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  • Jeffrey Hall

Strange Short #5: It Came from the East

It came from the East.

It's shape killed the sun, murdering it with it's impossible height. It's shadow bled out over the land, seeping over it like a black sea bloated and overflowing.

There was no time to react. It appeared as fast as a summer storm, and then it was upon the world, it's feet striking the ground like bolts of lightning and it's groans rumbling in the sky like thunder.

It washed away the land that we knew, destroying not just the buildings and roadways and statues countless hands had toiled over, and become bruised thanks to, and received lifetime scars from, but it ended the hope. The future we once envisioned. The dreams we lofted to the sky like kites hoping that the wind others blew would keep them soaring if not for us, but for our children. Those were brought crashing back down from one footfall, from the sheer size of it blocking that wind from blowing anymore.

The world fell. It rose. And no one did a thing.

Until she came from the West.

A critter scurried up from the depths of some god only-known soil where no man, woman, child or beast dare put their feet for fear that they may lose them, or even worse, lose themselves.

Yet that's where they say she came from. This little thing barely able to make a shadow herself, just walking in the wrong direction while everyone else was breaking their bones trying to put distance between them and that shadow.

Some turned as they passed her too, the only time they dared look back since it rose in the first place. Said they saw her as the sea of shadow washed over her, and said they couldn't believe their own blasted eyes.

The shadows broke around her. Halved the damned darkness like a stone lodged in a heavy current. She cut light in the black fabric it cast over the world. Like the way the sun works with shadows, but backwards.

And wouldn't you know, some insane, sons of bitches actually stopped and yelled out to her.

"What in the name of god are you doing?" they said.

She didn't answer a bit. Just kept walking, kept cutting a larger wound in the dark.

I heard those that stopped didn't have time to outrun the darkness anymore. So when it reached them too they thought it'd pave them over like it done the rest of the world.

But it didn't. By the only god, it snapped around them too. And then there were hundreds of those bulwarks, severing the shadows like surgeons.

When that gargantuan finally caught up it stopped, terrified. Why did its shadow not grow? Why did the people not run?

I'll tell you why, because they finally saw someone who didn't.

Funny how that works. Once the herd is stampeding, all it takes is one to slow them down.

And once it saw her. Once it saw them. It didn't take a step further. It roared its terrible roar and stomped its great feet, but when it didn't do a thing, fear overtook it.

They say you could smell it in its heart, like a the scent of the grass after a morning's rain. Its knees shook. The ground twitched like the earth itself was rolling. Some say you could even hear its heart beating like a drum played by a god. Faster and faster it grew. Until at last it could take it no more.

It turned around and went back the way it come.

Back to the East. Back because of she who came from the West.

The shadow retreated with it, and all that was left was the light. Brilliant, beautiful, and invincible.


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