The lights will be out all over town. I have 15 minutes.
15 minutes, till I disappear forever, or will I?
Let me begin at the beginning.
24 hours ago, I was living a normal life, a life that most people would be happy to have. I had my dream job, I lived a happy and independent life and I lived in one of the best apartments in the town.
After a tiring day at work, I kicked back and tried to sleep. I went to sleep, but only after having a mildly disturbing conversation with my mother. After the usual catching up, she started giving me a hard time for not coming home for the holidays. She blamed my work, and its long hours, claiming that I am living in the shadow of my boss, and need to move on with life outside my work.
In retrospect, that should have been my first warning, and also the reason that I may disappear forever.
People often have some innate habits that they are unaware of. Me, I was unaware that sleeping with all the lights out, save a minuscule bedside lamp, would save my life.
You see, people have often told us, “don’t live in others’ shadows”, “don’t worry, the shadows leave when the morning comes” and so forth. But what will people tell me, if I become my shadow?
I woke up today morning, feeling weak and limp. Not an ordinary limpness, but a sort of jarring weightlessness.
I turned over, away from the lamp, my forearm trying to cover my eyes. I opened my eyes to understand why the light was still falling on my eyes when I realized that half my hand was missing. I awoke with a start, feeling a little stronger as the lamp’s light hit me with more force. I could see my whole body now. I dismissed my doubts and pegged them as bad dreams.
Nonetheless, I didn’t want to take chances. I kept a wary eye out as I switched on more lights. The lights increased, I felt weaker and disoriented. By the time all the lights came on, I was faint with exhaustion. A lot of my memory seemed to be missing, and that weightless feeling was not going away.
I shut out all the lights, save two bedside lamps. I felt stronger, invigorated.
The feeling was unreal. I was standing next to the bed, but I felt two dimensional. I could move around and I was bumping into things, but I couldn’t feel them at all. I felt thinner and taller, the world was angled weirdly.
My phone was lighting up and vibrating, but I couldn’t hear the ringtone. I picked it up gingerly; making sure it’s reflection is visible on the wall behind. I answered the phone, my boss, couldn’t hear me at all. I dismissed it as network issues and called back, but it seemed like he couldn’t hear me at all. I called a lot of other people, with no avail. I was talking, but not a soul could hear me.
With no sound and no existence without meager light, there was no way I could step out of the house.
My boss’s shadow is what I had been yesterday; today, I was mine.
The whole day passed in avoiding all objects. I could see them, in a hazy tinge, but couldn’t really feel them. Imagine wearing dark sunglasses at night. When you look through the glasses, you can make out shapes, but not the exact size and dimensions. But when I banged into these objects, they gave me nasty bruises.
Eating and drinking water were tough activities. I tried to put the food down on the floor and positioned myself to eat it by half-lying down and half-crouching, but only bits of the food went into my mouth; the large bits that I could see on the wall next to me. For drinking water, I would leave the tap open, and position myself in a way that the water seemed to be going into my mouth but wet all my clothes instead. (Water has a weird trajectory, trying seeing its shadows.)
Even having a bath was a difficult task, if there was no surface for me to be reflected in, I would slowly lose all my memories and become faint with exhaustion. Essentially, I was like smoke, if there was too much light, I would disperse. If there was too little, I would lose certain parts of myself. I needed light, and a surface, no matter what. That was going to prove to be a problem.
The news had been blaring about power outages for a while now. For one hour, the electricity would be completely out tonight, so the electricians could fix the faulty wiring.
But, how was I going to survive if the lights went out for an hour at night?
As dawn approached, I grew longer and thinner, but that just meant more trouble. Shadows get the longest before they disappear completely.
I armed myself with candles and prepared for the outage. I was certain that I would get through the night easily. My worries about my existence were limited to a day-to-day basis.
I wondered how I would manage afterward, complete isolation and no communication aside, how do two-dimensional objects which require a light source and a reflecting source for survival, exist?
Oh, how I got ahead of myself, how much of overthinking and planning I worried myself with.
Who will remind me that flames cast no shadows?
It is said that even your shadows leave you when it gets dark, but as the darkness crept in, I fought hard not to scream, as the world enveloped me in a pitch-dark pool.