*IV. Shadow’s Face

In Light I was born,

To Dark, I succumbed,

Light pierces, it burns,

The Dark – home I found

 

“Eye and The Damned” by Landix (click to view full image)

Fear.

So many of you claim to know it, don’t they? And yet they are too persistent to wash away the stains of their own evils and its scents – deny it even, if they can.

Fools.

Real fear starts when you become one; become fear yourself.

That requires evil – blood, stain, and scent.

***

‘78

Three people were there in the alley – a boy, and two men. But one shouldn’t have been there, and yet he was, and so it happened.

The boy was getting home from an afternoon at Tommy’s house three blocks from his own. Good thing it was that Tommy’s mum let him stay for dinner. He wasn’t sure he could find one waiting for him when he gets home. At least tonight he would sleep with no worries of stomach cramps.

Or so he thought.

Nothing much happens in their part of the city, but tonight there were shadows in the last turn before their own block – too many than what should have been there.

Two men – one on top of the other, one lying on the ground. One holding a knife, one spurting blood. One wasn’t aware of the boy’s presence. One was.

As the man holding the knife left the alley at a run, the boy couldn’t help but notice that he left his Shadow behind. He didn’t think it possible but there it was.

And it’s moving, dawdling, towards the other man – the man who was now looking at the boy, arms stretched out, blood trickling from his lips, as he mouthed the only word he could – “help“.

The boy ran.

***

5 minutes ago

The chase lasted long enough. At last now, it looks like it’s about to reach its conclusion. The track is less than twenty feet away, and the train is almost there.

The man had no choice but to face his pursuer who, with luck in the right places, would soon be his captor. But then, it was again present; while facing the hired gun who calls himself a policeman, and his gun’s barrel, the man saw it again.

It’s looming behind the figure in front of him –almost a part of the other man, like a part of his body, perhaps a tail, a badly bonded appendage.

But what it really appeared like was a Shadow.

“This is it, Black. You have nowhere else to run.”

“You haven’t caught me yet.”

“All a matter of seconds now. We have you covered.”

“But of course. Are you going to shoot me?”

“Highly tempting.”

Unlike a cornered prey, this man wasn’t caught by panic. At least not yet. The train is blocking his only way out, but tonight it was his ally. Each step calculated, he moved backwards until he’s less than a foot away from the tracks.

“Suicide? Heh, just as I expected. Men like you would want the easy way out.”

He couldn’t have misjudged more, for just as the prey was taking his last step towards death, he lunged towards the man holding the gun – with the Shadow still looming at his back.

The next seconds, the gun was out of sight for both men. And like what happened more than three decades ago, again a man was on top of the other. One forcing to keep his head up, one trying to push it – not to the ground, but to the tracks.

“Don’t do this, Black”, uttered the man who now looks akin the thing that, a minute ago, was just clinging at his back.

The man on top shoved one last time – then he was covered in blood, something he finds irritating, but it can’t be helped now.

Then he ran.

***

 ‘90

The pair was ecstatic.

They have all the things they could ever want in that room – needles, loot, and each other. Although they share no blood in their veins, they were what you call “brothers”. They went down the road together, lost, yes, but one held to the other. Until now.

Despair, after all, wants a company.

The night proceeded as expected. And after the air had felt so liberating, and all the sounds were one minute pounding in their ears, then the next muffled, one man shook. He was reacting to something. The other man thought his friend was just having one of his laughing attacks. But he didn’t stop shaking for too long – and the moment he did, his eyes were exophthalmic, his face vacant, his mouth hanging open, as if he was about to tell someone something important.

But he wasn’t able to do so – he was already pulseless.

The young man on the bed across knew this. Aware of the presence of the thing beside him, too close to still remain as not part of him, he stayed put.

Even if he wanted to escape, the Shadow would not let him. And so stay in the bed, stare at his friend, he did.

This time, the young man would, but could not, did not run.

***

‘01

Bend over.

He was aware that the person in front of him was a child not a woman. But it made no difference. He devoured like any animal would – and more, much more.  A one-sided passion. An act of corruption.

It was there all the time, in the same cellar room. It looks like it’s a part of the dark room’s shadows but it was not. It didn’t belong to the child but to him, and it lurked in the background. Almost like a wild animal tamed.

But why, he did not know.

He did not know that more than the Shadow, there was something else in the room. A more powerful presence – as powerful as sorrow and hope and love united could ignite.

And it was not his.

Yet, he felt it. The truth was he could not bear it. He knew that the child won’t last long now, but he had to leave that room.

Outside, in the lightless hallway, a Shadow would be invisible. But there it was – obviously present while he was mourning for the child he once loved, and think he still does, but how? If there was someone he loved at the time of his deed, it was clearly not her, but himself…if ever there was love at all.

But Fear was certainly there.

And it came out into the hallway with him. He fears everything – the fate of that child, and even more, the fate of his being. For he fears what he have become. And he fears what all he did would someday claim from him.

To live bearably with Fear, you’d have to acknowledge it.

Now the man could run, but he could not escape. For seen or not, Fear was him. And he was Fear.

***

Do you listen to the Wind?

I don’t. I didn’t.

But now it was forcing me to. And now, perhaps only now, will I be able to listen. It tells me that unlike itself, some things are mortal.

I have no pretensions of being good – none – and I never will. For I am parched; goodness is water I may forever remain thirsty of. I may be evil, but I am no fool. Only a fool would claim to have no fear of Death. I fear Death – immensely, with all my being to be exact.

For what does Death hold for a man like me?

They are here. They come many, armed, and perhaps angry because of what I did to one of them – pointless though it was. And yes, they will kill me. I will see to that.

Unlike many, I have no lust for immortality. It isn’t worth dirt if Fear would be my eternal companion. No. No more.

I choose Death.

And perhaps face my one true, and final, fear.

He may be real, he may be not.

But I fear God.

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