Shadow Lord's Daughter
Bad Dream, or Something More?I'm lying on my back on the cold, grey ground. Where am I? I lack answers, and I hate not knowing. I look around. Everything here is grey or some shade of grey. As I slowly sit up, I suddenly get this feeling of soul-chilling emptiness.
I wake up thrashing on the cold floor. I look around. I'm not in the supernatural world anymore, and I heave a sigh of relief. I guess dad decided to let me stay at his mansion by my school out in Rochester.
I untangle myself from the blankets that are imprisoning me like a strange cocoon, and get up and look at the clock. It's only three in the morning, which means another three and a half hours till I have to get up for school. I pull the blankets back up on the bed as I puzzle over the dream.
Dream? More like a nightmare.
It felt so real. But then again, even dreams about the supernatural can feel tangible in that sense of reality.
I shake my head as an attempt to clear it. Sleep is always elusive after any encounter with the supernatural, dream or reality, so I'm not even going to try to go back to sleep. So instead, I put on my orange silk robe and walk out of my room, down the hall, and into the kitchen. I flip on the violet lights for low light in the kitchen so I can see what I'm doing. The soft light also helps dispel the lingering fear from that dream.
I wish dad was here. Even though he's the Shadow Lord, he'd sit comfort me and help me figure it out, or he’d take me in his arms like when I was three, and tell me a fairytale about a princess, where the supernatural didn’t exist.
He'd come out of the living room with a book tucked under his arm and sit at the kitchen table while I made a coffee for him, black tea with milk and sugar for me. And then we'd talk about what was bothering me until I didn't feel bothered anymore. I start making coffee in hope that he's here and he'll walk out of the living room and say “what's wrong, Shadow Princess?” And then I'd smile and tell him about the dream.
I sit down while the coffee's brewing. After a few minutes, the coffee maker dings, proclaiming that it's done. The lonely chime seems unnaturally loud in the empty house.
Dad isn't coming out of the living room, so he's not home. Guess he's at his castle. With a sigh, I reach up in the cabinet and get my favorite green mug. Out of habit, I grab dad's big red mug, too. I fill both up and set them on the kitchen table.
It's too quiet in the house tonight. I usually enjoy the silence, but tonight it's just eerie. I get up and turn on the radio. Dad's favorite human CD is on, sounds of different beaches. The sound is very calming right now. I take a sip of my tea and then walk to dad's chair. It’s not as good as a hug from him, but it’s a close second while he’s gone. Between the sound of waves crashing on a beach and the smell of dad that lingers in his chair, sleep miraculously finds me and I somehow find a way slip away into sleep's dark blanket.
I look up and see four huge portals hanging in the air, one at each cardinal point. I look around, searching for movement. Nothing moves under the bare, skeletal branches of the grey trees. The huge circles of swirling black and grey in the sky are the only movement here. Wait…how did I know they were portals?
I slowly start to get to my feet. I hear laughter. I whip my head around, searching for the source.
Nothing. The laughter cuts off suddenly, like someone pushed the “stop” button on the radio, leaving me with the mournful sound of wind rattling through dead grey branches, creating a sound like shaking bones. Okay, I'm starting to get freaked out, and I'm not a girl to get freaked put easily. I mean, it's been hard to freak me out ever since I found out my dad is the Shadow Lord, in control of every supernatural being. It's bad staying with him in his castle on the supernatural side, but it's really scary staying with him on Halloween. It's scary enough to make you want to give a sponge bath to the next fat, hairy guy you see with a huge, blissful smile on your face. And that’s sugar-coating it.
I look around again. I've been traveling through the supernatural world since I was seven, and not all of those were holding daddy Shadow Lord's hand. The last time I was by myself on the supernatural side, well, I almost became one of my dad’s subjects. There was this savage animal ghost I’d been tracking, and I ran into Jack the Ripper’s ghost, and, well, it almost didn’t end too well for me. Thank goodness my dad had been nearby, or I would be just another ghost here.
And if you think the supernatural world is already dangerous enough, try being the beautiful, only daughter of the Shadow Lord. It makes any dangerous situation ten times as bad, like with Jack the Ripper. If I had been anyone else, he wouldn’t have gone through such great lengths to kill me. And he wouldn’t have tried to kill me three different times.
I look around again, hoping for some sign of something close to alive or at least color. I'll settle for color. No luck. I'm the only color around here. Maybe I should go gothic. But who's going to take a blonde gothic chick seriously? And besides, The Clique would never stand for it. The Clique. I know that sounds shallow, but after always being around things as dark as the supernatural world, anything that can be a welcome escape is accepted with open arms and a smile.
The hair on the back of my neck suddenly starts prickling, a sure sign that someone or something here is watching me. I turn around quickly, my boots making a dark line in grey grass. All I see are shadows.
Wait…there's no sun on the supernatural side, so there's no shadows unless…I'm dead unless I can get out of here. I suddenly realize where I am, the Shadow District, home of the Shadows, the recently deceased. The ones still the most attached to human life. The Shadows feed on emotion. Most are evil, but a rare few aren't. The only bad thing is, you can't tell the difference until it's too late. But that's only if you're a normal human without any other senses beyond the usual five. But if you've got more than five senses, then you can tell which are friend or foe by the aura they give off.
The wind rises and gives off a new sound, a sound like a voice. The voice is deep, a male. But it sounds like a young male. I suddenly feel sad, and then just as quickly kill the emotion. I don't want to feed any Shadows today. But since Shadows are souls of people that are stuck between death and the supernatural barrier, also known as the recently deceased, this young male is dead.
I take a step back as the voice gets louder.
"Can you help me?” the sound finally says as it morphs from a groan into words.
The voice gets louder and sadder. "Please? I helped you, now please, help me."
I take another step back, wondering if I still have the silver stiletto dad gave me tucked inside my leather boot. Silver can seriously injure anything on the supernatural side. "And how did you help me?" I ask, trying to buy some time to find it.
A shadow detaches itself from the mass that’s suddenly appeared in front of me and steps closer. "All those memories you didn't want any more, I took those away, Nik. I took the pain away."
It’s not there. Where is it? And how does this thing know my nickname?
I take another step back. "What do you mean? I don't talk to Shadows about my pain and memories I want gone. I use humans for that."
The Shadow reaches one black hand towards me. "But you talked to me all the time before I was a Shadow."
The voice sounds so familiar. Whose voice is it?
"You're implying I knew who you were," I say cautiously, trying to buy enough time to find my stiletto.
The shadow cries out, a loud, long, keening sound that threatens to shatter my eardrums. "Nikki, I was your boyfriend."
My heart almost stops. "Ryan?"
Ryan reaches toward me, and I try to take a step forward to him, but I fall through him and down the cliff that is suddenly in front of me. As I fall, I can vaguely see Ryan, and the only thing I can hear is Ryan saying he's dead.