Just outside the glow of my laptop’s screen, just over the topmost edge, motion catches my eye. I focus on it for a second or two, squinting to pick it out in the half-light.
“I’m not in the mood,” I say firmly, “And I don’t appreciate it.”
It moves forward a bit more, before halting in mid-step, shrinking back, and dissolving back into the wall.
This has happened ever since I moved in– more frequently after I set up a working space to keep my candles and other tools on. While it’s sometimes disconcerting, I try not to put too much thought into it. They might’ve been here first, more might’ve joined them after I moved in, but, as long as they’re willing to leave me be with a (firm, but gentle) reminder that I’m not in the mood to play with them, I don’t mind them much. They don’t give off any kind of malevolent feelings, and they seem polite enough.
It’s more or less like living with a number of large, translucent house cats.
Where do shadow people come from? I occupy the rather tiny niche of being a witch who doesn’t necessarily buy into a lot of woo, so I don’t default to attributing their appearances to shadowy ghosts, spirits, or malevolent forces. Nine times out of ten, even the most convincing sighting has a mundane explanation behind it– but what about the tenth time? And what if these sightings happen frequently?
There are a bunch of potential physical explanations. Spotting shadow people could be a by-product of my intracranial hypertension, but the scotomas and other visual artifacts it causes don’t look or behave like that. (And, after all of the eye scanning and visual field tests I’ve gotten, I kind of know what to expect from my vision.) It could be because of the way the human eye tends to be a little weird about objects it picks up in its periphery, but I see these head-on just as often. It could be some retinal fatigue from looking at a bright screen, but that, too, has a pretty predictable presentation that doesn’t match up. They move in the same shambling way you’d expect a tired person to, are roughly the same size as a person, and generally don’t just disappear without some kind of provocation.
There are a bunch of other explanations that don’t have anything to do with vision, too. Sleep paralysis is one very common (and scary!) cause of shadow people sightings, but it doesn’t explain seeing them while fully awake. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can also cause hallucinations akin to shadow people. The use of certain drugs can certainly trigger hallucinations, too. I can check off firm “Nope”s next to all of those, though.
Are these mysterious shadow people myth, magick, or something more sinister? Despite my frequent brushes with them, I can’t claim to know the answer. If you’re in the mood for more stories of supernatural shadow people, you may want to check out The Official Shadow People Archives or give the Anything Ghost Show a listen or two.
In the meanwhile, I’ll continue politely asking my shadow people to keep out of my bedroom.