He knew this to be one of their major haunts, had tracked them around the environs of London for years now in ever decreasing circles that centred upon no more than half a dozen locations, one of which this was.
Shadows, is what they were, no more than that. They slipped in and out of existence as they glided along in their purposeful fashion. Ghosts, he knew, they were not. Not spirits, wandering amongst the reminders of their lost lives. No, these things, these Shadows, were something else, something otherworldly.
Where they had come from he did not know. When they had arrived in his life he knew well, very well, for they had taken the life of his brother. And not simply killed him, murdered him, no. They had drained him, the eyes of the largest one, whom appeared to be master to the others, glowing a devilish crimson as his brother's body turned into a greying husk, literally into a shell.
And then they had turned upon him as he cowered unbelievingly into the corner of the living room where only moments before the confrontation had been between the two of them only, two angry young men on the brink of coming to blows, his brother's fiancé the bone of contention.
The intervention of the Shadows had been startling, numbing. Not fear alone paralysed the pair of them, there was something else, something in the air that arrested their muscles and also their minds. And then the demons had fallen upon Sky, his brother.
When their attentions had turned upon Sleet, his unlikely saviour had been the headlamps and chugging engine of a night bus as it turned into the road outside. The ill creatures had fled, except for the larger one that had remained a moment longer to glower at him, opening its jaws to cackle horrifically before it turned to follow its brethren, winking out of existence before it reached the opposite wall of the room.
Since then he had traced their movements, plotting the locations of their foul acts upon an old OS map pinned to the bedroom wall. On numerous occasions he had gotten too close, but by luck more than judgment he had found several methods of fending them off. Shadows was his name for them, he did not care to think up anything more creative, did not feel them deserving of the effort. For the most part they appeared as no more than shadows and so let them be known.
He was startled from his reverie by a young woman who walked silently into the street before him. Silently, he realised, because she was barefoot. Even from some distance he could see the terror upon her face, the unvoiced scream, but he could sense that her movement was impelled, her choices no longer her own. He had seen it before.
And they came. Gliding down amongst the streetlights to circle their chosen prey like an ethereal wolf pack. One by one they snapped forwards, the temptation to accost this girl obviously proving too great, but upon each occasion they restrained themselves and returned to their circling motion.
Sleet felt that he could wait no longer and was mentally preparing himself for the effort he would require to propel himself forward against the wishes of his aching muscles, but at the last moment something happened that stalled him, stopped him dead.