Vacant Shadows by Cydney Goodwin


Summer Water Challenge Honorable Mention


There is nothing lurking in the shadows of 29th Downing Street. This is because there are no shadows to lurk in. The street has been well lit for that very reason—too much talk of this Jack the Reaper fellow, or whatever it is the papers are calling him these days, around town recently, scaring honest folks out of their evening strolls. So the government took it upon itself to spend our hard-earned tax money on a ridiculous number of street lamps. Now it’s so bloody bright, we can hardly tell when the sun sets and comes back. A damn nuisance is all they are—and a whole lot of good they did us. Nothing lurks in the shadows, sure, but what about those faces in the god damn puddles, hm? All that flooding water left over from the rain—it never dries up nice and proper, you know. Now all those honest folks out for their evening strolls gotta stay clear of those. Don’t want to end up like George Clinker, they don’t.

He was new to the area—didn’t know not to step in one of those blasted puddles. None of us said a word to him either; everyone knows it to be true but no one wants to be the madman to say it out loud. And so no one did. We simply watched in horror and bated breath as the poor lad went to cross the street from his nice young lady’s home. He treaded right into a puddle and had only just enough time to look down and scream before disappearing straight down it. There wasn’t so much as a splash, only a telltale ripple on the water’s surface and his fallen hat resting to one side. Scotland Yard didn’t look all that hard for him; they’re all too familiar with missing person cases on 29th Downing Street, and they always turn up empty-handed. None of us said much about it either. What can be done, really? Nothing. We just keep our distance from those puddles and the hideous faces that look back out from them and pray we never end up like poor George Clinker, with a gnarled hand wrapped around our ankle and nothing but a hat left to tell the story of our end.


Cydney’s past work has been accepted by Dark Fire Fiction, Novel Noctule, and Black Hare Press.

Published 8/12/21


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