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Book Sample

Within the Shadows

Can you feel that itch on your back?

The one you want to scratch so badly as you sit beneath the burning sun? The one that, no matter how much you do scratch, is never satisfied?

It feels like the tiny teeth of an unseen creature nibbling at your skin. Constant. Rhythmic. Annoying.

And you do scratch.

You scratch hard and long. So hard and long that you notice blood on the tips of your fingers and pooling under your nails. It somehow seems too much blood for just a scratch, but, all the same, you quickly wipe it away on a tissue, or your jeans, and you hope it isn't seeping through your shirt. As a precaution you put on your jacket, even though your body now heats to levels that make you squirm and your skin become slick.

You can still feel that itch, but it has moved to the nape of your neck where bare skin is covered only by the wisps of hair plastered there because of the heat. You rub the sweat across the place where it itches in the hope that it will ease the irritation. Soothe the inflammation. That it will go away. But it doesn't. And as the seconds pass by into minutes, the itching turns to more of a scrabbling.

Once or twice you look over your shoulder, so convinced are you that something is there. Of course, you think, if there was something there a passer-by would have told you. Wouldn't they? But in your heart you know that no-one talks in the city. People keep their heads down and walk on by. They don't want to get involved. Even to help a dying man.

And you're not dying.

As you walk back to your house you notice that the sun approaches its peak. When you glance up at the sky you feel your shoulders wrenched back and the grabbing and pulling begins, but there is still nothing there. You're sure of that because you've looked in the store-front windows. Pretending to browse.

Then, without further warning, in that one moment when the sun is so directly overhead that your shadow becomes you and you become it, you find that you no longer walk in the sunshine.

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