Different shades, Part VI

The air burns my skin and pierces my airways. Normally, I’d travel through the night or with the aid of my wings. However, I am too tired to command much of anything at all. I must walk and wander as if I am another soul seeking the unknown exit. I am seeking the comfort of a past life and normalcy. What could be more mortal than that?

Six months prior

I land in the middle of my backyard, shake the ground, and bother the bushes. I stand for a moment to catch my breath, and I let go of the night, allowing the sun to have its time to shine upon the earth. Night cannot last forever, and I am fatigued. I want to sleep away the daytime light. I promised I wouldn’t do this anymore, but the wretchedness of the nighttime calls to me in ways I cannot explain to him. His mortal life does not comprehend the immortal life that I live. I cannot abandon the Underworld in five years after centuries and centuries of built-up responsibilities. He will die, and I will continue living my life. I am sure he will be stricken with me as I walk in, but it’s none of his concern, I have to do what is necessary. 

I open the screen door and shuffle to sit down at the kitchen table. I unlace my boots and let out a sign of dread. I can predict this immediate future. An argument is near. It’s only a matter of time before I head upstairs and confront my mortal love about my continuous lies and deception. He will likely question my feelings, and I will have to take deep breaths and remember how fragile he is so I don’t accidentally tear out his sternum and devour his soul. I think he forgets I have that power. 

The Underworld has always been a place of uproar and dismay. Between the uncontrolled bouts of prison escapes, riots, the uprising of imps and their crossovers into the mortal world, it never ends. I cannot always ignore it, especially not right now. It’s much too out of control. 

The house creaks in drafts and aches in brisk temperatures. The winter makes the house tremble. I make purposeful foot placements on the floorboards to avoid the creakiest parts. I try to be as unnoticed as possible, frivolous pursuit, but I do it anyway. My bare feet feel colder than normal on the icy floor, and my body cracks under pressure. I take a deep inhale before making my way up the stairs. I know it’s time, and step by step, I pump more anxious blood with avoidant unease. However, my eyelids are weak, and I wish to rest. So I keep on stepping, caring less and less about what will unfold. 

My love, why can you not accept I am not like you? 

Standing in front of our bedroom door, I am alarmed at how quiet everything seems. It’s as if it’s quiet on purpose. It makes me feel ill, and I consider how much more of this weekly anxiety I can manage before I vanish from this shared life. I do love him, but when my children call, or there is turmoil down below, I have to go. Even if that means I am gone for hours, days, or weeks. I cannot live a life of television and mediocrity. I cannot. I am the Goddess of the night.

Pushing the door open, I edge my body through the opening, and find myself standing in a suspiciously dark room. Not often a problem for me as I spend much of my personal time trapping myself in the night. However, this was not a normal lights-out darkness. Something hums inside these walls. Something not of this world and something aiming to hide from my vision. 

I launch myself inside and demand whatever is present to reveal itself. “You are not welcome here!” I shout. “Show yourself.” 

Swirls and swirls of galactic clouds billow, the smoke burning my eyes. Someone or something is portaling out of this room. A jolt of night spirals out from my chest in an attempt to capture the fleeing menace, but it’s over in a moment. The smoke softens, and the darkness fades. I command the night back inside, and I am faced with what the light shows. 

Frederick lies on the floor, facedown and still. And I know, but I have no desire to know. I tiptoe, balancing with tremors. My legs are weak, and my chest is heavy.

“Frederick? Frederick?”

He doesn’t respond. I kneel and grab his shoulder. My hand squishes in the blood pooling from his body, and I flip him over to find his face is missing. I scream without restraint. The night sky jerks out of my body in a rage, and I know if I do not calm down, I will lose control. Yet, knowing does little to stop me. I encapsulate the room, then the house into the night. It’s day no more, and violent, dark storms vibrate with my influence. 

Between the electrical currents and swirling shades of black, I know I have only moments before I rupture out of control. I look down and see Frederick still, and I refuse to allow him such stillness. So, I let go.

***

On my knees with this glitching spirit, I know now what was going on. It was me. In a bout of rage and despair, I transferred this house to the Underworld. I suppose I had hoped to find his spirit and save him from his doom. I am not sure, as I don’t think I was in a reasonable state of mind. 

I weep on the ground, feeling dark clouds swell in my eyes. The spirit, Frederick, came to my side and sat next to me. He reaches out to touch me, but his ghostly hand cannot land on my shoulder. It moves through me, and it chills my spine. He glitches in and out of the image I remember him as and the spirit of The Underworld. Someone or something murdered him, and I lost control. Now, I weep with no power, and I am forced to endure the pain of loss.

My thoughts bounce back and forth, and I cannot help but focus on who? Who came to the house that morning and killed the man I loved? Who even knew where I resided?

Nyx (Marie Casey)
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