Shelley tugged at her mink coat, crossing it tightly over her chest, pursing her lips behind her mask to seal her chattering teeth.  

“Why can’t they get their supplies in advance?” She muttered kicking a stray can on the road, “Dire emergency my foot!” 

She put her gloved hand in her coat pocket and removed her phone to check the time. 11.48 pm. A small piece of paper pirouetted to the tune of a sudden chilly wind and then settled in the sinister stillness. 

The sound of her high heeled boots on the cobblestone paving echoed across the street. Her only company was two stray dogs rummaging through the garbage-strewn around a bin under a dimly lit electric pole. Her elongated shadow heightened the eeriness around. She hated those shadows, always made her feel like she was being followed. Day shadows were ‘friendlier’, right in front of you mirroring your every move. But the night ones seemed to have an existence of their own, trailing behind in cahoots with some obscure accomplice. 

Suddenly the constant foraging stopped, after a fleeting silence, both dogs started growling.  Shelley stopped in her tracks, her breathing accelerated as she considered whether to stop or continue walking.

Her glance flitted over her shadow to see if it still reflected her or had morphed into something else. She had heard stories about how if a shadow was accidentally cast on a wandering soul, the shadow would take the form of that spirit and- 

“Stop!” she chided to her brain. “I will just stop looking sideways and focus on that sign over there.”

“Okay one last glance!” She mumbled craning her neck.

Then she saw it!

Another shadow lurking behind hers! She stiffened.

It had an odd-shaped head or muzzle, was it? It certainly didn’t seem human.

“Run!” Her flight hormones howled!

She quickened her pace.  She sensed the alien presence right behind her, it unfurled a webbed projection which slowly merged with her own shadow.

She just stood there frozen like a stalagmite. 

An insistent tapping on her shoulder forced her to swivel around facing a haggard man wearing a makeshift facemask cut out of an old detergent bottle. A tattered hoodie was his sole source of warmth in the chilling night, his frostbitten hands held a folded piece of paper. He pointed to the paper then pointed to Shelly. 

The paper seemed familiar; she took it from him and noticed it was the prescription for the medicines she was heading to buy.

“You could have called me! Why were you stalking me like that?” She blurted out.

He waved his fingers in front of his mouth gesturing he was dumb.

She felt pangs of sadness and guilt simultaneously. Here was an unknown stranger braving the cold to return her a prescription, while she mistook him for some monster. And there was herself who was reluctant for a pharmacy errand for her own grandma. 

I guess am the real monster here!
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