Shadows of Cal — Part One

Image courtesy of Wilman Aro on Unsplash

The road is narrow, and my feet slip each time I encounter the ground. I do the only thing I know to do. I pray.

God and Goddess, rulers of my soul, hear this cry!  

Save me this night and in this hour, I call you near.

Praise and thanks to the God and to the Goddess!

Save me this night and in this hour.

Blessed Be!

The familiar words of my Grandmother flow from my mind and my lips and wrap their sweet energy around me as I feverishly chant the old and powerful words. I am so short of breath and don’t know what else to do, so I continue chanting. The cliff to my left grows as I ascend the mountain. What am I supposed to do when I reach the top? The creature chasing me is getting closer; I can feel his energy growing; he is radiating a darkness fed by sadness. I sense his anger, his hatred, his breath.

The edge of the mountain swells before me.

I can see my end. 

The air around me is clear and crisp. The scent of pine takes hold of my nostrils and beckons me to be swift.

The sky is black. 

The stars that once riddled the heavens are gone. The moon has been shrouded in darkness, as well, and there seems to be nothing guiding my path. 

I’m running blindly.

My world hangs in suspension, excited by the energy of this dark entity still chasing me through this wood, and by the fear in my heart. Each heartbeat is an internal attempt to stifle me, to take my last breath. This is the work of that dark thing. The mountain has come to an impasse and I have to find a new path; I’ll die if I fall off the mountain. I sprint to my right; I don’t dare to look behind me now. One false step will send me flying off this mountain, or into the hands of my predator. I pass what seem like hundreds of trees, avoiding bushes and clinging vines, which bid me to stop and rest under their comforting limbs. I refuse. I can’t give up. I’ve come so far!

Ahead there is a road. I quicken my pace and muster up every ounce of energy left in my body to put more distance between the creature and myself. I still have not looked back. I am too afraid to find out how close he actually is. I can still feel his pulse, so I know he is there. I pray again, but this time with more inspiration.

Goddess of love I call you near,

To banish this spirit who feeds from my fear,

God so powerful and strong,

I pray you send this creature back to where he belongs.

Blessed be, and by the God and Goddess I so mote it be!

I take a deep breath and there is a change in the air around me. The sky lights up and I feel warm and safe. The entity is gone, but I am too afraid to look behind me. Feeling somewhat at ease, I slow my pace to a brisk walk and take in my surroundings.

The dark moon hangs in the sky; it is covered in a deep red hue. Looking down at the pavement, I snap back into reality and I turn my head to see if my pursuer is still stalking me. There is nothing there. 

The world around me is silent and strange, but familiar. I feel a sense of déjà vu. I’ve been here before, not in a physical sense, but spiritually. The breeze I had felt so strongly while running is now void. There is not a single creature, animal, or spirit around me. I am in the darkness.

 I am alone.

[Written by Sheldon Slinkard. Part Two will be featured in the April 2021 issue of ev0ke.]

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