“Who are you?” he demanded. “What kind of nonsense is this?”
“You’re dying,” she replied sadly. “And you don’t even know it.”
“Look at me though. I’m perfectly healthy.”
“Do you know where you came from?” she asked him.
“Of course. I’ve read all the history books same as you.”
“No, I mean before all that, before the history and science and philosophy. You know there is more to it than that, don’t you?”
“Is there? How could there be?” he asked.
“Where do you think your Umbra came from?
“Umbra? What do you mean? That’s just an old wives tale from before the Philosophers. It’s been proved as myth. Do you, perhaps, mean my brains, or my emotions?”
“No, I mean your Umbra, the other part, the separate part. It is not myth.” she replied.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I only have one part to myself. It’s just me. That’s all I have.” he stuttered.
“Oh, but it isn’t. If only you could see, if only you could read the history before the Philosophers. Would you be willing to see it?”
“Well…okay, why not?” he was skeptical, but after all, she was just a girl. What could she do to him? Better to indulge her fantasy so she’d leave him alone sooner.
“It might hurt.” she warned.
“Whatever.” He didn’t believe anything would happen anyway. She reached out and touched his arm. She held on and a shocking jolt ran through him. “It didn’t hurt.” he remarked. “Just like a tingle, really.”
“Open your eyes.” she told him.
He hadn’t realized they were closed. Blackness engulfed him. Where had the daylight gone? Everywhere, everything was a deep, dark, acrid black. He looked down at himself and saw his hand. It too was dark, but as he inspected it closer he saw it was a dull, writhing red, a raw infestation of flesh-like shadows that roiled and moved sickeningly. It made him nauseous and he could feel his knees hit the ground. He frantically picked himself up and ran to the nearest red shadow. He grabbed its arm, and it turned its face to him. He almost vomited when he beheld the horror of the diseased crimson eyes and the crawling nose sneering down at him. It was too much, his heart cried. My heart? he thought. What is my heart? All he knew was that it was terribly painful. Save me! Someone save me now! he screamed inwardly. His legs buckled once again and he remained there, prostrate on the ground, slowly but surely dying from that pain. A cool hand touched his head and he looked up with tortured eyes. A blinding blue-green glow poured down onto his face.
“Who are you?” he demanded again. This time his question was of vital importance to him.
“I’m alive,” was her answer.
“What is…this?” he held up his crawling, bloodied hand.
“It’s your Umbra. It’s the other part of you, the part that runs your life force.”
“How did I not feel this pain before? Why does no one see this? Is this why people are dying? Do you see this all the time?”His voice escalated with each urgent question.
“Come with me.”
“Take away this pain first. You did this to me. Now you have to take it away.”
“This is how you’ve always been. This sickness is your own, and no one else’s. I simply opened your eyes to it.”
“How do I get rid of it then? Can’t I just go back to how it was?”
“Come with me.” she repeated.
“Just come.” she started to walk away, pulling him with her, for her cool hand was still holding onto his. Were it not for this, he could not have risen at all. The pain was not physical. It was not even the pain of thinking too hard or the pain of deep emotional distress. It was much deeper, more inward, as if it belonged to a different realm of existence, a realm that he knew had been there, but was locked away and, overjoyed at its sudden release, had overtaken his senses and rebelled against him violently. He had no choice but to follow this girl, no choice but to discover how to end the suffering.