A Shadowlander's Tale: The Lingering Shadows Within
Written by Kathryn K Williams
As my eyes opened once again I discovered that I no longer lay upon the hard cement floor of the bedroom. Instead I found myself standing at the end of a large room with many long wooden benches lined up to each side with a long red carpet rolling up the middle. Candelabrums could be seen to either end of the room with many candles a glow. At the front of the room stood a table with a long coffin upon it. I could heard the sounds of sobs from all around me and yet I could not see a single other person in the room. A hand fell upon my shoulder and I glanced up to see my father standing beside me. I let out a sigh of relief when I realized that the images before were nothing more then a nightmare after all.
My father smiled down at me and held out his hand. I took it happily and noticed just how cold it felt, then, as I held his hand, it began to change. It changed in colour from its usual sun tanned colour, from so many days in the sun working on the siding of homes to automobile repairs, it changed to a pale grey colour. I tried to let go of the hand only to have him clench tightly to me, hurting my fingers in hid grasp. A drop of blood rolled down his arm and onto my hand, I followed it up to my father's to see him grinning down upon me. There was blood dripping down his face from a small hole in the right side of his head and the left side of his head was entirely missing. I could see a chuck of skull hanging onto a piece of flesh with a few tattered bits of hair clinging dearly to the side of his head. I felt the urge to throw up at the sight, but swallowed it back as I tried to remind myself it must have been another nightmare.
His lips parted and cracked as he tried to speak, "Y... you.... killlled... meeeee.. Brrr...ennndaaa..." His voice came out in long choked gasps, as if death had his hand around the man's throat and was strangling the last bit of life out of him, "I... t...old you... to... kee...keep our sec..secret and y... you cou... couldn't even d... do that..."
I tried to pull away from the man as he stepped closer to me, "I... I'm sorry daddy..." I cried. I had no idea what he was talking about. What secret could he be meaning? My mind ran over all my memories like a computer searching for a file and kept coming up "File not found." I shook my head in dismay as the man continued to decay before my eyes.
"Y... you... you are... the one that... de... deserves... to be... dea... dead and... NOT ME!!!" He screamed those final words as he reached out towards me with his now skeletal hands, "They... they want you... they... they mi... miss you... come... come join us." I felt his hand circle around my neck. This was when I noticed something lingering behind the man. It appeared to be an ordinary shadow and yet for a moment I was certain that I could see it move, almost positive that I saw glowing red eyes within its dark shape. It was death that I was seeing and I knew it. Death had finally come for me after all those years. I reached out towards the shadow, welcoming its presence and longing for it to take me away from the shackles of life.
All of a sudden my right hand began to feel warm and started to glow, or at least it appeared to glow. The light made the shadow cringe in pain and it slide across the ground, hiding behind a pillar. My father released my arm to shield his eyes from the light. Unsure what was happening, but not wanting to wait around for my father and the shadow to recover I turned on my heels and ran from the room, through a pair of large wooden double doors.
I slammed the doors behind me and flipped a latch near the handles to lock them. I knew that would not keep a creature of darkness away for long, but it was better then nothing. Leaning against the doors I stared down at my hand, fingers still clenched tightly in a fist, I parted my fingers one at a time to see the moon shaped crystal laying on the palm of my hand, still glowing faintly with what appeared to be a small amount of trapped moonlight within. I'm not really sure about if it was real moonlight that was glowing inside the gem, but that childish part of me told me that it was and at that moment I was not willing to argue with it. Where did I get that crystal from in the first place, anyway? I couldn't recall who had given it to me or where I got the idea that it would protect me, but not willing to let a good charm go to waste, I placed the necklace carefully around my neck and smiled down at up. The crystal's warms seeped into my flesh as I lay it to rest upon my chest.
With a glance around I discovered that I now stood in a long, rather twisty, hallway with many doorways. The walls were covered in deep red wallpaper, covered in elaborate black felt designs, while the lower half was trimmed with strips of dark wood that extended across the floor. Crystal chancelleries shone dim light that only made it possible to see down a few dog legs of the hall before everything seeped into darkness. There were several doors along each twist of the hall, each differing in shape, size and colour. I realized right away that I must be still sleeping, in some form of dream I was not aware of before. I kept a good log of all my dreams and remembered them vividly, this hallways looked nothing like anything I had ever seen before and yet there was something familiar about it all the same.
As I pondered over which way to travel something dropped from above to land at my feet. To my surprise it was the very journal that I was just think over. I quickly glanced up, wondering where it could have fell from, when I spotted another young girl, my niece, standing on the ceiling overhead. For some odd reason this did not startle or excite me. I felt more bemused by the sight of the child standing upside down as if gravity had no ill effect on the girl, not even her hair or her pyjama's seemed effected by the fact that she stood aloft and upside-down. As I cocked my head to get a better look at the girl, so did she. I raised a hand to wave at the girl and she mimicked the same gesture. Now I was becoming a tad bewildered.
I glimpsed down at my journal then back up at the girl, "Did you bring my journal to me?" I inquired lightly, not wanting to startle the child.
The girl copied my every lip movement and simply returned my stares. I became increasingly confused by the girl's refusal to answer, and her childish ways, so I crossed my arms curtly in response to her non-answer and she again did the same. Suddenly my frustration over the child's attitude began to melt as I notice my very journal sat upon the ground at her very feet, just as it did my own. I finally took a good look at myself to find I was clad in the same blue pyjama's as the girl that stood above me and my hair was indeed the same length. Then it dawned on me, my niece was not standing on the ceiling, I was staring at some strange mirror. If that were the case then was I playing the role of my niece or was something else going on here that I was not catching on too.
A soft breeze built up from down the hall, picking up dust from off the unkept floor and blew it in tiny whirlwinds around my feet. The pages of my journal began to turn before me, one page at a time, until they stop on a draw that I did not recall sketching. It was in my unmistakable shaky hand, that was for certain, and done with the same charcoal that I preferred, but it held an eerie unknown quality to it that stirred my mind. I picked up the book and stared at the drawing, it was of a large door surrounded by many wooden beams, that seemed to hold the hall around it in place. Even from the sketch I could tell that the beams were bending from the stress of the ceiling and it would not take long for them to collapse entirely. Somehow I got a feeling that I needed to find this door. I glanced up and down the twisted hallway with no sign of which direction to follow when I heard the sound of tiny feet clad in hard soled shoes scamper down the hall to my left. With no other sign I chose to follow, hoping that it was not a beast trying to lure me into danger.
To be continued
Note: The world of the shadowlands, Its stories, Characters and ideas are a copyright of Kathryn K Williams.
This story is based upon my manga of the same name. If you wish visit my site and see some of the art based on this series at http://www.KatAndNekoManga.ca
Also if you spot any typos or other errors please contact me at Kathryn@KatAndNekoManga.ca