The Shades of Callisto

Victoria T’rvati

Only observed as flickers or tendrils, the shades are thought to be elongated silhouettes that disperse or vanish when directly observed. They are cast from whatever object they are attached to as if there was another, unseen light source.

The shades of Callisto are an old story passed down by the Humans taken from Callisto, detailing what they – or someone they knew – saw during their imprisonment, and how some inmates lost all that made them Human. That made them… them. They’re the movement in the darkness out of the corner of your eye. The unseen threat, impervious to destruction or exorcism, that stalks you, bringing inevitable doom. Watching. Waiting. Whispers. Wind breaking the silence. Shadows within shadows.

We can’t figure what they are. People? Ghosts? Remnants of a dead civilization? Past sins given form, come to collect their due?

All we know is this: it’s how they reproduce, and they enjoy it. The taking. Like some twisted kind of sex.

It starts slow; with flickers in your peripheral vision. You’ll think nothing of it – at first. Until they start happening more frequently, and the flickers become more solid, crawling across your vision. Little fingers of darkness that vanish the moment you focus on them. You’ll see it when you wake up, in that moment between sleep and wakefulness, when you’ll question whether or not it was a nightmare. It’ll get closer. And closer. More visible. More pronounced.

Eventually, it’ll take your shadow’s place. Others will start to feel uneasy around you like the worst anxiety they’ve ever felt where just simply breathing is an effort of will because of how tightly their chests are knotted and it doesn’t stop until they’re rid of you, until you’re away.

Food loses its taste. Colors dull. Feeling goes away. Depression like you’ve never had sets in, but you can’t even kill yourself because it won’t let you take yourself away from it. You sleep more despite the nightmares, losing more and more of yourself every time you wake up. Until you don’t wake up.

It wakes up instead. It stands, and you remain, formless, with a new desperate hunger to take a body again.

And they hitched a ride with the Free Fleet.