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In The Shroud Of Shadow  by Xylith

It was cold outside. The night air trembled with an almost ethereal quality that made the young man walking down a thick bramble path always look over his shoulder in expectation of something primordial. A fine mist clung to the tall grasses, clumped here and there along the edges of the path, turning them into lithe spirits shrouded in gossamer silk, a ghoulish honor guard on an unknown path. 

As the night worn on and deepened, a bend in the path ahead opened up to a small copse of trees that sheltered a view of a valley below, a large moon just peaking over the distance hills bathed the valley in the purest of silver. The young man noticed how the silver of the moon painted the green of the valley in a foreboding black and he wondered again what lay at the end of this trail.

He stood there, captivated, humbled, and afraid.

The silence of the night was pierced by the distant howl of a wolf,” Wolves?” he thought to himself, “Where the hell am I?”

The soft clear notes of a nearby owl whispered to him of a wisdom he could not understand. In a peculiar way it was calming; soothing; yet, bore memories of dark silhouettes in an ancient and perpetual dance that was somehow forbidden to man.

Hearing the owl, as if it had followed him through the vestiges of night along this path he now treads for an eternity, he took a step forward, “just keep moving, don’t turn around, just keep moving,” was the mantra he’d been saying for what felt like years. He could not remember when he had last seen sunshine.

“This morning? No. Yesterday? Was there a yesterday?”

Mist was forming in the bowl of the valley before him as he made his way down. He caught the flash of lunar reflection within a stream that cut through the valleys center like an oily snake. The soft sounds of crickets and the steady stucco of the cicada’s song forced its way into his mind. And he wondered when they had started again? Was he safe now? Had he gotten far enough away?

With the snap of a twig behind him, somewhere in the silvery shadow of the path he had just tread, the soft sounds of the night ended with the silence of an execution. He dared not look…Violent tremors wracked his body as he struggled to maintain control of it and his mind.

The silence became oppressive, great pressure built upon his eardrums, the air froze, an unseen force pushed down upon his chest…

He had to struggle against his own inner turmoil just to breath.

And then footsteps close by… Wheezing breath… Darkness enveloping him…and then… he ran!

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  'In The Shroud Of Shadow' statistics: (click to read)
Date created: Feb. 4, 2008
Date published: Feb. 4, 2008
Comments: 18
Word Count: 767
Times Read: 2040
Story Length: 6
Children Rank: 3.6/5.0 (14 votes)
Descendant Rank: 0.0/5.0 (59 votes)