Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Shadow Man

Two of Cups closer comes, crowned by the Magician.
Sometimes Knight, Fool, and Thief, but always the Physician.
Who is the Shadow man, The World upon his heel,
Tossing Ace of Coins on edge, and stopping Fortune's Wheel.

Safe within The Priestess columns, the Queen of Cups is musing.
The Hanged-Man and the Hermit speak, keep it all confusing.
Hermes shadow stretches long, The Chariot comes a'callin
 Rise The Moon, Reverse The Devil, The Tower goes a'fallin

"Take me somewhere amazing. Anywhere, I don't care. That's what we should do," I said.

The shadow man turned away from me. I could only see his black shape. But he must have been doing something else, his hands flew in the air as he grabbed, pushed, pulled, flicked, pressed, and clicked. From my point of view, I could only see him do this to air.

From the shadow, I could see that he had long hair, I think, to his shoulder blades. Of course, I knew he had the burning, blue eyes, but I could only see them at certain times. This was not one of those times. The only other thing I could see, from the shadow, was his jacket. It was a medium length, to his thigh. When he moved, or maybe I should say dance, around...well, I don't know, I could never see whatever he was dancing around. The jacket, it would flare out. It had four flaps, one long one in the back with a slit up the middle, and two on the sides. It reminded me of an anime character.

Of course, as he moved around... whatever it was, the voice was saying things. Fast things. A disembodied, fast talking echo of things I didn't really understand. Not because of the words he used, but because so much happens all at once, it is difficult to process it all. I could not engage my brain quick enough. Maybe I tried too hard. The next thing I know is that everything had gone black.

When I opened my eyes again, he was sitting beside me, holding my hand. "What happened?" I asked.

"Sensory overload. I have never had one who had to be worked in," he said. "It's exciting because I don't know what is going to happen and I don't know why. I hate it."

"So, I am exciting and you hate it?" I asked. I didn't bother getting up. I just stared into the infinite blackness above me. "That is not encouragement."

"Jessica, it must have occurred to you at some point that your reality is bigger and far more incomprehensible than you think it is now. Otherwise, I would not be here. How is that not encouraging?"

"Yes, of course, it has. It makes me sad because I can't go see it," I said.

He let go of my hand and stood up. "Oh, get up! You are here now. I have brought you to see it. But you can't see it laying on the floor and crying about it. You lot! So pessimistic all the time."

"I'm not pessimistic. I am cynical. There is a difference," I replied and stood up.

"Ah, Cynical! Cynical is good! Question everything," he said.

"No. Everything I see is a question, not in question," I said.

His shadow head wobbled. "Oooh, look who is a smarty-pants now!" He ran away a few feet from me and pointed to nothing. "Come on then! Let me show you some questions!"

"But there isn't anything there. You are pointing to empty black space," I said.

"Really?" He said rather shocked. "What exactly are you seeing now?" He paused. Then, he held up his hands and began to pace. "Wait! Stop! Wait for it! I missed something." He paced around in a circle, his hands flew in the air. The disembodied words of the voice went faster. Then, the shadow man came at me and stood directly in front of me. It bent down and, I think, studied my face. For a moment, his blue eyes appeared from within the shade and they burned at me. "You," he said pointing at me. "You did not say that thing! You didn't say it! Why didn't you say it?"

"Say what?" I asked the Shadow man.

"Bigger on the inside! You didn't say anything! Bigger, smaller, pockets, dimensional, spacey, wow, or a moment of shock and awe. You did none of those things! None. Like...like you couldn't see it."

"See what?" I asked. "I don't see anything except you. And I can't even see that! Just a shadow man, like normal."

"What do you mean shadow man? And I am not normal!" He shouted.

I pointed at him. "Ha! You are shouting because you are uncomfortable. I make you nervous like everyone else. You are normal from my point of view. And for the record, you appear to me as you always have, as a shadow man."

"This isn't the first time we have met?"

I dropped my hand. "You forgot? You forgot? Just like everyone else! You are normal! You came back and you don't remember why! You feel guilty and can't remember why! And when you do remember, you are going to run off! Again! Until you forget and are drawn back for reasons you don't understand! So that you can remember and then run to forget again! Why won't you just leave me alone! Go away! I do not want to be with anyone, Especially you! You ghost! Stop haunting me!"

Of course, my outburst made him back off. And I wish that I could describe him as he did. But I couldn't see him. I could only see the black on black, like a shade on a moonless night.

"It's complicated," he whispered. "I can't explain."

"No, you can't. Because you don't know. And you have already said you hate that. So why are you here?" I demanded.

"Because I...because...well..."

"You don't know!" I yelled at him.

"I need time to think," he said. He turned around like I could see him. "At least, give me that. Please? At least come and see what I want to show you. It might make you feel better." His hands went up and grabbed something from thin air. Suddenly, an invisible door opened. From the rectangular opening, a fiery red-orange light burst through the dark.

"What is it?" I asked.

"It's a space hub, in the Lepus constellation. I thought you would like to see it," he said.

I walked over to the door and looked out. A giant red-orange star filled most of the starry sky. Hovering in its orbit, was a huge metal ship. On the top, four spiked towers rose from the ship connected by waves of white light, like a Jacob's ladder. The rest of the port was layered in levels with hundreds of little square windows of light. The back of the port had a blue light glowing from it. Between the hub and the star, a river of orange light flowed.

"The hub gets it power from the star, converts it, then fuels up the ships that come here. See them flying towards and away from the spires? That is them, docking, in and out of the hub," he said.

"Looks like Christmas," I whispered. I felt him freeze. I ignored it. I sat down, cross-legged at the door and stared.

After some silence, he sat down next to me. "So how is it that you can see this but you cannot see me?" I shrugged a response. "Tell me, what exactly do you see?"

"A shadow man, black on black. I have only ever seen your eyes. Those are always the same, blue and burning. On rare occasion, I will see a face. But it is never the same face and always blurry, undefined, unclear. Sometimes old, sometimes young, always changing, yet the same. It is very confusing. But mostly, when I see you, you are a shadow. I see and hear you when no else can. When I am awake or asleep. Like a constant open phone line, on speaker. But the caller has forgotten that they called. It's hard to explain, harder to understand, and sounds like I am insane."

He sat down next to me. "I don't think  you are crazy."

"Well you wouldn't, would you? You're the shadow man I am talking about. Because if I am crazy, then you are too."

"Oh no, I fully admit to madness," he said chuckling. "Why fight it? Normal is boring. I don't like boring. What else do you see?"

I shook my head. "Nothing. Air. Like when you were dancing around something. Doing something with your hands. I could see you doing something, but don't know what. It's all dark."

"But you can see the space hub, right?"

"Yes. The star, the hub, the ships, the light, I can see all that." I yawned and relaxed. "You're right. This is very calming."

"Can you touch me?" he asked. "Am I real to you?"

"Of course, you are," I said. "Look." I reached out and grabbed his hand. "Earlier, I had your hand. You didn't have mine."

"So, I can't touch you?" He asked.

"Not as I could ever tell. But I don't know if it is because you don't want to or you can't."

As he reached out to touch me, a thought passed through me. I didn't want him to touch me. I was angry at him for trying. But as the thought passed me by, so did his hand. It passed right through my face as he tried to touch my cheek. As he lowered his hand, I would swear that I felt his face turn to shame. "I'm sorry. I still feel guilty."

I shrugged. "Don't we all?" I leaned on his shoulder and yawned again. "I'm tired now."

He chuckled and I fell asleep.

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