Darklings

In the soft dim of moonlight, a young girl lay frozen in her bed, white as the ribbon she wore in her hair. Panic-stricken; she was pale-faced, wide-eyed, a horrified child disturbed by the night. Her sight, encompassed by a black void, blinded her to a lurking presence. Despite being void of sight, she felt the familiar fear and dread that drained her of life in the in-between. Her eyes strained to see through the darkness. A cloud dissipated, and initiated a contrast against the wall as an outline stretched in the shadows. Elongated features created the gaunt impression of a dead soul in never-ending purgatory. An icy chill spindled down her spine, earnest as the jagged outline of an unearthly afterglow. The edges pulsated and grew as the darkling creature approached. Another shiver gave her body the flesh creep, sprawling goosebumps heightened her senses. She stifled her quick gasps, only to better hear the slow deep breathing of a disembodied darkling in the darkness. Fear welled up inside her, tasting of copper pennies and the salty tears that streaked her face as she tightly shut her eyes. There was an overpowering aroma, sweet but sickening, like fresh lilies in full bloom. It happened very sudden, an exhale growled, Behind You; only silence escaped her scream.

♦♦♦

Between two brothers, he felt at times overlooked, in the oft invisible age of twelve. No longer a child, though not yet a teen, young Alexander Balk lived in the middle. A cursed time exposing susceptible children to creatures nary ever seen. At first they were only shadows in the night, easily dismissed as distorted silhouettes.

For darklings dwell in the inbetween, shifting in a constant state of transition; like light to dark, they manipulate the shadows where they lurk, looking into our world. Without hesitation, the darklings cross over into the fourth dimension, haunting doorways, windows, bridges, and tunnels, drawn to places where a connection exists. Significant locations, as they converge with the ‘tween times: sunrise, sunset, noon, and midnight, reveal the darkling’s true form… an everlasting youth, aged no more than twelve years. One who lures adolescents to cross over the parallel, to join the other children exiled in dimensionality by feeding on their fluxing energy, creating static in their souls. For these creatures have only ever been the effect of innocence lost.

Darklings appeared in daylight shadows as well, growing into great giants that threatened to eat Alexander whole. They followed him always, ever-present and restless, he felt drained of vitality. Afternoons faded into evenings when crossing the bridge home from school. Alexander always sensed a sneaking shadow. Once, he turned to see a blank young girl whose empty eyes made him nauseous. Black holes revealed the hollowness within her porcelain shell, white as the ribbon she wore in her hair. She held out her hand to him and smiled a small eerie smile that curled up at the ends. Alexander was not taken on this evening. The darklings persisted, unceasing, sustained by his life-force; they exhausted him. His spirit crumbled, collapsing in on itself until he no longer felt an earthly connection.

It was sunset, a blood orange sky faded to a purplish hue. Alexander crossed the bridge; tracing his usual steps, he moved without real thought. A familiar girl with empty eyes stood on the bridge and held her hand out to him. Hypnotized, he stared into her vacant expression with one similarly devoid of emotion. Her lips curled into a slight smile, a smirk that now seemed inviting. His eyes lowered to where she held out her hand, and with a defeated sigh, he took it.

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