A Shadowlander's Tale: The Lingering Shadows Within
Written by Kathryn K Williams
The rain has come again. I can hear it tapping upon the rooftop, tap tap tapping upon the windowpane, gently urging me to awaken from my slumber. A flash of lightening floods the room, a light so bright that it turns the backs of my eyelids a bright red and leavings me with the last eminence of coloured lights as I slowly crawl my way through the doldrums of the recent nights dreams. Dreams of darkness and claws that reached out to take hold of my leg as it hangs over the edge of my bed, dangling ever so precariously out from under the sheets from which it was safe.
Now half awake I feel long nails slowly slip around my ankle, my mind pictures reptilian hands attached to long yellow nails that lightly graze my bare skin, sneaking further up my leg to get a better grip. My body is paralysed in fear of what could be under the bed, I try to will my leg to move, to retreat back to the safety of the covers, but it refuses to respond to my silent commands. A scream locks upon my lips turning it into more of a pitiful squeak that would make any nightmarish creature laugh at the patheticness of the sound. Abruptly the air crackled as thunder rolls over head and there is a resounding boom that hits the house with enough force to rattle the very walls of the room. I feel the creatures hands retreat ever so slightly and my eye flutter open as I awake to discovered that I was sitting within my childhood room. I quickly pull my feet back into the bed, wrapping warm safe blankets around my body, leaving only my eyes to peer out into the darkness of my room. I felt small and afraid and I had not felt that way in many years.
My eyes dart around my surrounds, no monster awaited me at the edge of the bed as I figured it would. Even so I waited silently as if prepared for its glowing eyes to peer over the corner and crawl out of its hiding place, aware that I could never fight it off and ready to feed. Yet no eyes appeared and the only sound to greet me was the repeated tapping of the rain. Heavy drops that rung against the eavestrough on its collective way out to the street down below. Another flash of lightening was followed even quicker by an even louder resounding boom. My mind leapt about the bedroom as I suddenly realized that something was terribly wrong with what I was seeing before me. I shook my head frantically in an attempt to puzzle together what it was that was linger on the tip of my tongue, not freeing its grasp from my mind. My head collided with the plaster wall that ran along the length of the bed creating a hollow echo that make me freeze in place. My ears perked in alertness for something more furious then any creature that could reside under the bed.
My ears partook the sounds of footfalls under the echoing hammering of the rain. Not heavy footfalls, but more of that of a lighter variety. I distinctly knew those footfalls from somewhere, but just as my mind would not free itself before it still refused to release it grasp as of yet. Finally my eyes dropped to my hands for the first time. A child's hands moved before my eyes, young, soft and shaking tremendously. Were these really my hands that were before me? Hands so frail and lacking such colour that they glowed in the light of the street lamps that shone through the window across the room.
Something clicked, light through window... I could hear the footsteps moving closer to the bedroom door, a bedroom that I suddenly realized was my own at a time before. A room that I only saw in my nightmares for I had not slept within these walls since the age of fourteen. I combed a hand through my hair to find it long and matted, another memory from my past or was it real? Was my life as a Detective the dream and this the reality, I could not tell and the more I thought the more my heart began to pound. My eyes darted wildly about the room, taking in everything and nothing. Desk, chair, shelves, books, dresser, closet, curtains, pendent, bed. Wait... that was it. I returned to the crystal pendent that swung gently from the curtain rode. A small moon shaped necklace that was given to me by someone special, more I could not recall, but that was all I needed for I recalled leaving it in the window at night to charge, believing that the moon's soft blue light would some how instil powers into the crystal and protect me from whatever haunted me in the night.
The door knob turned and I quickly rose to my feet, soft mattress moving under my feet as I hurried across the bed. I could hear the creaking of the door's hinges and feared I would be too late, that the creature beyond the door would get me and I would be no more. I reached the end of the bed and set one foot upon the bedframe as I extended my hand towards the dangling pendent. My salvation was nearly in reach, I just had to grasp it in my hands.
Fear leapt from my stomach to my throat as a crack of light formed across the wall before me. I could not let the light touch me and yet it was in my path to the window. Clumsily I leapt from the bed to the dresser, knocking many papers and books to the floor, then I moved to the desk that sat below the window. My fingers intertwined around the crystal and I could feel its warmth run through my hand. Suddenly my foot slipped upon some papers on the desk and I toppled to the ground. My hands reached out for the curtains only to feel them slip between my fingertips as I felt the world rush passed my head on my way towards the hard wood floors.
My shoulder was the first to strike the floor, followed closely by my head and then the rest of me. I landed in a heap at the foot of my bed and saw bright flashes of light before my eyes for a moment, then darkness surrounded me. I do not know how long I was out for, but after a time I started to stir once again. The back of my head hurt like a bugger and my shoulder felt out of place.
I cried out as I struggled to a seated potion and held my shoulder. It was indeed out of place, but I'd grown used to this over the years. I could not recall how my shoulder ended up in such condition, but I discovered very soon that I could return it back to shape. Lacing my hands together behind my back I pulled on my arms until my elbow touched each other and my spine. I heard my shoulder pop and a sharp pain sliced through my body causing me to cry out and curl up in a ball on the floor. My forehead touched the floor and for the first time I realized I was not in my bedroom. The floor was hard and smelt damp, like that of a basement.
Quickly I sat up again and spotted the crystal glowing faintly in the dimly light room. With a sigh of relief I scooped up the pendent and held it tight between my tiny fingers. No matter how much my rational mind tried to tell me how silly it was to believe in a necklace being able to protect someone my other side shouted madly at how ignorant my rational mind was. I mean my rational mind believed I was an adult and yet I clearly couldn't be over ten years of age so clearly my rational mind had no clue about the workings of the world. I laughed to myself as I listened to the bickering of my persona, when the lights suddenly turned on.
My rational mind shut up quickly as I suddenly realized where I sat. All around me were grey cement walls that had been stained with water damage over the years. A small window could be seeing at the top of one of the walls, but only darkness could be seen through it. The room was filled with many boxes and there was a set of wooden stairs that lead up. At the top of the stairs stood a large man dressed in grease stained jeans and a dirty shirt sleeved white dress shirt. His face covered in shadows, however I did not need to see his face to know he was my father and more so I knew what he was doing there. I shook my head as the man slowly descended the stairway, each step creaking against his immense weight, I recall him telling me his size was due to him being a wrestler whilst he was in high school. I have no idea what wrestling had to do with his weight, but I remember his gut being strong as steel and hitting him hurt my hand. I glanced up to see him stop for a moment to close the door and locked it behind him.
Quickly I scrambled backwards in search of a place to hide. He had not yet seen me and for some reason I felt the need to stay hidden. At the back of the room I found an old metal framed cot and crawled under it, curling up with my back to the wall the necklace clenched tight in my hands.
My father slowly crossed the room, his feet dragging as he went, as if he had been heavily drinking, which he frequently did. He approached the cot and I could feel fear rise up inside of me, fear of him discovering me down then where I should have been in bed. He did not seem to notice me, in fact his eyes seemed glazed over and vacant, as if no one was home inside of his body. He trudged across the cement flooring to the cot and plopped down heavily upon the mattress. The frame sagged against his heavy build and I needed to squeeze up against the wall in order to avoid being crushed. I could feel myself holding my breath as I lay there, praying that he would leave quickly.
"I'm sorry..." I heard him sob. I had never heard my father sob before. What could have made him so upset? "I'm so sorry, Brenda..." His words held heavy on my heart as I listened to his sobs, "I never..." The springs on the cot squeezed as he moved slightly. I could see one of his hands hanging between his legs, which were spread apart, and I envisioned him leaning over with his elbows on his knees and his hands on his face, an image I'd had seen from time to time and it made me wonder how long he had been holding in those tears. Then something else came into light. A long cylindrical object that I at first thought was a silver pen, but it couldn't be a pen for it was much thicker then normal. Before I had time to figure out what it was he pulled the object back up and I felt him lean against the wall above me.
Twisting ever so slightly I peeked through a crack between the wall and the mattress to see my father's back. I could barely see his face, which was dirty from working on cars all day and tears streaked through the grease and grim. The pained look upon his face make me want to reach out to him. I could felt a need to swallow back my own tears as I watched him sit there. Finally I got up the courage to reveal myself when I saw his hand move and I suddenly knew what he was holding in his hand. I shook my head in disbelief as I watched him bring a pistol to his head. I did not have time to utter a single word as the room filled the echoing bark of a single shot from the gun and I watched as my father's head was thrown sideways from the blast and collapsed to the bed.
A scream like none other emitted from my throat and I clenched my eyes against the images that invaded my mind. There was no way any of this had happened. It was all a horrible nightmare and I wanted nothing more then to be freed from is grasp. I clenched my eyes tightly as I tried to shake the images that tried to cling to my memories. This was nothing but another nightmare. I had to be. It just had to be.
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