Looking for last second flash inspiration? Look no further! In today’s New Voices, Revisited, we look back on Kaj Tanaka’s “New Shadows”, originally published in November 2016. Prepare your minds and bodies for a time when, “…once again, darkness has become our principal currency” with this beautiful and haunting piece of flash. And once you’ve finished, get your own submissions in to this year’s Flash Fiction Contest, which closes on May 31!
At night, while you are waiting for the train, you might see the new shadows milling about. Eating up the floor of the train platform. If you do not look directly at them you will notice them moving, shifting from leg to leg, checking their phones, hefting their overnight bags. Watch them as they board the train. Watch the shadow train depart alongside your train.
Several of us have noticed that the shadows, of late, seem somehow greater—seem to be multiplying in size, quantity and level of darkness. Have you noticed the generally increasing darkness? We attribute that to the shadows. It has been a difficult conversation to broach for those of us who have noticed because we do not want to seem like alarmists. There are, no doubt, other, more scientific, explanations, although we are not exactly sure what those might be. We are aware, for example, that it is winter here in the northern hemisphere, and, once again, darkness has become our principal currency. That is not so surprising. That is not what we are talking about here.
Look outside, if you want an example. Do you see the trees? Do you see the shadows beneath trees? Notice how dark they are. Notice how long and improbably wide they are. Notice the way they seem to swallow up the earth itself. I’m not asking you to do any math right now, but there is no way those shadows could be so long as deep as they appear to be—not with our artificial light situation being as impoverished as it has been of late. Have you noticed, for example, that the streetlights are not as bright as they used to be? That your car’s headlights are not as bright as they used to be? For a long time, we thought we were gradually going blind. We visited our doctor and found that our eyes were completely normal. In fact, our doctor assures us, according to scientists the world is gradually becoming lighter. He assures us that our fears are completely unfounded, and we should maybe just try to get some sleep. We are not convinced, so we have opened ourselves up to alternative explanations.