From: Natalie
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2016 6:45:44 PM
Subject: My Shadow Man

I will start this story first off by saying that I am now 26, and have never lived in an empty home. What makes this story so unique is that it has officially crossed generations within my family as of this year. I am not the only one that has seen him anymore.

When I was 4, my mother remarried after a messy divorce and moved us into a secluded farmhouse on 5 acres in Ridgefield, Washington. It was mostly forest, which I was used to, as I had been born and raised on 90 acres in the hills of Woodland, Washington previous to this marriage.

It was November that I moved in, 1994. I always had a ridiculously good memory, stretching back to before my 2nd birthday. So when I moved in and immediately began experiencing insomnia, I knew that it was because I was not alone in that house at night. This was normal for me.

My brother and I had rooms on the far East side of the house next to each other, our parents slept on the West side near the front door. We had two step siblings who only visited twice a month, so we generally had our rooms to ourselves. My bedroom door faced the dining room and open kitchen, meaning that at night I could see into the whole kitchen while lying in my bed.

Within the first month, November, of living in this house, I started seeing something in the kitchen looking into my room at night. I had to leave the door open so that I could get heat in to my room from the woodstove. I remember that first night I saw an elongated, black shadow standing in front of the stove looking directly into my room.

The Shadow Man, as I dubbed him, had no facial features or eyes. He was tall, about 7 feet, and stretched out as if someone had grabbed the top of his head and pulled up. All of his limbs were proportioned this way: stretched out, elongated. More like an alien than a human. I felt immediately that he was not a human, not a ghost, not an alien. Almost 2 dimensional, as if he didn't really take up space at all. The Shadow Man simply was. I did call him a man, for what reason I'm not sure. It just felt right.

That entire night, until about 4am, he stood at the stove range staring at me. All of the lights in the house were off, and we had no outdoor lights on the farm. Yet there he was, blacker than black, never moving. But I could feel him watching.

Being 4, I was curious (and scared) enough that I sat up in my bed watching him right back. I wanted to see if he would move. Would he come into my room if I closed my eyes? Would he hurt me somehow? It was a long night, neither of us moving, just staring at each other. I tried to make him go away with my mind, but he never did. Around 4am, my step-father's alarm went off on the other side of the house, and to my horror, The Shadow Man turned away from me and walked out of the kitchen into the direction of my parents' room! I was sure a commotion would follow. I laid back down in my bed, listening for about 20 minutes for something, a scream, anything. Nothing happened. Instead, I heard my stepdad's boots across the kitchen floor. The light flickered on and he started making coffee.

Apparently, The Shadow Man had gone somewhere else. I stayed awake in my bed until my mother woke up a few hours later, and pretended like nothing odd had happened.

That was totally just the beginning.

For the next 3 years, this became my routine with Shadow Man. He would watch me from the kitchen. Some nights I would wake up from terrible nightmares, look up to see him and feel comforted. Other nights I wouldn't be able to sleep, so I'd turn on a lamp and read. Or write. Draw. Shadow Man would watch me. We developed an understanding in the early years that he was simply observing. I was a child with few friends. I worked hard on the farm, was isolated from my parents and family. Eventually having The Shadow Man around felt almost like a blessing. And my secret. I had told my mother finally, but she thought it was simply the imagination of an insomniac child.

When I turned 7, my mother stopped working nights at a bar and began working for a construction company during the day with her husband. This meant that my teenage brother would go to a friend's house afterschool or run around town, and that I would come home to an empty house.

Immediately, my relationship with The Shadow Man changed. At this point, he would simply be in the kitchen at night watching me. I had figured that when he left the kitchen each morning, he must have walked out the front door since my parents never saw him in their room.

My first afternoon alone was in Spring. I would get home around 5pm and be home alone until around 8pm during the warm seasons. That first day I walked from the front door and in to the kitchen for a snack, setting down my backpack. Grabbing my food items, I turned around to head into the living room, passing by the front door, and plopped down into the armchair that we weren't allowed to eat in. I had reached for the TV remote to my left on a side table when I froze. I felt something behind me, towering over me slightly from behind the chair. Almost like a person with their hands on the top of the headrest, looking downwards at me.

I looked up. No-one there, but I was too afraid to look behind. The chair was about 4 times my size, so I felt engulfed in it, and it would be easy for someone to hover behind without seeing them. I got that feeling I had the same night I saw the Shadow Man for the first time. I was being watched, but this time from behind. I remember curling my arms into my lap, with my food, clicking on the TV and wondering what the hell to do next. I felt intruded upon, but after about 10 minutes of sitting there holding my breath, nothing happened. It seemed that Shadow Man was seriously just standing behind me, watching. Okay then.

This went on for about another hour until I realized that I needed to go back into the kitchen with my dishes. In order to do so, I'd have to stand up and walk behind that damn chair. I sat for a moment, remembering what to do in situations where an animal or person or spirit is stalking you. My 7-year-old mind immediately went into "communication" mode, as I had been taught on the farm. Never be sneaky, never be quiet. Announce yourself, announce your intentions, and use a loud voice.

I stood up (shaking), grabbed my stuff, kept my eyes to the ground and said, "I'm going to take this into the kitchen and go into my room," in the calmest voice I could muster. Quickly stepped behind the chair and speed walked into the kitchen. From the kitchen, I hurried into my room and sat on my bed with the door closed for once. I stayed like that all night until my family got home.

Thinking on it the following few nights, I determined that the Shadow Man could move in the house, but only certain areas. The entry room, the kitchen, and the boundary between the entry room and living room. For 8 more years, until I turned 15 and moved out, this was our new routine. I would see him watching me every night in bed from the kitchen, and even started waving to him. He never waved back, though.

After school, I would walk in the front door and say, "Hi, I'm home," get food from the kitchen and we would watch TV as I sat in the chair for 1-2 hours. When I was done, I'd tell him what I was going to do next. Wash dishes. Go outside with the dog. Go into my room. It felt like I acknowledged him that way, and made it easier to have him following me every day without being afraid of him. We became...comfortable.

During those 8 years, I would see him reflected in the TV before I turned it on, standing behind me about 1-2 feet. He never walked past his boundaries in the house. In fact, I would frequently catch him walking the two strides from the kitchen into the entry room with his long, black legs and disappearing when he decided he was done watching me. He returned every night for our vigil.

When I moved out in 2005, I never saw him again. I told him goodbye, I even cried a little my last night when I saw him watching me from the kitchen. I felt like I was leaving Shadow Man, my lifelong observer, behind. He saw me grow up more than anyone in my own family had.

Fast forward to 2009. My stepfather had recently had a massive stroke that was supposed to have killed him. Despite "pulling the plug", he survived, and had been rehabilitating at the same farm house. He had to relearn how to walk, talk, even had part of his skull removed. He would have minor seizures once in a while that the doctors at OHSU couldn't explain, but he was doing really well despite it all.

Suddenly one night I get a call from my mom. My stepdad had a massive seizure in bed and was in the hospital. He wasn't expected to survive. When I got to the hospital, my mom was exhausted. Afraid. We went outside to smoke while he was in the ICU hooked up to machines again. I will never forget my mother looking at me in the dark, a streetlamp overhead, her husband dying for a second time.

What she told me gave me chills. She had woken up for no reason that night, facing the North wall of her bedroom. The Shadow Man was standing in the corner, looking at her. My mom knew immediately that it was "my" Shadow Man, the one who had watched me for 11 years in that house. She said that after a minute or two of staring at each other, her husband started having his seizure. Realizing that this seizure was much worse than any he had before, my mother grabbed her phone from the nightstand to call 9-1-1 and the Shadow Man was gone.

This especially weirded me out, because Shadow Man would always walk past their bedroom door, but he never once walked into anyone's room. To this day, we don't know if he was warning my mom, or simply observing what was about to happen. My Mother never saw him again, and sold the farm in 2012.

Now, this is where it gets even deeper. I have never told my nieces or young cousins about Shadow Man. Neither has my mother. We are the only two people who knew he existed, and we always assumed that he stayed at the farmhouse when it sold. Or maybe went on to observe a different family.

In February of this year, my brother (who had lived in that house as well) lost custody of his 9-year-old daughter. She was placed in emergency foster with my Aunt, who has a 15-year-old and 12-year-old. My niece, the 9-year-old, would sleep in my 15-year-old cousin's bedroom. Soon after, my cousin, a girl, started seeing a shadow in the hallway near her room when no one was home. She wouldn't tell her mom, but would constantly be in tears as she told me about never being alone in the kitchen, and worried about running into The Shadow in her hallway at night. She said it followed her, but never did anything.

My 15-year-old cousin described the exact measurements, shape and mannerisms to me that I had witnessed from my Shadow Man. Of course, I told her he was safe. I finally told her about him watching me my whole childhood, I even encouraged her to just talk to him sometimes. He was just an observer after all, maybe he just liked our family? She was reluctant, but eventually fell into a routine with his presence.

Three months later, my niece moves into my mom's new house (my grandmother's haunted ass house), and by the end of May SHE starts describing The Shadow Man. He's in their kitchen, in their hallway near grandma's room, watching her when her door is open. The whole shebang. The thing is, my niece has been seeing things since she was a baby (I raised her for a year and is the closest I have to a child). So my mom, cousin and I decided to never tell her about Shadow Man.

Apparently, that didn't matter. I saw my niece and cousin last weekend, as my cousin just turned 16. She no longer has Shadow Man in her house, but my niece sees him every day. She says she feels safe with him, that he just watches her and doesn't come into her room. She says it helps her be less afraid of the ghosts that try to talk to her at night when everyone is sleeping.

That's four females in my family, 9-52 years old, who have been observed by The Shadow Man so far. We all agree that it feels like he's collecting something. Information? Experiences? He's not a spirit, not a demon, not a human ghost, not an "alien". He’s just...The Shadow Man.

I really hope he stays in our family as long as he wants to. I find myself missing him every once and a while.

Sometimes I stay up at night hoping to catch him at my bedroom door, but no dice.