The shadows were alive. Thick. Dark. Heavy. A few pillars of light seeped through some of the slabs of the old barn walls, but even they weren’t strong enough to break the sphere of blackness. Dust mites danced wildly in the still air, rising from the hay-strewn floor.
A man, confined to the shadows, twisted and turned violently, trying unsuccessfully to escape the chains that held him tight. His wrists ached and burned, bruised and bloodied from his useless struggle. Still, it did not stop him from trying.
His birth name was long forgotten, like much of his early life. He had vague memories of his mother and sister—all freckled and red haired, filled with life and joy—but he refused to dwell on them. Seamus is what he was called now, the name chosen purely on a whim. It sounded Irish or something, to match his occasional red hair, and he liked the way it felt on his tongue.
He fell back, exhausted from his battle against the chains. The metal was too strong for him to break. Whoever his captor was knew what he was doing. Seamus sat in the swirling darkness of the shadows, watching the light play in the empty barn. The black spoke.
He plans to kill you. Why else would he keep you locked in here like a monster? He will kill you and send your body back to the Masters and you know what they will do to you.
Seamus sneered, spitting out a wad of white phlegm in defiance. Inside a small trickle of fear filled his gut. He did know what the Masters would do if he failed…
The power courses through you. You can escape this holding place. You have the gift. Use it! Break these chains!
The door to the barn creaked open. The floodgates opened and the midday sun poured through the threshold, swamping everything in blinding, white light. The thick shadows vanished instantly, fully revealing him a lanky, redheaded man. Purple bruises dotted his chest like tiny islands on the ocean of his flesh. He turned his head to keep the light from temporarily blinding him.
A woman stepped in, holding a weathered hatchet in her hand. She stopped short of Seamus’ reach. He could see the glowing edged on the blade, but it hurt his eyes. The woman had blurry golden hair in the light.
“Who are you?” Her voice carried an air of confidence, but Seamus could hear the uncertainty on its edges. If she would step a little closer then he could break her. Bones were much weaker than metal.
She stared down at him, unmoving. The sweet smell of the woman melded in with the dusty odor of the hay. He could almost taste her. “I don’t know who or what you are, but if you’re here, at this place, then I’m betting you’re like me. You’re infected, aren’t you?”
Seamus barely registered her words. He watched her lips open and close. Her tongue flash in and out. He could hear the blood flowing through her veins, twisting and turning through the sewers of the body. The elevated bum-bump bum-bump of her heart banged in his ears like a marching drummer.
The woman took a hesitant step forward, bringing up the hatchet to her side. The explosion of her scent from just one step sent shivers down his body. She stepped again. “The cripple’s locked in his basement. We can get answers from him, if you’re willing to help me.” She stopped, still outside of his influence.
His senses were overloaded, like a body bathing in a shower of tickling electricity. The light from the door had tears leaking from his eyes. The overpowering scent of the woman whetted his appetite. The sound of her voice, of her lungs expanding and shrinking, of her shoes on the hay and dirt, all blended together and created a beautiful melody. His body longed to feel her smooth skin. To taste her. He smiled at the thought of her bones breaking under him.
“You’re not listening, are you?” She crouched and looked into his eyes. “I thought you’d wanna help, but I guess you’re too far gone. Don’t worry, though. I’ll find a cure. There are plenty of others like us. Someone can help.” She stood and turned back to the door. Step after step Seamus watched her—heard her, smelled her, tasted her—leave, but still his mind did not fully comprehend.
By the time realization struck, she was closing the door to the barn. The bright sunlight was nearly gone when the door stopped and she stuck her head back into view. “I’ll be back for you. Don’t worry.”
The door slapped shut, the wooden planks cracking out a loud bang. Thick shadows swarmed once more around him, drenching his body in their dark comforts.
The girl could be more trouble than even the captor.
Seamus’ body slowly returned to normal. The tension in his joints relaxed. The surge of senses always left him exhausted and hungry, but there was nothing he could do but struggle against the chains and wait for his rescue.
Word Count: 857