71 comments

May 06, 2021

Fiction Suspense Fantasy

Working with shadow is difficult. It’s slippery and my hands always come away damp. The fluid slips through my fingers in ribbons, a glistening ebony the color of coal and spiders. All light is absent from the room since even a minuscule flicker can damage the material. Burning holes in something flawless yet fragile.


Onyx curtains obscure the windows, as to not let even a wisp of twilight inside the secluded workshop. The fire in the corner is cold, the wood damp. I haven’t lit it in weeks, leaving the chalky ash left to settle in drifts on every surface. My work absorbs every fiber of my being, making me forget to live from time to time.


As the shadow cools, retaining a more consistent shape, I drape it on a rack to set overnight. From dusk to dawn, it takes the shape of a human. Made to accompany its owner wherever they set foot, a silhouette of the darker aspects of their being. Their fears, guilts, and need for forgiveness. The hopeless dreams that still nag them in the depths of their thoughts, the possibilities of what could have been. But, nevertheless, their shadow is something nearly impossible to live without.


Just as I am finishing scrubbing my hands clean of inky stains, footsteps clunk outside the door, and a golden piece of parchment is slipped through the thin letter slot. It lands on the worn mat by the door, sending a cloud of dust erupting into the air. Once it settles back down to the creaky floorboards, I unfold the message and my eyes gloss over the sprawling cursive letters.


S,


I’m calling upon you to perform a difficult procedure for me, one I’m sure to pay through the roof for. I need a part of me removed, the darker side of me before it consumes me. And I’m afraid I don’t have much time left. I understand this is something considered extremely dangerous if not impossible, but I am more than ready to take the risk. If I don’t, the consequences are unthinkable. I’m willing to exchange any amount of gold coins, as long as I leave this place detached from my shadow. I’m hoping for an answer soon, I won’t be here in this town for long. I have things to do in towns with more than a few dusty cabins and a field full of cattle. 


༺A


A for Acheron. I recognize the handwriting immediately, it’s hard to remember back to a time I wouldn’t. How one person could be like a son to me and at the same time the son of a demon, I don’t know. I’m not surprised his work finally caught up to him, it was only a matter of time. I never would have expected him to last this long. But then again, the blood the courses through his veins grows blacker every day. Not someone to underestimate the strength of.


My nimbly fingers tremble as I smooth the parchment out on the table, picking a cerulean pen from the feeble drawer. I flip to the back of the parchment and the ink flows in waves across the surface. 


I’ll need a week to prepare, this is a demanding request, after all. Be here at dusk seven days from now, and I’ll do my best. But remember, I cannot make you any promises.༻


I shouldn’t agree to separate him from his shadow, I know that from years of experience in this work. Such a process shouldn’t even be attempted, for the risks are astronomical. But I can’t say no to him, not after all those years we worked side by side. I can’t let him down now, no matter what he has become.


I fold the letter with four sharp creases and hold it out for my owl to clamp in her beak. She’ll know where to take the letter, whichever abandoned shack or cave he is calling home for the next few weeks. She always does. 


I let her soar out the open window, gleefully stretching her charcoal wings, and I get a glimpse of the fields and dirt roads outside my home. It’s barely a few seconds before I slam the glass panes shut again and draw the curtains closed. I’ve seen far too much of this world. I don’t care to travel outside again, not in this lifetime anyway. 


✺⑅✺⑅✺


The hundred-year-old knocker hits the shaky wooden door, echoing throughout my workshop. My stiff back aches as I walk to the door and slide the thick bolts open. When I open the door, and Acheron slips inside, a thousand years' worth of memories dance across my eyelids. But I push them away, maintaining a neutral expression and flat voice.


His dark eyes bear more scars than the last time we met, and he seems to have aged so much since then. That’s the effect of experimenting with dark magic, with every spell a small part of who you used to be dies. Six metal crows gleam on a chain underneath his cloak; the symbol of gold and wealth, all he ever seemed to work for.


He refuses to speak first, not to my surprise.


“So, long time to see?” I mutter, pulling out a chair and gesturing for him to sit.


With a swish of black fabric, he perches lightly beside me, “I’ve had important matters to take care of.”


“What matters? Bleeding dragons? Wandering aimlessly? Deserting everything with time?” I ask bitterly as I cross the room to a set of ancient shelves.


“My work always comes first, you should know that by now. The less I care, the less human I am. And I’m done being human.” he spits out, tapping his black boot in an anxious staccato.


I don’t reply. He didn’t come here to change his mind, I’m not stupid enough to believe that.


“How do you plan to complete the procedure?” he asks. Maybe I’m not imagining the touch of terror in his voice.


I finally come up from the drawer and join him at the table once more, brandishing a shining silver pair of scissors. The handles are made from a nearly extinct volcanic rock, while the blade is made from a gemstone with destructive abilities. A powerful instrument, indeed.


“You must understand that once you lose your shadow, there’s a price to pay. With part of you gone, you’ll never truly be whole again,” I whisper, running a finger across the smooth handles.


“I understand,” he replies. His breath shaking ever so slightly as I pull a switch and let the skylight on the ceiling open. Crepuscule streams in the room washing over every surface, much to my dismay. A long jagged shadow now stems at his feet, reaching across the floorboards.


With a deep breath and a quivering hand, I slowly cut away his outline with a horrifying snipping sound. Razors of white light blind me as the silhouette falls away from his figure. Acheron stumbles back into the chair, his entire body shaking uncontrollably. His eyes meet mine across the blade, but he doesn’t look like the person I thought I knew.


His eyes look more empty than I could have ever imagined, devoid of any pain. Or memories.


Without his umbra, he has nothing left. Only emptiness.


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71 comments

Danny ~
04:57 May 06, 2021

Great job, Maya!!!!!!!!!!!! aaaaaaaaaaah, this is great :OOOO you did itttttt~ :) 🎉🎉 I love the whole atmosphere you went with, it meshes so well with the imagery you had for the story, it was vivid and well-balanced :) The dialogues and descriptions complemented each other well. Everything and everybody had a mysterious aura to them, the characters are written very well and they fit the whole theme of the story so perfectly. Wonderful job! :DD

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Maya Emerson
17:34 May 06, 2021

Thanks :)) lol Ehe yes plot holes :')

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Danny ~
23:37 May 06, 2021

No problem :) o.O aah that wasn't what I said :') not plot holes jsvznjx, your story is perfect :) ~tis perfection~

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Maya Emerson
00:27 May 07, 2021

:)) <3 lol well even if you didn't I thought so anyway kinda lol :')

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Danny ~
00:53 May 07, 2021

aah fineeeee, but, aah i made you think of it :( i didn't mean to im gonna presto chango it to what I meant im gonna find a rip off version of samuel and convince you that your story is VeRy FaBuLoUs and beautiful <3 im sorry

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Maya Emerson
01:05 May 07, 2021

It really is all fine :)) Eep you didn't have to change it, it was fine what you said :') Why did you change it? Aak sorry I was just saying I agreed.

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Bill Cara
09:38 May 11, 2021

I'm literally speechless. I had to sit and think for a while before I left some feedback, because how do you talk about something that has stunned you? You have this magical way of writing where each sentence flows one after the other and each word drips from the page like poetry. You manage to create a whole world from a few thousand words. The characters were simple (in the best way), they didn't need much explanation, the story was there for them and the separation of the shadow. I didn't find that I was missing any backstory, because it ...

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Maya Emerson
17:38 May 12, 2021

Thank you so much :)) <33 You write better than me already :)) *uno block* >:)

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Bill Cara
18:21 May 13, 2021

gAsp~ O: Using my powers against me? haha I think not *whips out uno reverse* you're better (:

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Maya Emerson
20:59 May 13, 2021

Lol doesn’t work You said uno block beats everything Hehehe >:)

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Arwen Dove
22:00 May 07, 2021

This is AMAZING!!!!

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Wow, great story! Really creative idea. The vivid descriptions pulled me right in and matched the dark mood of the story. Nice job! 🐈‍⬛

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20:56 May 06, 2021

i- I am...speechless (i wish I could write this well) I. Loved. The. Descriptions! I had so much fun reading this. It just flowed so nicely and the tone was great. And the ending! Oh my god. great job Maya

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Samantha Langley
17:16 May 06, 2021

Hi hi I read this story earlier, and forgot to comment. I really like this story, it fits in with the prompt.

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Maya Emerson
17:34 May 06, 2021

Thanks :))

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Samantha Langley
17:44 May 06, 2021

No problem :D

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Maya Emerson
17:48 May 06, 2021

:D How's life? :)

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Samantha Langley
18:49 May 06, 2021

Boring... :/ I did my ELA NWEA test this morning. What about you?

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Maya Emerson
19:03 May 06, 2021

Oop :/ Good luck with it~ :) It was okay, also kind of boring because of school and end of years tests :')

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Radhika Diksha
17:10 May 06, 2021

Your story is very captive and descriptive. I loved it. The dark vibes had kept me glued to the screen and the plot is speculative. Good work.

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Maya Emerson
17:35 May 06, 2021

Thank you!! :))

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12:47 May 06, 2021

Okay, wow. This was... it feels like a real, polished, published, short story. Almost something you would read on a standardized test, and then you have to stop for a moment (even though the timer's still going) and you have to think; did I just read that in a state organized quiz? And then you have to go through trying to find it again because you loved it so much. And that's just... oddly specific, but the exact vibe I get from this. Great job, Maya :)

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Maya Emerson
17:36 May 06, 2021

Lol thanks :) Aha xD I just had English standard tests with stories so I guess it's fitting lol. Thanks :))

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17:48 May 06, 2021

Okay, I just want to see if this is a universal thing; Did you ever read that awful story in a standardized test where it was about some girl hating a red sweater that's not hers but the teacher gave it to her and she makes it fall onto the floor and her teacher forces her to wear it? Bc that story KILLS me, lol

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Maya Emerson
17:50 May 06, 2021

Lol not on a test, but I feel like maybe in class possibly~ It kinda sounds like this one story from a while ago xD I always see a story about an invisible man or something :')

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19:10 May 06, 2021

It's called...eleven? god, I ahted that story... maybe it changes depending on where you live? Bc in my district, "Eleven", "The Red Sweater story" is so popular and annoying

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Maya Emerson
00:31 May 07, 2021

Ohh lol I feel like maybe I've seen it~ Sounds boring anyways xD

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Trina Ann Pion
10:20 May 06, 2021

I truly enjoyed your story! The imagery and details painted a vivid picture in my mind. The plot went with the prompt perfectly. Great job!

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Maya Emerson
17:34 May 06, 2021

Thank you! :)

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Radhika Diksha
07:43 May 06, 2021

New story out. Would love your feedback.

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Maya Emerson
17:22 May 06, 2021

Sure! I'll read it when I get the chance after school. :)

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Rohit Mukundan
08:36 Jun 10, 2021

There's enough world building here for at least a couple of fantasy novels. I can't stop thinking about this world, this profession... I wish we knew more about what happens to someone without a shadow, but I guess that's also part of the mystery. Fantastic story!

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Hey Maya! Great work!!! Loved the beginning :DD How have u been btw? Also mind signing my petition and share with others? : http://chng.it/XVxQshfh

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Shreshta Writer
19:41 May 30, 2021

Hi, great story! It's awesome and vivid! If you have time, please check out my stories! I am getting downvoted and I could really use the help!

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Hewooooo! Long time no see! (Well-talk see-whatever) I took a break, and I'm back now. How you doing? :D

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https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/95/submissions/68490/

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What are the links in your bio? I'll read the story in a moment, just wanted to know.

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Maya Emerson
18:35 May 19, 2021

Oh they were just to other reedsy stories I haven't updated it very recently

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:}} Silverstar
12:33 May 18, 2021

<333 Brilliantly engaging! agh! The small snippets of exposure we have to the characters you've built have left me craving more of them and their backstory. I would read an entire novel revolving around the concept of shadow attachment and separation, especially if it includes insights on Acheron, the black-magic, immortal necromancer and demonic wanderer with a source of sorcery only matched by the likes of this 'S' character. Beautiful dynamic! The slow unravelling of her relations with Acheron was interesting to see, with mentions of thei...

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03:57 May 18, 2021

ooh the title really captivated me, and I was on edge for the whole time! It's a very interesting perspective to write about, and you did a great job! How have you been?

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Monica June
20:01 May 16, 2021

Wow- the wording in this story is insanely vivid and colorful! You have a very lyrical way of writing, it's very impressive. I felt completely transported while reading it. AMAZING job!!!

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Sam Reeves
17:20 May 14, 2021

I love this story so much! I love the concept behind it and my thoughts of the world around it all are amazing. I love the atmosphere you gave it all too. Just love! Love! Love!

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