• 1. Nymph Against Shadow
    The blackened exploits of a burned and calculating soul are carried out in the dark of the night, searching for the next chapter in this deadly unpredictable game. Focusing on the tortured agonizing screams to be pleasurably torn from a victim’s throat later that same night; he waits and watches. A ruthless killer playing out every second before making even one move in his perfect scheme. Completely empty inside except for the one desire to kill that comes often, no feelings just a sense of being utterly alone in this world. He was the only tortured soul existing for the sole purpose of eradicating the world of some of its unneeded inhabitants. Unneeded at least in my perspective.
    I watched a demon as she walked cautiously at first and then faster as she felt more confident on the derelict streets. My violet eyes followed her like a hawk from my precarious perch in the trees above. I caught every small movement, every imperceptible sigh. Her skirts as they shifted in the breeze. Her palpitating heart. The small shoes tapping rhythmically against the flagstones. Her small smile as she remembered some minute detail of her day. I missed very little.
    As she passed my tree, I dropped down swiftly to the walkway inches behind her. She turned upward only for a moment. Her untrained ears registered only a small rustle before she continued toward her destination.
    She couldn’t see me I was a shadow at night — invisible to all without the presence of the sun — and that was how I preferred it to be. In this way I stalked my victims all the way to their brightly lit homes, where I was finally illuminated.
    Shadows have been around for centuries. Most are well meaning and keep an eye on the world around them — protecting the humans. I find that completely ridiculous. I may control myself enough to not attack humans but I didn’t go out of my way to protect them.
    Not to mention the fact that I used to be human — the only shadow able to say that. Humans were as unaware of our existence, as I was as a boy. I had been a science experiment for my father; a fact that I had not discovered until after attacking the love of my life in the middle of the plaza. But that part of my life was over now, and it would bode well not to think of it.
    Only the government really knew. And had put up stringent regulations on us. We were not allowed in the centers of towns or anywhere near society. We had no reason to interact with humans and must cause them no harm. The Elder Shadow Marcurious had agreed, with the flawless intention of going behind the governments back right away. It worked–of course; all of Marcurious’s plans went through without fault. It was said that he had precognitive gifts.
    I was close enough now to reach out and touch the demon’s hair — if I hadn’t been in shadow form that is. Instead I tolerated floating behind her in a trance-like state.
    I was in longing for the sight of her spilled blood, her final gasp, and the look in her eyes as they finally beheld my own. However, I could wait. The longer I forced myself to think about the killings while stalking my victims the more enjoyable the killings were bound to be.
    Therefore, as soon as I felt the light from her open and unlocked door penetrate my lustful thoughts and beginning to reform my body, I pounced, unable to tolerate the longing any longer. My hand was over her mouth quickly to prevent any forthcoming screams. My nails pierced through her soft ivory flesh. Her slim body struggled for a few moments before falling limp in my arms.
    The venom had worked faster than I had anticipated. It must have built up its potency from my time in detention. I dropped her body unceremoniously onto the sofa.
    As I closed the front door, I glanced around her house.
    Her hologram projectors were top notch and through a back window, I could see a new silver Ferrari in her garage.
    Perhaps if she had decided to drive it tonight, she wouldn’t have become my next victim.
    I looked over at her slender form, her rosy lips were pressed together in a fine, painful line, and her hands were clenched together on her midriff. Her hair overshadowed her eyes and I meticulously took the time to move it from them.
    She was a beautiful woman. Gladly not for very much longer. Still I would have to wait before my fun could continue.
    My poison was venomous even to me. It would take a few minutes to dissipate. I went to look around the compact house as I toyed with the ideas of her immediate demise.
    I could make a painful death for her. Those were always my favorites to carry out. I was in the mood for one — even if it would take longer. The only real question was how to make it as painful as possible.
    I glanced about her sparse bedroom thinking.
    She seemed to treasure a single blue rose, encased in a rounded glass globe, sitting next to her bed. I lifted it up to see an inscription on the bottom; it was old and slightly faded probably from her handling it so many times in an attempt to bring back the person that it contained.
    “To Nisuki: Only your wings can lift my heart — Ritsuka.” I read aloud, slowly. My mind took a few seconds to gather its meaning entirely. Not only was this a sentiment from Lady Nisuki’s long deceased lover but it was also a possible death sentence for myself. I dropped the case, barely registering the tinkling of glass as it hit the floor or the almost inaudible moan as the being it contained was released.
    I hated being in my human for when I was in a hurry it was so tiresome. My fear became reality when I made my way back to the now empty sofa. I contained only a small imprint of her form along with a few choice feathers as if to laugh in my face. The curtains billowed toward me from the open window, sending cold chills along my still human form.
    I crushed the feathers in my palm watching as the golden dust floated to disappear between the strands of carpet on the floor.
    A nymph.
    I should have guessed. Not many were educated enough to know that any other being shakes as a shadow’s poison enters the system. The charade would have been given up just then if I had taken a second thought instead of just attributing it to the increased potency in my poison.
    I would have to pursue her.
    Shadows weren’t allowed to in this part of town. If I was caught, I would be tied in one of the slimiest dungeons this side of Nüremberg but only because I was caught doing so — not because I was actually doing it. I shuddered at the thought of it. I blinked and shook my head, ridding myself of the thoughts. Instead of leaving quickly, as any amateur would have done, I sat down on the sofa and turned on the hologram screen before me. The girl didn’t know my name and the poison would slow her down soon nymph or not.
    Sure enough the first news program aired her admittance to the hospital. She was unable to speak according to the robotic spokesperson already at the scene. That was expected but wouldn’t last long. It would take only a matter of hours for them to extract the poison and then her tongue would be free to tell everyone exactly who I was — a shadow. I knew that no one would believe her but one of the main rules was to keep our existence a secret. I was not about to get caught up in that. There was enough chaos in this world without the humans discovering that most of their myths were true.
    After all, the only people in on the real secret were certain doctors, who knew about nymphs, shadows, goblins, elves and pretty much everything out there that existed. But they were, to the government, veterinarians for the supernatural. Even those doctors families had no clue and the doctor in question was subjected to lie-detector testing each month to be sure.
    I recognized the steel-plated fortress-like building behind the reporter. It was very close to here. I let out a laugh. They had her under brain scans, obviously thinking that she was insane for whatever it was that she was telling them.
    I still had a few hours before the doctors decided that she wasn’t a nutter and contacted local government with the information that a shadow was on the loose but I stood anyway. I climbed out the window, preferring it to the overused door.
    Immediately, my body dissolved and I was no longer forced to walk, sit, see, breath, or well anything that other creatures considered everyday life. I still marveled in the feelings of being a shadow even though I’d been alive or well not really alive more like created, actually not even really created per say, more like formed. Anyway, even though I’d been a shadow for nearly a hundred years. I still enjoyed streaking across the air nearly invisible to everyone.
    All of my particles would move in a rhythmical undulating patten in the direction that I decided to send them. When I was around shadows like myself I reveled in watching them move. Their sound was a melody that words could not describe accurately without botching everything to sound mechanical. Their motion consisted of small never-ending waves riveting over the invisible clouds, and as they brushed past, almost enveloping ones entire body in their smooth but light being, it’s the most amazing pleasurable sensation that could ever be felt to me — other than the kicking and screaming of a non-docile victim who had yet to be poisoned.
    All too soon for my shadow parts, I arrived at the hospital. I could see the reporters lining up outside for the latest story. After all, now that the Warring Ban was underway, there was no chaos to report any longer. Just random at home accidents and such. Something like this was big news in a world without war.
    I dropped closer to the ground, forcing my molecules back together despite the lack of lighting. I marched straight past the unobservant reporters who failed to notice that the perpetrator in question of their newscasts had materialized right behind them, and made my way into the brightly lit lobby gladly — it was difficult for a shadow to keep form in the dark for long. I walked up to the desk and flashed a smile tinged with worry toward the receptionist.
    “How may I help you?” she asked. She was speaking German, but I, who loved to torture people, no matter how acute the torture may be, spoke in English.
    “I am the uncle of the patient Nisuki, who was brought in recently. I would like to see my niece if at all possible.” She didn’t ask for a surname and for that I was grateful, instead she groaned and spoke in near incomprehensible English.
    “She’s in room 627,” she told me with a coy smile, still attempting to flirt with me. Yes, I know, shadows are technically flawless, but I didn’t feel flawless.
    I ignored her attempts at flattery and the memories that her particular color of hair awakened, leaving her behind without so much as a thank you.
    I walked down the hall she indicated. This place was a vivid reminder of the nonexistent asylum that I was kept in after . . . I really needed to stay way from hospitals and prisons, so many bad things had happened in places just like this; clean floors, sterilized menacing equipment and people whose face s were hidden by green masks and false smiles, just isn’t my idea of a nice day unless I was behind the mask with the tools in my hands.
    That would be quite enjoyable.
    That thought gave me an idea and I ducked into a doctor’s locker room to my right.
    No one was inside.
    There were rows upon rows of lockers with benches in front for changing. I used my nails to pry open the door of the locker nearest me. Inside were a green lab coat and mask, along with a small picture of the doctor who owned the locker and his family. I pulled out the lab coat and mask, putting them over my own clothes.
    These were apt to get bloody and I would need my clothes for escaping if I couldn’t get past the entirety of the hospital staff in shadow form. I still needed a threatening instrument of torture but I could always pick something up on the way.
    I left the room, back into the brightly lit hallways that took me back to the time in the mental institution. That was before I found out that I was a shadow or even knew that shadows existed, before I found out ways to kill without being caught.
    I still have nightmares about those brightly lit hallways as I was wheeled around the hospital motionless and unable to fight back due to the lights and the medication. Even when I found out what I could do after dark, I couldn’t control it enough to phase during the day. Day after day the doctors continued their tests.
    One examination after another.
    One excruciating pain for another in places that I didn’t even know existed.
    The memories started to flood into my brain and it was all that I could do to stay rooted in the present. I fought the desire to curl up in a detached recess of the facility and succumb to their madness.
    Thankfully just then, I rounded the corner to the now famed Nisuki’s room and all thoughts of myself were put under wraps to take care of her. No one had ever escaped me and no one ever would if I had anything to do with it.
    There were two guards outside her room and their presence made me glad that I had taken the time to put on this disguise. They nodded to me as I stepped past. That small action quickly became their last one for this world.
    Before they could react, I had slit both of their throats from behind and watched as they crumpled to the floor. Their bodies made a small thump mixed with clattering as their weapons hit. I watched as the last of their life trickled from their open wounds with a smile on my face.
    They were both demons, though putting on a nearly flawless disguise. I shook inwardly remembering when I was human. When there hadn’t been such a thing as demons, elves, nymphs, vampyres or shadows in my eyes. They kept their existence so carefully secret.
    I dragged the guards into the closet, one on top of the other and slammed the doors. I wiped my hands clean of their blood because I wanted to start fresh with the nymph. My first planned kill in almost a decade and I would get the pleasure of doing in one of the supposedly higher elements of society. Well we would see who was a higher element when I was finished.
    Nymphs were in the higher echelons of society for one reason only. They were incredibly smart and incomparably devious. It was said that the Queen of England herself was a nymph, but I didn’t believe that.
    The queen looked old, and nymphs never aged. At eighty years exactly, they simply dropped dead, decomposing immediately wherever it was that they happened to fall.
    Disgusting really.
    Nisuki was silent as I walked close — having watched me do away with the surveillance — only her eyes followed my scrupulous gait. I walked slower flashing my most truculent smile. She didn’t allow me to get too close however before swooping to the corner of the room. Her wings flapped noiselessly as they brushed the corner of the room and her feet were curled into sharp talons glinting at me menacingly.
    Out of disguise now huh?
    She was testing me but I could see her sluggish movements as a result of the poison.
    Normally — if I was human — I would be dead now in the presence of such a livid nymph. I took another cautious step forward but it was too far past her boundary line. She dove at me and I was ready for her. I phased quickly and materialized into human form above her. She hadn’t expected that and my weight forced her to the ground. I felt something crunch as she landed.
    Unfortunately she was a feisty one and I was tumbling off her back only a few seconds after we hit the floor and she was on top of me this time, her talons clawing at my face and neck intent on doing as much damage as possible in the little time that she had. I dissolved again, staking in the corners of the room for a moment to survey the damage. I had to find a way to defeat her.
    Nymph against shadow.