Category A: Highly Commended (2020) Monash Short Story Writing Competition

Author: Prisha Rewal

Title: Followed


The shadow slithers across the floor, darkness trailing behind it. It’s an odd shape, almost like a snake, but with clawed hands and spikes that protrude out at every corner like fangs. It’s a warped figure, twisted in agony, the colour of a black, inky night. But the more I watch it, I begin to realize that it’s coming towards me. And when I take a step back, it simply follows. Suddenly, the shadow stops and starts to morph into something else…….and that’s when I find myself screaming.

“Kayla! Kayla! Snap out of it!”

I’m brought back by the sound of my little brother’s voice. He and Mum are staring at me strangely with concerned looks in their eyes.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” my brother pipes up.

That makes me recall seeing the shadow morph into a tall, bony man with a look of pure torture and torment etched onto his face. Shuddering, I quickly reply “Yeah, I think I got a bit frightened from all the shadows in the trees.” Not the most convincing answer, but Mum falls for it.

“Well, just be careful Kayla,” she says in her annoying grown-up voice. “Your brother and I are going to go back to grandma’s house and start unpacking our things.”

And with that my mum and my brother start off in the other direction disappearing through the doorway when they reach grandma’s house. I sighed. I never really liked going to grandma’s estate in summer. The woods right outside her house always seemed to be hiding something, and until today I had never seen anything. Suddenly, a flicker of movement caught my eye, interrupting my thoughts. I whipped around. My breath caught in my throat as I realized that the shadow was back again…………

The shadow was in the form of the tall man that I saw earlier, but this time he wasn’t coming towards me. He just stood there and pointed north. Weird. I cautiously took a step forward, and as I took more steps, the shadow moved, dancing among the trees and sneaking in and out of branches. Yet he still kept pointing north. So, what did I do? Well, I followed him.

I don’t know how long I followed the shadow for, maybe a few hours. I wasn’t too stressed on getting back to grandma’s estate, and I knew these woods well. Just then, the shadow abruptly stopped in front of a large oak tree. I looked around and registered that these parts of the woods were unknown to me. The shadow gestured in front of the oak tree, and that’s when I noticed that there was a small button on the oak tree. The shadow pointed to it and then to me. I reached forward and pressed the button, and that’s when the shadow suddenly transformed into a young man.

“You have no idea how grateful I am right now,” the man said.

I widened my eyes. “So, what just happened?”