There you go, guys, all this happened exactly how I told you, on a memorable Friday towards the end of the summer, right before school started last year.

Since then, I’ve had time to go over it in my head, and many extra pieces have found their place in the giant puzzle. I think I know now why Chunk, for example, initially managed to deceive my vigilance: the mental manipulations didn’t all act the same way. For some victims, the effect must have been immediate. For others, the crisis was triggered later, in a brutal and unexpected manner. An unfortunate movement or a seemingly harmless question were all it took. I think that’s what happened to my buddy Chunk.

Who was behind these manipulations? It’s hard to say, even though I now have a bit of an idea. There are still so many unsolved mysteries, on Earth and elsewhere…

What I do know, is that as early as the next day that cursed photo booth had disappeared without a trace. It was as if it had never existed. No complaint for destruction of property was ever filed and no investigation was ever conducted. Maybe they set up the booth somewhere else, looking for new guinea-pigs.

Life went back to normal in my family. Months went by – almost exactly a year –, but I still can’t tell them about any of it. Despite the affection they show, I’m afraid of their reaction. One day of course I’ll have to take the plunge…

With my buddy Chunk, it’s different: I tried many times to bring up the subject with him, but he doesn’t remember anything, not even my visit that evening.

I hope with all my heart that you believe me. You’ll tell me that between two explanations, you have to choose the simpler one, and that this whole story could be due to my imagination fed by my reading, to a sleepwalking episode like I sometimes had (which could account for the offensive state of my slippers), and to noises and voices heard during my sleep.

I was very tired that afternoon, true, and I very well could have fallen asleep on the kitchen table only to wake up the next day in bed, carried to my room by my dad the evening before.

But I don’t believe that hypothesis: the day after this famous night, I found a shard of Plexiglas the size of a pinhead in my hair. Where could it have come from besides the photo booth?

I’ve changed. I’ve become attentive to even the slightest changes in my family’s behaviour, to all the smallest lapses in their memory. I lead a happy life surrounded by my family and friends, but I stay watchful. Why? Because unfortunately I, Gabriel, thirteen years and eleven days of age when the events happened, know only too well what was truly hidden in the Swan Walk shopping centre on the lookout for innocent human victims, in the shadows, down by the bookshop…


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All rights reserved
(C) 2015-16 Jérémie Cassiopée

Illustration: Marzena Pereida Piwowar

Translation from the original French: Emilie Watson-Couture and the author.

Do you like Harry Potter, Oksa Pollock or Bobby Pendragon? "In the Shadows, Down By the Bookshop" is just as good, but radically different! Give it a go, and you won't be disappointed!

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