A Shadowlander's Tale: The Lingering Shadows Within
Written by Kathryn K Williams
I woke up with a start and sat up straight, checking my arms for restraints, to find . I found the IV back in my arm, but other then that there was nothing. However something felt different, I glanced around to find myself again in a large hospital room. The room was bright with the light of a new day, shining through an open window. The curtains were pulled back and I could see other patients laying in their beds. One person in a arm cast and another with bandages over his eye. This room felt like it has more life to it them before, but I could not explain why. Then I noticed a bouquet of flowers sitting in a vase on the night stand next to my bed, next to my journal. A card stuck out from between a couple of the flowers and I plucked it free from its plastic stand as I picked up my notebook and I read the card.
"Get well soon.
From everyone at Our Place."
I smiled at the card and could feel a tear brim up at the edge of my eye. I opened the journal to the last entry to see my final notes from the night before. It really was a dream and I really was with Liz and Beth. I let out a sigh of relief that I was not truly insane, but that still did not explain that dream I just had. I'd had my fair share of strange nightmares, but nothing like that before. Then I recalled something that I'd dreamed about a few years back and started to flip through the book in search of the entry. I stopped on a page marked May eleventh, almost two years ago. My eyes fell upon a paragraph and my heart felt as if it stopped:
"I saw its eyes staring out as me from under the bed again. It watched me, waiting for me to move. I could sense it wanted to feed on me, but I was unwilling to allow it the pleasure. This beast had been waiting for me since I was young, I know this now, but I would not and will not ever surrender myself to it. Never."
I did not recall writing those words and I knew almost every word in this book as if it were part of my heart. I've found that just by writing out my thoughts and dreams I tended to record them in my mind forever. That didn't explain this passage. What was this beast I was referring too? Why did I feel it was after me? I glanced over the page until I came across another unusual paragraph.
"I remember now. She died in that hellish place and I could not help her. I remember the way she screamed out as she was tied down to her bed and the way she struggled against her restraints as I watched from her bedroom door. She had a feeling that she would die that day and even told me so. She wanted to be free of this place before death came for her, but they caught her just outside of those cold glass doors. As she was tied down I could see her eyes pleading to me. Begging me to free her, but what was I to do? I was just a small child back then. How was I supposed to help her? That night I remember the screams, sounds that I must have blocked out of my mind because they hurt my heart and mind so dearly. Then they suddenly stopped and a deep silence filled the room. I would not find out til the next morning that she was gone. They say she escaped, but I do not believe it. She died on that bed and now her soul was lost somewhere in the shadows of the night."
I shuddered at my own words. I hated not remembering and writing in this book was supposed to help, so why could I not remember these entries until now. I rubbed at my eyes with the palm of my hand as I hugged the opened book to my chest. It made no sense. I was not insane and I knew it, but this book, these things I'd written. How could I explain them?
There was a slight rapping at the door and I glanced up to see Liz standing before my bed with her hands behind her back and an embarrassed look upon her face. Her cloths were rumpled as if she had slept in them and there were red bags under her eyes.
"Liz!!" I exclaimed, excited to see the woman was not a figment of my imagination. Maybe all that other stuff was a dream after all and this was the reality. I closed my book and placed it at my side, "I'm so glad to see you." I rubbed at the tears the threatened to tumble from my eyes.
Liz rushed around the bed and gave me a tight hug, "I was so worry... they made me leave and... I wanted to stay by your side, but you know how it is... only family are allowed in..."
I returned her hug and felt a comfort in the feeling of her warm arms around my body. She was real, really real. The feeling of her hand stroking the back of my head and smell the scent of her hair was relieving. This was real and that other place was just a bad dream. I squeezed Liz tightly as I felt myself become overcome by emotion.
She backed up slightly, leaving her hands on my shoulders, and stared into my eyes, "Hey, you alright sweetie?" She asked worriedly.
"Sweetie?" I gazed into those brown eyes as I watched restlessness fill them. She had never called me a nickname before. What brought this on? As I pondered this I watched her cheeks take on a shade of crimson and she stood up straight.
"I... I'm sorry..." She stammered and paced beside my bed.
I gave the woman a puzzled look as I watched her carefully, "Are you alright?" I inquired, unsure what was going on here exactly. Then I recalled Julia telling me that Liz broke up with her girlfriend. Could she actually have feelings for me? My heart raced out of control as the idea of Liz returning my love sent it into overdrive.
At that moment a young nurse entered the room, "Well, I see you are awake." She observed, with a warm smile upon her face, "You had quite a fall I hear."
"Yeah," I rubbed the back of my neck in embarrassment, "It's stupid considering I'd just warned someone about that step only a few hours earlier." I remarked foolishly.
Liz shook her head at me, "You are not stupid." She stated confidently, "You were worried about Beth, just like the rest of us. I would have run up those stairs just like you, if it was me." She admitted with a nod of her head, "It could have easily been either of us in the hospital."
I flushed lightly at Liz's confidence in me, "Yeah, I guess so." I glanced up at Liz with the recollection of Beth's disappearance, "Did you find Beth?" I inquired hopefully.
Liz's face grew long and I knew the answer before she even spoke the words, "She never returned. We looked everywhere, but there was no sign of her. I spent the entire night in the lobby waiting to be allowed to see you." She explained sheepishly, "I called Julia and she stayed behind the entire night with no sign of Beth at all." She stated with a sigh.
I pushed myself into a seated position and placed a hand to my chin as I tried to think about what could have happened to our friend, when I noticed the nurse as she checked over my chart and I remembered Beth's medication, "Miss?" I picked up my notebook and began to search for the name of that drug Beth had been taking.
"Yes, Miss Baker?" The nurse replied politely as she moved around the bed to come to my side, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
I nodded, "Do you know of a medication called..." I paused as I leafed through the pages and finally came across the entry, "Somnambulom?" I asked. I figured it was the best lead I had to finding out what happened to our friend and this might be the only time I get to talk to the staff here.
The nurse had a puzzled look upon her face, "Somnambulom?" She repeated the word as if it held some familiarity to it, "I remember one of the doctors talking about it the other day."
"Which doctor?" I gently probed, "I am a detective, well a P.I., and this is of extreme importance."
"Ummm... uhhhh..." The nurse seemed unsettled by my questions and glanced around before turning back to me, "I don't know if I should be telling you this, but Dr. Johns has been prescribing that mediation to several of the patients in Ward 6." She explained in a low voice.
"Dr. Johns!!" Just the sound of that man's name made my blood chill. It couldn't be possible, could he really be linked to Beth's disappearance? Was that what my dream was trying to tell me?
"Brenda? You look sick, are you going to be alright?" Liz inquired worriedly.
I pulled the blankets off my legs, "I need to have a words with an old acquaintance." I grumbled as I swung my good leg off the bed.
"Wait!" The nurse took hold of my arm, "You can't leave here. The doctor still needs to check your wounds."
I glared at the nurse, "You don't understand." I pleaded with the woman, "I have to see Dr. Johns. Someone's life could depend on it."
Liz to tried to force me back into my bed, "Are you crazy? You can't walk on that leg!" She exclaimed uneasily, I heard her voice crack and felt a tear drop upon my hand.
"Liz?" I stopped and placed a hand to the woman's chin, forcing her to look up at me. Now that I got a closer look at her I could see that she had spent the last while crying. She was probably trying to keep herself from tearing up since she entered the room, trying to be strong for me.
"I... I know you want to help Beth." She rambled through a stream of tears, "But you need to stay put or you'll get hurt. I can't stand the idea of you being hurt." She cried and dropped her head into my lap.
Hesitantly I placed a hand upon her head and ran my fingers through her soft hair, "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to worry you." I said softly. I never realized how deeply she felt for me or how much I caused her pain. I felt horrible at that moment and wanted to sink into the sheets and hide.
"You are always being so reckless." She stated as she raised her head slightly, still keeping her eyes upon my lap, "You always seemed to care more about others and never about yourself. That is what I love about you, but you can really drive a girl crazy at time, you know that?"
I blinked in disbelief, "D... did you say you l... love me...?" I stammered, unsure if I really wanted to hear this. All this time I'd dreamed of Liz returning my feelings and now that I was getting it I was terrified.
Liz lifted her head and looked dead in the eyes, "Of course I do." She stated boldly, "You are so sweet and lovably, how could I not love you?" She said with a crocked smile, "I've always loved you."
"But... you..." I tried to piece together what she was telling me, "But you always pushed me away... and... What about Sarah?" I inquired frantically.
Liz ran her hand frantically through her hair, "You were so caught up in your work you never seemed to notice me and I needed someone who would not run off to their death." She cried out.
I was startled by what I was hearing. Here I thought she didn't love me because I was a foolish idiot and now I find out it is because of my lifestyle. My mind raced as I tried to put everything together when I noticed the nurse nervously standing beside me, trying not to be paying attention to us. I flushed as I glanced around to see several other patients were now watching us. We must have looked like some kind of drama show at that moment. Well, there goes my attempt to keep my sexuality a secret. I just hope this does not bite me when I return to work. A lesbian P.I. would not be looked upon to highly in this day and age. I gazed down at Liz and smiled, maybe it would be a good thing if I lost my job. At least I would still have Liz. That is I would have her, if spoke up soon and didn't let her run off on me again.
"I love you too." I said softly, not really wanting the entire room to hear me, "I've loved you since I first set my eyes on you behind that bar. I never realized that you felt the same for me. The thought makes me heart pound wildly in my chest. I've always wanted to be with you. I just thought you didn't want to be with me."
Liz looked up at me and a twitchy smile upon her face and wiped at her tears, "R... really?" She stammered and she rubbed the heel of her palm into her eye.
I nodded my head at the girl, "Really." I said simply and pulled her into my arms, "I'll always love you."
She sobbed into my shoulder as I held her in my arms. I could feel a blush cross my face as many eyes watches us, but at that moment I didn't really care. If someone had a problem with us I would defend my love to the death and I eyed a couple of the people to make sure they got the point. I would never allow anyone to hurt Liz. I would alway protect he, I just wish someone could have been there to protect her from me.
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