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The Sound

The slap of her feet fills the murky darkness. She walks quickly, fighting the urge to break into a run. It's past curfew, and she shouldn't be out. Her pale hands reach for her dark red jacket, and as she pulls on her hood, she is reminded of a story.

Before she can stop it, her shadow speaks, "Bad things happen in the dark,". The girl winces, while her shadow, sensing its mistake, quietly retreats into its rightful spot. Growing shorter by the second, it mumbles "Even in fairytales."

Suddenly, the girl spots glowing gold circles advancing towards her. She curses her shadow. She fastens her pace, eager to reach shelter, but the circles are already upon her. A wolf's face swirls out of the gold mist and whispers "Be careful darling!". The girls blood runs cold. But she keeps going at a steady pace, while the wolf's body slowly dissipates, leaving the haunting mist behind. Panic overtakes the girl. She breaks into a run along the straight road, and suddenly, thousands of other girls are running beside her. They're all wearing red cloaks. "I have to get to grandma's house, she's not feeling well. I have to get to grandma's house, she's not feeling well." The voices echo around her.

Abandoned by her shadow, the girl pours all her energy into concentrating on the swing of her arms and the pound of her legs on the asphalt road. Against her will, she looks up. The girl sees a red-cloaked figure running backwards in front of her. The figure's face is hidden in the darkness, but through light of the velvet black sky, the girl can make out her moving lips, "I have to get to grandma's house, she's not feeling well.". The girl suddenly realizes that there is only one voice echoing around her, not thousands. The cloaked figure's hood falls off. Curious, the girl stares wonderingly into the figure's dead eyes, then examines her porcelain face, wondering who The Sounds had chosen to replicate. As the answer comes to her, her legs are replaced by iron rods and she stumbles to the stop.
"Shadow?" she says, as the cloaked figure recedes into the distance, its eyes completely black and its face still, its pale lips chanting, "I have to get to grandma's house, she's not feeling well.". "Shadow? Shadow? Is that you shadow?" Oblivious to the girl, Shadow continues up the road, chanting as the black in its eyes slowly seeps out, taking over. The girl stares in horror as the black melts into Shadow, swallowing it completely, and leaving the haunting echo of the chant lingering in the air. In shock, the girl wobbles backwards and falls onto her hands, imprinting them with sharp pieces of gravel. She desperately attempts to crawl away. Away from the danger. Away from the darkness blacker than black. Away from The Sounds.

Her eyes locked on the slowly ambling terror, she is surprised when her path is suddenly blocked. The girl tilts her head back. She takes in the soft curves of the wrinkled face, the warm brown eyes, and the easy smile staring down at her. For a brief second, the girl wonders if maybe she is just asleep at the salon, and this is all a dream. A vivid, terrifying, painful dream. But, when the girl catches a glimpse of the hazy gold mist haloing the wispy white hair of the figure, she knows it isn't. The elderly figure's thin, chapped lips part, and with a voice burdened with years of experience and sin, it trills, "Didn't I tell you not to stray from the path, dearie?". The girl is transfixed by the mist, and although something inside her tells her to answer, she doesn't. The figure's warm eyes become ice cold; the contours of its face become sharp. "Didn't I tell you not to stray from the path, dearie?" The voice is angry, furious, and holds a power that makes the girl's face sting, as if she has just been slapped.

The girl's silence makes the figure, a representation of The Sounds, angrier. The figure raises its pale arms. The sharp gold mist swirling around them gives them the appearance of frosted glass. With storms raging in its eyes, the elderly figure proclaims, "May The Sounds be upon you."

The girl watches in fright as the figure whips around her on a long black tendril protruding from its back. It rapidly starts receding into the void of The Sounds, its warring eyes making giving it the appearance of someone who has stood at the doors of Hell and would gladly go back again. Suddenly, the snaking tendril bursts from the furious figure's stomach and splats back, extinguishing all of it, and leaving behind the faint and speckled trail of gold mist.
As the charred tendril snakes back into the massive clutch of The Sounds, the girl glimpses a face spinning out of the evil darkness. "Shadow?" she asks, a mixture of terror and sudden grief bringing tears to her eyes. Shadow stares at her with an unwavering gaze, shimmering in a light the color of sickly-sweet honey.
The girl eyes The Sounds lethargic crawl towards her. She knows that she lost. She knows she never had a fighting chance. A cruel smile plays on Shadow's lips as it glides over to the girl, ready to inflict torture. The girl whimpers, a dying animal in disguise. Then, she clasps her trembling hands over her ears, closes her eyes shut, and curls into a ball, waiting for her nightmare to meet her.



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