Semi-random bit of flash fiction for you today. Have fun!
The caption under my picture in my senior year book read, “Gary Marcone, most likely to get in trouble.” That wasn't a tough vote for my former classmates since I'd already been arrested twice for bending a few laws by the time I was seventeen. In fact, I had been arrested the day I discovered all was not right in the world.
I'd been brought into one of those rooms with a two-way mirror, supposedly to talk about the garbage sack of tax-free smokes I'd been hawking down by Central Park, when I saw it. There was no way my eyes were registering what was actually in front of me. The shadow didn't match the form, for starters.
Actually, that was my only clue something was amiss. The “person” questioning me was backlit by a blinding white light that was at a forty-five degree angle, shining right into my eyes if I tried to look directly at him. So I looked down instead. The shadow on the floor between us wasn't man shaped.
That moment of shocked realization cost me. I should have looked away, played it cool, but I didn't. The thing wearing the people costume must have noticed me staring at his disobedient shadow because he went from being cop to playing monster in an instant. Maybe he hadn't been “playing” at being a monster, but the thing he changed into hadn't matched the shadow, either. That shadow had wings while neither of the forms he’d let me see did.
My whole life flashed before my eyes at that point, so I don't know happened next. I was soaked in my own piss and shaking, being frog marched back to the general hold cell between two regular cops the next time I registered my surroundings. I knew they were regular cops because their shadows matched their forms. I've become a bit obsessed with checking shadows since that day.
Most things do match their shadows. Not everything, though. The Chrysler Building doesn't. To the eyes, it looks like a stately Art Deco skyscraper. It’s shadow says it’s a pyramid with a base much wider than the eye can see. The Brooklyn Bridge has all kinds of extra blips and bumps on it’s shadow, like there’s a flock of invisible birds the size of Volkswagens hanging out on the guide wires.
I don't live in New York anymore. Younger cities are less prone to have mismatched shadows. I was in Denver almost a whole year before I saw one. I make a point of never having run-ins with the law now, either. Selling illegal smokes my have paid my rent back then, but it also led to my whole life being ruined. I drove for one of those find-a-ride apps for a while because it allows me to leave if the shadows start getting too strange. That gig only lasted while my car was less than ten years old.
I deliver pizza now, though I'm still in Denver. Pizza joints don't care how old your car is, only that you got insurance for it. And I kind of like Denver despite the occasional wrong shadow. The people here are more inclined to mind their own business.