Freak. That's what they called me, a freak. All the other Shadoners had either black or very dark brown hair, but I had the lightest hair in all of Shotan. It was a light, golden-brown color, and they called me a freak. Are you wondering were Shotan is? You have never heard of it? It is not on a single continent on earth. It is not inside the earth either. Not like some of those strange places you read about in fairy tales. This is a real place that you have seen, but didn't recognize it for what it was. Look down. Not that way. Look at your shadow. Do you see how it moves when you do? That's because your shadow shares your personality. It shares your mind. It is part of you. That shadow is a person. You don't get me? Let me make myself more clear. How about this way? Shotan is our way of saying Shadowlands. Do you get me now? I am a shadow. When we shadows get tired of walking around with you or doing what you do, we take a bit of our selves and mold it onto you so it looks like we're still there. Then we go do whatever we like. Now for a bit more of an explanation. Have you ever seen a shadow without a person? No. The reason? You think it's because you are not there to cast a shadow and without a person a shadow can't be there. That the sun hits you and the only spot with darkness is behind you where the sun can't reach. WRONG! It's because that whenever the sun hits a shadow they are directly transported to the Shadowlands. This is a place where we go instantaneously. But enough of history and scientific explanations. Back to my story. I had the lightest hair in all of Shotan. The Ecplionato, or prophetess, said that I would one day save both worlds. Earth and Shotan. But she died soon after. People were superstitious and said that it was because she had prophesied wrongly and that the gods were punishing her. But I don't believe in that nonsense. Anyway, my parents were afraid that I'd bring bad luck and dumped me at the orphanage. They didn't want me for the same reason and dumped me in the street. I ate out of garbage cans and anything I could find. I lived in alleys and was practically an animal. Once in a while I would beg, but nobody wanted to give me anything. I tried to get a job, but no one would have me. I snuck into a dye store and dyed my hair a darker color and turned myself in at the orphanage and they took me in for a few years until I was old enough to take care of myself. I went to school and all that. That's all in the past now. Right now I'm in my bed at the orphanage. I have dark hair because I dyed it so long ago, but it's wearing off now, and soon I will be an outcast again. Then I'll dye my hair and be back in society. You wonder about this all? Have you ever seen a girl, boy, woman or man out on the street who looks too pale to have dark hair and yet there it is, black or very dark brown hair? That is a shadow. They look exactly like humans and they can come up whenever. Tomorrow I'll be taught to be a human's shadow. Good night journal.
Whysper put down her notebook and lay back on her bed with her hands behind her head. She wondered if she really would save the human world and her own world. She snorted with laughter. A nice world to save! This world mistreated her terribly! It kicked her into the street and tried to starve her and all sorts of awful things. She drifted off into oblivion. The next day She and her tutor went into the human world and walked around. Then we saw her. She was lovely. She had green eyes and raven hair. It shone and almost sparkled. But her face was dirty and scratched. She wore torn clothes and crouched in the corner of an alley. Her hair, which would have been perfectly suited in Shotan was awkward and out-of-place here in the human world. She was a freak, just like Whysper had been. Whysper immediately chose her and jumped onto the ground to be her shadow. They got along splendidly and the girl was a perfect host to cast the shadow. Her name was Willow and her parents had cast her into the street after the prophet who said she would assist in a wonderful rescue was killed in an accident. They thought it was the gods punishing him for mis-prophesying. Her story was exactly like Whysper's except that when Willow tried to bleach her hair, it didn't work. Whysper could have cried but for the fact that she was on duty as a working shadow. Their life together was a sad one. Whysper decided one night that she was tired of being in the human world and went home. She left a little bit of a shadow and hurried to a shop window where light was pouring through and said a word and away she went to Shotan. She went to sleep thinking about her human and all her troubles. She was changed to a new school the next day because she now had a human. She was nervous and walked along the hallway looking down at the floor. She clutched her books to her chest and took small, anxious steps. A group of girls brushed past her, laughing and talking. One girl, who looked especially mean, sideswiped her so close that she lost hold of her books and was knocked over. She gave a little cry and landed among her books. This caused great hilarity among the girls and they laughed uproariously. Whysper's blood rose as she herself did from her position on the floor. She was taller and more muscular than all the girls and she towered over them. She grabbed the mean girl as she started to walk away.
“Just a minute,” she growled, “aren't you forgetting something?”
The girl tried to wriggle away, but Whysper's grip was sure.
“No, I don't think so,” she remarked casually.
“Oh no? How about an apology?”
“Apology? What for?” the girl blustered.
Whysper leaned close and said something quietly into her ear. The girl's eyes grew wide and watery. She wrenched herself away from Whysper's grasp and ran down the hall screaming, “Fine! I'm sorry, OK! Just leave me alone!”
The other girls murmured among themselves and moved off. A boy down the hall saw this and hurried over. Whysper was already picking up her books. He leaned over and helped her collect them.
“Let me do that. What did you say to Gossyp? She looked pretty upset.”
Whysper stood up and let him help her with her books.
“I just told her that she was a bully and deserved to see me on a dark night.”
The boy looked amazed.
“It's a gift of mine. I'm from the orphanage. I used to live in the streets and so I'm used to fighting. Whenever there was someone bigger or stronger than me, I'd just whisper something in his ear and he'd run away. That's how I got my name.”
“Your name is Whysper?”
“Yeah. I...don't like to tell anyone about it, 'cause of the...accident. But my hair darkened, so I guess I'm safe.”
“You're the light shadow?”
“Is that what they call me now? Well, just call me Syng. It's what everyone else does.”
“OK. My name is Darrik.”
“Nice to meet you.”
They had a good friendship from then on. One day as they were walking down the hall, Whysper (or Syng as we should now call her) asked Darrik if Gossyp was a bully to everyone.
“Mostly. She has a group of what she calls friends, but they're really more like slaves. They do what she says to stay in 'the group.'”
“Does she bully you?”
“No. I'm too popular.”
Syng looked bemused.
“Yeah. Haven't you noticed? People think that I'm the coolest kid in school. The girls think I'm 'so cute.' After a while it get's annoying. But you're not like that. I like you.”
“Anyway, Gossyp thinks I'm 'so cute,' and acts like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth when I walk by. It's sickening.”
Syng laughed. One day Darrik got curious about Syng's “gift.” He asked her what it was all about. She shrugged, but he persisted. He asked for a demonstration, and she obliged. She whispered something in his ear and waited. He went white. He swayed slightly and almost collapsed. Syng caught him and steadied him.
“Are you OK?” she asked concernedly.
“Yeah...yeah, I'm fine,” he responded shakily.
“I'll never do that to you again!” she vowed vehemently.
“How do you do that anyway?”
“It's my power. I dunno. What do you do?”
“I'm one of those 'generic gifts' shadows.”
“Ah. The girls die over you, eh?”
“That's the one.”