire with a burden of undeniable amatory affection for this wonderfully dark creature with whom he was presently wedded.
While still in his cognitive mind, he tried to resist by biting his lip until he tasted blood. The salt and metallic taste, which reminded him of iodine, practically sickened him. The paroxysm of fear lingered. As deplorable as it was, causing an unattractive scowl to be imprinted upon his face, the oratorical running through his thoughts screamed warning and caution at all costs. Interposing hysteria was shouting in his brain to get out of the house, yet his desires swelled within him like a dam about to burst. Temptation was strong; the female entity lured and seduced him through a transmission of energy from her hands, through the frosted glass into his fiber. The glass became more opalescent, changing into prismatic prisms until that place where she was coming from co-existed in Joseph’s world with impenetrable darkness. This was the consequential apex, the finality of it all was unveiling, the apotheosis of the moment. The last thing Joseph felt was indefinite sensitivity, and he shook with eagerness smothered in impenetrable darkness, fathomless, implacable like an ennui at the heart of the dead, intangible to the living, absent of breath, no longer able to defend himself. Joseph was lost in the ebb and refulgence, cocooned in the realms of phantasmagoria, slipping forever into irretrievable oblivion.
Into Joseph’s world, a shadow from the netherworld stepped through the window and over the lifeless body of Joseph, who had been the conduit of its existence in the world of man.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableCraig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A