A long triangular shadow had formed between the wall and the mirror. The closer I got the darker it became. By the time it was in arm’s reach the shaft had lost any discernible tone and the wall behind completely vanished. I reached out and picked it up. The shadow was surprisingly warm and soft to the touch, it reminded me of the old wishbones we used to leave out on the kitchen window sill to dry. It had that porous malleability of bone, it was strong but could be broken with enough intent.
Nothing replaced the shadow, the area behind the mirror was as white as the rest of the wall and I retrieved the silhouette from the opposite side with the same ease. I stood a little confused; two large beams of shadow in hand. Their weight and substance began to stir me. The novelty of having taken something from nothing was short lived. The room was cold and firewood expensive, it might make good fuel for the fire. It felt dry enough to burn, or at the very least could be dried, so I looked about for more.
The room was alive with them. They waved out jagged limbs from behind the bookcase, they crystallised into little rocks of coal gathered behind the handles on the dresser. Tough lumpy mounds had set about the piles of discarded clothes and a ripple of solid black shadow snaked its way up behind the curtains. Almost every piece of furniture in the room cast an abundance of would be firewood: each side of the bed, a bow cast down from the sink, even the bottom of the bin; by the time I had added all the sizable gloomy slabs from under the desk and behind the door I had almost a month’s firewood.
The glut of fuel continued to grow as I realised that although any shadow I took was replaced by a white wall or the soft wicker of the bin if I left the spot and came back to look at it again from another angle or vantage point a new shadow had formed. With a little ingenuity and closing of eyes I heaved off great chunks ten times over from the same spot. My pile of shadows covered nearly half the room. A chance mistake gave me the idea of creating a second mound, this time of kindling. The turning of the bedroom door handle allowed for me to flick a kind of shaving straight off at a remarkable pace. After ten minutes of harvesting the first shadow pile was itself casting a shadow which I quickly pulled out and added to the load. The stockpile was nearly at the ceiling before I began to think more pragmatically.
I would have enough firewood for the next two to three winters at this rate but with nowhere to store it all it would cramp up the garden and living space. What needed to be done was to turn this into a trade. I could build a covering near the gate to keep it dry and sell to the local families or passers-by at a smidgen of the price in the village. Or obtain a cart and haul it around in great big bundles to the local businesses. I would need a horse, but one could be borrowed at first until I had made enough to buy one outright. I might be able to get credit for the cart too. If I began locally and used the money made from small sales to my neighbours to demonstrate to one of the local farmers my reliability, there would surely be no issue with their loaning me the horse and cart.
Halfway through lugging the pile to the garden, I began to notice the light in the corridor had dimmed. Above me, the bulb waned and flickered, the pearl of light sagged in its globe under some great pressure. Its energy sucked downward leaving a peculiar dusk about my feet. I’d successfully taken six full wheelbarrows down in the fervour of my future prosperity without noticing the onset of gloom. The whole hallway was murky and obscured as if looked at through squinted eyes. Some of the kindling flakes I’d haply shaved off moments before, had dropped and seemed to be sticking to the floor. Ringlets of shadow had fallen and smudged a crude arabesque stain on the wooden boards running all the way back to my room.
Before long great black stains were emerging all over the floor, blotches of morbid rain bleeding together and undoubtably sucking in the light from above. I fumbled my way into the bedroom and made for the light, but it did nothing, only the faintest globule of amber could be made out in the bulb. An impenetrable gloom carpeted everything, wilting the contours of the table, bed and window into shade. I crashed into the remaining stock of shadow and tumbled to the floor. Indescribable darkness irradiated consuming everything and the last droplet of amber above me vanished.
I pushed the planks of broken shadow to one side and made for the curtains, for daybreak. As I tore them apart, I found myself able, for the briefest of seconds, in the light of the early morning, to appreciate the full depth of the blackness. My hands were vanished. Painted into oblivion from picking at the scraps of shadow and dragging the great lumps of fuel out to the garden. Having slipped on my way to the window, large parts of my legs and side were scrawled out. Looking in the mirror I could only see but small scraps of skin left unblotted by the shadow. As I made to feel what was left of my face the ink began to run and I was consumed into the nothingness.
Absorbed into the indefinable I sat on the end of my bed waving my hands through the dead air. The light from the window was choked, the morning blindfolded and mute.