Light of the Shadow – Chapter 1 – Part 2

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Light of the Shadow – Chapter 1 – Part 2

 

Chapter 1

 

 

“A time of change is approaching.…
The Destructive Strength of a New Beginning.
That which does not destroy the Warrior makes him stronger against new storms.

- The Prophet of Truth

 

Part 2

Sarah turned her car key allowing the motor to go silent and dropped her head over the steering wheel in complete frustration.

The sound of the romantic and somewhat nostalgic “Always On My Mind” from Elvis Presley filled the sudden stillness, although not even that legendary voice was enough to silence the depressing thoughts that persistently filled her mind.

In search of some emotional support, she’d selected one of her favorite playlists with musics form the sixties to accompany her on the bitter mission of that evening. Yet things couldn’t be going any worse.

With a resigned sigh, and in search of the well of courage that everyone seemed to believe she possessed and that, right then, seemed to have gone completely dry, Sarah raised her head once again. Making sure she kept her emotions in check, fearing that failing to do so would mean falling apart into an uncontrollable fit of tears, she grabbed the small paper resting on the seat beside her. Analyzing it carefully once more, she tried to make sense of the lines and squares drawn in it, the same ones that should represent paths and directions apparently impossible to follow.

One brief frown marked her forehead when she forced her tired and seriously sleep deprived brain to make sense of the schematic map that the security guard, to whom she’d asked for directions more than thirty minutes ago, had promptly drawn for her.

In it one could clearly see the place where she’d come from and the signaled way, that just like the man had told her, was quite short and simple.

But if that was the case, how come she was still going round and round amongst giant storage units, unable to find the one with the number three hundred and seventeen?

She peered out the window in search of the number that should mark the metallic surface of the rectangular structure right beside her. If only someone had made an effort to number them in a logical, sequential way, like people normally numbered things, she wished. But no! That would certainly be asking too much. Besides, anything that might somehow make her life easier should be avoided at all costs!

With a sigh, she ran a hand through her light-brown hair, that due to the lack of patience that had accompanied her these last few days, was simply tied up at the back of her head.

Three hundred and three. It can’t be far!

She straightened her back and started the car.

If where she’d come from the numbers rounded the four hundred, the unit she was looking for could only be somewhere in front of her.

The bitter knot she’d been fighting off, the same she’d tried to ignore all week, mercilessly came back to choke her, making her take a deep breath in an attempt to pull herself together.

Obviously, after all those years, she could hardly remember what was stored in the old container that her parents had rented. Sarah knew it had been rented when they’d moved, a year before she’d went to College. At the time her younger sister, Selena, had just turned four, and their parents had felt that it was time that they each had their own bedrooms. Back then, although Sarah had argued that she could as easily move to the university’s dorm, her mother had been firmly opposed to it. They were a family and their strength lay in sticking together, no matter how strange it would be for a university student to still be living with her parents. And so they had moved to a bigger apartment. However, although the new house did have an extra bedroom, all the rooms were much smaller, and so not everything they’d packed had been moved into their new house.

She knew that, among other things, that container kept many of her old childhood toys, as well as photo albums from her grandparents, some of her father’s trophies from his younger days, and other memories from her parent’s youth.

She’d been readying herself for what had to be done since the instant they’d reminded her of the existence of said container and of its respective monthly cost. It had been a hard decision to make, one that a part of her still couldn’t quite accept. And yet there was no other solution. Now that Selena and the house fell completely under her responsibility, she had to find a way to make her paycheck stretch. And a lot!

Keeping that in mind, the first thing she’d done was to move out of the small apartment where she’d lived for the last two years. Going back to her parents’ house had been the obvious solution, since her humble apartment had no way to accommodate one more person, and Selena didn’t want to leave the house where she’d lived most of her life; the house where she and their parents had lived. Besides that, all extra expenses and been drastically cut, such as movie nights and restaurant meals. The car rarely left the garage and there wouldn’t be new clothes for anyone anytime soon. And, of course, the rent of the storage unit ...

She’d told herself that she’d have the courage her parents had lacked, a few years back, and that she’d sell most of the things that could be sold. But, on the other hand, the idea of getting rid of all those dear memories left a clenching knot around her throat and a bitter taste in her mouth.

With a resigned sigh she stopped again. The line of numbered containers ended there, a huge metallic warehouse all painted in blue standing in her way.

Sarah leaned over the dashboard looking for a number, knowing that she’d probably be asking for too much.

Uncharacteristically a curse word escaped her lips.

This can’t be happening!

And yet she could hardly deny the truth. She was lost, again!, and frustration burned in her chest. How hard could it be to find a damn container?

Peering through the rear mirror Sarah could see the giant metallic cases with painted green letters advertising the storage company. Perfectly aligned like that they almost looked like an absurdly organized mini city. How could the numbers just suddenly end?

I must have taken a wrong turn! Anyway, there’s only one thing to do. Go back the way I came.

Sitting up, Sarah took a deep breath and started to put the car in reverse. She even placed her hands on the steering wheel ... But nothing happened, her hands didn’t move, and a few instants later the car was still in the same place. It took her a few seconds to realize that, against her own intentions, she’d never even pressed the gas pedal.

And then she was hand braking the car and stepping outside, almost as if her body was inhabited by two different wills; one that wished to keep searching for the damn container and another, apparently stronger, that had just decided to stay there, in the middle of nowhere, in front of a probably abandoned warehouse.

Her gaze was lost on the blue painted doors. The ink had long started to peel and some of the areas were already rusty, the dark-red blood color oozing over the old blue.

Sarah clenched her fists and forced a deep breath.

The trembling, the shivers, the unjustified fast heartbeat. This wasn’t the first time she found herself in such a situation, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. And so, acting according to all those previous experiences, she reminded herself that she had to stay calm, foucus on her breathing, and, above all, just accept the impulse that had clearly driven her to leave the safety of her car behind. Sure the moment was the worst possible, she grunted in her thoughts, especially taking into account the screwed up day she’d been having so far. But, on the other hand, it was hardly something to feel surprised about. And yet, this time, something felt different. …

This compulsion was extremely strong and … intense. Something was calling her with an almost frightening persistence, leaving her trembling and feeling sick at the mere thought of just turning around and walking away.

Taking a deep breath, Sarah allowed her mind to relax and disregard the world around her, as well as the emotional storm raging inside her. She could clearly feel her mental field expanding, like an invisible circle, going through metallic walls and embracing the emptiness surrounding her, in search of the impulse that had stopped her from leaving.

The air left her chest in a painful gasp when a burning impact washed over her brain, forcing her to immediately cut the connection.

Pain, anger, hate, despair, loneliness.… A deep desire for violence and revenge, hand in hand with an uncontrollable suffering well beyond any physical pain … as if the Soul of whoever was in there had been persistently screaming for eternities.

Sarah wiped her suddenly sweaty shaky hands on her jeans, that like the beige sweatshirt she wore, had been the first pieces of clothing her tired, uninterested hands had grabbed first thing in morning, and took a deep breath forcing herself to remain calm.

As to be expected, she told herself. Probably another lost, angry homeless person.

When a small, almost inaudible voice, sounded a basic instinctive alarm in her head, Sarah refused to pay it any heed. In truth there was nothing new about any of that, and although most Humans would have serious difficulties believing in stuff like psychic powers, Sarah was more than used to receiving inaudible and irrefutable cries for help. As for the sensation that the compulsion calling her to that warehouse was stronger than usual, she was sure it had all to do with her, and nothing to do with whoever was in there. After all, she’d just been through the worst week of her life and her emotions were still too raw, nothing like the usually rational and centered woman she normally was.

Closing the car door, she tucked the keys in her jeans’ right pocket, and walked over to the metallic doors, wondering what to do if the doors were locked. Even as she did so her mind was already reviewing the usual plan of action. She would help that person leave that place and take them to the nearest coffee shop to buy them dinner. Then she’d try to convince them to go with her, and search for a warm place to sleep in one of the nearest shelters.

She felt bad to postpone the search for the container but, at the same time, it was also a relief. In any way it would be dark soon, and insisting on that search would only make things all the more difficult. On the other hand she wasn’t about to go on with her initial plans while dragging some stranger around, especially not someone who was probably about to die from hunger. Besides, unlike her usual self, she wasn’t carrying anything in her trunk that she could give them. Usually her car trunk was always stuffed with warm clothes and blankets, and some canned food just for times like this. But in the last few days her life had been turned upside down in such a way that she still hadn’t been able to go back to her everyday pace.

The metallic door was cold to the touch, even after an entire day under the sun that had shone brightly since morning. And all it took was a light push and it squealed loudly as it opened.

The yellowish light of the evening spilled over the dark, cement floor, and she saw what looked like several quadrangular working tables.

Sarah pushed the door open even wider, peering inside the apparently deserted warehouse. She was sure that whoever had called her was inside, and yet the large area in front of her was plunged in darkness. The warehouse, on the other hand, seemed much bigger than she’d initially anticipated, and she had to feel her way around to look for the light’s switch. Using both hands she pulled the heavy lever down, and the clicking sound echoed wearily all over the place as white, florescent lights blinked and illuminated a tall, dark ceiling.

Sarah quickly looked around, taking in as much as possible of the place she was illegally trespassing on. She didn’t want to be surprised by unwanted presences, and what she saw left her apprehensive and alarmed.

In a quick analysis Sarah concluded that, like she’d initially suspected, there wasn’t anyone around. However, the stone countertops and most of the materials surrounding her were way too familiar. It was almost as if she’d just entered one of the Hillman Cancer Center laboratories, where she worked on a daily basis, which left her an acute feeling of urgency.

Wishing to leave that place as soon as possible, she crossed the warehouse in quick footsteps, identifying some of the chemicals laying around in huge glass containers at a glance. Toluene, chloroform, ammonia, muriatic acid.… All poisonous substances. All highly inflammable. She consciously chose to ignore the several busen burners over which complex chains of test tubes, filtering flasks and other glass containers had been assembled, some volumetric flasks containing liquids of several colors.

Clenching her teeth, she forced her mind to return to the main purpose that had led her there and silenced the thoughts that insisted in making reference to illegal operations of drugs’ manufacturing. All she had to do was find the person that had called her there and drag him or her out of that place as soon as possible. Sarah was sure that whoever owned that warehouse - and she definitely didn’t want to know who, or what it was used for - wouldn’t be the least bit happy or understanding, should they find her there.

She slowed down, noticing the small door at the far end wall. With shaky hands she tried to turn the handle but it remained closed.

Locked. What now?

It was unusual, she thought. One of the things that characterized her compulsions was that she could normally easily reach those who called her. There had never been any obstacles in her path that couldn’t be easily overcome, almost as if the world itself conspired to make things easier for her. That’s why she’d so easily accepted the fact that the front entrance had been unlocked.

Sarah observed the door in front of her more carefully. It looked solid and it was clearly locked which was, without a doubt, a huge obstacle.… A sigh left her lips.

Maybe there’s no one here and I’m just being paranoid, or I’m just so tired that my mind has finally started to breakdown. …

She only noticed she was touching it again when the cold of the metal reached the palms of her hands, and then she was once more frantically searching for a way to open it!

Against all logic the compulsion was only getting stronger, and she was certain that there was someone in there, waiting for her. For a split second she allowed herself to touch that other mind again. A mind drowning in so much pain that it was almost dangerously insane …

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