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When he woke up, his customer was gone. Black regretted he had lost the account. Looking around, he noticed sterile walls, and the miasma of antiseptic, and the steady beeping of monitors. A hospital. I guess it’s to be expected, thought Black. I’ll see if I can read my file. He went to get his file, when he found he was unable to. His arm was covered in a cast. His body was. But even through it, he could see his arm as a shadow, a color kind of like a purplish strawberry, which turned to bluish-black in spots. The whole world was slowly shifting, like currents were moving through it. Black looked at the ceiling, fascinated by the slow, calm flow of colors, not very concerned. He was filled with a scholarly interest, something that was new to his uninquisitive life. Of a sudden, he felt a creeping in the back of his neck. Turning his head, the only thing not stopped by the plaster, he saw a two-dimensional shadow, black as a raven’s feather, wrapping itself around the edge of his bed. It flowed up like a cobra preparing to strike, its legs following its body; when it had reached the apex, its head arched back down. It stopped inches from his face, and grinned, making the outline of teeth with empty space. Black screamed, a blood-curdling cry that was fit to crack glass. It resounded through the small hospital room, and then rang through the rest of the hospital, filling the cracks with its terror.

*

*

*

His scream blew like a sonic tidal wave through the bowels of the hospital. The creature, perched as it was, was forced backwards by its force and it lost its impish grin. Its body folded into itself like crumpled paper. As it feverishly sought to extract itself from itself, jerking in an uncoordinated fashion, Black took his chance and ran. He jumped up out of the bed as though he were flying, his legs pumping faster than an Olympic athlete’s. They flashed in and out of his sensory perceptions, looking like a cartoon’s legs as he bolted. He ran around corners and pushed through doors that offered no resistance, moving like an ephemeral gust of wind. But as he looked behind himself, he saw that the black creature was almost catching up with him, seeming to ooze and jump and shift between corners and shadows, all the while a grin on its face. It was joined by another. And another.

Nothing seemed to make the creatures lose their energy. And Black lost his. He stopped abruptly, and the creatures quickly surrounded him. Despite their lurid smiles, hinting at unimaginable events to come, they made not a sound as they advanced. One of them leapt. Black made as if to scream, but found himself incapable of doing so. Black stumbled backward in a soundless echoing scream and reached out his hands in a feeble defense. Hope flew from him outward in all directions, the fervent hope that he could escape alive. As though this were the only thing necessary, the creature stopped in mid-air, rotating lazily on an axis.

None of this made sense. The creatures were confused as well. They let their desires gain the better of them however, and leaped with paper-thin, two-dimensional claws extended. Again, Black reached out, and they stopped.

The threat eliminated, Black looked down. His body was a shifting, distorted, fuzzy parody of a body. He was incorporeal. Nothing touched him, or even acknowledged him, but the creatures. As the chase had reached its climax in a hallway, doctors and nurses walked past calmly, not seeing a thing. Rather than question his newfound ability, Black reached out with a cylindrical green and yellow arm and touched one of the creatures, willing it to die. It didn’t. Rather, it opened its mouth in a rictus of agony, and flowed up into Black. As it surged through, it left a warm feeling over Black’s body. He repeated the process with the other two, feeling energy course through his being. He sparkled with a blue-yellow electric glow in this astral realm. He piruoetted about, feeling cracks of static leaking from him. He smiled. He laughed, or as much as one could in this soundless realm.

The world was a fuzzy gray-black infinity, a never-ending hallway, which was interspersed with purple currents and red glowing points and cracks, which surged in time to the cries of the demons inside him. They stretched out his chest, their arms poking through his (body) as they sought to embrace the spots. But they couldn’t, well enfolded by the prison of his ribcage, his flesh stretched over it. Black had never felt more powerful, more in control. His high came crashing down as his mind flashed to the body in the ward, bandaged, damaged, un-monitored. He turned to race back from whence he had come, and found himself there in the blink of an eye. Literally. He willed it, he blinked, and before comprehension could catch up, he had arrived. He stepped gingerly back into his body,

*

*

*

Spluttered. He looked around, to find himself still entombed within his plaster prison. Now he knew it could not contain him. The paper demons, though unwilling, were forced to repair his broken body, his singed flesh. Black’s mind was now a cold calculating object, with the power to command almost anything, it seemed. He concentrated a moment, and his plaster cast shattered. He stood, calmly brushed himself off, and walked out. He was questioned by two doctors and three guards on his way, all of which were left as fodder for his hungry demons until the memories they had of him were devoured. The demons had tasted of human essence, and craved more, making Black cringe as he fought to contain the creatures within him. It was all he could do to imprison them within himself, but as he tinkered and tampered he found tricks to keeping them placated, promising them inconsequential trifles.

Black walked out of the hospital. His body was pale and mostly naked, as he used to be clothed in a cast. Shadows flew past him. Purples and indigos, and greens so dark they looked like ink seen through a pair of green glasses. They coalesced about him, caressing him before they flowed off, or up into the sky. They moved in currents. They danced outside them. Black was struck by these patterns, and saw a group of them gather together in an opaque rainbow. They blended and melded until they became a cloud. No one else had noticed this transformation. It was impernanent, anyway. Almost before he could fully grasp what he saw, the cloud dissolved into thin filaments. They dropped to the ground in an intangible deluge, before dancing up to the air again.

Black grasped at a fleeing color, and called more to him until he was obscured by a dancing mass of ribbon-colors. He scultped one into an obsidian rose, before making it crawl up his arm. And another and another. Soon he was fully clothed, though the illusion was ephemeral and easily seen past. Black knew he needed more power before he could wield the currents.

*

*

*

Black wandered about, following the shadows that moved. They led him to a sewer, which he entered by lifting a manhole cover like a pie tin. He jumped down into the sewer. It was illuminated very poorly, with brief strands of sunlight touching down upon the filthy water intermittently, like light does on a cloudy day. There was also fluorescent bulbs placed at regular intervals, many cracked. They buzzed and hummed as Black walked along, and besides the rushing of shitwater to enter a plant, it was his only auditory accompaniment.

He saw shadows running from him as he approached, but they couldn’t run fast enough. Black conjured up more power from somewhere and ran after them. He grabbed one, and entered it into him. And another. He ran like a delighted child through a meadow in summertime, where insects rush up out of grass as you pass. His delight subsided as curiosity overtook him. The shadows all ran along a general direction. Was he being led? Where was he going?

He stopped abruptly upon entering a subterranean antechamber, replete with soaring rounded columns and rodent minions. He was greeted by a pale, fat man with crooked teeth and a jester’s demeanor. He gestured expansively, and uttered in a weasely voice, “Welcome. Welcome to my trap.” As his hand completed its sweep, a thousand shadowbeasts crept up from nowhere, some many times larger than the ones Black had previously seen, and in an assortment of odd shapes.

“What the hell is this?”

“A trap,” the fat jester replied.

“Please don’t play me for a fool. I know what it is. Why am I here?”

“Because you stumbled into a trap.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Trap –“

“Oh, fuck it.” Black ran forward to silence the fat fool. He was stopped by a solid wall of shadow, which wrapped about him. Enfolded him. The fat man laughed brashly. “I see you have no manners. Well, I will teach them to you. Fear not, you shall be quite the courtly dandy by the time I am finished.” He raked a yellowed nail over Black’s cheek with something between affection and sadism. Black desperately tried to shut him up, but a creature had entered into his mouth. Oh well.

The man walked to a door Black hadn’t noticed before, opened it with an archaic key, and walked down some stairs, his shadows with Black in tow following behind like a cape. He led the struggling Black to a chamber with a blood-crusted table. “I do so love those who are new to the Sight. They’re ever so, what’s the word? Ah yes, malleable. Are you sure that’s the word?” There was no one else talking. As the fat man mused, he strapped Black to the table, and picked up a long-overused scalpel. “Fun fun,” he muttered. And he sliced into Black.

*

*

*

Black, by virtue of his newfound powers, was unable to die, or almost so. The fat man seemed to sense when he had overstepped Black’s praeternatural limits anyway, and left him alone to recover. It was Hell. Over the course of an indeterminable amount of time, Black learned that by pretending to be slowly broken, he could earn a respite for a brief period of time. Just once, after a particularly vicious session, Black shouted, “I give in to you!” The fat man smiled, and left Black for a long time.

Too long.

When the fat man returned, Black had recovered much. He was free of his holds, and waiting for the fat man. As the fat man entered, he saw currents swirling before him, signalling his presence. Black reached around and wrapped a hand over the fat man’s throat. He couldn’t be certain, but he felt indentured to the fat man after his final admission of servitude. Were the fat man to issue an order, Black would have had to follow it. Black wasn’t sure about this, but it felt right. Therefore the fat man could not be allowed to talk. Black formed his hand into a claw and buried it in the fat man’s throat. He licked his arm, and felt the power course through him. He lapped like a dog at the fluid, almost like blood, which arose from the fat man like a seep discovered in the desert, bubbling and black, harsh against his fishbelly skin. When he felt he had drank all he could, he drank some more. Then ran up the stairs so fast he couldn’t feel his legs hit the stone, and chased after the startled shadows. Knowing their master would no longer protect them, they sought to run, and hide, but Black ate them all. The ones that ran he devoured. The ones that hid were given away by the currents. He consumed an entire nation of shadowed beasts unfit for light, until his eyes glowed with rapture and fury. With but a thought, he sent out a legion of his newly captured fiends and willed them to raze the chamber. It instantly became a conflagration of immeasurable size and power. Black walked off, flames licking at him, and outlining his gaunt silhouette.

The Sight was good to him thus far.



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Comments

The following comments are for "Black's Beginning - Part II"
by Washer

A Critique
I can't believe it, but I'm criticizing my own piece. Summer vacation, when will you end? I need schoolwork to bore me into submission.

Anyway. A lot of the time details are unclear, and the description of the currents seem muddled. Also, near the end, who sees the currents, who is the owner of the pronouns in, " . . . he saw currents swirling before him . . .". How was he indentured? If anyone notices anything else, or would care to elaborate on what I've already said, please do. Really. This isn't my usual style, I don't think, and I'm eager to know if it works.

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: July 19, 2003 )

black
It's hard to create new super powers, but you may have succeeded. He does remind me a tad of SHADE THE CHANGING MAN, who controls a weird energy in a similar way. But Shade didn't eat shadow creatures.
In all an enjoyable romp. A bit too much of a summary sometimes.

( Posted by: albie [Member] On: August 4, 2003 )

Neat
I felt disconnected from the flow of the story, it seemed like it was full of good ideas that I can understand, but without them explained it was hard to understand what was happening.

I also agree with Albie, it was too much of an overview at times... The fat jester is something that I could see it working if the main character was explaining what that happened, but as things were it seemed like half the story was missing.

I like the idea of the powers from what I've seen so far, I guess it's all a matter of where it goes from here.

( Posted by: Ragath [Member] On: September 11, 2003 )





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