Shadowwalkers: The Beginning

Stepheni sat, eyes trained on the clean, white canvas. She held a fine-tipped paintbrush in her hand, some of the light blue ready to drip onto the floor.

She was being guided by the ghost of a dream, one so forceful to be pulled into reality she had risen at such an early hour to come and paint it. Or perhaps it would be better to describe it as late? But this never crossed her mind, she merely ran from bed and began painting.

The emerald green of her eyes glinted in the low lamplight as she spread life onto the canvas. Strong, deliberate strokes filling the empty white void with color. Every thought had left her, save for finishing the painting, bringing the faded image onto the canvas.

Slowly things started to take shape. The grand mountains, black sky, the river winding throughout.She was both hypnotized and exhilarated by what she was making. The sheer pride and bliss of creation lending energy to her tired limbs.

The clock caught her eye. Five O'clock? How long have I been painting? I've got to go to school in three hours!

And yet her hand continued the sweeping motion of paint being caressed into the canvas. I just have to finish this. I'll finish this, then go to bed.

She became aware of a voice guiding her, as if her dream had gained a voice and was instructing her where exactly the little bits of glinting gold went.

But then it became more demanding, to the point the voice had begone to frighten her. "More silver on the mountain. More. Good."

The image continued to get clear, both on the canvas and in her mind. She wished she could recall the dream, anything about it, but all was lost. All except this image. This image that she had to duplicate, to pass from her mind into reality.

Now the voice guided her onto something else. As quickly as she dared, she swirled the paintbrush in a glass of water and dabbed it into the silver paint. In dramatic, sharp strokes, the shape of a crystalline forest sprang forward. The trees were blue, a frosted glassy silver coated them.

"Yes, now someone on the mountains. Overlooking the sea. They're staring at the land below. Make the mountains clear. Make them sharper!"

The voice had become even more forceful, and now it was truly frightening, but she couldn't stop now. Everything was cumulating into the final image. It seemed to plea with her, beg her, to be finished. The image whispered to her, told her of mysteries, truths.

It was nearly there. The image of another world seemed to be pulling together, it was on the verge of completion.

That's when she first felt it; something, or someone, was with her. She had been so caught up in her work she hadn't noticed the feeling of a pair of eyes fixed on her.

"Dad?" she calls as she stands, temporarily freed from her trance over the drying mix of colors. "Dan?"

She looks slowly around, and just when she's finally convinced herself she's being paranoid she catches movement out of the corner of her eye. She jumped, barely holding back a scream.It had been the vague shape of a man, watching her. He had been tall, easily looming over her.

But now that she tried to find it again, it had gone. What a time to start going crazy.

She looked back to her painting, her hypnotic revery broken, she found that it was already finished. The image on the canvas was a mirror of her mental picture.

The mountains stood tall and proud, the snow seemed to be glimmering in the light. The crystal forest stood as protect to the mountain, blocking all that came to it. A figure stood on the mountain, looking down at something. But standing in the snow, at the base of the mountain...

She stepped away from the image, shook her head, and peered back at the same spot. Standing in the snow, a shadowy, vague figure like the one she had imagined behind her looked up to the man on the mountain.

But, she hadn't painted that. She remembered the flecks of gold and silver she had painted, and yet there the shadow stood.

Suddenly she was very afraid. Sure, she hadn't quite been herself when she had been painting it, but she was so focused, so purposeful, she knew she hadn't made any mistakes.

She stayed like that, simply staring at the painting, until it repulsed her. As sudden as her urge to paint had been, she knew she couldn't let anyone else see this.

She tried to touch it as little as possible like some kind of disgusting garbage as she picked it up and ran to her room. She pushed aside a few hanging shirts and various kinds of junk from the floor to make room. The surface was still a little tacky and could be scratched or smudged. And for some reason, though she couldn't allow anyone to see it, she didn't want to mess it up, or destroy it, or anything else she knew she should have felt like doing.

With the closet door securely closed, she braved a glance at her clock. 7:40!

She had 20 minutes to get ready to leave, and not only was she dead tired but she felt like a total mess. So far she had a perfect attendance record, one she didn't plan on ruining any time soon.

Fumbling around in the near dark, she found the closest mirror and pulled her hair back into a pony tail, a last resort she found herself using commonly. She always felt like it was about to pull the hair off of her head.

Her almost closed blinds could hold the light out no longer, and her room started fading into light. And as it poured in, a little bit of hope stricken from her because of the frightening painting returned. It was a new day, with new accomplishments to be made. Nothing else would go wrong today, she'd make sure of it.

And something about the way the light looked filtering in, made her know that today was going to be special. It had been raining allot, and the resurgence of the sun was like an omen. Something was going to happen. Something good.

Maybe that cute guy I work with is going to ask me out? she mused as she found some clean clothes. He can't keep ignoring me forever.

Her shadow on the wall startled her; it reminded her of the shadowy figure she had seen while she was painting.

It wasn't a ghost, I just don't think that's possible. This house is new.

Well what else could it have been?

I thought you were happy with just thinking you were nuts?

Realizing she was talking to herself, she lets the subject drop. She wasn't even sure if she believed in ghosts. Besides, I'm going to be late.

The End

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