The City Of Shadows

“A shadow is a projection of ourselves, a dark image that follows us tirelessly during your entire life”.  




I was waiting for Noelia. It was ten at night, and the shadows had already fallen over the city. From my bedroom window, I was looking at the park, watching an agonizing lamp: the bulb blinked, and some jumping sparks projected some unsettling shapes through the lid of the registry, some tiny flashes that repeated themselves at intervals.  It was a spell. If you looked at that luminous dance for too long, you were invaded by a dream that was not a dream, and you believed you understood it was not a bad contact or stripped cables bitten by rats, but that they hid a message with a purpose, a terrible or wonderful purpose, according to your destiny. In any case, a purpose that wasn’t your business, and you should never know about. That was the message. Now that you knew, you should forget it and not interfere, because what you were seeing again were stripped cables or a bad contact without purpose. A few seconds looking at the sparks were enough to be captivated and fall in its hands. The antidote was, simply, knowing that it was a spell, because that’s the way to neutralize it. Even though the bad smell didn’t disappear immediately. I advise you to keep that on mind, if you experiment any of the situations I will narrate here…


What am I talking about?


I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I was saying I was waiting for Noelia. I was anxiously waiting for her to get there. I was nervous, because at any minute, I was going to tell her everything. I felt a bit vulnerable, without knowing yet how to face the issue. It’s not something easy to believe and I had to make her understand, despite everything. She was my best friend, and the time had come.


We had always been inseparable. Elia and Noelia. Noelia and Elia. United by something alien to ourselves. Even though we have always been together and weren’t supposed to have any secrets between us, there’s one thing I never had the courage to tell her, something that happened when we were only twelve years old. When we left elementary school behind and felt older because we where in high school. That year when I had an experience I yet cannot interpret, because it introduced me to a mystery and faced me with something, a new way to look at things that changed my life radically. What I discovered, that which five years later I was about to tell Noelia, is something that is around us, always present, but that goes unnoticed to most people.


I can assure you it is as real as it is the wind, the force of gravity or a shiver.  These are things we can feel and perceive in our physical environment, if we’re paying attention, even though sometimes we can confuse them with a shiver or a «deja vu».  These are forces with their own interests that we cannot completely understand, the same way that they cannot understand ours, nothing more. They need our kinetic energy to move around through the world, and piece together their affairs. but they do not take us into account and live through us like parasites. Some say that these are benevolent spirits, others believe we can no longer live without them, because they give us certain balance. I believe the complete opposite.


I am talking about the shadows.


The bell rang.


I ran to open the door. Noelia had cut her hair and it looked good. She was radiant, so straight and stylish like a model. The rehabilitation exercises she had had to do daily during years to fix her back had modeled her body. When she came in she said Hello to Mom, who told her she looked very handsome since she had stopped being RoboCop, we laughed, and when we went by the door of my father’s study, she knocked softly at the door twice:


—Hello, old man.


My father mumbled something that I didn’t catch. Noelia just stuck her tongue out.


—He started it —she Justified herself, as she went into my room.


She threw her backpack on the bed and looked at the computer screen. She moved the mouse to deactivate the screensaver and started looking at my stuff.


—What were you doing?


—Copying the literature notes —I answered.


—Do you have them all?




—Well, you are making a copy for me already.


I connected the printer so that it would make two copies and told her to sit down.


—Do you remember my grandmother?


—Sure… she lived in your house during a couple days —she touched her nose and started scratching it— it was a few years ago, when your parents had a fight and your mother left the house, right?


—Yes, do you remember her name?


—Well, she shrugged, not right now, I don’t remember.


—Her name was Carmen. I said with a smile.


—Good, so?


—What if I told you it was the first time I saw that which?


Noelia looked at me as if I had suddenly gone crazy.


—Why are you insulting her? I remember you used to like her.


—I’m not insulting her, she was an authentic witch. You know, the ones who make spells and stuff like that.


—Oh, come on!


—She had me on a spell the whole time she was home. She did it to protect me, but I didn’t realize it until she left.


—Are you kidding me? —she exclaimed—. Come on, don’t play with me…


—I am not, really. I know it might seem strange now, but it’s the truth, I had never seen her before that day —I stood up and close the door—. I want you to remember and go back 5 years, when my father published Game of Shadows « Game of Shadows ».

—Fine —she replied—, but stop going around in circles and go straight to the point.


—Ok, Noe, but it’s difficult to explain. What did you think of the novel?


—And what does that have to do with your grandmother?


—Answer me.


—Okay… It surprised me because all his previous books had been for children.


—What else?


—It was unsettling it had some passages that would captivate you, some dark and mysterious passages, it was enchanting.


—What if I told you it was a grimoire?


—A what?


—A book of spells, a magic book. That’s why it enchanted you. You just said it yourself. An extensive and elaborate spell in the form of a novel, that causes an effect when you read it.


I opened the desk drawer where I kept my assignments and I took out a couple of sheets with folded borders, bound with leather rings. The paper looked yellow at the corners. The cover was a scroll, around the title there was a type of symmetric tribal forms, a spider web formed by runes that seemed to hide its meaning. I gave it to her, she looked at the cover, sniffed and said: «How beautiful». She looked at me:


—Is this the original manuscript?




—It’s Charming. You’re so lucky to be the daughter of a writer, you get to see these marvels before anyone else.


Since she saw it didn’t say anything, she turned to the next page, then the next and another and another, all adorned with similar watermarks, all different, unsettling, beautiful, irradiating strength.


—It’s precious…! They should have included these ornaments in the book that came out for sale. It would have sold so much more…


—Go back to the beginning and read again. —I told her.


—«The Winding Way of the Wandering Shadows» —she pointed—. Wait a minute…! That’s not the title of the book.


—Keep reading.


—Elia Goldman…? There’s another mistake here, it’s signed by you instead of your old man.


—That’s right. But it’s not a mistake. —I confirmed—. What you have in your hands was not written by my father.


—You mean to say that you wrote the novel?


—Not the novel, but this I did. As I said before, it’s a grimoire, a spell.  That spell that you have in your hands has been replicated by my father, and effect multiplied by the number of sales of his books.


—And what does that mean?


—That there’s a lot of people who know more than before, people who are better prepared, you could say, for what’s coming. I have even been able to see even on internet forums people talking about the subject.


—The subject of the novel?


—Yeah, «the shadows».


—You keep kidding me…? Because you are making a face that’s making me doubt. That was fantasy, wasn’t it? Pure fiction.


—Loosely based on what happened when my parents were about to get a divorce and my grandmother came. Mixing reality and fiction to cover an event, it’s a very common spell and a resource many writers use.




—It charmed you, you said it yourself before.


—It’s just a manner of speaking.


—That reflects something. We need to undo that spell.


—What for? I’m fine.


—So that you can remember.


—Let’s see if I understand, you’re saying that when I read this I’m going to remember something?


—You are going to get rid of a spell that has turned into fantasy some of your memories.


—Fine, fine… let’s change the subject. Your father copied it from here?


—Sort of, although not exactly, because he modified some passages. Then my mother read it and made some corrections; later the editor who suggested he changed the names of some of the characters and the title of the novel, for something more commercial; after that, the and finally my father took a final correction on it. When the book hits the book stores it had lost a lot of its original essence…


—And this is the complete text?


—All of it…


—And you’re saying you wrote it?


—That’s right.




—Because I had to.


—That explanation is shit.


—I can’t tell you more right now.


—That’s something…! I couldn’t imagine your father plagiarizing.


—He didn’t know he was plagiarizing.


—How could he not…? —then she made that smirk that I like so much—. I see, more mystery?


Arlington the window In Love Street link on the window Look at the street; that was not blinking the lamp was not blinking anymore and the bulb and the burnt bulb had let the shadows win territory. It wasn’t a metaphor.


I turned to Noelia.


—Come on, start reading. —I said pointing at the manuscript—. We’ll talk afterwards.


—Fine, but I want you to know that everything you have said to set the mood looks to me like a joke. A prank from the little girl who feels gothic today.


Noelia looked at me, with her Sunday smile, innocent and awake, she let herself fall on the bed and turned the page.


—I told you already, once you read it, you’ll understand and when you understand, you'll know… 




  • Author: Rafael Estrada
  • Translator: Ericka de Valiente
  • Language: English
  • Gender: Mystery, Terror, Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 98
  • Distributed: by Babelcube, Inc
  • ISBN-10: 1547556382
  • ISBN-13: 978-1547556380