Chapter 1

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    For years I lived like this. I traveled from town to town, forest to forest. I killed for necessities or because their minds annoyed mine. From trial and error, I gathered a full set of soft black clothing. I even found black fingerless gloves. I know they were all black because I asked a few of my victims. I liked how the dark clothing allowed me to approach people at night without them noticing. I especially enjoyed the black hoodie I stole. It was warm and comforting to me. I carried extra food in the front pocket, sometimes a water bottle. I didn't bother carrying weapons because I didn't really need them.
    Even with the black clothing, people still caught sight of my face. The scars across my skin and fogged eyes always triggered irritating emotions to flood my victims. They would look upon me with disgust, fear, and usually pity. I came to loath the emotion of pity. It made me feel... shameful. Or... broken. I snuffed out every person who exhibited that emotion, turning it to pure fear and self-pity. But every time I'd get a dose of shame when my victim saw my face. I tried covering it with a ski mask I found, but then I looked like a cartoon burglar and it got hot and obnoxious. After tracking down a victim into a theater, I found what seemed to be a curved disk of wood in their bag. It had two small rectangles cut out near the middle and a thick strap going around the back. I carefully tried it on. I brushed my fingers along the slits in the mask, knowing the holes were parallel with my eyes, but too small to allow people to see them clearly. I smiled beneath the material. This is too perfect. Now I just have to ask my next victim what's on the mask. I can't go around wearing a smiley face or pink mask now can I?
    My life went on as usual. It consisted of endless travel, sleeping in empty houses or parks, and killing. I felt no remorse for the deaths, I tried not to remember the period of my life spent at the facility, and I had everything I needed to survive. But I still felt a little empty. My voice had grown hoarse from little use, my clothes dirty from few washings, and my mind more... scary. I didn't fear what I could do, but it seemed wrong. I seemed wrong. The shadows became sometimes hard to control and lashed back at me. The more I practiced, the more powerful I became but also the more uncontrollable the ability became. I began carrying a switchblade in my hoodie so I wouldn't have to use the darkness so much during my killings.
Everything was perfectly fine, until I entered the woods I shouldn't have.
    I trudged through the undergrowth. The chill of the night air cooled my skin and cleared my head. I swiped some of my last victim's blood from my fingertips onto my black jeans, humming softly. I hadn't used the darkness in a while. My little knife was enough to get what I needed.
    I slowed as I felt a mass in front of me. It was a fallen tree. I easily hopped onto it and fell off the other side, landing smoothly on the ground. I continued walking through the night, hoping to find a decent place to rest for the coming day.
There were no presences within my range, but I still wore my mask. I felt some attachment for the item, especially after I had painted it a stony grey. I knew it was grey because the salesman I attacked told me so. I traveled deeper into the woods, getting away from the town behind me. These woods were apparently haunted or something. I had been using this forest as a sanctuary for some time and had yet to come across a camping or hiking group. No construction, no cabins, no presences. It was eerie, but calming to me.
    I heard a faint flap of material to the right. It sounded scratchy like paper. I ignored the sound and continued. Over a few minutes of walking, I heard more paper-like noises. This place must have some trash or something. I shrugged and kept walking.
The barest presence brushed against my mind, a very dim signal. I immediately stopped and strained to pinpoint it. However, it was gone. Almost like it had never been there. I warily began to walk again. That had never happened before. Maybe it was someone's presence in an airplane above me? I scowled beneath my mask and picked up my pace. I just needed rest.
Suddenly, I heard a faint cracking noise from my left. I stilled and sent out my sense to find the noise's source. As far as I could tell, there were only trees. No people, no big animals, no...
    I screamed and clutched my head as a horrible noise invaded my mind. I stumbled backwards as the pain intensified. It sounded like hundreds of nails raining down on glass, or thousands of bugs' wings beating in my head, or the crashing water and ice. It was terrifying and deafening. The sound was oddly familiar. It happened when people couldn't find a station on the radio or their TV went out. My knees buckled under the weight of the pain and I gasped for air. I felt something wet and warm drip from my nose, falling into the damp leaves below. My skin was crawling with flashes of numbing cold and intense pain.
    Then, the real fear set in. Above the excruciating pains I felt a presence approach my fallen form. It was a powerful and commanding presence. It was no bug-like human, no weakling, and no animal. The cold intelligence that made up the presence was threatening and violent. I couldn't get a steady read on it, but I knew two things at once. One, I respected this creature and felt an immediate connection to it. And two, I was dismally outmatched.

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