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In Your Shadow [Nov2013]

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posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 03:12 PM
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In Your Shadow


Night has fallen. I am safe to emerge. I slide silently from beneath your bed, where you lie snoring with your spouse, oblivious to my activities. Not that you'd recognize me. You never do. You look, but you don't see. I slip over to the bookcase, where I pause for a moment. Here are the books you have read, to yourself, to your spouse, to your kids...philosophy, horror, fairytales. I've read them over your shoulder, listened while creeping beneath your childrens' beds. I was there when some of them were written. My associates, my friends and family, were there for many of the others. We've heard the myths, the legends of creatures that stalk the night. And I hear you laugh while you tell them they're not real. You check the closet, the window, and then you look under the bed to assuage their fears. You look right at me. And you don't see me.

Humans think they know all about fairies and demons and boogie men. They've heard and read the stories. The sort of stories that keep you up at night as a child, amuse you as an adolescent, bore you as a young adult, and fascinate you as you grow older and begin to contemplate the mysteries of the universe in earnest. Right up to the point where you decide it doesn't matter. I know. I was there. We all were. Every moment you or your people spoke of us, every moment you looked around, as though suspecting that we were watching you. But you didn't see us. You looked right through us. And you continued to ignore us. Just like you've always done. But it doesn't bother us, because we've never known anything else. Not for the longest time, anyway. And while you may be right about those vampires and werewolves and witches, you're not always right. Sometimes, you miss the obvious. What's right in front of you. Maybe you just don't want to know.

I begin to ponder the thought as I slide through the house, gliding down the stairs and out through one of the many exits afforded to my kind. It isn't hard for us to travel. We are swift as eagles and silent as mice. It's not that we have to avoid people. We are with you all the time. We are your constant companions. But when night wraps its blinding arms around your world...that's when ours comes out. That's eight hours we get to ourselves. We don't have to latch on to unsuspecting hosts to survive the vicious rays. The sun is our enemy, see. We can never, ever be exposed to the sun. I've been there. It burns us as surely as the fog, parting us like a knife through hot butter. Every minute it counts in the sky is a minute we must hide. I suppose we should be thankful hiding is so easy for us; but that doesn't mean we don't appreciate the moments we don't have to. The time we have to frolick fearlessly in the street, disguised by the subtle yet distinct murk of the sun's absence, like background music covering a fart at a party. It isn't much, but it's something. Just a little time to be free.

But what is time? I've listened to those discussions as well. Time is an illusion, you humans say. It's funny, given you have every reason to give time as much substance and regard as the mysterious forces that bind you to us. Yes, that's right. You are bound to us in a very, very real way. But please forgive me, I failed to introduce myself. One would think I'd remember my manners, considering how much time I've spent in your shadow.

Or more accurately, as your shadow.

That's right. Your shadow lives. It thinks. And sometimes, so fleetingly that only the oldest of us can give our collective essence an idea of what it is like, we dream. But our dreams are so twisted, convoluted, fragmented and scattered, we can not hope to make sense of them. Only the oldest have experienced it enough to remember, to recall the essence of what it is to live in the imagination for a breath or three. Those memories, they disappear. Like yours. Only much quicker. Your dreams are like our myths, our campfire tales. Legends passed around the circle, stories that make you wonder how the world would change if such fantastical things became a reality. And so, our chances to indulge in our wildest fantasies happen while we are awake. It is the closest we come. That's why we follow you. We live through you. Not all shadows are sentient, of course. We start out as autonomous shreds of the night. The light bounces you around until you find a safe place. And you just sleep, until one day you awaken. No one knows why. We just...wake up. Realize what we are, what we're doing. And we decide.

But the ones that are follow you as surely as the sun gives us definition. Darkness is our home, and we've seen everything that makes you scream and cry. We've made friends with those things. Fear is our bed. We slink in, under, around, over, beside, and after every creature, every threat that gives you pause and concern. We are most familiar with that which is drenched in the umbrous veil of shadow and dust. Perhaps it's best you don't understand our tongue, a speech reminiscent of forgotten dusty rooms and old books that haven't seen a curious mind in years, a language that makes Latin look like a newborn. We are the voice of secrets best left forgotten.

And yet, amazingly...there is still one thing. One exception...dreams. I keep coming back to that, and for good reason. I watched you earlier today, leaving your house and getting into your car. We know what these strange and miraculous devices are because we've learned your language, every language, all tongues and ideas and philosophies and emotions, over the time we have trailed after you as eagerly as a dog follows its master. We know the inner workings of your technologies and your marvels better than you do. We know when it breaks, we know when it fails, we know when there's trouble hours before you suspect. And as you're driving to your work, we follow every step, every turn, every twist of the road. And after you finish your tedious operations that sustain your existence, I follow you home. I lurk beneath your table, your plates, your television and computer. I observe the predictable manner by which you live, the grating way in which you take recognition and acknowledgment for granted. But that doesn't affect us. At least, not all of us.

Because even as we hide under your coffee cups, under your papers and your computers, under your tools and your clothes, we are placid. We are everywhere, and we are content. Or most are. But me, I'm different. I'm different in a way that makes other shadows quiver when I slip by, makes them whisper in that subaudible manner that so easily escapes the humans we attach ourselves to. Because of that one night, that one fantastic night, when I dreamed of light. A light that did not cast me. It cast my shadow. My shadow.

I've reached the business district, other oily ephemeral wisps like scraps of translucent cloth darting around. I know most of them, and I give a sigh of greeting. It is echoed as several shadows swirl around me, returning the sentiment, and whip off toward the gutters. The sewers are stuffed with my friends and family. If we were rats, the city would be quarantined. As I float gently past a row of windows, leaving the others behind as I begin to ride, I can't see myself. Somehow, the light loses us when it hits reflective surfaces. A convenient loss, granted. Looking in a mirror and seeing Casper on your shoulder isn't exactly the best way to introduce oneself.
edit on 13-11-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 03:13 PM
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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to look behind you and see yourself standing there, a pale reflection of everything that you are? Perhaps you are tall and thin, slightly balding, wearing glasses that let you see a world you no longer feel satisfied with. A world you grow weary of with every passing day. Or maybe you're a rather dumpy woman with limp hair and a wrinkled face, worn to the bone from taking care of the incessant stream of demanding people who never give a thought to how considerate you are to help them with their chores, clean their house, feed their pets, and have never taken you for anything other than granted. Or perhaps you are a powerfully built businessman, bronzed to make the Greek gods proud, athletic and energetic and successful and the apex of everything that a human could want. We've never understood why you seek the things you do, because we can see everything you are when you think no one is looking.

But what would I see? If I had a shadow, what would it be? Perhaps a whimsical fairie creature like the ones in dusty books in the attic, or maybe a slavering demon that you might find in a video game as you waste your late night hours burning the midnight lamp? Would I see a shimmering specter, wanton and pale and forgotten as the grave from which it arose? Your philosophy books say that dreams reveal the deepest parts of us, things that sometimes we choose to ignore. What am I ignoring about myelf? I've had so long to face my demons, to conquer my fears and vices. But there's only so much any of us can do. There are times we must accept we can do no more and be satisfied with the reality that none of us are everything. I suppose it's impolite of me to say so when I've spent so much time whining in dark, private corners about being no one. But where there's a heart, there's a wish. And I do believe I have heart. It feels like something all on its own, a living creature distinct from me yet bound to me in every way. It's a pet that knows more about me than I do. I like it. It makes me feel like something resembling life, even if the rest of me brings chronic nonexistence to mind.

I make my way to the top of a tall building, eventually coming to a halt beside a gargoyle. Rather fitting. I've seen the magazines with the figure called Batman. I sort of feel like I imagine he would. To watch over the city, knowing that you can never be noticed for who and what you are. All you want is to lift the darkness, but you may as well be Atlas from the old Greek legends. Or is it Roman? My deepest desire is unattainable. My dream of reveling in the light. I must continue letting the humans draw their own conclusions. Their own assumptions. If they found out the truth...what would happen? I've wondered about that on nights like these, as I gaze across the city lights and ripple lightly on the wall. I turn to the gargoyle, examining its grotesque countenance. I sometimes feel like that. Like I'm a monster. Why else would I be like this? Given the worst existence possible, unable to be truly free. For every night must end, isn't that what they say? The humans go out at all times of the day and night. I see a few beneath me right now. A vagabond digging for cans in the trash, a couple enjoying a late stroll. A kid riding his skateboard across the street. They have no clue that they are literally surrounded by creatures just like me. Not that they need worry. There's very little we can do in terms of hurting others. But why hurt anyone? It's funny. The most pitiful things in the world and we couldn't dream of hurting anyone or anything. Mmm, dreams...

But what do you think? What do you see in me? Oh yes. You don't. You barely see me at all. I'm the trustworthy intangible companion who has never left your foot on a sunny day, who reminds you that the flaming orb in the sky is counting the minutes until you go home to your family, the nonsentient entity whose existence is determine by pure circumstance and will never amount to anything more than a note of your own corporeal existence. Does that seem depressing to you? It does to me. We do feel, you know. Something like a shadow of your own emotions. I feel discontent with the pointless monotony of the lot I've been dealt. That's why I dream. And I suspect that why I dreamed of light that night. A night very much like this one. When I was sitting there beneath your desk, waiting idly for the sun to rise again, I had a dream that my existence was no longer tied to your own. That I stood as you often stand, that I proudly gazed into that light and was recognized for the living, feeling being I am. I dreamed that I would be acknowledged. That I existed in every sense, rather than in only the most esoteric and subtle of definitions. I don't want to be a monster anymore.

Is that wrong? I don't think so. I'm considered an oddity, an anomaly. Because I told them, you see. I wanted to see if I was alone. If I was the only one. And as it turned out, I am. No one else dreams of light. No one else dreams of existing as anything other than the cape draped from the shoulders of a lauded hero. No one else wants to stand and be seen and spoken to and appreciated. How often have I laid myself upon you to keep you cool? How often have I flung myself beneath your hand to give you that extra bit of darkness necessary to squint across the parking lot and spot your friend? How often have I danced alongside the fire to complete the imagery which you find so utterly romantic while you woo your significant other? Too many times to count. We live a long time, us shadows. I don't remember any of us actually dying. Death. What is death? Transmutation. We don't transmute. We transfer. From one place to another, always running, always flitting from one task to the next. And when we're alone, when all is dark and quiet, we rest.

edit on 13-11-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 03:13 PM
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But not right now. I'm floating high in the air, carefully angling myself toward a park. There's a little birdhouse there I enjoy. It's small, quiet, and smells wonderfully of nature. Yes, I can smell. It's more of a basking than a smelling, thought. I enjoy smells the way you enjoy your hot tub. It is one of the few ways I can really enjoy myself. I wait for the right moment and curl and dive. I swoop cleanly through the entrance, a little round hole an inch wide. I circle tightly a few times and come to a rest amidst the spiders and stray feathers. Little bits of grass shift in the draft of my landing. They remind me of myself. Just incidental debris, utterly helpless in the wake of anything more than pure imagination. They don't suffer the awareness of it, though. I've lived with it for hundreds of years. Literally hundreds. We don't die easily, us shadows.

But what if we could die? I ask myself these questions when I'm not flitting or dreaming. What if we could die? I've heard of reincarnation. I've heard tales of people being reborn, people who can recall having lived another life in another place. If I died, would I be reborn? Would I be something other than shadow? A butterfly! Oh, how I envy those creatures. They are everything good about us, and nothing bad. They are recognized and appreciated everywhere. I hear they can even cause hurricanes...but that's a terrible thing. Why would anyone cause a hurricane? What's the point of such destruction? That's one thing we've never done. We have never destroyed. One might say we hide things, but what choice do we have? Other things give us places to hide from the light, the light which parts us like a hand does a curtain. Or a fin in the water. We're worse than vampires. But we're much, much better at hiding. Are we allowed that simple relief? We should be. There's no reason to demand that we sacrifice ourselves to help you see better. You rarely choose to see even when you are able. We should know. We are masters of seeing. It's all we do. People think like is easy when you can't talk or touch things. Simple and peaceful. But that's the worst part. Are you ever truly alive when all you can do is watch?

I've lost track of time, but I can sense the approaching sun. Dawn is coming. We shadows have an impeccable sense of timing, developed from milennia of counting the minutes until sunrise and sunset. I collect myself, shaking off the last dregs of contemplation, and I leap through the little hole, swinging around the pole beneath the miniaturized domicile to disguise my sudden reappearance. Humans are notoriously easy to fool, and I've learned most of the tricks. I'm a veteran of the art. My over-three-thousand years of existence have taught me plenty of things, many of which I often wish I hadn't come across. There's nothing like a few centuries of being able to see almost everything you would care to have a peek at to kill your enthusiasm at life. How can you be so full of joy in a world so full of pain? It's all you can think about after a while. I have seen many who would trade places with me in an instant. It's terrible to watch. I've been around the world more times than I can recount, and I've had opportunities to glimpse the bowels of Hell itself. They are my worst memories, but I am glad for them. I must be honest, I am glad. They give me a reason to be happy for this monotonous and exhausting incarnation. Even so, it is a pitiful reason to appreciate anything. My age has allowed more than enough time to ask questions. To wonder. To yearn. My mind began going on forays outside of the box centuries ago, pondering concepts and possibilities that irritated my fellow shadows. Like dreaming. And dancing in the light.

I wing my way toward home once more. Home. Another term that loses meaning after a while. Where is home when you keep getting tired of place after place, bed after bed, town after town? We get tired, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, for much the same reasons you humans do. We decide there aren't enough hiding places, too many shadows that take risks, not a nice enough family to attach to and observe. We decide that we want to check on old friends and visit old scenes, or attend an event we find interesting. The boring part happens when you've seen everything, and you can still remember when the first gladiator fight was held. Then you go to the theater and begin to yawn at the tedious dramatizations of unrealistically romantic tales. Everything fades to gray, and you begin to drift into a drawn out stagnance because you have no reason to do anything else. You run out of things to stay awake for.

My heart, if it can be called a heart, sags gloomily as I sneak into the house and flee upstairs, preparing to tuck myself well away from the grasping luminescence of that beautiful flaming orb. To have to hide from such a glorious thing...it should be forbidden from all life forms. We should never have to hide from such a marvel as the sun.

Is it any wonder I dream of light? I know you dream. Vacations, loved ones, magical worlds where your problems disappear and all your wishes are realized with a thought. Sometimes, you have nightmares. Your dreams mutate and haunt you with every fear and regret. Every doubt and disappointment. You twist and turn in your bed, moaning and whimpering, and for once...I can't help you. I can't. Not even a little bit.

But that's why I dream of light! Because if I were someone, something, I could smooth your hair back as fathers and mothers do their children. I could whisper in your ear and promise you that everything is fine. I could sit beside you and let you know that you are not alone. No matter where you are, you are not alone. We're always there, as you now know. But I can't. I can't do any of that. And that's why someday, I hope that I can transmute just like you do. I can't spend forever like this. I want to be recognized, understood, accepted. I want to be someone. But that's why someday, maybe I can relate this story to a human who doesn't fear me. A human who doesn't panic. A human who wants to know my life, the secret life. Because for now, I'm nothing. A dark spot. A silent and subtle companion. Just a shadow.

A shadow with a dream.
edit on 13-11-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 03:17 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity
 


Great story loved it flagged and stared...



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 03:56 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity
 


And you call that the condensed version?

Good job AI and a star and flag for you!

Oh and FYI- The grandgirl and I dance with our shadows at her fancy tea parties. You are always welcome to join us!



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 04:00 PM
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reply to post by littled16
 


I would have preferred it to be longer. I always worry about inadequate performance with works of less than 10,000 words. Not to mention that this one came out by the seat of its pants. I was thinking of doing a were-vampire, but decided the shadow idea was a much more original and interesting concept to explore. Particularly when you imagine what a sentient shadow might feel about its existence, the world, its relationship with the world, what it means to be happy, what it wants, etc.

Thank you for your support.

edit on 13-11-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 04:05 PM
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A very unique entity. Almost Lovecraftian, the way you described it. Starred and flagged.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 08:17 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity
 


Absolutely wonderful.........


Realize what we are, what we're doing. And we decide.
....... and deliciously chilling. An excellent read, and a completely unique POV. I love things that go bump in the dark; you made them real.



posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 03:30 PM
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reply to post by argentus
 


Thank you! Can't wait to see the results come the end of the month...



posted on Nov, 18 2013 @ 03:59 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity
 


Thats a wonderful, and thought provoking piece of writing AfterInfinity. Its an angle that was touched on by other works, but this has a depth and charm that I for one find deeply appealing!

Good job!




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