Curators of Shadow

by J. Wade Harrell

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I. Shadows of the Past

His hair was sizzling bronze even in the pale light of night. Eyes of emerald sparkled as he stared into the crystal beaker where a liquid blacker than black and thick as syrup resided. The beaker was plugged and sealed as if the contents were of a very serious nature. As the brawny man stared deeply into the bleak substance it mesmerized him and he began to see tiny twinkling points of light although dark lights and only being lights compared to the darkness that seemed incomprehensible and which produced a wicked black vapor that soon evaporated as the beaker constantly produced the aura of writhing mist about it.

The heavy beaker was constantly cold which is why he usually kept it wrapped in an over sized deerskin bag. The mist that boiled off the beaker’s surface was likewise chilling and numbing to the flesh. Whatever existed within the bulbous glass container was certain to produce some most adverse effects should it be allowed to escape its crystal prison. That notion seemed to wisp away as he became more curious about the contents. What harm could it do to pour a little on the ground and see what effects it would produce. Perhaps it could cure wounds or increase a man’s longevity. Certainly a few ounces of the stuff could not produce any regrettable effects, at least for very long.

If it were not for the slender traveling companion, the stopper might have come off and the dreadful contents sprinkled upon the earth. Being distracted for a moment broke his trance-like state and made him forget the urge that had come over him. The big ruddy man nodded and placed the beaker back into its sack.

As the sun rose over the marshes of a land lorded by dark priests, The two men mounted their horses and continued along a soggy trail through trees whose branches dangled like icy tendrils; where bizarre birds sang dreadful songs and red toads bleated in painful harmony. The trail narrowed to nearly non-existence. Prickly weeds grabbed their breeches as they rode by as if attempting to stall their journey but the two men ridden by sweat and stinging insects continued on their mission.

After weeks of winding through the marshes and bogs they came to a hill. Atop the hill sat a narrow tower hugging the sky. It had once been ivory-white but was now covered mostly in dried moss and spiraling ivy. The slender man, more youthful, commented that perhaps the tower should be called the Ivy Tower rather than the Ivory Tower.

The true name, Ivonia, came to the larger and more confident man’s mind. From what he had heard, it was once the palace of the wizened ones, sometimes referred to as the White Wizards in brighter days.

The Big man nodded toward the door and the slender man with the dark cloak and similarly bleak features stepped off his horse and took something from his pack. It was wrapped in a dark cloth and when he unfolded it there was a large key made of a bright metal. He walked forward, up a tiered walk, and after parting some overgrowth he found a keyhole and inserted the key. With a turn, the lock mechanism clicked loudly and the massive double doors opened.

The tower sang with old voices as frigid air escaped causing both men to shudder. A couple of heartbeats later the wind was gone and so was the odd sound. The large man stepped inside holding the sack and was followed by his lanky counterpart.

The tower seemed even larger inside. The circular floor was comprised of colorful stones that formed a mosaic depicting a knight in golden armor defeating some sort of demonic beast. It did not take them long to locate the spiral stairs that ascended to tower’s dizzying heights. They ascended upward passing mezzanines, balconies, and rooms. There were spectacular arches, inspiring statues, and partly intact frescoes from a bygone age heralding the cause of Light. They bypassed floors with mediation chambers, lecterns, studies, anterooms, galleries, and rotundas and the stairs kept ascending.

Both men were winded by the time they reached the massive doors constructed of a smooth metal and fit into an impressive arch. Ornate sconces on each side hinted at the fact that this was once a spectacular sight but now the tower was standing in decay. The only light now was from the few shafts that pierced the tower through its narrow windows. Who knows how long it had been since any man had set foot inside of it.

There was a large device hanging in front of the doors secured by a thick chain. The device appeared to be some sort of lock. The slender man produced the key once again and it fit. There was a click and the lock opened. The chains fell to the floor. Then the tower rumbled and as if they knew to do so, the doors opened automatically inward.

The pinnacle room had large pillars that rose upward then tilted and narrowed until they all touched in the center. Between them was what appeared to be a thin membrane swirled with golden and amber hues but the surrounding land could be seen with all its marshes and twisted trees. Large birds soared around the marshlands hunting for food.

The pinnacle entrance revealed by the doors came from one side of the tower from inside one of the huge pillars. The walls were of ivory, seemingly of one entire piece and it came to their attention that the entire tower seemed to be carved from one huge piece of ivory-like substance.

Blue and gold banners still hung in the room emblazoned with the shield of Light. There were white benches all around the circumference where one could sit and look out over the lands or face the center of the pinnacle where a raised dais stood. Upon the dais there was an object that was like a round table carved and polished from white marble balanced on a single leg of scalloped gold. There were large pots and vases where remnants of once grand plants and trees grew aligned around the edge near the benches where there must have once been a tin veil of leaves that sprawled over the floor of mosaic tile. Dangling from the center of the ceiling there was a gold chain supporting a device something like an inverted brazier and it was centered over the marble table.

As if he knew exactly what to do, the husky man strode toward the dais and climbed the brief steps and walked to the table. His slender companion walked the circumference of the pinnacle looking out over the lands below then focused his attention to the table.

The big guy opened his sack on the table and sat the beaker square in the middle. The bottle of black fluid radiated its mist-like vapor in a seemingly unholy fashion. The vapor writhed with the air as if competing for space. He stepped backward and pulled on a smaller chain that dangled from the inverted brazier then moved away from the dais.

The inverted brazier began to glow with a deep orange then like a rising sun its brilliance grew and both men had to shield their faces from the bright glow. For a dozen heavy heartbeats the light dazzled then it faded leaving a spherical shaped membrane around the table. It was a shining shell so thin it hardly existed but it surface swirled with golden currents so slightly that one hardly noticed it existed.

The forces of Light, though not obtuse in those days, focused its power on one particular location upon the realm creating a barrier that would house the beaker containing the stuff of Shadow for ages to come. The big guy’s mission was done. A huge blow was delivered to Shadow on that day.

The husky man nodded with satisfaction.

II. Shadows of the Future

The alarm clock did not go off too soon for me. I swatted once and my hand landed true on the snooze button silencing the annoying beast. I rolled over and fell back asleep. What might have been ten minutes later something hit me in the back. I awoke realizing Katy had hit me and the alarm was beeping annoyingly once again. So I sat up in bed and turned off the alarm then walked to the bathroom to get ready for another exciting day at the office. I stared at my face for a minute examining the growing gray hair on my chin I had not trimmed in over two months before finding my favorite sports show on my phone then grabbed the electric razor and started shaving my jaws and neck.

The warm shower was refreshing and I was finally awake as the sun began to shine through the blinds and announce another day–another day at the office where after a half hour drive I sat scanning my emails for more complaints to handle before I began work on my projects that I just wished someone would prioritize once and for all.

A walk by the secretary’s desk and she reminded me that it was not Friday yet with a smug smile. I told her it was Friday eve and that perked her up a bit and we decided to celebrate because the merriest of holidays are celebrated on their eve. Friday should be no different.

Noon came soon and Katy showed up at the front entrance of the hospital where I met her and we went to lunch together. If it were not for her, I don’t know what I would do. She was a go-getter that got all the housework done, did laundry, took care of the dogs, and kept all the bills paid on time–all before lunch. I don’t know how she did it.

We went down to the local barbecue joint and had a sandwich and I could tell Katy had something on her mind. It was nothing unusual because life had not been extremely fair to us for the last several years. Every time we got over the hump, it seemed something else came along to drag us down for the next year.

“What is botherin’ you,” I asked her.

Katy sighed then informed me that there had been an earthquake and that the house we had just built was damaged. Nothing overly destructive but for a new house, you hated to have cracks in your brick mortar and drywall. For some reason I failed to feel it at work, perhaps because I was up on the fourth floor when it happened.

“Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“It happened just before I left. I thought it was Fort Sill at first then I saw the damage and knew it was something worse.”

She proceeded to tell me how the radio started talking about a significant earthquake that was centered somewhere in the Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma. Our house was just a few miles from the wildlife refuge which sprawled across most of the small but rugged mountain range.

“I guess we’ll have to get some quotes and go through the insurance deal again. I wish we would’ve set the deductible lower now.”

“That is even if it covers earthquakes,” she mentioned. “I’ll call them and find out.”

We finished our lunch without even tasting it. I kissed her goodbye and she drove away while I walked back into my cluttered cubicle and checked my voice mail. Much to my dislike, I found that my next project had been moved up and that all the work I was allocated to do in two weeks would not have to be done in two days, not to mention closing out all the problem calls I still had in queue because I could not get a hold of the customer or support to find the proper answer.

The last hour of the day dragged on and I closed out as many calls as I could but when five o’clock came, a ticket came in. There seemed to be a system that had been down all day and now they couldn’t get the interface up for the night crew. Nice. Why couldn’t they have called a few hours ago. So, I got to stay an hour late and when I got home Katy wasn’t the most chipper person. I didn’t blame her. The time someone stole from me was time taken away from the two of us, all because they didn’t want to inconvenience themselves until it was time for them to leave.

We ate bologna sandwiches and watched some stupid reality show then when it cooled off outside, I rolled up a garden hose and swept off the porch.

“Katy, I think I am going to be sick tomorrow.”

Katy looked at me. She reminded me that I lost a week of vacation last year because my boss would not allow me to take off since they had compressed a timeline on a major project. It was a good time to relax. The weather was nice and I promised to take her on a picnic into the wildlife refuge.

So I strapped on my .45 and we set out in my Dodge Ram and cruised up to a three-way intersection where there was a town comprised of a single old shabby building, a restaurant at Meers. We turned left and followed the curving rolling narrow strip of pavement until we rumbled across a cattle guard into a stand of gnarly post oaks. We entered the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and continued our peaceful drive. There was a decent sized mountain to our right and we cruised along the curving road until it led us to an open prairie in the midst of both featureless hills and boulder strewn mountains. Alongside the road we saw longhorn cattle and bison grazing on the tall stems of prairie grass. The highway through the mountains showed us broad sweeping curves and a few “T” intersections when eventually we pulled off onto a small side road that led into post oak grove and we got out. There were no cell phone signals to be had and it felt great to put aside the hustle and bustle of the day and simply enjoy one-on-one time eating a sandwich with my wife beside a calm creek.

I got out and grabbed the black bag we had prepared and then escorted Katy down into the woods. By now, the events at work were not even on my mind. A little trail led through the trees and up onto a rocky outcropping that bordered a stream. We dodged a fresh buffalo chip and kept our eyes open for the wild beast hoping not to encroach upon its territory then we found a sprawling oak under which we spread the blanket and there we sat and ate our sandwiches in peace.

Then the peace was shaken. All of the sudden, the ground rumbled. We froze for a moment. An earthquake, wasn’t it? We looked at each other for a moment and I reassured her it was just one of those quakes we have once and awhile. What was odd is that this was the second one in two days. But what was even stranger was that there was something else strange happening. Across the stream and over the ridge there was a black smoke rising. So black that it could not been an ordinary grass fire or even a tree consuming blaze. I knew that there was nothing normally there to burn that would cause such dark smoke. We finished our food and as much as I tried to keep my focus on Katy but the bizarre smoke kept capturing my gaze.

It was not long when I decided that I had to go inspect the incident. It was strange that the smoke started right after the earthquake. Katy sat beneath the tree while I ran to take a quick look at what was emitting the smoke. I hopped across the shallow stream dancing atop slippery rocks until I reached the far bank then I clambered up the steep hill comprised of granite boulders and scrubby bushes. The last few yards were steep but there were a few finger holds to aid my climb. I reached over a rock to pull myself over the edge to the rim as my mind envisioned a rattlesnake coiled up sunning atop the boulder shelf. All I could think of was that time as a kid climbing over some limestone outcroppings at my uncle and aunt’s place when I stopped to look atop a rock I was about to pull myself on because of some premonition and lo and behold, there was a snake there.

I had no choice. My footing was scant and I needed to get atop before my feet slid sending me down the steep incline. Katy called to me concerned about my trek. She urged me to just turn around and maybe we would find out what was causing the smoke on the news later. I assured her everything was okay and that I would only be a minute. I came to far to turn around at this point.

I slung my hand over the top to grab a firm hold on any crack or crevice that might be there but something stung like a needle shoved into the palm of my hand. It was a sharp pain and more than one puncture for sure. I bought my hand back quickly envisioning a venomous rattle right over the rim and lost my balance. I hollered and grabbed at a clump of weeds growing out of the rocks and luckily it held my weight. As soon as I steadied myself, I looked at my hand and there were four puncture marks.

Prickly pear! I hate that stuff. It stung pretty good but the next time I would be more cautious. After taking a deep breath and reassuring Katy I was okay again, I reached up and found a handhold and pulled my body up over the side avoiding the clump of paddle-like cacti. I grabbed a lung-full of fresh air then stood and looked to the south. The thick black smoke still arose but it writhed in a most unnatural way. It seemed to follow none of the wind patterns that the stout breeze offered. it curled and swirled in chaotic patterns and even seemed to have highlights of lavender within it.

I stumbled forward over the rugged plateau until I reached an edge and saw something that blew my mind. Never before had I noticed a crater in the Wichita Mountains. In fact, I was certain from viewing online aerial and satellite photos that there were no craters in the area. But here was one. It was black and appeared like some explosion and occurred. Perhaps a fiery meteor had struck but there was no debris cloud, only the bizarre smoke rising from its center.

I decided to descend into the crater and see what was causing the smoke for there was no visible flame. Perhaps instead of a crater it was a sinkhole but it was not a normal place you would find a sinkhole, in the middle of a granite hill. Something caught my eye. There was an object that glistened, pearly white embedded in the rock below.

The sides sloped gently and I slid downward on the gravelly surface and stopped before I reached the pale object. My heart thumped wondering what I had found. In the distance, I saw helicopters flying. There looked like Bell army helicopters from Fort Sill. I examined the white stone, marble it appeared, that stuck out of the rock. It seemed disc shaped but I could see less than half of it. Several yards away there was the source of the smoke. A glass bottle lay on its side and somehow the black vaporous material streamed out with a seemingly unending source of the stuff. A couple feet away there was a glass stopper.

I was too curious to stop. I could hear the helicopters getting closer and I figured they were coming to investigate the black smoke pouring into the sky. I picked up the bottle as the smoke continued to stream upward but I did not allow any of the stuff to touch me as it came out in a very narrow stream before gaining volume overhead. I picked up the stopper and forced it into the mouth of the bottle and the smoke ceased rising. It was cold, very frigid, in my hand and I knew there was something very very bizarre about this.

I looked up and could see that the helicopters were only about a half mile away and so I took the bottle and scrambled out of the bowl shaped depression then scuttled across the scrubby plateau hiding behind rocks and bushes until I found a shady overhand to take cover beneath. I listened as the helicopters flew over and did a couple circles. They were obviously inspecting the source of the smoke and would probably radio their location to someone who might come soon to check out the crater.

I removed my shirt and wrapped the cold bottle in it. Finally, the helicopters disappeared back toward where they had come from. I scrambled back down the hill to Katy to tell her what I found.

* * * * *

Two weeks passed in my monotonous life as I occupied my same cubicle at work. I thought about that bottle I kept in my garage attic but every internet search I attempted came up dry. That was when Katy told me some black cars kept driving by slowly with dark tinted windows and suspected something strange was happening. I raced home that day leaving work right before lunch and waited until it looked clear to enter the house but knowing that somewhere, someone was probably watching me.

I sat at home looking through windows but no one ever showed. I asked her about the cars in every way I could to try to determine if it was just some random people driving by or if the cars really did look like something some sort of governmental agency might drive. She swore to me that the cars she saw appeared very clean and suspicious and I never had a reason to doubt her for she was a very observant person whose instincts were usually correct.

That night, between peeking through the blinds at every suspicious vehicle we saw, I did some internet research hoping to finally stumble upon something but I could not find anything about black smoke rising out of ornate glass bottles nor any events where such had ever happened which resulted in a crater.

As I was about to go to bed, I found something that caught my eye. A scientist at the University of Colorado had been doing some antimatter research and he observed a thin wisp of a black wispy mist-like smoke a violet tint rising from the microscopic specimen of lab created antimatter. That was odd because every article I had ever read about antimatter stated that it looked like normal matter if you could keep a nuclear explosion from happening. No one ever mentioned smoke or a dark vapor. Perhaps this researcher was on to something that others had not witness and it related directly to the strange bottle and its dark contents. But that still would not explain how it got to where I found it.

Luckily, I had vacation to burn and was able to use it on a moment’s notice. We filled up the tank and headed out to Colorado. I could not be satisfied with merely handing over what I had found not knowing the origin of the strange bottle nor what the government would do with it should they end up getting their hands on it. There were few people more patriotic than I but I had a growing distrust for the government that seemed to be swelling around me and my country. For this reason, I would try to find someone myself who might be able to shed some light on what it was and perhaps even donate to a university that could properly handle whatever it was.

The trip was long and tiresome. By the time the rocky mountains appeared, I was too deep in thought and wore out to enjoy the view. We traveled as quickly as we could up the interstate ever watching for black vehicles. A few times we thought we were being followed but we could not be for certain. After passing by Denver we continued without stopping all the way to the campus. It was dark when we got there but I decided to try to see if the physics lab was open.

The doors were locked and a made a phone call from a pay phone to the physics lab hoping someone would answer. I was too afraid to even use my cell phone I had turned it off to avoid being tracked, and I am sure they were tracking every movement of my phone. Whey they had not already burst into my house and searched it, I do not know. Perhaps they did not know the seriousness of the nature of what I had found is all I could figure.

Someone picked up the line bringing me some relief. “Edwards.”

I told him my name and explained my quandary.

“I have come upon something unbelievable that I think you are going to want to see.”

“Who is this?”

“Someone you don’t know but has something very important to show you.”

“As in . . .” He said impatiently.

“It is a bottle of the blackest substance you have ever seen. It is neither liquid nor gas but when the top was off it spewed stuff like smoke but not like smoke. I firmly believe this is related in some way to anti-matter like you have in your experiments.”

“Hold on, I will be right down.” The phone clicked.

I waited and a few minutes wondering if he had put me off. After a couple of long minutes a gray headed man opened the doors and quickly introduced himself to me and Katy.

He gave her a glance and I quickly told him that she goes wherever I go. We are that close.

Professor Edwards was tall and lanky. He had a mop of gray hair and wire spectacles appearing a little older than he really was. He escorted to an elevator and we went to the third floor where the university laboratory was housed. It was an impressive room and he was obviously there alone working late on experiments.

Katy’s eyes locked onto something and I traced their paths to a bizarre looking trinket on a work area where some books and papers were arranged in a working alignment. The little trinket was a skeletal figure.holding what looked like a magic wand or perhaps a lecturer’s pointer.

I took a several moments to explain how I came by the strange bottle and why I felt it was important to have a look at what I found. He motioned at the pack under my arm. I sat it on a table and opened it then carefully removed a blanket. I motioned for him to have a look and he repositioned his glasses then carefully unrolled the blanket.

When it finally became exposed, the light in the room seemed to dim and the bottle became surrounded with a thin dark mist. Professor Edwards furrowed his brow then adjusted his glasses. It was clear that he was hesitant to touch it and commented that by bringing the bottle to him endangered his well being. He put on a pair of gray gloves made from a material that seemed thin but lie a metal mesh. He carefully picked up the bottle and carried it to a work bench where some complex testing equipment sat.

“There is definitely more anti-substance in this bottle than one could ever imagine,” Professor Edwards said. “Whatever brought this to the surface certainly is a mystery.”

Deep down I was hoping he could explain more about the potential of the contents of the bottle and what dangers might be present around my home.

For over an hour with little dialogue Professor Edwards performed all kinds of tests on the bizarre container that wreaked with otherworldly energy. He weighed it and viewed it with infrared instruments. He placed it inside machines and analyzed it for radiation.

Finally he finished running test and took off his gloves.

“This could further my theories that would shatter all the modern theories of quantum physics. The popular theory is that antimatter, if it could be viewed at a size say of a marble without causing a massive explosion in our universe, would appear as normal matter. The atoms would be identical except the movement of the subatomic particles is diabolically opposed to matter that normally appears in our universe. What I have discovered with a colleague is that while here is some true science to this is that this is not the antimatter that scientists are really looking for. Through some complex experiments by accelerating particles to near speed of light velocities, we have been able to in essence separate space and find cracks in the universe where a mysterious energy lies. Furthermore, we have found that particles taken from ancient material contain more of this hidden energy that is so bizarre that it reverses all the laws of physics. This energy has similar properties of light in that it is both a particle and a wave but instead of extending outward in the form of a ray, it pulls in what we are calling antiphotons from existing matter. Those antiphotons travel toward the anti source but we are not sure if they slow infinitely and never reach the source or if they enter another dimension that we cannot see.”

Katy was becoming bored to death with the scientific talk and she interjected her opinions to confirm that the bottle’s contents were in his field of expertise and if he could identify the contents.

He assured us it indeed was quasi quantum material. He was perplexed at how we discovered it. What microscopic anti material he had come by was from his Harvard associate who had extracted it from minerals taken from deep wells around the world. It was the culmination of decades of work. Now, I had brought in a million times the amount from a one hour picnic outing.

I explained how I thought the government was hot on my trail and I wanted to find out what it was before I was forced to give it up. When I mentioned that, the professor’s face turned pale. He had been pestered by the government and was forced to give up a few of his own samples when hounded by the feds. If enough could be collected and contained, it could be used to make formidable weapons. The problem is that weapons such as these could make nuclear warheads look like pop bottle rockets. When working with antimatter, it would be most unpredictable if unleashed and the fallout would be incredibly rabid.

“Professor, seeing how much of this stuff leaked into the air for at least a half hour, what are the consequences to area where I live?”

The professor scratched his head and shrugged. “We simply do not know. This is groundbreaking technology. If I had to say, it will not just affect your county or your state but it will offset the positive energy of the whole world, perhaps the whole universe in time. Quantifying it is hard to say. What troubles me, is what forced this bottle to the surface if it had been buried in solid rock for so long. What I am wondering is what else might have been in the bottle other than antimatter. Perhaps something forced the bottle open causing the eruption. This is no ordinary glass. It is a crystal of molecular structure I have never witnessed. It is even harder than diamond.”

The thought of something so bizarre as he described sent deep chills into my spine. It was something that had to be considered. Perhaps the top was blown off by a pressure build up over time. Who knows.

The next question was what to do next. I was in the possession of the most powerful material in the world and as soon as the government knew for sure it was me and what it was, they would be coming for it. There would be no way I could stop them unless I could effectively hide the bottle and keep anyone else from knowing what I had found.

“Is there any way to destroy it?” I asked.

The professor sighed. “The only way to destroy it is to release it and let it dissipate into our universe but the effects would likely alter our universe in ways that would be most destructive.”

I folded my arms. Katy put her hand reassuringly on the back of my neck. The weight of the entire earth now sat upon my shoulders like a boulder on a gnat. I wish I could just get rid of the stuff and let someone else deal with it however, I knew that once the government knew what I possessed, I would be marked. I would be forced to turn it over and who knows what would happen to it. With an increasingly growing government, I could not see any good coming of any power hunger individual getting their hands on the bottle. Professor Edwards would be in the same boat if I allowed him to keep it, besides, there was something about him that I didn’t quite trust.

The news that Professor Edwards bore was about the worst possible news I could have heard. I had hoped it would have been something that could have been simply mixed with some chemical compounds and abolished but the reality of it was that the bottle contained enough supply of antimatter to alter the balance of the universe if unleashed from its crystal prison.

“Is there anything else we can do?” I asked.

The professor shook his head. “If the feds find out, they will seize it. From what you say, I am sure they will figure out this is something they need to have their hands on. Anyone else that finds it will be the wealthiest and or the most powerful man on the planet. In the correct hands, a man can become a god.”

I peered into Professor Edward’s eyes and saw them become glassy and distant.

“I’ll take it back and figure something out.”

“No!” the professor said putting up a hand. “You have no way to keep it secure.  The amount released already will show effects within a few months. Every additional atomic particle released is cumulative. You should really let me keep it.”

I paused and Katy’s face grew a sneer.

“He can’t keep it, he’s a con,” Katy said.

I trusted her instincts and they were backed up by my own.

“No, I am taking it back. I will keep it hidden as well as I can until some day we find a way to get rid of it.”

I stepped forward but was met by an aluminum tube with knurled rings that the professor pointed at me.

I paused. “What is that.”

It contains a dart that once embedded in you body will release a toxic shellfish poison. Within hours you will die of cardiac arrest, natural causes.

“You seem to be a paranoid man,” I said feeling at the belt on my side just to make sure I did not have my .45 on me. Colorado was one of the many states still sensitive to the carrying of personal firearms on college campuses. If what he said was correct, all he had to do was hit me anywhere with a dart and I was as good as dead. I had no choice. I lunged forward and was able to knock his hand to the side. I tackled him and we fell to the floor. I tried to get the tube from him but the man fought like a cat. I grabbed his wrist and pinned it to the floor but he still had a grip on it and turned it against the back of my hand. It looked like it was done but there was an explosion and the professor tensed up and his eyes rolled back in his head.

I turned and saw Katy holding my .45 in both hands. She had shot the professor. I looked down and there was blood coming from his side. The professor wheezed heavily and passed out, maybe even died.

“You shot him.” I said disbelievingly.

“It was either you or him. I wasn’t going to let that sucker take you out.”

“Well,” I said pushing myself up. “I appreciate that. I didn’t know you put my gun in your purse.”

“I sensed we might need it.”

I looked around and grabbed the bottle. Before leaving, I reached down and picked up the aluminum dart tube from the professor. As we walked out of the room, I saw the skeletal trinket and it seemed to be grinning.

The trip out of the building seemed ten times longer than the trip in. We both knew then our lives would never be the same. Home was a new concept to us. The universe was our home now.

We drove down a lonely highway in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t speak to one another but we held hands. The bottle of black antimatter sat on the floorboard console as a constant reminder of who we were now. The sun came up and we saw a massive butte in front of us against a fiery backdrop. I recognized it as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.

We just drove.

– by J.Wade Harrell,

author of Shadows of Siernod and Flames of Palamarr

1 Response to Curators of Shadow

  1. Kay says:

    Ah ha! Bringing Siernod into the future, are we? I like it!

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