Shadow Man -(1)-

Fiction By The Lovely Blue // 2/25/2013

-(1)-

It would be so. If the Shadow Man came at night, then day would be his shelter. If the dark harbored evil things then light would be his fortress. A king in his empty, empty castle. But there was no light here, not a scrap to be found or a sound to be hear. There was no color. It was as was.

"If you learn to speak to me, you should have no reason to fear me." the voice of the Shadow Man said. It sounded like the sickly sweet smoke of incense smoldering away, a voice he wasn't yet sure on how to assess. It came either to harm or help. Things simply were that way. But what could it want with him if niether were the case?

"I can't speak out here. It's better when they don't hear me." the boy replied.

"Then who is your friend?"

"I like to believe they're everywhere. I think... I think once ago, I used to have friends."

"Is that so?" the Shadow man asked, sounding preoccupied with other things. The boy wasn't so sure whether he wanted to know with what.

"But I'm not lonely."

"Being alone opens the door, sends an invitation and welcomes the loneliness. Tell me, who are you to say that you can escape it?"

He didn't know. There was much that he really couldn't explain. But there was one thing that bothered him the most about the Shadow Man, for the brief times he visited, the boy could see. Not shades or anything, just the silhouettes of black against the background of a less black. Greys and blacks. Not a scrap of light here at all. The place was abandoned like him. He wasn't sure how explain time yet. He barely understood what it was.

"People visit me from time to time. Maybe I can't hear them, that is true, but I can feel them."

"What about a future? No school? No wife? No children?"

"I don't know. I don't think I need those things to be happy. Besides... I've got a long time still to think about it."

It was faceless, the Shadow Man, yet it wore a suit of exemplary quality. Always. It seemed that he always had other preoccupations to attend to after his visits.

"Perhaps you can learn to forgive me." the Shadow Man said, giving a slight bow of his head.

"First I'd have to find out what it is that you've done to me."

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"Welcome to our game."

"So, life is a game to you all then. It's something you can play with."

"If it falls into our Game Room, then it belongs to us. Everything is a game. You play by our rules. Cheating is unacceptable unless you remain uncaught. A good liar is a respectable trade around here."

"Keep in mind that I'm blind."

"A pity that a thing like that should stop you..."

"A pity that people like you exist."

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Getting by on a collective pot of maybe one hundred dollars a day was hard, and half of that went to rent. Cheap linoleum floors and flaking lead-laced paint on the walls where concrete still jutted through in some places. The neon lights of the city bathed everyone in the crowded, pungent room with washes of laser blue, candied reds and slime greens. They weren't the only colors but they were ones most people bothered to remember.

"So how about I take it this week. We have enough to tide us over if I happen to lose but think about it... the chance is worth it all, isn't it?"

Negotiations for the cash left behind this week proceeded like any other argument in the dingy little communal hovel of a home. Homely like no other, although they could do without the omnipresent reek of vinegar and smoke. But it was either that or put up with finding unpleasant molds and other sorts of unwanted company in their walls and sheets.

Right now, one of the senior members of their little community of seven negotiated for the reserve of seventy-five dollars. The place served more like a head-quarters for thier operations yet the unemployment was chronic and it was safer to sleep in the sewers than in the streets, so those without a roof over their heads lingered here. The only light was an exhasperated lightbulb, choking out its last meager watts of life and air-conditioning... If you wanted that, you'd be better off standing in front of the air exhausts by the wax fruit factory.

Max was a slight overweight chap but good-natured and, to his credit, had his own apartment. He contributed to the group as much as anyone, though. Perhaps more than he should but that glue of surrogate family was pretty near impossible to peel off.

"No. We split it four ways. Let each one of us senior gamblers take our lot on the smaller games. It's safer." Lena countered. She was also one of the few with a job and her own place to live. Slender, strawberry blond and pretty, but with a terribly demanding personality. When videogaming got expensive, playing games here helped cover for new disks. It was a decent deal for a few hours work. Not even work really. It was actually a sort of fun.

"Alright, we'll settle this the old fashioned way then, Lemons."

"And how does everyone feel about that?"

A unanimous decision.

"Alright. Pop them bottles and bring out the board. And remember this when you lose, Max. That this was your idea in the first place."

"Oh, I'm shaking in fear already."

"Then I wonder what you'll do when you lose?"
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