I would like to hear more about the shadow men please.
When I was nine, I tried to learn how to ride a bike.
It did not go well- I couldn’t get the hang of balancing without training wheels, and was too easily distracted to brake in time or would fail to notice cars. One evening in July, I was making some progress in that I’d traveled to the neighbor’s cul-de-sac to practice without traffic, and was making some balance progress in that i realized going faster made it easier to balance. It was going great until the crappy brakes on my bike failed and plowed into the curb and went flying, head-first into Mrs. Chin’s yard, and directly onto the hoe she’d forgotten to take in.
My helmet did do it’s job in that I did not immediately die from impact, though it did split in two and I had to be taken to the hospital for the large gash in my scalp. The Doctors couldn’t see signs of severe trauma, but agreed i definitely had a bad concussion and that I was lucky to be alive.
That’s about when I started seeing flickering shapes in my peripheral vision whenever I had to take pain or allergy meds, or if I got too tired or dehydrated. This wasn’t particularly upsetting, becuase at the time I also had two very strange cats.
When my mother was two months from my mother’s due date with me, her neighbor’s prize-winning purebred Angora Cat got out and had a night on the town with every inbred tom in East Palo Alto, and possibly some space aliens. Two weeks after my due date when I was still stubbornly refusing to vacate, the neighbor came back with two kittens and asked my mother if she wanted these thigns before he threw them in the river. becuase threatening a heavily pregnant woman with dead kittens is a great way to make friends. Mom grabbed the kittens, not even weaned yet, and menaced him with the kitchen knife until he left.
Mom tried to socialize them really, but there was a new baby in the house and so the task largely fell to Mazel, The wolf-hybrid who barely qualified as a dog. She adored them, and did her best to raise them, grooming and cuddling and carrying them to the play blanket with me so she could watch all three of us, but there is only so much one can do in the face of severe genetic and nutritional impairment, and the cats grew up Strange. The orange male was Boris, the Black Female was Natasha.
Boris grew into a rangy degenerate that never groomed himself, Sharp-faced and snaggle-toothed, and with the object permanence and coordination of a todder on jagermiester. He’d often wander the house, either half-shaved or covered in mats despite Mazel and Natasha’s best efforts, screaming becuase he’d forgotten where his food or litter box was. We couldn’t brush him without being clawed half to death, and he’d hide, shaking and crying afterwards. Curiously, he was the more affectionate of the two, occasionally being possessed by a mood where he’d want to sit on the back of your neck or on your feet, and you could pet him as long as you didn’t actually look at him. These moods usually happened in the dead of night.
Natasha was solid black and unfathomably soft, softer than any cat I’ve met since. She was also clever, managing to catch songbirds through the plastic mesh of the “cat enclosure” my parents built on the side of the house so they could go outdoors without endangering themselves. I’m not sure HOW she managed to catch robins through a 1-inch heavy duty construction net but we’d find the bodies, picked clean save for the head and wings. She’d come sit in the room with you, but only if she had adequate cover, like hiding under the dresser or behind the couch. The only way to pet her was to lay on your stomach, reach an arm into her space without looking at her, and then she might allow you to scratch her ears or touch her back.
After living with them for all my life, shadowy living presences I couldn’t really see properly was the norm.
I didn’t even realize that this was abnormal until I was 19 and trying to describe a migraine to my Violently Catholic roommate, telling her I needed to take my meds now becuase I was starting to see shadow people on the edge of my vision. Turns out hallucinating shadowy entities isn’t a normal migraine symptom, also having your well-meaning roommate say the Rosary over you in case of demons is weirdly soothing.
Since then I’ve kept track of when they appear, and a particularly significant change in sinus/skull/barometric pressure is a good indicator, which is why the doctors and I think it’s the result of that impact injury. Anti-inflammatory meds, allergies, allergy meds, thunderstorms or migraines can all summon them. Or driving up the side of a mountain too fast. I once had a very nice hike up in the alpine Rockies with them. They appreciated the delicately tiny wildflowers up there.
They’re not frightening, and they occupy the same category of “real” as some of the recurring dreams I have. Not really, but an integral part of my expiriences as human.