This tale has the makings of a modern folktale. A small town sheriff runs the license of a sketchy dude sleeping in a car only to find out that the guy in the license is dead. He brings the shape-shifting suspect down to the station.
The suspect’s tale takes over the bulk of the story. Born in 1840, the guy died in the Civil War only to be brought back to life by a witch that controlled him by keeping his shadow. If he and the shadow were to be reunited, he would die again.
Back in the present, the witch is long dead and the shadow has escaped out into the world and hunts for its owner. For over 100 years the guy has been running and hiding and shifting his image to stay anonymous to the larger world. But now that he’s jailed, the shadow is catching up . . .
This tale is not long enough to develop its plot to any extent. Also, the sheriff’s motivations grow murky and unbelievable in a very short amount of time. As it is, the tale comes across as a mere outline to a larger story.
This short story was included in the anthology The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2010 edited by Paula Guran. I’ve previously reviewed Lansdale’s “Godzilla’s Twelve-Step Program” and “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks”.
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