He wasn’t afraid of his own shadow anymore. He was the shadow. The darkness of night seeped into one cadaverous shade that clung to him like a leech. For the longest time, he’d tried to escape it. The face he presented to the world betrayed no sign of its dark tendrils, clutching away at the boy beneath.
And yet the smile he wore through gritted teeth was finally giving way to the shadow’s grimace. He had few choices left but to give in to it. The pretence was wearing nauseatingly thin. Heroes permeated the world, did it really need another one? Perhaps instead, it needed the shadow to consume him, to craft a new villain for it to try and overcome.
He sighed. The world had indeed become a fraught and fractious place. Cultures and communities divided, hate and fear-mongering the new language of humanity. The kindness and tolerance of recent years were dissipating and each day mankind turned on each other in increasingly callous acts of violence. School, TV, and the onslaught of social media had taught him that the world was truly full of hatred and cruelty.
These outbursts of rage and defiance were now starting to spill out onto the innocents of this world. Children, much younger than he was, caught up in political and cultural warfare; an endless game of tit-for-tat which never reached a conclusion of satisfied parties. The world, divided, was beginning to implode.
And so of late, the shadow had seemed a much less terrifying prospect.
He knew what it would entail. To succumb to the darkness of his own shade and transform into his true self would not be a painless process. The shadow had given him clear instructions on how to let it in. Its appetite was ferocious and it demanded complete obedience. It whispered to him in the daytime about the state of enlightenment he’d find within its blackness. At night, it throbbed invisibly within his mind’s eye; an ocular pulse that revealed the truth of things to him as a second sight into another world.
A world where civilizations’s hatred and anger was no longer directed toward each other, but in one combined direction. A force for the greater good, through the force of great evil. Through the darkness must come the light. Through the shadow he would become the world’s saviour; it just didn’t know it yet.
He knew it was time. Humanity needed him. It needed the shadow to consume his humanity once and for all. For only then could he make the final metamorphosis into that which would save them all. The villain that would unite the broken fragments of the human race once and for all and put an end to their internal conflicts. Black, white, gay, straight, male, female, trans, Christian, Muslim, radical or liberal; none of this would matter anymore.
The threat of terror would pale in comparison to the terror rained down upon this earth by the shadow’s wrath.
This was his life’s calling, he finally understood. Looking upon the smiling faces of his mother and father in the kitchen, a tear quaked in his eye line, momentarily blurring his clarity of mind. He brushed it away fiercely; this had to be done. The first step in the transformation and the darkening of his soul.
He cast the smile from his face for the final time; never again would he paint the mask of happiness upon his face. The shadow’s clarity renewed itself in his eyes and he stepped forward to begin carving his true destiny. On the counter in front of him were the remnants of the breakfast he’d enjoyed with his parents. He reached for the knife his mother had used to slice the bread up for some toast for him this morning and grasped the handle so tightly he thought his fearful bones may crack.
The shadow’s claws grasped his heart and howled with a piercing laugh.
And he let it.