Chapter 8

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Dall walked down a dark street. The lamps' light seemed somehow subdued, only lighting up a small area around them. It was so quiet Dall thought he might have gone deaf. The stores were all closed. There was no one walking about, and no one passing by any of the darkened windows. He couldn't remember how he got there or when it was daytime last. He had to keep on walking but wasn't sure how he knew that. Following the turn in the road, Dall came onto a broad avenue. Finally, there was someone there, just ahead.

"Hello?" he shouted, and his voice came out hoarse as if he'd been doing a lot of shouting. Whoever it was walking in front turned for a quick look back. It was his mother. She seemed scared and somehow smaller as if she was more distant than she was. He could see her better then. Her hair was tied up high behind her head as she often wore it. The distance between them was getting bigger. "Mom!" he shouted again, his voice a little stronger now but still fainter than it had ever been.

"Mom! Wait! I'm here," he shouted at his mother's back. For just a fraction of a second, there was a stutter in her step, and then she looked back again. She didn't look at him but behind him. He turned around and saw to see a long shadow advancing silently up the street, a blackness that he couldn't see through. It was absorbing the faint light from the street lamps. As the darkness moved, it seemed to gain strength. The lamps it passed were spreading darkness instead of light. At its center was something, a shadow casting its own shadow.

Panic flooded his thoughts. The thing was chasing his mother, and while his mother was gaining speed and distancing herself from Dall, the shadow was always faster and getting bigger. Even stranger, the shadow seemed to cast in every direction. As if the darkness wasn't lack of light, but a substance.

Movement felt like slow motion. The shadow in front reached his mother, who tried to sprint forward. The darkness glued itself to her legs and advanced up her body. She seemed frozen as it quickly engulfed her. Her mouth opened in what should have been a blood-curling shriek, but no sound reached him. Dall shouted; his voice barely audible as his mother disappeared.

He woke up with a start, the horror of the nightmare vivid in his mind. The hard floor felt cold at his back in the poorly lit room. As consciousness slowly took hold, Dall felt pressure on the muscles in his legs. He raised his upper body to an awkward sitting position and patted his legs. There was a strong band around his ankles, binding them together. Frantically, Dall tried to grab at it and pull it apart, but without success. It was too elusive - so he couldn't get a good grip on it. No matter how hard he pulled, the band would not budge.

Dall forced himself to relax for a moment. The band holding his legs didn't seem to be impressed by his clawing and pulling, anyway. His heart raced; he could feel the pounding near his ears. Breathing more slowly, he tried to calm himself down. After a few seconds, the pounding subsided, and the voices in the room reached his ears. He couldn't see who they belonged to as there were big crates that hid the rest of the room from him.

"... So what we supposed to do with this guy, just leave him here?" one of the men said to the other with a high and nasally voice. "You heard the boss, Jarret. We hold him 'til we hear otherwise. This came from up top. We don't get to ask no questions. Come on, let's go." The other man sounded normal but with a slight slur. Dall couldn't take it anymore. "HEY! Don't leave me here! Please! Let me go." he shouted, trying to sound forceful.

Boots pounded the floor as someone came around the crates toward him fast. First, a face appeared, and then the rest of one of his capturers cleared the crates. The man had a long and narrow face, almost as if his head was somehow stretched too strongly. He had a long scar across half of his forehead. The man bent toward him so his face was up close to Dall's. "Shut the fuck up, you hear?! Our orders to keep ya alive, no one said nothing about not hurting you. Got that?" He shouted with his shrill voice. To emphasize his point, he gave Dall a kick on the side, catching him in the back ribs and sending him sprawling to the floor.

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