By Jared Barzee
He lay awake in the early morning hours staring at the black shadow creeping across the ceiling. The curtain over his window wasn't closed all the way and allowed a sliver of light from the streetlamp outside to shine through. This was the worst time for him. It was too late at night to do anything of substance and too early to wake up for the busy day to come. It was such a constant struggle each and every night. The pillow beneath his neck, the sheets and blankets on top of him, seemed as if they were mocking the fact that he couldn't sleep and enjoyed acknowledging his personal discomfort. The dreams were getting worse. They had progressed to becoming absolute nightmares. He kept seeing the accident over and over again, constantly flooding his vulnerable mind with an amplified new level of terror. As he stepped out of his bed he realized how parched his mouth was. He needed a drink. Bad.
He opened his bedroom door and started down the hallway. His eyes felt like they were dead bolted open. He began to make his descent down the stairs. The old wood stairs were freezing on his bare feet. Each step made a unique creaking sound that made him cringe awkwardly. He had no one to wake but the neighbors, and he pondered why that simple fact bothered him so much. Why do I never have company? He thought to himself. As he finally arrived at the bottom of the stairs, he looked towards the kitchen and saw that one of the windows had somehow been left open. The crisp winter air from outside chilled him to the bone. It's definitely January. He thought. When he entered the kitchen he ignored the light switch and headed straight towards the fridge. He looked at the dull brown and black magnets on his fridge and the items which they held. Two pictures. One of him and his dog Perceus five years ago at the park. His beloved Perceus had been replaced a couple of years later with a beagle named Jasper. Jasper had eventually been given away to a co-worker because he was too loud and he never really felt much compassion for the damn thing. Another of him with his father who passed away just last year. They were at a restaurant in Chicago trying Indian food for the first time. The smile on his face was deceiving. It was a fake glimmer of happiness, shielding his true feelings for his father. The look on his father's face was oblivious. He actually thought he was a good man. "Pathetic," said the man with contempt. There was also a cheap magnet calendar he got from the local real estate agent a while back. On the top of the magnet was a sports team's schedule. God I hate sports, He thought to himself. The last thing on the fridge was a dry erase board he seldom used. There was however a partial grocery and to do list on there at the moment. "Groceries: Bananas, carrots, milk, lettuce, wheat bread, and toilet paper." On the to do list it was inscribed as: "Take out the trash, buy stamps from the post office, balance checkbook." As he mulled over why that list was so damn depressing, he opened the fridge door and grabbed a cold bottle of water. He took off the cap, put the bottle to his mouth, and enjoyed a long, fulfilling gulp before slowly turning around to head back upstairs. He wasn't looking forward to the grueling walk ahead.
As he walked up the stairs, the creaking didn't seem to bother him as much this time around. He felt a little drowsy for some reason. Maybe he could actually get some good rest tonight. When he returned to his room, he went directly to his bed and got under the warmth of the blankets. He lay for a while on his stomach with his head underneath his pillow. The blackness dancing in his mind was beginning to settle at last. Finally. He thought to himself, with a sigh of relief. Sleep was here. And this time to stay.
"Hello," said a unmistakably real voice from ten feet away. "What the"!" The man said as he sprang from his bed to turn the light on. He flipped the switch on, but no light appeared from the lamp above. The power was out. "I wouldn't bother with that," said the stranger in the corner of the room. "Good evening. Or is it now morning? Judging from your reaction, I think we have a lot to discuss." The owner of the house was bewildered and damn near in hysteria. "But"but.. who the fuck are you! And what are you doing in my house?" The man appeared to be sitting in the chair that accompanied the owner's desk. "That's not important. What is important is what I'm going to tell you. And what you're going to do after I tell it," the stranger explained. The owner of the house was petrified. His pants were suddenly wet as he couldn't restrain himself. "Please"don't hurt me," he said with a helpless tone. "I mean you no harm. Quite the contrary actually, I care a great deal about your future and for now, I only want to talk," assured the stranger. He made a simple gesture with his hands and beckoned for the owner to come over. Reluctantly, the owner inched closer to the desk where the stranger was sitting, and timidly sat on the edge of the bed. "Now. That's not so bad is it?" Said the stranger with a hint of compassion in his voice. "No, I suppose not," said the owner with a brief sigh of relief. The stranger shuffled around in his coat pocket briefly before saying, "where do we begin? You are a little lost right now are you not?" The stranger said in a harsh tone. "Lost? No"I think I'm doing okay," mumbled the owner almost beneath his breath. "For the most part anyway," finished the man. The stranger began to laugh erratically. "You can't be serious! Is that what you truly believe? If you're serious than you are worse than I thought. You have absolutely nothing to look forward to. No one to live for but yourself. Why is that you think?" The stranger said vindictively. "I do things"I mean, nothing special. But I go places on occasion, and you know" meet people," grunted the man with his head down and his eyes closed. The stranger sat there in silence for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. "Lying to me is one thing, but for God's sake, don't lie to yourself," said the stranger with a hiss. The owner felt a tear roll down his cheek as he began to cry softly. "Pathetic." The stranger said bluntly. This only hasted his resolve as the owner started to bawl emphatically. "I think it might be too late for you," said the stranger casually. Abruptly, the owner's temper flared and his emotions took hold. "Who the fuck are you! And what the hell do you want from me!" The owner screamed. The light from the street streamed inside and was partially rested on the stranger's face. He couldn"t make out any specific features however. The stranger's face was shrouded behind the shadowy veil of the curtain. "I think we got off on the wrong foot," said the stranger with a grin on his face. "We have a mutual friend you see. A friend in which we both care about. A dear friend who is in grave danger I fear," he said. Sounding genuinely concerned. The owner had wiped his tears off with his shirt sleeve and recovered from his brief episode. "Oh yeah? And who might that be?" The owner said coldly.
The stranger began to stand up for a moment but sat down and moved his neck from side to side, and then briefly stretched his arms before returning to their conversation. "Well. It's complicated. Your honestly not going to understand what I'm telling you. And your actually going to think I'm a fucking lunatic for what I'm about to say. At first. But with time, I am confident you will begin to see." The stranger said reassuringly. The owner allowed himself to ponder over the statement shortly before deciding his verdict. "Okay then. Have it your way. Talk." The stranger gazed across with the room with the narrow slice of light settling on his shoulders. "I intend to," said the stranger boldly. "But where to begin?" The stranger crossed his leg and arched his back slightly. "You are a very interesting man. You have so many that care about you. That love you. Truly. Yet you stray away. You fear them. And the love that they offer in your life. You resent them. Why is that?" The owner heard this and shifted uncomfortably on the mattress of the bed. "I"I like my privacy. I like my solitude." The owner said shyly. The stranger mulled that over for a moment as he quietly sat on the owner's comfortable leather desk chair. After what seemed like an eternity the stranger finally said, "You know what I think? I think. You have always been different. You have never been great with people. You are one afraid son of a bitch. You refuse to take chances. You simply refuse to try. The owner was beyond shocked. What is it you want! "That's not true!" The owner screamed. "Oh we both know it's true. Deep down inside you know with a certainty that it's true," the stranger said. The owner put his sweaty hands on his face and looked down. "This can't happening," he said as his body began to shake. "So," the stranger began; I'm here to offer you some redemption. I'm here to offer you a second chance. And it's going to come down to whether or not you can be honest to me. And whether or not you can be honest to yourself." The owner considered this briefly before replying, "Doesn't look like I have a fucking choice in the matter do I?" The stranger laughed for a moment and grimly said, "So right you are my peculiar friend. You are going to listen to me tonight. And listen well. Because I have a story I want to tell you. But we will get to that later. There is a few questions I want to ask you, and you alone.
The owner sat there in confusion but also a profound sense of excitement at the proposal of this stranger, and the agenda he had. "Okay then." The owner stated confidently as he wiped the tears from his eyes. "Lay it on me." The stranger folded one leg over and sat comfortably on the chair. "Now that's the spirit! I knew you would come around," he said merrily. Okay the first question is this. And you must answer honestly, or else" suffer the consequences. When you wake up in the morning, and take a shower, get ready for work, drink your coffee and read the paper, are you indeed happy?" He said in a serious tone. The owner was astonished. He wasn't expecting a question such as that. "I"I like the routine and the stability of it I suppose. I like making money and feeling important at my work," the man said with more confidence in his response as he went along. The stranger thought about this briefly before pulling something out of his coat pocket. The owner's heart dropped. "What the"?" The man said as his pulse escalated. "Do you know what this is? This is a knife my friend. A very special knife from a very special person. Judging from your reaction and that look on your face I don't believe you want me to use it. Now answer the fucking question. Again. Honestly." The stranger demanded. "But"I thought you sa-" "You misjudged me perhaps. I care about your better interests but If you think this is a fucking game, you are gravely mistaken," The stranger explained. The owner was terrified yet again. But this was a whole new level of terror. This man was going to kill him. What does he want? Money? My car? "Well I don't have many friends, and I don't go out very often. So in a sense, I suppose you could say I'm a loner. I don't take chances, I don't take risks. I'm a selfish piece of shit." As the man said this he looked down in shame and gave into the tears once again. The stranger said silently for a few moments while the owner regained his composure before speaking. "Interesting. Very interesting. I applaud you for finally coming clean. To someone. Even if it takes someone holding a knife across the room to force you to admit it," the stranger declared. "I don't admit it, because I stopped feeling anything or caring for anyone a long time ago. I'm completely numb," said the owner with a grimace. "I know you have. I really do. That's precisely why I'm here tonight. In your house. In your bedroom. Completely surprising you. Telling you things you already know. Showing you things you want to forget." The stranger moved his neck to his left, then back to his left as a popping sound ensued. "Much better. Now. Let me ask you something else. If you would be so kind to oblige this question, it's something you don't hear asked very often. Do you believe in everything you see? Do you believe in the impossible?" The owner blinked a few times and realized how incredibly dry his eyes now were. "I suppose there is something in all of us that really wants to believe that," he said. "But, I think I look at the glass as half empty not half full in many things in life. And that would probably be one of them. I don't know if that answers your question, but that is how I feel."
The stranger didn't move a muscle for a few moments before replying, "Indeed. You are where I figured you would be. You lack so much. You know so little. But I think I can help you with that. You are going to have to do something before this night is through though. Something that will test every limit you thought you had." The owner glanced over at the crack of light from the street outside and was startled to see that the strange man's face was visible, if only for a brief moment. The light revealed a scar on the stranger's left cheek to the owner's dismay. "Forgive me, but tell me, if you would"where did you get that scar?"
The stranger shifted uncomfortably in the wooden chair. "It seems only fair, with me asking all of these questions, that you have the same right in return. So fair enough. Ah, but where to begin? This scar I received a very long time ago, before I became what I am today. I was a different man back then. And I lacked belief, as you do here tonight. I was shrouded in doubt and had absolutely no confidence in myself, also like you. But then something happened. Something life altering. I had a visitor step inside the pawn shop I was running at the time. He came in, looking like a relic of some ancient time, asking me the same questions I'm asking you tonight. And you know what I told him? To fuck off. To hit the road. I was having none of it. That's when this strange man revealed something to me. He took of the sunglasses that shielded his face and I saw that he only possessed one eye. The other one had a patch over it. He was blind. Although he had me fooled from the get go. He put the away the nice old man act and began his ritual. He tore tore me down to my very core. Put me to tears. A complete stranger did this to me. He told me he could make my problems go away. He could give a sense of purpose, a direction. I told him I would do it, that my fate was in his hands. I would do anything he asked. It was late that night, and the shop was already closed. The man asked me if I carried any good hunting knives. I was taken aback when he said this. "Well, uh, we have a couple different vari- "The cheapest one you got," the man said with a grin. I was baffled. I started to scan my shop and saw over a dozen different knives. I finally settled on an ol hunting knife in the back glass case that had a sale sign on the front. It had a camouflage imprint design on the front, and It looked like it was used in Vietnam. I grabbed it from the case. In doing so, I realized I hadn't even bothered to lock that particular case to begin with. "How much?" The man inquired. I glanced at the price tag. "Two dollars and ten cents," I replied. "Sold." The man said. I set the knife on the counter and he reached his hand to examine it briefly before reaching into his coat pocket. He dug a couple crumpled up dollar bills and then carefully put ten pennies in perfect arraignment across from the cash. Even knowing he couldn't see me, I gave him a confused glance. "Alright, let me just put this away," I said. I grabbed the money and put it in the register as the old man started fiddling with the seemingly dull and useless knife. "Let me ask you," the old man began. "What do you dream about? If you would be so kind to indulge an old man like myself." Before I could answer, the old man began to cough erratically all over the place. He put a handkerchief over his mouth to contain it but when he put it down, it was enveloped with blood. "Are y-" "Don't you worry about me son." Just been a rough few weeks. Please. Tell me. Do you dream?" At first, I had absolutely no clue how to answer such a question. I mean, It's not everyday a random blind man comes in and ask you if you dream as he buys a knife from your shop. "Well"I don't ever remember my dreams. At least"not as often as I used to." The man seemed to think this over with a great deal of thought. "Ah, just as I feared. You see, most people don't realize this, but the less and less you dream, the closer they are to death. Not necessarily death in the physical sense, as you and many others perceive it, but death in a mental and spiritual sense." I soaked in what the old man had prophesized to me. "I've never looked at it that way. But that makes a lot of sense really." The man started to pace back and forth. "Do you know why I'm here tonight?" I shook my head like a child. "I'm here, to give you something. And, if your willing, to offer you something." My heart began to pound. Who was this person? "What are you offering?" I asked the old man. As he said this the old man unsheathed the knife and as quick as a lightning stikes he reached across the counter and slashed my cheek with such ferocity I didn't know any human possessed. "Ahhhhhhhhh! What the fuck is wrong with you man!" I screamed in agony as the blood trickled down my face. I grabbed a towel from the desk and tried to stop the bleeding but it kept streaming out. I was still yelling and screaming hysterically when the man put an index finger to his mouth and beckoned my immediate silence. For someone that had just inflicted so much pain upon me, even I was surprised how quickly I obeyed his decree. The man unveiled something glowing and spectacular from his coat pocket. It was an aura of light. It was a pearl of sorts. I can't even describe it really. He put it in the palm of his hands and started to rub both hands together rapidly. Then the old man reached over and gently removed the towel from my face. "Please, it hurts," I pleaded. The old man ignored me. As he grabbed the towel the tainted red began to change miraculously back into creamy white. "But"how"who are you?" Abruptly the old man placed his hand which upon my damaged and bloodied face and held it there for a few moments. As I sat there in awe I noticed how his hand absolutely radiated light. I felt like I had not a worry or a problem in the world. It was a sensation I have never experienced. The pain that had pierced my foundation suddenly escaped as swiftly as It had arrived. I examined the mirror to my left and noticed the blood evaporating like it was a puddle of water on a sun filled day. "I don't understand. How can this be?" I said like a questioning child to a parent. The man looked weak. And not only that, he looked completely drained physically and even emotionally. "I"I need to sit down my boy. Forgive me." When the old man sat down and caught his breath he began to explain what has just happened. To both of us. "You see lad, you and I are forever connected. In ways you cannot, and may never fully know. From the moment I walked into your pawnshop today, from the moment our paths were crossed, we started something which can never be undone, never be broken. It is a chain effect. And one that will last for many years," he finished. "What the hell does that mean? I sputtered out rather loudly. "You are so very young my boy. I reckon I was around your age when he visited me as well. "When who visited you? I inquired. I stared at the man awaiting an answer but he seemed to be in a trance. A slight smile crept across his wrinkled face. "You need to understand what just happened son. Your life will never be the same again from this moment on. I can't control who you are as I cannot control who I am. We were both chosen to do this long ago. I'm afraid, It is the single greatest blessing and curse one soul can ever attain. I looked at him with a vacant expression. "Your starting to scare me old man"what do you mean curse?" You are from this second impermeable to pain. You are untouchable from fear. You are a barrier to evil. You possess a healing ability unsurpassed by any human breathing on this earth." I tried to regain my train of thought. "Human? "And most important," the old man continued, "You are from this point in time, immortal." I was completely astounded. "Immortal!" The old man just nodded calmly, as if what he told me was as casual as him telling me what the weather was like on a given day. "Immortal?" I couldn't comprehend what was being said to me. "You can't be serious?" The words were hanging in the air like dry leaves on a crisp winter afternoon. "Can you?" The thought of immortality was comical and outrageous. Or was it? The idea was terrifying. But nonetheless exhilarating. The old man continued to convey to me that gravity of the situation I was now in. This wasn't some superhero story or fairy tale. This was real. I really was immortal. And it was something that was out of both of our hands. "You have the ability to be whatever you wish, so long as you are not another living creature, including human beings obviously." I sat and gathered the information he was telegraphing to me, relishing every second of this chapter in my life. "Furthermore," he continued, "you cannot and will not ever sleep anymore as you will not require any." I stared blankly at the old timer and briefly grazed my hand across my former wound laid upon my cheek by the edge of his blade. I could feel the mark from the incision, but it might as well been scar tissue from birth, because I felt completely fine. "And lastly, and the most important thing you must realize and come to terms with my dear boy." I awaited his answer to something I had feared in the back of my mind. "You can never have children of your own, and you can never fall in love, for the rest of your days." I was absolutely bewildered. The newsflash to affect a lifetime forever. "I"I need to sit down for a moment and think," I told the old man. As I said this I started to become slightly disoriented and even felt a little dizzy. "Of course son." I couldn't think straight. This was a dream right? Surely I would snap out of this. I would wake up soon and go back to running my little old pawn shop off of twenty first and Martin Street. "No, I"m afraid you are gravely mistake," The old man said unexpectedly, yet with a soothing tone. "This isn't a dream. And you won't be snapping out of this anytime soon." Before I could actually process the information in my brain the old man started talking again. "And to answer your upcoming question, yes, I can read minds and emotions. And as of this moment, so can you."
The owner of the house sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity before digging up the courage to speak. "You"you can't really be a"?" The stranger sat in the darkness directly across from him. "An immortal? I think you already know the answer to that my friend. But why not prove it!" The stranger shuffled around inside his large black coat pocket before unveiling something black and elongated. "What are you doing?" The man pulled out a small white hand towel and wiped the gun down briefly before reaching over to the owner and offering it into his possession. "Take this. Point it directly at my face. And pull the trigger," said the stranger bluntly. "What the fuck is wrong with you man! Have you lost your damn mind?" The stranger's hazel eyes flared up for a second before he regained his composure. "I promise," he said. "Everything will be okay. Just do it." The stranger grabbed the owner's right hand and entrenched the gun firmly into his palm. "Now, don't even think about it, just pull the trigger." The owner started shaking his head rapidly. "No! I won't! I won't kill anyone! Not even you!" The stranger's eyes turned to fire. "Pull the fucking trigger!" As he said that the emotions inside the owner ignited with a spark as he discharged a single bullet from the chamber and aimed directly at his forehead. The stranger plunged backwards and tumbled out of his chair violently with a crash. He lay on the ground motionless. "Oh my God!" The owner yelled. "This is a dream"This is a dream"This can't"can't" be happening," he told himself again and again. But when he looked down at the stranger and say the pool of blood dispersing around his fallen body, he knew it wasn't a dream, or some sick practical joke his mind was playing on him. "Oh my God! I fucking killed him! He screamed. "What the hell is wrong with me! "What the fuck am I going to do!" His breathing was getting heavier. It was clouding his judgment. I have to get rid of the body right now, he thought. He looked at the clock sitting on his dresser. 3:18 A.M. I gotta move fast. He moved towards the stranger's bloodied corpse and grabbed him from behind and under his arms. As he picked him up he realized how incredibly easy it was. He felt stronger. Even his hands felt bigger. He dragged the stranger's body out of the room and moved hastily down the hallway towards the bathroom. When the owner finally managed to escort his carnage to the bathroom, he looked behind at the seeping red trail of blood which had forever tarnished his brand new, cream colored carpet. When the owner returned to his ruptured train of thought, he gazed at the mirror and shockingly noticed how different he really looked. He almost looked like an entirely different person altogether. His hair had thick strands of grey strewn throughout, his cheeks looked worn and pale, and his eyes, were"It"can't be"it's impossible. The owner was horrified as his bright blue eyes turned to a scorching shade of hazel seemingly before him. "How can this be!" He gaped. His body felt different. He was a new person. The hair on his knuckles darkened and stretched out. His ears felt like they were pointed more, and suddenly everything he heard, even the blessed silence, was crystal clear. "Is that really a-" The stranger mumbled as he started to gather a series of short beeps that felt like it was in the other room. He tried to cover his ears but the cursed sound elevated rapidly in pitch. "Stop it!" He screamed. "Please!" The owner covered his ears desperately and ran downstairs where his instincts guided him until he made his way into the dining room. He stopped when he reached the window and cracked open the curtain and glanced outside. Just as the owner looked over, his neighbors from across the street, who famously love to keep their yard in pristine condition, turned on one of the lights, and as abruptly as it had arrived, the beeping sound was gone. As the sound drifted from his ears and his pulsing head, the owner pulled his hands off of his ears, and tried to put together what the hell was happening, and why he wasn't scared when absolutely everything said that he should be. He kept looking across the street briefly until turning around and heading back upstairs to try to shroud his unforeseen sin of the evening.
As the owner slowly ascended the stairs, the obnoxious, annoying creaking sound that had plagued him for so long was suddenly gone. "Hmm," the owner pondered. He had almost relied on the creaking sound to comfort him now, if only now. Simply to show him that everything is imperfect, anything can break, anyone can make a mistake. But killing someone? Now that, is truly unforgivable, he thought.
The top of the stairs felt like a snowy mountain peak to the owner. It was as if coming to the realization that something profound had occurred but deciding what you could possibly do next to top it. He walked down the stretch of hallway to the bathroom
With the tarnished, ravaged corpse from the nameless cloaked man. Who the hell was he.
When he turned the corner into the bathroom, the owner stared at the stain of blood the body had entrenched into the carpet, but then came to the surreal fact that the body had simply and inexplicably, disappeared. "What th-!" The owner blared. The stranger's body that had most certainly been lifeless less then ten minutes ago, was now nowhere in sight. "But where could it be!" He desperately screamed. The owner started looking around, as if he had just misplaced his wallet, but with a little slightly more urgency. "Is this a joke?" He inquired. "You think this is a fucking joke!" The owner ran to each room frantically, trying to find a hint, a clue, something to figure out where the dead body could be. After searching the rooms repeatedly, he sat down against the wall along the hallway, exhausted.
The owner contemplated what to do next and had literally no ideas whatsoever. He sat there in hopeless thought and drifted off and slowly drifting off to sleep, succumbing to his subconscious and the great unknown.
When the owner awoke he felt like he had a scorching fever. He staggered as he stood up, and started to head downstairs before he recollected what had happened just hours ago. He struggled to make it to the bathroom and when he went in there he thought all of his sanity was lost. Not just no corpse, but there was no blood anywhere to be seen. "It can't be," said the owner. "This can't be a dream. It was so" so real." He looked at the clean cream colored carpet and thought of how disgusted he had been to walk on it last night. The owner felt weak. He made his way to the bedroom and tumbled into his bed with a sigh. It was over. It was just an illusion. No stranger, no blood, no gun, and most importantly, no committing murder. The sheets felt inviting. They were beckoning him, eagerly awaiting their only occupant to return to them. He started to relax a little. Everything was gonna be fine. He would wake up tomorrow, call his doctor, find a shrink, and go to work. He would put a little extra sugar in his coffee, he would go out to lunch and indulge more than normal, and he would smile at that pretty new receptionist named April at his office. He was looking forward to it. Excited even. Hell, when am I ever excited. For anything. He thought. As the darkness in his mind started to take over, the owner felt content to give into sleep at last. Just as he was intoxicated by the numbness of his mind, he heard a soft but distinct sound. It sounded far away, but was approaching at a steady pace. The owner sat up and tried listen more intently. What is that? he thought. The sound became more clear. It was now ringing vividly in his ears. Mocking him. Cursing his logic. Someone was laughing. But what was he laughing for? Was he really laughing at me? The laughter was now right outside his door which was slightly creaking open.
It was almost morning now. The light was starting to peak outside. A tall figure approached from outside the owner's bedroom door. The laughter didn't stop until the figure finally said, "Did you really think you could kill me? The owner was scared out of his mind. "I did explain everything to you didn't I?" The owner shook his head and looked down, too afraid to talk, too damaged to think. The stranger started to laugh again. His same ominous, sickening laugh. "Where would you be without me?" He said as a smile escaped from his face. The owner gasped when he saw the smile and suddenly gasped at the simple expression. The owner stared back up at the shadowy figure and asked like a child to a parent, "Wh-at"do you mean?" The stranger approached the owner a little more before kneeling before him as if to begin a prayer of worship. "You see my boy, you can't live without me. You will never leave me. And I will never leave you. We are eternally bound. I will always be there. Every action, every thought, ever triumph, every misfortune. The owner finally understood. The picture was painted perfectly clear. He slowly looked up at the shadow and stared into the abyss of darkness before him. The owner revealed a crooked smile and started to laugh.