“Last night, I found my shadow…” Innocuous words that popped into my head and onto my Facebook wall a few months ago. Words that started a…trend, for want of a better word. On Facebook, on Twitter, I let the world know when I saw little glimpses of this awesome, parallel world that I am still exploring. I hope you have as much fun as I am having in this magical place, and if I scare you a bit, well, it comes with the territory.
So take a front row seat; you don’t want to miss the journey, do you?
Last night, I found my shadow. Or should I say my shadow found me? Well, that doesn’t matter now. It was 2 a.m. and I’d been at the 24-hr ASDA in my estate stocking up on groceries. I’ve always been partial to the night, due to my…condition. I am no creature of the dark, neither am I a guy who’s into any kind of shady business.
Let’s just say that I am a creation of consequence.
But I digress
So there I was, scanning my purchases at the self-help till, when something made me stop for a moment, a can of chopped tomatoes hovering over the scanner. I smelled ozone, like it was about to rain, and I looked up. I felt a thrumming in the air, and I turned around. Something pulsed inside of me; a life-long yearning that cried out to be sated. It had been quite a while since I’d felt this…this way. I scanned the faces behind me, and then I scanned as much of the mall as I could from where I stood, all the while feeling like I’d developed a phantom arm that needed to be made real.
I refocused on the pair of concerned eyes thrust right in front of my face.
“Huh?” was all I could manage in response, confused.
“I asked if you were alright. You looked…lost for a while.” The concerned customer was a woman who looked to be in her mid-fifties.
“I-I’m fine now, thank y-”
Something caught my attention at the exit; a flash of black unlike the normal thing, something deeper, fuller. I turned to look, but I saw no one I recognized. I turned to the woman. “I’m sorry, I don’t feel too well. Thank you though.”
“It’s okay,” she replied, smiling as she moved on to an empty till. “Just take care not to fall, or something. You probably should see a doctor.”
I nodded and turned hurriedly to my shopping, scanned the remaining items, and paid. Packed them all up in bags and made for the exit, feeling more than a little flustered. I really needed to lie down; it had been quite a while since I’d had this feeling. The exit seemed as far away as China at the moment. Outside now, in the car park. Past a few cars, cutting a diagonal path to the main exit. Night breeze, black skies. A couple laughed too loudly on my right, I bumped into a young boy, meaning to apologize…
…and I am falling, falling down a black hole, screaming, scrambling for purchase on the smooth, obsidian-like sides and Reality is nothing but a white circle quickly receding above me as black nothingness yawns hungrily beneath me, and I know this time it is different, so very different, and I wait for the dark end, the bleak finality of it all and I think ‘This is it, this is finally the end this is the end the end this-” and I am vomited upon a soft, green-smelling surface, the impact hard enough to knock the breath from my lungs, and my heart stops for a moment. It takes me a while to realize that I am still alive, and to feel the grass beneath me, the cold night air on my face. I take a deep breath and in frustration I scream in my head “JUST TAKE ME ALREADY!”, but I know that this will not happen, that whatever forces that control this thing, whether in Heaven or Hell, will not do so, not yet, so I sit up and look around.
I am in a forest, and a full moon sits in the sky, casting a baleful eye on the world, its nebulous light filtering down through the canopy of trees. With this I barely discern a path, and I get up. I know that right now, it is just me, this forest, and the path, all alone in this place. It calls out to me, this path, glowing with a dark light that seems to undulate and throb at the same time. I take hesitant steps forward until I am before the path, and then, I step onto it. I fall upwards, the world racing downwards as I fall up, past the trees the wind loud in my ears, drowning my cries, through the night clouds, past the moon…
…and the world came to a painful, abrupt halt beneath me. Pain blossomed in the back of my head, and white spots danced behind my closed eyelids. I heard someone groan and didn’t realize it was me until I heard another person chuckle above me. The chuckle sounded eerily familiar, and I blinked my eyes open to see a figure standing above me, face thrown into shadow by the street lamp a few feet behind it. I pushed myself up onto my elbows, and the figure bent forward at the waist, hands in pockets. I should have been able to see the face at least, but for some reason, I couldn’t. I didn’t think much of this though, as I was more focused on the pain in the back of my head, and the fact that this particular episode had happened in front of someone, a stranger.
Then, the figure spoke.
I think my heart stopped when it did.
It said, “You have to stop falling through Time, Chike. That trick is getting old.”
It spoke with my voice…and it knew my name! To top it all off, it didn’t sound the least bit fazed by what had just happened; it even sounded amused!
How was this possible? Who was this?
The figure leaned back, and I grabbed its outstretched hand, standing up. I dusted myself as the figure stepped back. “Thank you,” I said, looking up. “How di-”
My shock cut me off as the light hit its face. The figure, clearly male both from shape and voice, had a familiar face that was no face. It seemed to suck any light around it, to also bend light around it, or manipulate it in some strange way that made it seem as if light also passed through it. I felt like I knew every featureless feature, every muscle, every void/no-void that was this figure.
“Who…what are you?” I asked, although, somehow, in my heart of hearts, I already knew.
That chuckle again. “Hello Chike,” the figure said. “I am your shadow.”
What lies beyond Eternity? What secrets are hidden in the stars?
I walk through the seedy underbelly of Luton. Past a kebab store still open for business, past a closed Off-License shop. The ground is wet from recent rain, puddles shining in places where the light from the streetlamps fall. The air is chilly but not bitingly so; still, I turn up the collar of my coat. A car zooms past me in the opposite direction, windows open, annoying techno music disturbing the night. It thankfully disappears round the first corner, the bass receding like a dying heartbeat. Past a wine shop, closed for business now. Left, down a narrow street. Parked cars, a couple really getting into it on the other side of the road, oblivious to their surroundings. A small queue further down the road, and I walk down to see a couple of bouncers who looked as if they wished they could be anywhere but here, verifying would-be revellers. Scantily clad ladies ranging from the fresh to the has-beens. Pale thighs, high heels, suspect balance. Raucous laughter, smell of cigarettes, perfumes and cheap sex. I step over a homeless man, ignore his raised cup.
Darkness is my home, my comfort zone. It is where I feel comfortable, in my element…for want of a better word.
I cross the road to the other side, my eyes fixed on a dark-haired young lady. She is wearing a black mini-skirt-how do they move in those things?-a flowery spaghetti top, and heels. She leans against the wall, cigarette in her hand, purse clutched beneath her armpit. She smiles, and I smile back. I cross beneath the streetlamp, and the light goes out. She looks up for a second in surprise, shrugs and then looks back at me. I walk up to her, take her hand, and kiss it. She smiles, her teethe flashing in the darkness. She leans into me, and I feel her nipples through my shirt.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she says, leaning in and whispering in my ear. She flicks her tongue out, licks it, sucks it. I take her by the hand and lead her further away from prying eyes, and into an alley between two houses. I pull her close in the darkness and she glues herself to me, all arms and legs, rubbing, kissing. I back her up against the wall where I can see her eyes from the little light that finds us. The shadows here are thick, syrupy. There is something alive here; something primal, ancient, teasing me like a wanton lover, telling me just a little more my faithful follower , just a little more and I open my mind to it and I give in, feeling soft, caressing fingers on my chest, in my mind, on my back, in my consciousness. I kiss her deeply, this nameless, faceless girl whom I have never known nor seen before today, our tongues duelling. Her legs turn to rubber and she tries to climb my hips, her skirt riding up easily to her waist to reveal nothing beneath. I slam her head against the wall, hard. A stifled scream in her throat, mouth open, eyes wide in the darkness. A strange non-light shines in her eyes as blood trickles out of her right ear, down her jawline, my finger. A choking sound, and I let her crumple to the floor. Her legs beat a staccato rhythm on the floor, and I stomp on her head once, twice, thrice, until it goes soft. I wipe my boot on her clothes as best as I can as the fingers recede from my consciousness, and then I head home.
I could feel it.
Soon, my fervent disciple. Soon.