Shades of Night

It started as it always did – with the fall of night.

Shadows crept in from the west as darkness gathered in the east. Colours faded and a chill crept into the air. People rushed home from their day, be it of work or play, while others awoke to prepare for the oncoming night. Then it happened.

In a far corner of the park, a lone bench was seized by the night. The gathering gloom crept up its iron legs, forming a darkened patch of nothingness upon the wooden slats. The oblong piece of night grew rapidly, sprouting arms and legs, almost human but not quite. Without warning, the dark cloud snapped into being and its consciousness returned.

I am, it thought to itself as it had done upon awakening every night since the beginning. The shade lived again.

Looking around, the shade was pleased that none were present to witness its rebirth. It disliked the shouts and cries that usually accompanied such an awakening, so it had learned to seek out a secluded spot before dispersal so that upon rebirth all would be blessedly quiet. Gazing around again, the shade sighed quietly and started the night’s travels.

Willing it, the shade became weightless and floated free upon the cool night breeze. Soaring higher, it felt the warmth and power of the city and sought it out as it had so many times prior to this night. Drifting toward the downtown area, the shade reached its senses out and started to read. Sniffing a certain essence, the shade soared in its direction and saw a man walking rapidly toward a bus stop. Dropping invisibly to the ground at his feet, the shade became the man’s shadow and read him. It felt the man’s thoughts, scanned his emotions and strived to learn.

Happiness, thought the shade. A celebration planned. Events anticipated.

The shade started to delve deeper just as a bus pulled up and its doors opened wide. A shower of light spilled out upon the man, freezing the shade where it lay. The man stepped away from his false shadow, climbing up the stairs into the bus. The doors closed, blocking the damnable light, and the shade recovered. Upset by the loss of its lesson, it floated free again and followed the speeding bus, wishing to continue its learning.

The bus streaked from downtown into the suburbs, but still the man did not get out of the hateful light-carrier. The shade grew anxious, wishing desperately for him to return. Suddenly another essence was detected. It was as strong as the man’s, but somehow different. Making a choice, the shade reluctantly abandoned its current lesson and drifted toward the new thought-scent.

Several blocks later, the shade crept up to a house. Gazing inside, it was cheered when it was met by only a dim glow. Passing through the pane of glass effortlessly, it crept along the shadows on the floor through the dwelling, seeking the new lesson.

In a bedroom lit only by a few flickering candles, the lesson appeared to be busily dressing itself. The shade leapt at its feet, attached itself and started to read. It recognized the new lesson as female and read her eagerly, scanning her thoughts as it had the man’s. It was surprised when her thoughts seemed to mirror the earlier lesson’s. Anticipation and happiness. Years together. An anniversary. Diving deeper into her emotions, the shade suddenly drew back as it touched upon something it had never felt. Driven by its need to know, the shade gathered its strength and leapt back in with force. Quickly the shade’s essence seemed to light up and it felt as if it was going to explode. Forcing back the delirium, it scanned frantically, trying to discover the source of this unknown power.

Another wave of energy burst through the shade and the source flared violently as the lesson heard the door to the house open. The shade relented, tearing itself away and detaching from the woman, who ran out of the bedroom with a joyous shout. The shade was concerned that it had overextended and quickly scanned itself. Apparently intact, it crept along the floor after the lesson, wanting to continue.

The shade found her in the kitchen and was surprised to find her in the embrace of its earlier lesson, the man from the bus. Delighted with this rare opportunity to read more than one at a time, the shade crept forward and attached to them both. Immediately it was overwhelmed as the same force that had shocked it before now flooded it completely, apparently fed by both lessons at once. The shade struggled to get free but could not, held tightly by the rampant flow of thought and emotion. Its lessons carried it back to the bedroom, an unknowing and unwilling passenger caught in the maelstrom of pure thought-power between them. Through the intense haze of their combined emotion, the shade was able to discern something. More importantly, it was able to assign a name to what it found.


Deep, all-consuming passion, memories of times good and bad, desire to share all that they were with one another – the shade felt it all to the point of actually experiencing these thoughts itself. The shade’s existence reveled in the power these thoughts provided and it turned its attention back to the lessons, now able to perceive them as people, something it had never been able to do.

Their clothing had been shed while the shade was busy adapting to the power surging through itself and their hands roamed wantonly over each other. The man’s hands stroked the woman’s face gently as his lips pressed against hers. They kissed and touched and loved, much to the delight of the enraptured shade. It frolicked in the vastness of their loving, feeling what each of them felt, wanting what each of them wanted. Lips nibbled, hearts raced, hands explored, and all of it was carefully digested by the shade. A finger slid into damp flesh as a hand wrapped around flesh turned hard. Eyes locked together as the hard and the soft were slowly brought together. Before they touched, one flow of emotion changed slightly and the man grinned and pulled away. The woman felt a twinge of disappointment, which rattled the shade hard, but the feeling was quickly replaced by an even more intense burning passion as the man dropped to his knees and plunged his face into her hidden wetness.

His tongue dipped into her dripping sex and both the woman and the shade gasped. Electric sparks jolted up the woman’s spine as he lapped her gently, causing the shade’s essence to solidify slightly. The tingles increased a hundredfold and the woman’s knees buckled as her orgasm ripped through her with devastating force. A subtle transformation occurred and the shade made another small step forward. It still felt the physical and the emotional stimuli from both, but now it actually identified with one of them, specifically the man. It, or rather he, knew this game now. He realized its purpose, this play of flesh on flesh, and he knew the next step in their primitive dance.

As if responding to the shade’s thoughts, the man stood and pressed his rigid member into her, savouring the heat of her body as he sank inside. The pair kissed passionately, their hearts beating in time as they held together. A gentle thrusting brought their pleasure to its ultimate peak and as one they climaxed, his love for her filling her body as hers was screamed out loudly.

The overload of sensation was too much to bear. The shade suddenly stiffened and detached from them, falling to the floor. He looked up at them and felt a sense of loss along with an enormous gratitude for allowing him to share in their experience. Gathering himself once more, he briefly reattached, sinking into their psyches and revitalizing them with a piece of his own essence. The couple, who had been panting with the exertions of their loving, exchanged surprised looks as the man’s sex, which had softened within her, suddenly sprang to its former hardness. Her fatigue vanished as well and she lifted her legs off the floor and wrapped them tightly around his waist. They laughed together and he carried her to the bed, continuing a night they would reminisce about for the rest of their lives.

The shade, quivering with excitement at the events he had shared, slipped back outside into the night. He floated free through the night sky, his giddiness carrying him higher than he had ever gone. As he flew back to his secret place in the park, a realization took hold and he stopped abruptly. I was as they are, he thought wildly. I was once…

I was once human.

* * * * *

    Reaching his park an hour from daybreak, the shade soared over the treetops on his way back to his bench. The night had been the most extraordinary of his existence and he wished to settle down and wait for it to end. Tomorrow he would build upon what he had learned, as he had done since the beginning, and hopefully he would discover more of his nature. Spying the bench at last, he descended lazily when suddenly he felt another rush of emotion from below. Instinctively he reached his senses out to it for a reading. He felt passion, much like the man’s earlier that night, but this was different, colder and uglier, mixed with a hateful loathing that repulsed the shade to the core of his being. Coming closer, he saw its source.

A man hovered over a woman lying face-down upon the cold ground behind the shade’s bench. His brawny hands gripped her throat and he shook her violently, growling, “Damn bitch! Don’t fight me!” She passed out at last, her body going limp in his grasp. He roughly flipped her over and started to pull off her clothing. “Always fighting,” the man mumbled through a haze of liquor and hate. “Take the fight outta her. Make her pay.” He stripped her naked from the waist down, then pulled out his filthy flaccid member and started to try to press it into her unconscious body.

Hatred. Blind, bitter hatred gripped the shade as he realized the man’s intent and the wrongness of his actions. He gleaned from the man’s thoughts that he would kill the woman soon and vowed that it would not happen. Plunging deep within the man’s psyche, the shade concentrated his entire being and attacked the man ruthlessly, tearing his essence to shreds. Tatters of memories and emotions lay scattered across the man’s being as the shade obliterated his entire spiritual core in the blink of an eye. Detaching himself from the last remaining spark of the man’s life, the shade sat on the bench and watched in satisfaction as the man’s body crumpled lifeless to the ground.

Without warning, a bright gash opened in the air behind the corpse. It pulsed with an angry red light and suddenly the shredded remains of the man’s being gathered together and recombined. The newly-formed shade looked in shock at the shade on the bench before turning his gaze to the red glow. He shrieked once in fear before he and his empty body were sucked into the tear, never to return. As quickly as it had appeared, the rip mended and disappeared without a trace.

The shade nodded once, not really caring to know the man’s fate, before turning his attention to the woman. He dove into her mind and scanned her thoughts. Finding the vivid memories of the attack, he realized that she would be haunted by these visions forever. The anger returned and his mind raced to find a solution. Recalling the loving couple earlier, he concentrated on those memories and carefully implanted them upon the woman’s, blotting out all recollection of her vicious assault. She would remember meeting a man, generous and caring, who loved her as none other. The feel of his skin, his deep masculine scent, his expert loving – all were installed in her mind with surgical precision. Coming to the end of the thought-segment, the shade puzzled over how to end the fantasy. Sensing her spirit returning, he acted quickly. Manufacturing a memory of him walking her home by way of the park, the shade leapt out of her just as she awoke.

“Wha… what happened?” she asked, sitting up and looking around.

The shade stared at her longingly, wishing he could respond to her, when suddenly he wondered how her clothes had reappeared on her body.

She looked to the bench where he sat and smiled warmly. “There you are. How did I get down here?”

Shocked by her ability to see him, he replied softly, “I was walking you home and you tripped over my foot. I landed here on the bench. I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right,” she purred. Standing up, she looked past him. “The sun’s coming up. Let’s watch it together.”

The shade spun around and stared helplessly at the bright pink of the horizon. The dispersal! he thought frantically. She sat next to him and he decided to act on impulse. Reaching for her hand, he murmured, “If this is our last moment together, please know that I love you.”

She grasped his hand firmly, adding to his surprise. “And I love you,” she replied. Dawn peeked over the horizon and the first direct rays of sunlight touched the shade.

* * * * *

    A presence rocketed into the shade’s being and called out to him, “You have finally learned what it is to love and be loved.”

“Who are you?” the shade asked timidly.

“I am the one who sentenced you to the existence you have known these last months,” the gentle voice replied. “You were once as hateful and evil as the one you destroyed tonight. Instead of his fate, you were cast into a shade upon your death.”

“But why?”

“It was not yet your time,” the voice explained. “You were given another chance to learn the power of love. You have your life back. Do not waste it as you did the last.”

* * * * *

A blaze of white light bathed the shade’s mind and his memories came back in a rush, whether new or old he didn’t know. The light faded and he opened his eyes, only to be blinded by the sun’s radiance. He winced and wiped his eyes and face with the back of his hand.

Noticing the tears streaming down his cheeks, the woman asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he replied, wiping the last tears away. “The light got to me, I guess.” He turned to her and saw her smiling brightly at him. He returned the smile, stroking her cheek gently with his hand.

She nuzzled into his hand and chuckled, “As much as I wanted the night to never end, I’m glad to start the new day with you.” He nodded and she laughed to herself.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

She looked at him and grinned. “I don’t believe you ever told me your name.”

He laughed when the answer popped into his head. “Josh. Joshua Shade.”

“Ooh, Shade,” she replied playfully. “I like that. Very mysterious.”

He recognized her playful jesting and grabbed her, pulling her close. “I’m glad you like it,” he whispered. “You’ll be sharing it soon enough.” She stared wide-eyed at him before realizing he too was teasing and they hugged tightly.

“I love you,” they said as one as the sun shone down on them brightly, chasing the last shades of night away.

© 2015 B.K. Bilicki. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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