Crimson Shadows

By: jlewis42

Chapter 03

The Realm of the Others

Where... where am I? The flickering of a torch woke Lori, or maybe it was something else. She was lying on a hard wooden floor. It's so dark. She lifted her head, looking around at her surroundings. She couldn't make out the ceiling, but could tell she was in a large rectangular room. A hall of some sort…There was a sudden sound her mind didn't immediately identify, but her heart knew in an instant. Someone... is crying... She propped herself up, looking into the dimly lit corners of the room, finding nothing. Her mind still grasped at the sound. A little child... Where is it though?

There, crouched with it's back against the far wall was a boy. His arms hugged his knees as his tears dripped out of his clinched shut eyes and slid down his perfect cheek. His hair was a soft white-blonde and his shoulders shook with the wracking sobs. Lori was next to him in an instant, something about a crying child reaching inside her grabbing onto some primal instinct. How she got to him so fast, she wasn't sure. All she was really aware of was that she needed to be near this boy.

"Hey, what's wrong?" She asked. She hunkered down, balancing on the tips of her fingers and toes, so as to be closer to the little boy.

"There's a monster in here." He shakily responded. She saw his eyes for the first time. They were blue, the kind you see in earth's oceans when the picture is taken from orbit.

"There's no such thing as monsters." She told him, being careful not to sound condescending.

"Yes there are!" The little boy shouted. He pointed behind Lori to a corner she was sure she had looked in when looking for the boy. It was completely opposite to the one Lori had found the boy in. There hadn't been anything there the first time. "He's over there, in the corner!"

Lori looked. There was Esiot, blocking a nonexistent breeze as he flicked his lighter, trying to light a cigarette in his mouth. The tiny flame of light was all that illuminated his face, as if the light from the torches that lined the walls refused to touch him.

"That's no monster, that's my... That's someone I know." Lori's brow creased. How could this little boy see Esiot as a monster?

"Do you really know him that well?" Lori turned back to the boy. There was something odd about his voice now, something deeper to it. "Do you know what he's capable of?"

He's right... I don't know... him...

Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder. She gasped in surprise. Turning her head up she found herself looking into Esiot's silver flecked blue eyes.

"He's right. I am a monster." The light that had refused to touch him earlier now danced across his face, showing off the silver flecks in his eyes and seeming to dig into the scar near his eye. "Would you stay with me and become a monster too?"

"What…? What's going on?" Lori stood and pulled away from Esiot. "What kind of question is that?"

"Please... Come with me." Esiot implored, reaching for her again as she took another step back. "This boy is death to you."

"You are not to interfere, parasite." The little boy spoke up again in that oddly deeper voice. His bangs completely hid his eyes.

"I won't let you have her!" The light vanished from his eyes and scar. His eyes seemed to get darker and darker, as if all the life were leaving them. "Besides, she's free to make her own choices, now."

"I'm right here." Lori yelled. She tucked her chin and glared at the two of them. "It's rude to talk about someone when they're right here."

"Grrrrr…" The little boy started to growl. His eyes glowed and a breeze ruffled his eyes and shook his loose shirt. "You should not have INTERFERED! There will be a penance exacted!"

The breeze that effected whipped around Lori like the breath of a hurricane. It tugged at her, threatening to take her away from it. Suddenly a strong pair of arms wrapped around her. She looked up into Esiot's completely black eyes. She was scared. She wrapped her own arms around Esiot's waist and clenched her eyes shut. She buried her face in Esiot's chest as the wing yanked on her long hair.

An odd noise whispered with the wind. Lori squinted at the boy. He laughed as his skin and hair melted away, leaving only a grinning skeleton. Even that turned to dust and blew away, all in an instant. Someone screamed, maybe it was her or Esiot or the boy, but it filled her whole mind.

Suddenly she jerked awake in an unfamiliar room. Looking around, she saw an open window, a breeze ruffling the transparent drapes. A small dresser with a little lamp sat across the room, near the window. This strange room. Where... Who... Have I... She dropped her head back onto her pillow, her eyes on the ceiling above her. This... Strange, new ceiling...