Days of Innocence: The Shadow World

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Frame your story as an adult recalling the events of their childhood.... view prompt


Fantasy Science Fiction Speculative

The Shadow World

Particle Board Planters and Subterranean Snails

“Papa, do you remember the time during my 300th year when you were called away and had to leave me with Aunt Suki the Shadow Sorceress?” the crone inquired, looking up from the journal in which she was writing.

“I do indeed, my dear,” the venerable lady’s youthful-looking father replied, pushing his long, black hair over his shoulder, and reaching for his tea. “It was necessary for me to keep the reasons for my absence a secret even from you. I had to push thoughts of you to the back of my mind while I dealt with the emergency at hand. Believe me, it was difficult for me to do, for you are always foremost in my thoughts. I knew that you would be safe with your mother’s sister, although her world was a dangerous place. As I recall, you enjoyed your visit with her.”

“I did. She and I constructed particle board planters to grow herbs in. We also visited the subterranean snails that built and maintained the web of tunnels beneath the planet’s surface. I believe that was my favorite part of the visit, although what Suki taught me about mirror magic was certainly the most essential part.”

“The most essential aspect of mirror magic is realizing that mirrors lie,” Nyarlathotep stated, rising from the sofa to join his daughter at the table.

“Yes, Suki said that. Many eons later, I still recall what she said. ‘Your mind shines bright like a dying star in an unpolluted sky, Little One. You are truly your mother’s and your father’s child. And yet there is a truth that you must know, even at your tender age. Natural child, terrible child, not your mother’s or your father’s child. You’re our child, screaming wild. As a granter of wishes, you belong to the Cosmos in the same way as your mother and father and I do, dearest Yadira. Do you understand this?’”

“’I understand, Auntie Suki,’ I said in a very solemn voice, and I grabbed and squeezed her hand to show her just how serious I was. Do you know, Father, she seemed reluctant to teach me mirror magic although she was also eager to do so, for she told me time and again how impressed she was with my powers.”

“I may have had something to do with that,” Nyarlathotep admitted, refilling the pair’s teacups. “I suggested that perhaps you were still too young to know about mirror magic. I couldn’t see Suki’s face through her veil, but I could sense her frowning at me in an amused fashion.”

“Nyarlathotep, your daughter will learn what she is ready to learn, regardless of whether you or I or even the Cosmos itself are ready for her to learn it,” she chided me. “In some ways, Yadira’s abilities exceed even your own or Nathicana’s. Your daughter has an insatiable hunger for knowledge, and I will feed her.”

Terrible Traffic and Peaceful Pathways

“Meveak was a badly overpopulated world, and Aunt Suki lived right in the heart of Trexids, the capitol of Grun, the supreme superpower,” Yadira recalled.  “There was terrible traffic going by at all hours. Aunt Suki cast a soundproof bubble around the apartment so we could explore peaceful pathways despite the constant noise.”

“I am sure that your father has taught you how to form a protective shield around yourself, my budding blossom,” Aunt Suki said. “Has he taught you yet how to shield larger areas?”

“Yes, Auntie Suki,” I said. “Papa taught me how to make a secret dimension inside a bubble. It’s easy enough, but it takes a lot of energy. It doesn’t make me tired, though. I like making things. Papa says that I have a natural gift for creation, and this gift is part of my divine providence.”

“It is indeed,” Aunt Suki replied. “Your power to read souls and grant wishes is both a wondrous blessing and a divine curse. Like you, my little sister of the moon, I was given the wonderful and terrible ability to grant wishes. Unlike your mother, my sister, I do not have the responsibility for the wants and needs of each soul in the Cosmos. However, like my sister, my powers can affect vast areas and, as your father will no doubt tell you when you get older, without absolute right intention, this can be a terrible thing.”

“I once woke from my sleep to find Papa sitting at our little table weeping,” I told her. “I asked him what was troubling him, and he said to me, ‘you are too young to know the full and awful truth yet, Yadira. Just remember that once the magic is set in motion, it is difficult if not impossible to stop it. Also remember, wishes affect more than just the one making the wish. We are emotional beings, my rose, but we must temper our emotions, for an angry outburst from us can result in the destruction of worlds.’”

“How well I know the truth in your father’s words,” Aunt Suki said remorsefully.

I held both of her hands and said to her very seriously, “Auntie Suki, I want you to forget that I am a wee girl, just three centuries old. I am not silly and helpless like mortal children. I am not afraid of darkness or danger. I am a sorceress, just like you are and like Mama was. If it helps, you may think of me as a dwarf or a gnome rather than as a child. Will you tell me your story, or would you prefer that I discover your true wish through the pathways of your soul?”

“The truth can be difficult to speak when it’s painful,” Aunt Suki admitted. “Since I promised your father that I would teach you, why don’t we do a little of both? I can help you learn mirror magic at the same time. I do have one question for you, and I need you to promise to be honest with me. Will it frighten you if you happen to perceive my true form as disfigured or monstrous?”

“No, Aunt Suki, of course not!” I declared, embracing her. “My father has many forms. I think that all his forms are beautiful, although humanoid creatures would deem many of them monstrous. I quite like the one where he has three legs like great, sturdy tree trunks. He becomes tall as a mountain and extends his great red tongue to the heavens to howl at the stars.”

Healing Hawthorns and Harrowing Hesitations

“Here is your very own witches’ mirror, Yadira,” Aunt Suki said. “You may place it in your magic satchel to keep with you always. Then we will use the full-length mirror for our exercises.”

Aunt Suki brought a mirror on wheels from beside her mantel. She turned it so I could see myself in it while she stood off to the side.

“Ignore your own reflection. What objects are behind you?”

“I see the tea table with the teapot, the sugar bowl, and our cups, saucers, and spoons. I see the door, the coat rack, and the warding sigils that you have painted on the wall.”

“Excellent. Now, focus on your own reflection, viewing yourself with absolute neutrality. Tell me what you see.”

“I see myself in the form that I usually take. I currently appear as a bipedal, two-armed creature with an appearance common to beings from the celestial realms. My father says that I resemble my mother, but I think that I also resemble him.”

“Do you think yourself beautiful, my dear?”

“I feel that I have selected an agreeable appearance that is neither awfully alluring nor alarmingly atrocious. I would rather be notable for my mind than my face. I do not look in mirrors very often. I prefer spending my time creating worlds rather than admiring myself.”

“Right you are. You must never focus too closely on your own reflection when practicing mirror magic. Having either great admiration or great loathing for one’s own face can lead to disastrous errors in judgment.”

“May I see you in the mirror, Aunt Suki?” I asked. “I promise that I won’t be afraid. As I told you already, I love my father in all his forms, even the monstrous ones.”

“Soon, my love. I would first like to teach you to use the mirror as a gate. To do this magic properly, it is necessary to ignore your own reflection and the reflections of the objects surrounding you. We are going to the Forest of Healing Hawthorns. Have you ever been?”

“No. I’m good at finding things, but I think that it would be easiest if you show me the way the first time. Please don’t worry, Aunt Suki. I promise that I won’t be afraid of your real appearance.”

“Yes, my dear, you are correct. My harrowing hesitations will get us nowhere. After all, we don’t want to go nowhere, we want to go to the Forest of Healing Hawthorns. You hold my hand, then together we’ll open the gate. I know that you are curious about my appearance, but I want you to ignore both your reflection and mine and focus on our destination. Are you ready?”

“I’m ready, Aunt Suki,” I declared, and I was so excited that I gave a little bounce for joy. I already knew how to form a gate, of course, but the mirror method was new to me. It is important to me to use the correct form with any spell, so I did my best to ignore the fact that the flesh of the hand gripping mine appeared to be decaying and diseased.

Secrets in the Forest

Aunt Suki and I stepped through the mirror gate into a forest of scrubby evergreen trees. A great red sun filled the afternoon sky. Although we were now in direct light, Aunt Suki still looked like a living shadow, clad in a long black dress and wearing gloves and a wide-brimmed hat with a black veil. She crouched before me and gripped my hands.

“Can you identify where we are, Yadira?” she inquired.

I let the planet and the sun speak to me and imparted their revelations to her.

“We are on Xolgux 12 in the First Dimension in the Terran year 2321. This is a terraformed moon of the eleventh planet. It was constructed through cooperation between humans and the Uz’ad, a species predating humanity by a billion years. You come here to gather hawthorn berries.”

“Yes. They are useful in the medicines that I create to slow the cellular damage from the malady that has overtaken the population of Meveak. Will you help me gather the hawthorn berries, dear niece?”

“Of course I will, but since we can return to Meveak moments after we left, I was hoping that I could ask you to show me your face. I won’t be afraid of you, Aunt Suki, I promise. Papa has many forms that terrify mortals, but I’m not a mortal, and I’m never afraid of him because I always know that he loves me. I know that you love me too, and not only because I’m your sister’s child. We are great friends, and I want to see you.”

“Very well, Yadira. But first, as your teacher, I’d like you to tell me what you already know.”

“The skin on your arm looks dead. Like a ghoul’s skin.”

“Undead,” Aunt Suki corrected. “Dead would be easier. Are you sure you really want to see me?”

“I am sure, Aunt Suki. I would very much like to see you.”

“Then your wish is my command.”

Aunt Suki removed her gloves and took off her hat. It was easy to see that she was Mama’s little sister. She looked a lot like Mama, although her hair was reddish-gold like the sun starting to set and Mama’s hair was black as a starless night.

I supposed that Aunt Suki must have had dark eyes like Mama did, although the pupils of her eyes were now bloody red. The skin on her face and arms was decaying. Mostly, she looked like she had been terribly sad for quite a long time, and I wanted to make her happy again.

“Aunt Suki, you are so silly,” I said, taking her hands and smiling at her. “I am Nyarlathotep’s daughter. I see ghouls all the time. Sometimes I play with the children that the ghouls have been given to raise. I also play with the little ghouls that are born as ghouls. I think that you are beautiful, and I know that Mama would think you are too, even if you do look different from the way she remembered you.”

“My precious Yadira, you give me hope,” Aunt Suki said, smiling through her tears.

The Land of Light

“Aunt Suki, I’ve had such a wonderful time visiting you,” I said. “You should come to visit me. We can fly bright-colored kites and paper airplanes together. We’ll choose a place where you don’t have to hide your face, and I promise that nobody will look at you funny or be afraid of you.”

“I would like that so much, Yadira, and maybe sometime, we’ll be able to do that,” Aunt Suki replied. She invited me to sit beside her beneath a hawthorn tree as we watched the big red sun slowly setting. “But for now, I have to remain on Meveak. I need to supervise the production of the medicine from the hawthorn berries. The big corporations would only take shortcuts, and then the medicine wouldn’t help anybody.”

“Why don’t you use your magic to heal the people?”

“Because this problem has grown far bigger than me. Once wishes are enacted, it is difficult if not impossible to stop them from growing. What their growth looks like will depend upon the energy they are fed and how many people are feeding them.”

“This wish was fed bad energy?” I guessed.

“Yes, and lots of it. Greed, pride, envy, wrath, lust—some of these are things that you are still too young to know the details of. Your father would have my head.”

“He wouldn’t. Anyway, I know what those things are. Greed is wanting everything for yourself. Pride is thinking you’re better than everybody else. Envy is being jealous of what somebody else has that you want for yourself. Wrath is being angry and wanting to get revenge. Lust is wanting to do things like people in love do but not being in love.”

“I should know that I can’t get anything by you. Well, since you are a wish-bringer yourself, I may as well tell you the story of how this wish went so terribly wrong. I’m afraid that it doesn’t make me look particularly good, so I hope that you will forgive me.”

Aunt Suki watched the sunset as she told her story.

“Vanol Stok is the Supreme Minister of Grun, but he wasn’t always a ruler. He used to be the chief health minister. I was drawn to this world by the strength of his wish. I missed my sister, and I did not know that you and your father had survived. I desperately needed a distraction, and I found him in the form of the charismatic Vanol.

“Where your father gave your mother strength, Vanol stole my substance, reducing me to a shadow of myself, but I couldn’t resist him. He would alternately tear me down and build me up, making me doubt my own senses. At the point when he told me that we could rule the world by creating an immortality serum, I was completely captivated by him and would have agreed to anything that he demanded so long as he continued to tell me that he adored me.

“’Why stop with the world?’ I asked. ‘Why not the galaxy, or even the Universe? I will give you everything you want, so long as you swear to love only me!’”

“What did he say, Aunt Suki?” I asked.


“He swore to do as I asked, of course. But men lie, Yadira. Vanol lied to me, and Meveak paid the price. Now it’s up to me to try and make things right.”

“Papa and I will help you as much as we can,” I promised, hugging Aunt Suki. “I’m just wondering one thing. You could heal your skin, couldn’t you? Why don’t you?”

“Because it wouldn’t be fair to those who can’t be healed. I plan to wear this appearance for the rest of eternity to remind myself of what happens when I forget what’s right and allow myself to fall for pretty lies. Remember, Yadira, if any boy—or girl—should ever string you along with wonderful words and then break you down only to build you back up, they don’t love you.”

“Don’t worry, Auntie Suki, I am never going to fall in love,” I declared. “Love makes even smart people stupid. I’m glad my Mama and Papa fell in love, though.”

“So am I,” Aunt Suki said, and I thought that her red eyes looked lovely in the sunset. “Shall we pick hawthorn berries now?”


Nyarlathotep is the creation of H.P. Lovecraft, initially appearing in his 1920 story of the same name.

Wild Child is a song written by Jim Morrison and performed by The Doors. It initially appeared on the band’s 1969 album, “The Soft Parade.”

Sisters of the Moon is a song written by Stevie Nicks and performed by Fleetwood Mac. It initially appeared on the band’s 1979 album “Tusk.”

Prompts Used

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

Photo Challenge

Putting My Feet in the Dirt


Frame your story as an adult recalling the events of their childhood.

July 15, 2021 15:18

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Mustang Patty
14:14 Jul 19, 2021

Hi there, As always, you've submitted a great story - full of details and a tone that is unique. Now, I have to admit I'm not a big fan of short stories with 'parts,' but the way you used your 'portion,' it worked. Thank you for sharing, ~Mustang~ (I am putting together another Anthology - check it out at


Cara H
21:11 Jul 20, 2021

Thank you, Mustang Patty. With the way my brain works, stories with parts are the only kind that I can write cohesively. Admissibly, not too many people are keen on my work, but there again, I'm not writing it for them.


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