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 Shadowman Chapter XII

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Shea Ballard



Posts : 53
Join date : 2012-11-28

PostSubject: Shadowman Chapter XII   Wed May 29, 2013 4:01 am

Chapter XII: Out of Time

Jade woke up. She heard something. Adam lay beside her, still sleeping. Jade’s twin bed was barely big enough to hold the two of them. Adam’s arm hung over the side. The rest of him was precariously close to the edge of the bed, in danger of falling off. Another noise. Jade sat up.
“Shit. Adam, wake up.” She shook him.
He stirred, but resisted becoming conscious again.
“My mom’s home.”
That did it. Adam shot up like a Pop-Tart.
“Shit,” he muttered.
“Well, don’t just sit there. Hide!”
“Where?!”
“Get under the bed.”
Adam tried getting dressed first. He had only managed to get his boxer shorts back on when Jade yelled at him. “Forget getting dressed, just get under the bed. Hurry!”
“Jade, I’m home.”
“I’m up here, mom!” As quick as she could, Jade leapt out of bed and went to grab her pj’s from the dresser. She put them on and jumped back into bed. Just as she finished getting under the covers, her mom opened the door.
She looked down at Jade in her bed with a puzzled expression. “In bed already?”
“I was tired.”
“It’s only six.”
“I had a rough day.”
Jade’s mom opened her mouth in reply, but then closed it. She started sniffing the air. “What is that smell?”
It was the smell of Adam. Whatever cologne or deodorant he was wearing it was a new odor to which Jade’s mother was not accustomed. For a few seconds, Jade panicked. Then she thought up a good lie. “Perfume.”
“Perfume?”
“Yeah, I was at the mall with Amber and Crystal. Free samples.” She sniffed at her wrists to make her story look convincing.
“Why are you all sweaty? And your hair’s a mess.”
Jade had not thought about the fact that there might be evidence of her recent bedroom activities. A panic crept up her throat and almost stole her voice, but she pushed it back down and kept up with her lie. “I had another bad dream. Woke up in a sweat. But I didn’t scream this time,” she added for good effect. “And this,” she pulled at a clump of hair, “just bed head I guess.”
“In three hours you had time to go to the mall, then come back home and sleep long enough to have a bad dream and get terrible bed head?”
“We didn’t stay long. I was back home again real quick.”
“I smell a rat. Or rather, a boy. Is he under the bed or in the closet?”
Now Jade was really panicked. Her mom knew! She wasn’t buying Jade’s story at all. In desperation, she played her last card: teenage angst. She sighed loudly and put on her angriest look. “There’s no boy here!” She tried to put an edge in her voice, like she really was pissed off at this accusation. “God, mother, you really don’t know me at all, do you? No boys ever ask me out, or talk to me, or hardly even look at me. I’m like a disease to them.” She lowered her eyes and pretended to be sad.
There was a brief silence, then Jade’s mother said, “I’m sorry.” An apology from her mother? Things had gotten rather strange the last few weeks. At least she had been swayed by Jade’s performance. She was home free now! “I guess we do need to have that mother-daughter talk, don’t we?”
Uh-oh. “What talk?”
“You know, the obligatory one about boys, sex, relationships. That talk.”
Not good. She couldn’t afford a long talk just now. Not with Adam under her bed. “Must we have it now?”
“No, we can wait. But we should have it soon.”
Jade nodded in agreement.
“Hungry?”
“Starving, actually.” In truth, she was. She had skipped her usual Spaghettio snack.
“You wanna go out for Chinese?”
“Sounds great. I’ll go get dressed.” She got out of bed and walked toward her dresser.
“Alright, well, I’ll go get changed, myself, then, we’ll go eat.”
As soon as her mother left, Jade said, “Okay, you can come out now.”
Adam slid out from under the bad. “That was close. I thought we’d been had.”
“We will be if you don’t get outta here. Get dressed and jump out the window.”
“We’re on the second floor.”
“See that tree out there?”
Adam looked and saw a tree branch right outside the window. “Yeah.”
“Open the window and leap out onto that first branch. Hang on tight with both hands then maneuver yourself out to the end. As soon as you’re over the pool, just let go and make a perfect splashdown.” Jade said it all so matter-of-factly.
Adam looked at her like she had gone mad.
She made a gesture and facial expression that said, ‘Well?’ Adam just looked on like an idiot, so she added, “Just aim for the pool.”
“Aim for the pool?! Are you nuts?”
Jade sighed. With an annoyed look on her face, she crossed the room and opened her window. “Look, it’s practically right under you already. Just use the tree. When you get over the water, let go.”
“Let go?”
“Come on, get going. We don’t have much time.”
“What about the splash?”
“I’ll go distract my mother.”
“But…I…,” Adam mumbled. He looked like he was going to cry.
“Oh, come on! Grow a pair, and get going. You’ll be fine. Just make sure to hit the water.”
Adam still made no movement toward the window.
Exasperated, she yelled, “Come on, if I can do it you can do it. I used to sneak out that way all the time. Just don’t let go until you’re over the water. Now, go!”
Finally, Adam walked toward the window and opened it. As he began climbing out to the tree, Jade left the room to go distract her mom.

Jade sat quietly on the school bus, her thoughts a mix of contradictory emotions. On the one hand were happiness, elation, and triumph at finally getting what she most wanted. But another part of her, constantly butting in on the happy thoughts like an uninvited guest, was anxiety, worry, and even fear. She wondered, Did I do that right thing? Does he still respect me today? Did he ever? What happens now? Will things get weird?
“Shut up,” she told herself under her breath. Another girl heard the just audible utterance and looked over. Jade looked up and made eye contact for the briefest of seconds, then looked away, staring down at the bus floor. Great, she thought. That girl probably thinks I’m crazy, now.
She resumed her inner dialogue, telling the negative thoughts to stop interrupted her joy. I should be happy, she told herself. I’m a woman now. This is a glorious day. But no matter how much she tried to think positively, the worry and fear took over. Sadness began to overtake her, and at one point she felt on the verge of tears. Just as she felt on the brink of busting into an uncontrollable wave of emotion, the bus stopped. Its double doors opened and students got up and started pouring out, an open faucet of children leaking out of the black and yellow vehicle.
Jade stepped off the bus and felt her feet hit soft grass instead of hard concrete. She looked up and was confused by the scene before her. She was not in a parking lot. There were no buses. No sign of her school could be seen anywhere. Instead there was an open field broken up by a few trees. A child’s swing set and a sandbox sat off in one corner. Surrounding the area was a wooden fence.
“I’m in my backyard,” said Jade aloud.
She looked around in amazement, recognizing her yard of twelve years ago. The swing set was now long gone, though the sandbox still sat unused in the same corner where it had been since Jade was a small child. The pool would not be added until the following spring. Her parents split up later that same year.
As she looked around in wonder at her own backyard, Jade thought she could hear laughter. She turned her head quickly to face the noise. Before her eyes, there materialized the image of a young girl with long, dark hair. She looked to be about four or five, Jade guessed. The little girl appeared to be chasing her shadow, which was long in the late-afternoon sun. Jade looked up at the sky. When she stepped off the bus it was early morning. Now it was clearly much later in the day.
“Look, I’m a monster!” exclaimed the little girl. She growled and curled her fingers, as if they were claws. She stomped around on imaginary buildings, like Godzilla destroying Tokyo. “Grrr.” She stomped around some more, then let out a loud laugh. She jumped up and down, watching her shadow move with her. Her long, dark hair bounced around and got in her eyes. She brushed it away.
Jade looked around to see to whom the little girl was talking. At first she noticed no one. Then she saw the familiar form of Iblis lounging in a copse of trees, his glowing red eyes barely visible in the daylight.
“Look, Shadowman! Look at my shadow. It’s so big!”
“It’s because of the long angle of the light from the Sun hitting your body.”
“You talk funny!” the girl laughed. “You’re funny, Shadowman!”
“I do have a name, Jade. Do you remember it?”
Jade? Iblis called the little girl Jade. It did not take long to put two and two together and figure out what she was looking at.
“I can’t say it,” replied the four year-old Jade.
“It’s Iblis. Say it with me. Iblis.”
“Ib Lees.”
“Iblis,” Little Jade finally said correctly.
Little Jade looked back down at her stretched shadow. She stood on her toes and reached both hands up to the sky, trying to stretch herself as if in a taffy puller. She imagined herself as tall as her shadow.
“Will I ever be this tall, Shadow…I mean, Iblis?”
“Maybe even taller.”
“Jade! Come on in for dinner!”
“Race you home, Iblis.” challenged Jade.
“As you wish, my lady,” he replied.
Jade laughed again.
“Ready! Set! Go!” she said, and took off running as fast as her little legs could carry her. Iblis let her win. He always did. He could travel at the speed of light, but she didn’t know that, or even what the speed of light was. She was only four.
Iblis put one shadowy foot in front of the other and disappeared. A faint dark streak would have been the only thing a human eye could detect.
The sixteen year-old Jade watched all of this with a morbid fascination. She didn’t want to see anymore, but couldn’t tear her eyes away. There was something very surreal about the whole experience. She thought of stories she had read of people who had near-death-experiences and reported having a life review while on the other side. She wondered for a moment if she had somehow died without knowing it, and this was God saying, “This was your life!”

Jade followed her younger self into the house. Little Jade sat at the kitchen table picking at her dinner.
“What’s this?” asked little Jade.
“Liver,” replied her mother.
Jade recalled this scene well. Early on in their relationship, Jade’s mother tried to feed her all kinds of horrid foods that only adults love. Thinking back, she wondered, What kid in the world loves liver and lima beans?
“I don’t like liver.” Jade stuck her tongue out and made a grimace of disgust.
“Have you tried it?”
Jade looked at the cut up pieces of liver. She stuck her nose in it and sniffed at it.
“It looks funny,” she finally said. “Smells funny, too.”
Jade’s father let out a laugh. “I told you, Barb. I knew she wouldn’t eat the liver.”
Barbara frowned. She sighed and gave her husband an annoyed look. “She needs to try new things, Alan. She can’t just eat the same food all her life.”
“When she’s older. I keep telling you, kids have simple tastes. “
Jade played with her food. She pushed the liver around with her fork. The only thing she had touched was the mashed potatoes.
“May I please be excused?” Jade asked.
“At least eat your vegetables,” her mother replied.
“I hate Brussels’ sprouts, too.”
Jade’s mother was about to say something else, when her father suddenly interrupted.
“Hey, Jade! Want some Spaghettios?”
“Yeah!” Jade replied with enthusiasm.
“She can’t have Spaghettios for dinner!” protested Barbara.
Alan had already gotten up from the table and was reaching for the can.“She has to eat something.” He reached into a drawer and found a can opener. “This is what she likes now. She’s only four.”
Barbara said nothing. She looked annoyed.
“Look I didn’t start trying new things until I was in college.”
Barbara’s expression turned from that of annoyance to being really pissed off.
“I hope you’re talking about food, Al.”
He laughed. “Yeah, among other things,” he said with a smirk.
Barbara then turned her attention to Jade. “Who were you talking to out there, Jade?”
“The Shadowman,” she replied. “I mean, Iblis. He says his name is Iblis.”
“That’s cute,” said Alan as he handed Jade a bowl of Spaghettios. “You have an imaginary friend?”
“He’s not imaginary. He’s real. He comes from a different dibention.”
“A what?” her father asked.
“A dibention. A different dibention of space.”
“A dimension?”
“Yeah, that’s it! A different dimension.”
“Jade, where did you hear that word?”
“I told you, Iblis told me. He uses a lot of funny words like dibension, but I can’t say them all.”
“Alright, that’s enough about Iblis,” said Barbara finally. “Finish your Spaghettios.”

Jade did not remember this conversation specifically, but she did recall that her parents thought she was crazy for awhile. They had taken her to a psychiatrist and even put her through an MRI and an EEG test. The whole experience had frightened her and she quickly learned to stop talking about Iblis.
As she recalled her past, Jade found herself suddenly in the living room several hours later. Little Jade had been put to bed and she watched her parents talk about her 4 year-old self.
“Should we be concerned about this?” asked Barbara.
“Perhaps not,” replied Alan. “It may be just a phase. Kids invent imaginary friends all the time.”
“Yeah, but, it’s…freaky. Dimension? Iblis?”
Alan sighed. He found it all a little too creepy, himself. “She could have heard that word anywhere?”
A few moments of uncomfortable silence passed. The two looked at each other, saying nothing but thinking the same thing – their little girl was crazy.
Finally, Alan said, “If it makes you feel any better, Bob, the computer science teacher, is married to a psychiatrist. I could talk to him about having her see Jade.”
“Is that Alice?”
“No, that’s Frank’s wife. He teaches biology. No, Bob is married to Gillian.”
“She’s half his age, huh?”
Yeah, you met her at the Christmas party last year.”
“He sure did marry up, didn’t he?”
Alan laughed. “Yeah, he replied. “Bastard robbed the cradle.”
He paused. Barbara took a sip of her wine.
“So,” he continued, “what do you think?”
“Okay. Talk to Bob. Let’s reassure ourselves this is just a…phase.”
Off in a dark corner by a bookcase, Jade noticed Iblis watching the same scene she had been. She tried to make eye contact with him, but he seemed not to notice her. She tried calling to him, but neither he nor Jade’s parents gave any indication they had heard her speak.
“This is a memory,” she stated aloud. “Like in A Christmas Carol.” She looked back at her parents. They were making out, starting to get frisky. Jade sighed. “But where’s the Ghost of Christmas Past?” Jade’s parents were starting to undress each other now. Their make-out session was getting hot and heavy. Not wanting to watch her own parents having sex, Jade turned to leave.
She took only a few steps when she suddenly had the sensation of falling. All around her was blackness as she fell into what seemed like a bottomless abyss. She heard a voice say, “Jade, wake up. Jade, wake up.”
Jade opened her eyes to find Amber and Crystal standing over her. She felt herself lying down on a hard surface.
“Are you all right?” asked Crystal.
“I’m not sure,” replied Jade. “Where am I?”
“You’re at school.”
Jade felt pins and needles at the ends of her fingers and toes. It was as if they fell asleep and the blood was rushing back into her extremities. She tried to sit up and felt lightheaded. She quickly put her head back down, bumping it slightly on the hard concrete.
“Careful,” stated Crystal.
“What happened?” asked Jade.
“You took a spill when you stepped off the bus. Looked like you banged your knee up pretty good.”
“Yeah, then you hobbled a few steps and sat down right here,” added Amber.
“Then you just passed out,” finished Crystal.
Jade had never felt more confused. All of that incident with her going back in time and seeing her six year-old self had happened in the space of a few seconds? And all she did was hit her knee? Jade couldn’t even remember that part. She had just stepped off the bus and was in her back yard. This was too weird, but Iblis had warned her.
“Can we help you up?” asked Crystal.
Jade nodded, and her two friends helped her to her feet. She felt dizzy, but Amber and Crystal held her steady. Only when she put her left foot on the ground did she notice the pain in her knee. She winced. Her friends helped her hobble inside and to the school nurse.

A few minutes later, Jade emerged from the nurse’s office, her friends still at her side. Her knee was bandaged up and she had been given some ibuprofen for the pain and swelling.
“We’ll walk you to home room,” said Crystal.
“Thanks,” replied Jade as she hobbled slowly down the hall. “Thanks for looking after me, Crystal. And you, too, Amber. I don’t know what I’d do without you guys. You’re great friends.” Jade stopped. She realized her friends had not been following her. “Amber? Crystal?” She turned around and saw her friends frozen in mid-step. They looked like mannequins, standing absolutely immobile. Jade looked up at a clock on the wall. It had stopped. Time had stopped – for everyone but Jade. “What’s going on here?!” she yelled aloud.
“You’re out of time,” she heard a familiar voice say.
Jade turned to see Iblis floating toward her. “Iblis, where did you come from?”
“God, but that’s a long story.”
“What do you mean I’m ‘out of time’?”
“You’re outside of time,” stated Iblis simply, “or above time, if you will.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Time has not stopped for them,” stated Iblis, pointing to Amber and Crystal. “As far as they’re concerned, things are all normal. It has only stopped for you. You are looking at time from above and beyond it, like looking at the city from a mountain or an airplane. Right now, you’re looking at the stream of time on pause, like your DVD player.”
“Why is this happening?”
“You know why.”
“I used your power again. You warned me.”
Iblis nodded.
“What’s going to happen now?”
“This.”
Iblis snapped his shadowy fingers. In an instant the whole world sped up. Jade moved through her entire day at a breakneck speed. It was as if someone had hit ‘fast forward’ on a VCR. In a matter of minutes Jade went through all her AM classes, lunch with her friends, all her PM classes and was on the bus toward home by the time time had resumed its normal speed again. Now things were moving about at their usual pace. The kids on the bus spoke at a rate where their speech was comprehensible, instead of the squeaky, high-pitched “Chipmunks” voice she heard while the world was in fast forward.
This return to normalcy, however, lasted only a few seconds. Without warning, time stopped again and then started to reverse. Now it was the ‘rewind’ button God had hit. Jade’s day reversed itself. She moved backwards, talked backwards, and during lunch even ate backwards. The sensation of taking food from her mouth and putting it back on her plate was odd to say the least. And while she sat in class, she watched teachers suck words off the blackboard with their chalk instead of writing them on it.
As Jade moved back to the spot in space and time where she had started her journey, she could feel herself getting dizzy again, and soon everything turned to black. She awoke on the floor, her friends looking down at her again.
“Jade are you all right?” asked Crystal.
“What happened?” replied Jade. This was déjà vu. Didn’t they just go through this?
“You passed out again,” stated Amber.
“Yeah, you nearly dragged us down with you,” added Crystal. Jade rubbed her temples. She had such a headache and was so confused. “Is everything okay at home, Jade? Anything you need to tell us?”
“Yeah, are you doing drugs or something?” asked Amber.
“No. No drugs. I’m not even drinking anymore. Maybe I’m just coming down with something.”
“Maybe it’s withdrawal,” suggested Amber.
Jade did not reply to that. Still sitting on the floor, she held out her hand. “Help me up?”

Jade did not know how she made it through her day. She resisted the temptation to call her mom to come pick her up. Luckily, there was no more fast forwarding or rewinding. Time returned to its normal, leisurely pace, although it was weird because since she had already seen the day fast forwarded she already knew everything that was going to happen.
When she finally stepped off the bus, she did so very carefully. There were no incidents. Her feet hit the ground and she was still in front of her house – her house in 2009. Everything looked normal. All was as she remembered it when she had left in the morning. Jade fished her keys out of her pocket. She put them in the lock. She opened the door. Everything was not normal.
Jade walked into a crowded room. Chairs were arranged in rows, on which sat people in somber, mostly black attire. They were all staring up at a podium at the front of the room. Some of the people were crying. Off to Jade’s right, sat a large, wooden box, ornately decorated. It did not take long for Jade to realize where she was: it was a funeral. But whose? As she walked slowly toward the open casket, she tuned in to what the priest was saying.
“All who knew Barbara liked her. She was kind and helpful, always willing to lend a sympathetic ear to a friend of coworker. She was also, I have been told, lively, funny, entertaining. They say she was always ready with a good joke or a funny or interesting story. Her good cheer and enthusiasm for her work was infectious. Most who worked with her at the firm say she was their favorite lawyer, and all expected she would make partner one day.”
“Sadly, that dream was cut short. For no one who knew her ever suspected her alcoholism. Only her daughter, Jade, was aware of her deep, dark secret.”
“What?!” Jade looked up at the priest with a surprised and terrified expression.
“When her liver failed it came as a shock to everyone but those who knew her most intimately, her daughter and ex-husband.” The priest pointed to two people in the front row. That’s when Jade noticed a slightly older version of herself sitting next to a man should could only assume was her father. “She got put on the list for a liver transplant, and came clean with all her friends and coworkers about her many years of alcohol abuse. Alas, that help never came in time. While waiting for a new liver, Barbara was lost to us.”
Jade turned to face the casket. She crept slowly toward it. Tears streamed down her cheeks. “No,” she said quietly to herself, though she knew no one else could see or hear her. “Please, no.” Her heart beat faster. She felt her throat seem to tighten up. Her whole body tensed, bracing for the inevitable. The lid of the casket was open. Jade could make out a female form laying in it. As she approached, the face became clearer. It looked very familiar. “No, no,” she pleaded. Finally, she was right up to the edge of the casket. She shut her eyes tight, not wanting to look in. A few moments later, her need to know won over. Jade opened her eyes. She looked down into a face that had once belonged to her mother. She screamed. “No!” Jade collapsed on the floor next to the casket. “No! No! No!” she kept screaming. She closed her eyes again.
When Jade opened her eyes she was no longer in the funeral home. She was in her home, in her room. She sat crumpled on the floor, leaning up against the wall. Realizing that it had all been another one of Iblis’ weird time-slips, and that none of it had been real did not help matter. She broke down into hard, powerful sobs. Burying her face in her hands, she curled up into a ball and cried herself to sleep.
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Angelique Clark

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PostSubject: Re: Shadowman Chapter XII   Wed May 29, 2013 1:14 pm

Awesome chapter! Suspenseful at many places, mysterious and very gripping. I only noticed a couple minor grammar errors here and there, but otherwise it was well-presented, and I look very much forward to the next installment.

-Ace
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