• I.

    He was a boy, when he met his shadow.

    He sat on a chair made of wooden hopes, spoke in a childish cynicism to his new friend, and laughed when he received whispered responses.

    He did his best to make it happy.

    His mother scolded him, when he showed her his new friend. Your shadow can't be new, she said. You've always had it.

    But it was. He knew it was.

    His shadow followed him, and he showed it the small world he'd assembled himself. Each tiny piece was a new wonder, but when he reached out to hand his friend one of the fiercest figurines, it fell to the wayside. It was, after all, his shadow.


    The boy grew into a man of sharp lines and laughing eyes. He wore a coat of crimson that followed him in whirling eddies, his pride had made a permanent home on his face. His hands were strong, his mind stronger, and his ambition ruled everything he held. With a wave of his arm, buildings would erect themselves and open their doors to his power. Men fell at his feet, bending before him. Women would open their legs, if only he showed interest. But he did not.

    Smiling, he showed his shadow the world, one he'd built himself. He showed it the nooks and crannies, the blazing sun and the sprawling cities, and the seas that extended into forever. With a gesture, he reached to give his shadow his favorite piece, but the woman simply stood, untouched, on the marble floor.

    It was, after all, his shadow.

    He left his world, and wandered.


    The man was weary, and worn. His coat of crimson was ripped, blood and sweat and effort painted the edges of his skin. His gleaming hair, once a banner to his pride, was matted, tangled, and fell limply down his back, where it blended in with the bent lines of his clothing and became one blurred mass of monochrome red. There was no pride to wear in his eyes, anymore; it had changed, become something larger, darker. There was no power; when he waved his arm, no buildings came. Just a hollow wind.

    He had crossed the tallest mountains, the deepest forests, and the darkest caverns. He had found the world's strangest things, had accepted the queerest oddities and come to know every culture as if it were his own. His knowledge was vast, enough to fill dozens of books, but he never once lifted a pen to paper, to write it down. He simply continued walking, one foot in front of the other. He knew where he was going, even if no one else did.

    His shadow, as silent as it ever was, followed.


    He found it, in the end. That place he'd been searching for.

    Standing at the end of the world, he gazed out at the great space of everything, and found that for the first time, his breath was taken away.

    He reached out, and plucked out a piece of the nothing. He presented it to his shadow, who still remained with him, even after his journey. The shadow reached out to hold it within itself, accepting the gift from the tips of his fingers. It was, after all, his shadow.