Shadow Born

The Shadow-Born have one terrible secret: they are the hybrid sons of Lucifer himself, sent from the depths of hell to act as judges, determining the guilt and sins of humans as well as returning the escaped damned to their eternal punishment. The only problem with their existence? After twenty years, they are summoned by their father to attempt an impossible Trial, from which none return. With his very self a ticking timebomb because of the invader within his own mind, Luke must learn to accept this new part of himself and make the best of the few years remaining to him - all while attempting to rectify the mistakes and failures of his unlikely new companion.

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2. Clashing Darkness

“I got something! I got something! Grandpa, come look!” Luke screamed in elation, reeling in his catch. It was the first

catch of the day, too. The ten-year-old knew how proud his father would be when he found out. Luke could already picture telling him.

            “Well, bring it in then,” Grandpa’s voice was rough and hoarse, but instantly reassuring. He trusted in Luke’s abilities, so how could the boy not succeed. A moment later the big bear of a man emerged onto the deck of the small fishing boat, rubbing his gloved hands for warmth. Luke didn’t understand why old people always got so cold. Used to snow and ice as he was, the winters in California were balmy.

            “I am, but I think it’s big! It’s heavy, Grandpa, I don’t think I can bring it in by myself!” Luke had to shout to be heard over the waves. He was telling the truth, though. His small muscles were straining to turn the crank, but it was just so hard.

            “Well, son of a – I mean, Jesus boy, don’t they teach you anything up North?” Grandpa’s face was joking though, so Luke knew he didn’t mean it.

            “I know lots of stuff. Like the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, and when Christopher Columbus sailed to America, and did you know that Australia is getting swarmed with these really huge frogs. They have horns, and people run them over with cars. It’s true, I heard it in school!” Luke added when his grandfather started laughing.

            “O’ course it’s true boy. They said it in that school o’ yours, so it must be. Now, let’s enjoy this vacation and catch us some fish.” And Luke felt his grandfather’s hands wrap around his, helping him pull in the catch.

            Luke was sure that with both of them working together, they could bring it in in no time. But the fish must have been absolutely massive, because before long both were huffing, and the line was barely moved.

            “Grandpa, what happens if we can’t pull it in?” asked Luke, with a seriousness only a ten year old boy could manage.

            “Don’t worry, we will. And then we can show your daddy a nice big one.”

            “But what if we don’t get it? It’s not moving at all!”

            “Look Son, let’s try this. How about we attach it to the engine, and let that pull it up for us?” And, true to his word, somehow Grandpa managed to make the engine pull the line in. Luke, unable to contain his excitement, couldn’t follow what his grandfather did, and instead settled down to watch his catch come in.

            Within a few minutes, it was almost there. Luke and his grandfather leaned over the rails to see what they had caught.

            And then they saw her.

            “She’s pretty, Grandpa. What is she?” Luke felt like he was drowning in her eyes. They were so blue, like the water itself. Her eyelashes were silver, and so was her hair. Luke thought that was weird, but only for a second. Then they seemed perfect.

            “I don’t know, but let’s get her out of the water. Quickly now, we’ve got no time to waste.” And they set to work. Luke didn’t do much, just watched her. Her silvery hair was long, spreading out in the water around her.

“Hello, Shadow-Boy. I have found you. No more hiding from me, child. Come to Anya, little Shadow.” She raised one pale hand to him, touching his shoulder…

            And then she changed. Luke screamed. Loud. His grandfather turned with a curse – something Luke’s parents always told him not to do – and ran to the edge. The girl’s face was different now. Her eyes weren’t blue anymore. They were gone. Pale flesh melted away to show the skull underneath. Hair, once thick and silver, now hung ragged and thin from a bare scalp. Her teeth were long and sharp, like the vampires Luke had seen on TV. Her fingers ended in pale talons. But his grandfather didn’t seem to see it. He was staring at her like she was the prettiest thing he had ever seen.

            The monster smiled at them, and Luke screamed again. Then she grabbed his grandfather’s coat and pulled him over the edge of the boat, into the water. Sinking her teeth into the soft, hairy flesh of the man’s neck, she pulled him under. Just before they disappeared, Luke saw her tail, silver and blue, where the girl’s legs should have been. Stuck in it was his fishing hook.

            Luke backed away, into the middle of the boat. He called out for his grandfather, but no one answered. He kept calling for so long, until his voice hurt and his throat hurt and his head hurt, but no one answered. Then Luke sat down and cried.

            He was still crying when the boat started moving again. It jerked forward suddenly, spilling the boy to the deck. Luke looked around, trying to see his grandfather at the controls, but no one was there. Then he remembered the hook. His fishing pole was caught between two rail-posts, the line tangled into knots. The boat was moving fast now, but Luke tried to be calm.

            He tried to untangle the knots, but they were stuck. They wouldn’t come out. The boat was really fast, skidding over the waves instead of through them. Luke felt like he was flying, and if he wasn’t so scared, he would have thought it was fun.

            Luke watched, too afraid to jump off the boat, as the shore came closer. If he jumped into the water, that thing might get him. No. No, he was much safer on the boat.

            All he felt was something hitting the boat, then something hit him in the head. Broken wood, probably, and Luke blacked out.

            “Grandpa!” He woke again with a shriek. Then Luke fell back against the pillows again. His whole body hurt. He was lying in a lumpy, uncomfortable bed. Nearby there was an irritating beeping, almost like an alarm clock, sounding continuously. His hand felt heavy with the wires twisted around it. Luke knew where he was. A hospital.

            But how did I get here? The last thing I remember… Then he heard the voices. They must be coming from just outside the room, because they sounded close.

            “Has he woken yet?” It sounded like Luke’s mom. Why was she here? She was supposed to be in Florida, on vacation. Luke had decided to stay with his grandfather instead, but the rest of the family was all there.

“No.”

“Will he be alright?” Why wouldn’t I? I hurt less then when I crashed my bike. Why was Luke’s mother talking about him in

the hallway? She should just come in and see him herself. Then she would know that he was fine.

“I don’t know. The MRI showed neurological damage…” MRI. That was when they took pictures of your brain, right? Why

would they do that? His brain was fine.

Finally, they seemed to realize he was awake, because the door opened. Luke’s mother rushed to him with a cry when

she saw his eyes open, but the doctor just shook his head sadly. Questions bubbled, one after another, from Luke.

“Is there something wrong with me? Where is Grandpa? Why are you crying Mom?” It was true; tears were spilling down

her cheeks. Luke tried to hug her, but he couldn’t lift his arm. It was so heavy.

“Your Grandfather is gone, Luke. He must have sunk when the boat crashed. Did you see where it went down?”

And then it all came back. The girl, beautiful one minute and horrid the next. The boat, flying through the water, faster,

faster, faster. Crashing, wood raining down everywhere. Salt water and dirt in his eyes, burning. Blinding. Luke’s eyes went huge. “The boat didn’t crash. It got pulled. There was this girl, and her face melted, and she pulled Grandpa under water. But my fishing hook was stuck in her tail, so she pulled the boat, and it hit the rocks…” Luke trailed off when his mother looked hopelessly at the doctor. The man smiled sadly, and pressed a button on the beeping machine. Instantly, Luke’s pain faded and his eyelids drooped.

“It’s alright, baby. Sleep now.” And he did.

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