Posted by: quoththesparrow | June 16, 2016

Spirit of the Night

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The clouds, black as ink, came rolling in from the horizon like ocean waves. Quickly, they seeped out like fingers and permeated the entire sky, then the earth.

I knew what was coming and ran, but the clouds were too fast. The cold enveloped me, tiny daggers stabbing me all over my body. In a flash all went dark. I couldn’t see my hands reaching out in front of me, feeling where to go. When the cold reached my lungs, I gasped from my breath being frozen inside me. I collapsed on my hands and knees. Panic rose in me and I began hyperventilating. The darkness grew thicker by the second. As it closed in tighter, the pressure was crushing. I was suffocating, making me panic even more.

Suddenly, from inside me came a piercing pain, knocking me onto my back. The pain twisted within me, causing me to writhe. I wanted to scream but I had no breath. The pain continued for agonizingly long minutes. Then it broke apart and the pain hit me in two spots, then three, four, until it spread throughout my whole body. Reaching my head, the pain flooded my mind with grief, heartache, anger, hatred, bitterness, fear – so many dark feelings it was unbearable. I clutched my head and kicked my legs, flailing. Still I couldn’t scream. Instead I began to sob silently.

And then, as quickly as the pain came on, it stopped. I could breathe again. The places where the pain had been now filled with warmth. Opening my eyes, I was almost blinded. Light burst from holes the pain had left in me. The light then dimmed and warmth filled me completely. My eyes began to clear and I could see through the darkness. I rolled over onto my hands and knees again. Only, my hands, as I saw, were no longer hands, but paws covered in sleek black fur. Examining the rest of me, I realized I had become a panther.

Thunder rumbled and I rose. My whiskers tingled and twitched. There was electric energy in the air. With agility I leapt, narrowly escaping the lightning strike. Black lightning. Again, I felt the electric tingle, and again I leapt out of the way. I bolted, the black lightning following, continually attempting to strike me, and continually I escaped. Eventually the lightning stopped. Thunder rumbled like a growling animal, as though voicing its frustration that it couldn’t catch me.

As the thunder rolled away, I breathed deeply. I was filled with a sense of confidence and purpose. I no longer feared the dark. I was now conquering it. Around me was the Midnight Forest. The darkness swirled between the trees like smoke. Forward I went, moving silent as a shadow.

The forest was quite beautiful, in an eerie, ghostly way. It was completely silent, yet there was a pervasive sense of sadness, of longing for something lost. What would have crushed me before now rolled off my back like dew.

Rather than slink around in the hidden places, I strutted down the central pathway, daring the darkness to do its worst. As I passed a tendril of darkness, it whirled and formed an image. I froze when I recognized it. The scene that played before me was all my failures in life. The longer I watched, the worse my failures became and the more mesmerized I was. I feared what could be shown. Could the darkness know?

A second later, ice formed in the pit of my stomach when I saw the dreaded moment. I was on the phone, I knew it was my sister on the other end informing me of our mother’s death. So sudden and seemingly without reason. I saw myself taking it all in. I remembered my thoughts.Overwhelmed by guilt because my mother continuously asked me when I would come visit her. I’d kept putting it off, saying I was too busy. She even asked me once if I even loved her, because she didn’t think I showed it. Now she was gone. After that I’d tried to run away from the pain through every way I could, trying to escape the guilt.

But a memory bloomed in my head and I was able to shake off the darkness. It was my mother’s smiling face on the screen of my computer. Holding up a birthday card from me, she opened it and a recording of my voice was heard singing a silly song. My mother laughed with glee. Then all the memories of the cherished times with my mother came back to me and overthrew the lies of the darkness. In that moment I decided to stop running. I turned back to the image in the darkness, snorted, and marched right through it. The picture dissolved into wisps. My fears were no longer relevant and would no more hold me back.

As the journey continued, along the way the darkness would form into creatures from nightmares. They may have been meant to scare me, but I merely stared them down, not breaking my path even a step. Occasionally the darkness formed scenes and I realized they were the fears of others. This was a forest of fear. Nothing personal. None taken.

Further down, the path split around a ravine and I made for one side. Erupting from the ravine came a bloodcurdling scream. Instinctively, I dove into the depths. With ease I landed on the floor and bounded toward the shrieks. There before me was a circle of humanoid creatures that looked like demonic children. They were closing in on a little girl. I ran faster. Leaping with full might, I soared, and landed in front of the girl. Facing the demons, I roared. The demons were startled for a moment. Then one charged me and I swiped it, clawing its face. In a second, they all attacked. In a fury, I fought the demons. I was far outnumbered, but by sheer prowess I stood my ground, slashing them down one by one. Once I pinned them, I tore their throats with my fangs. They’d burst into smoke when killed. Some tried to jump on my back, but I instantly shook them off. Others would try to catch my back legs and bite them, but I bucked, sending them hurtling backwards. Before long, I’d defeated all the demons. I stopped, my chest heaving, and caught my breath.

I turned to the girl. She couldn’t have been more than seven years old. She reminded me of myself at that age. Of course, she was frightened. It was then I realized my purpose. I was now to guide her. The best that I could, with my eyes, I told her all was well. She softened a little. I purred like a mother cat and tenderly moved toward her. For a moment she shrank back, but then relaxed. I stopped. Hesitantly, she reached out a hand toward me. I affectionately bumped my head against her palm. She giggled. “Nice kitty.”

I moved toward her side and motioned with my head for her to follow, and we journeyed on. A long time later, the girl started yawning and her eyes got heavy. I soon found the best tree. I lowered myself and she climbed on my back and wrapped her arms around my neck. I leapt to the lowest branch and climbed to where there was a large, comfortable looking crook. The girl slid off my back and sat down. She wrapped her arms around herself and I realized she was shivering. I made a u-shape around her, laying down. I purred and she laid back, nestling her head on my shoulder, and closed her eyes. Soon I began yawning. I laid my head on my paws and closed my eyes.

Sunlight woke me. The darkness was completely gone and the woods were now a normal forest. I realized I was back in human form. Beside me, the girl woke. At first she was startled to see I was human. “It’s okay,” I said.

Rising, I extended my hand. She took hold of it and I pulled her up. Together we climbed down the tree and ventured on through the woods. Before long, the forest cleared and we saw houses in the distance.

The girl pointed. “I see my house!” She turned and hugged me. “Thank you so much.”

She let go and looked up at me. I smiled. “My Sister, when there is darkness, I can be there for you. Anytime you need me, actually.”

“Will you always be a kitty?”

I chuckled. “Maybe. Who knows? You better get home now.”

She giggled and headed home. I watched as she became a speck in the distance. Then I headed on my way.

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