The Shadows: Part Two
I reopened my eyes and the shadow was gone. The moonlight was still wafting onto my floor, no empty space where the light should be. I sighed and curled up into my blankets further. Whatever that had been was now gone. I was safe.
The sun slowly rose over the hills, letting its fingers of light stretch over the land graciously. The fingers delicately touched my eyelids, waking me from the sleep I had finally obtained. I opened up my eyes and groggily looked around.
I wasn’t in my nice warm bed at my Neohome; in fact, I was in a place I had never seen before. I was lying, sprawled out, underneath a jungle gym in a park that was placed in Neopia Central. Little rain drops sprinkled down on the grass outside of the reach of the jungle gym.
I had no recollection of coming to the jungle gym to have a stake out of just sleep underneath the stars. Even if I had decided to do that, I would have brought Ari with me. Confused, I climbed out from underneath the jungle gym and into the main park.
I racked my brain all of the way home. Trying to remember how I could have possibly ended up in the park with no memory of going there. Maybe I had sleepwalked or maybe I had been put there as a prank. But who would prank me? I was an only Neopet and Ari would never do something like that. Or would she?
Suddenly it hit me. I had just left Ari playing Saturday Rush after the key incident. I didn’t even tell her that I had stopped playing. She was probably really frustrated and hurt that I just left her like that. That made more sense. Confident that I had the right answer, I grinned to myself.
Finally, I reached my Neohome. I turned down the walkway that led through the front yard and to my home, and stopped. The Neohome I had been expecting to find was just an empty lot, nothing more.
“What?” I whispered to myself, my eyes and mouth wide at the sudden surprise. Any other day I probably could have taken it well but today had been started poorly. “Where’s my room? Are we renovating?”
A pink Techo with huge overalls on and a hard helmet balanced on his head pushed past me. “Excuse me,” he grunted, walking towards the foundation of the house and sitting on the green grass.
“What’s going on here? Is the owner just changing the look of the Neohome?” I asked, scurrying after the pink Techo. I felt so starved for answer and common sense at the moment, I almost felt like I was going mad.
The Techo looked up at me like I was crazy and shook his head, “No. The owner who owns this plot is a newbie, no new Neohome for them. This is the first time. I don’t see why they need one, it’s not like they have any Neopets.”
I shook my head and took a few steps back. “Wasn’t there another person living on this plot?” I asked almost pleadingly.
Again, the Techo shot me a crazy look and then slowly nodded. “Yes, but they left this home years ago. We finally had to tear the stupid thing down; it was becoming a health hazard.”
I choked on his answer, trying to compute it all. The world spun around me as I turned and ran, shaking my head like a mad person. No, no it couldn’t be. I wasn’t going crazy. I had an owner, and a Neohome, and a life! No.
I ran through the streets until I reached my final destination; the place where I could sort everything out, Ari’s house. I knew that she was probably mad at me but hopefully I could make her understand. She’d be there for me.
I spotted her house in the distance and hurried up my step, my chest rising and falling quickly. This was my last resort, my last hold to sanity and I was grabbing it tightly. I turned and ran up to her Neohome. At least that was still there.
I raised my paw and rapped on the door, hard. Then I stood back and waited for someone to answer. My face was probably contorted with worry and I had my arms wrapped around my body as I paced on the porch.
Finally, a fire Kacheek answered the door. “Yes?” The Kacheek gave me a confused look but seemed like he was attempting to be nice anyway.
“Is Ari there?” I asked almost pleadingly, crossing my fingers that she hadn’t been whisked away as well. I didn’t want to be alone in this strange world, whatever it was. This world where my owner didn’t exist and my Neohome was on the verge of extinction as well.
The Kacheek nodded much to my relief, and walked back into the house yelling Ari’s name. My body became a waterfall of relief and happiness as she arrived in the doorway, giving me a strange look. I didn’t even wait for her to ask me what I wanted as I started pouring out my woes and fears to her.
“Oh Ari, it’s horrible! Something’s happened to my Neohome and I have no idea where my owner is and I woke up in the park and...” I ran out of breath and had to intake a large gulp as I tried to pour everything out to me. Before I could continue my rant she held up one paw.
“Look, I’m sorry that’s happened, but why did you ask for me?” Ari looked slightly confused and slightly frustrated at what I was saying.
I gave Ari a look that was both pleading and regretful. “Look, I’m sorry I left you but I was so scared. Please don’t be mad at me, not now. You can be mad at me later. But right now something weird’s happening,” I went on, still breathing hard as I talked quickly.
Ari shook her head. “I’m not mad at you. How could I be? I don’t even know you.”
I let my mouth open in unbelief then I shook my head. “That’s not funny, Ari. I’m serious. Please come and let me explain it to you.” I reached forward and grabbed her wrist, which she immediately tore from my grasp. She took a step back inside her house, giving me a reproachful look.
“No, I don’t know you. Who are you? What are you doing here? Why are you bothering me and how do you know me?” She sounded confused and angry as she demanded the answers to these questions.
“It’s me,” I said, almost pleadingly as I took a step towards her. “It’s Cabe. I’m your best friend, Ari.”
Ari shook her head, taking a few more steps back into the Neohome and away from me, the crazed Scorchio. “No, I don’t know you. I don’t have any best friend. Go away and leave me alone.” With that, she slammed the door shut and left me on the front porch with a new fear.
I turned and walked down the porch almost numbly when I felt something touch my shoulder. Startled, I turned around and was looking straight into the red pools of eyes. I had almost forgotten about the night before but now everything came rushing back.
Give it to usss, whispered a voice in my ear and in my head. I was surrounded by black shadows, touching me with their icy claws and making my flesh crawl. I felt like I was drowning in an ocean of black and red.
I attempted to shake my head but I couldn’t move. “What?” I whispered to them. “What do you want?”
Give it to usss.
I knew what they wanted, the key in the shop. “I don’t have it,” I murmured, remembering how I ran out of the shop after touching it.
Give it to usss.
I was feeling frustrated now, knowing I did not have the key at all. I had left it in the shop and run for my life. Run from an unknown fear. Too bad there was no where to run now.
Haaandd. Give it to usss.
I opened one clenched claw, unable to avert my eyes and see what it was. But I knew, somehow the key had ended up in my claw. How had that happened? A ripple of excitement ran through the shadows as I unclenched my claw and exposed the key.
Give it to usss.
For some reason I felt like that was a bad idea. I shook my head, finally able to move it. I closed my eyes and shut off the view of the red eyes, holding the key closer to my chest. “No,” I muttered. “No.”
The shadows felt like they were growing restless, clawing more eagerly at my body. I could feel cuts start to be exposed underneath their claws as they attempted to persuade me out of fear.
Give it to usss and you can have your life back.
That perked my attention. My life. My owner, my home, Ari. Everything. The innocence of not knowing of the evils in this world. That would be the ideal solution. But who knew what this key meant, what powers it possessed?
I shook my head slowly, feeling the pain of my heart as I shook my head. It was almost unbearable for me to say ‘no’ to an offer like that.
One claw of the shadow touched my head. We know your mind. We will get it. Just give it to us.
I shook my head again, more frantically this time. I opened my eyes and was staring into the red pools. I felt myself falling into them, turning and turning over again. I could see myself spinning in the red eyes, hopeless and afraid.
Then I saw my reflection change. Slowly, my wings grew larger and grew feathers. My head changed shape and gained a beak. My body slowly grew leaner and stronger, adding a tail and four paws. I was no longer twirling as a Scorchio, I was twirling as a green Eyrie.
I lowered my legs, feeling my muscles become ready. I slammed my eyes shut, clenched the key, and propelled myself into the sky, beating my new Eyrie wings frantically.
And it started to rain. I was alone, flying through the rain with my new wings.
Only, I wish I had been alone. I was never alone; I never am. I always have fear clinging to my heart and shadows huddling in the corner of my vision. I can see them; hear them as they hiss their words in my ears. “Give it to usss.”
I can’t hear them right now, not as I write. But soon I’ll be able to hear them again, hear them constantly whispering me and trying to persuade me. Then is the time that I run, trying to escape their evils and the temptations I get while around them.
No, I feel something cold on my neck. I can see black swirl around my eyes. I must stop writing. Who knows if I’ll be able to write again? I’ve got to run...
To be continued...