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Rated: 13+ · Novel · Dark · #2136416
What happens when Eric Maxwell loses control of the monster inside him?

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Prologue


"Push!" The doctor encouraged a young woman in terrible agony. She pushed with a final shriek, and loud crying filled the room. Her husband accepts the baby from the physician to show his exhausted wife their child. Together, they smiled down at their new son.


For the next two days, the couple enjoyed new baby.


Then it started to go wrong.


Annoyed at the baby's crying, the woman would refuse to feed her son until the nurses had to force her. Her husband began to grow frustrated with having to change diapers every twenty minutes and the sound of a wailing cry. Both had given up and were considering giving the baby away.


On the last day of their stay in the hospital, there was a knock on the door, announcing a visitor. A group of people in black suits swarmed the room. One of the people in black, a man with a blond buzz cut and black sunglasses, approached the family.


"We are not here to hurt you," the man assured them. " I'm Mr. Flagger. Head of a particular department in the US government."


He stepped forward to hand them an ID, which the husband took warily. He examined it for a few moments before giving it back to Flagger.


"Why should we care?" asked the wife. "What do you want with my family?"


"You may not believe this, but we have reason to believe that your son is the host of an unusual organism called a shadow."


"Yeah and..? Everyone has a shadow. How does that make my baby so special?"


"I'm sorry Miss, but you seem to misunderstand me. I don't mean that kind of shadow. I'm talking about a creature. We don't know for certain what exactly they are. We are aware it dwells within people like your son and whenever he's unconscious it will take over his body. They thrive on chaos, only wanting to destroy. Also, they are biologically immortal to they can be destructive forever."


"Kill him," the mother repeated."If these shadow things are as dangerous as you say, then kill him."


"Ma'am please, there are ways to control a shadow without harming the host. I'm sure you would prefer one of those options opposed-"


"I don't care," the woman interrupted. "We weren't going to keep the baby anyway. Just take him away and kill him. It would be cruel to allow to live that way." She shoved the child into Flagger's arms and refused to hold him when he tried to give him back. He finally gave up and left the room with his cohorts.


"What now?" one of the asked.


"I'm going to take him to a family I know," Flagger said as they walked to their cars. "They just had a daughter who was also born with a shadow. They'll be able to take care of him and keep him safe. Go back to Headquarters and write a report about what happened." He left his agents and got into the car with the baby.


He eventually reached a two story, grey-weathered house with a white picket fence. A tall woman with brown boy-cut urban hair answered the door, and when she saw Flagger, a look of delight lit her face until she noticed the baby in his arms. She quickly ushered Flagger into the sitting room and took the baby to be fed.


"Hey Flagger, didn't 'cpect to see you so soon," said the man, flopping into the chair opposite to Flagger.


"Me too Bill, but something came up," his voice grew somber in the otherwise quiet room. The two men could hear Bill's wife rifling around in the kitchen, the next room over, for a bottle. "The boy is a shadow host and his parents wanted to kill him when they found out."


"That's horrible! What kind of parents would allow their own child to die? What type of person?!" Both of the men looked up to see Bill's wife standing in the kitchen entryway, the baby in her arms.


"I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks so, Frances," said Flagger. "That's why I need your help. I don't have anyone to take care of him, and I was hoping you two could do it. I'll buy him anything he needs."


"That's not necessary. We would be delighted to take him. What's his name?" asked Frances.


"Eric. Eric Maxwell."


"That's a lovely name." Frances smiled down at her new baby.


"I'll send supplies tomorrow and visit next week. Good luck and thank you." Flagger rose and headed to the door before getting into the van and driving off.


Chapter 1


"Mrs.Cshmane do I have to take the fusion," whined Eric Maxwell. The once-orphaned boy, now nine years old, was getting ready for bed.


"You already know the answer to that Eric. Now would you please go get me the vial?" Eric did as she asked and trudged into the bedroom of his adoptive mother. He took out one of the clear glass bottles lined inside her dresser and before returning, considered smashing it to the ground. While walking past Maria's room, Mrs.Cshman's birth daughter, Eric could hear the soft sounds of the small girl's cries and the coos of her dad trying to comfort her. 'Sounds like she's getting her fusion too,' he thought.


For as long as he could remember, Eric had to take the fusion every night, Maria too.


Eric shambled back into his room where Frances was waiting, and hours later was curled in bed weeping like his sister. Slowly, Eric cried himself to sleep. He slept peacefully until he heard, what sounded like that of a dying bird.


Eric scanned for the source of the deafening noise. Finally, he realized where it was coming from. His own head. Tears welled in his eyes as Eric failed to block the sound from his mind. He let out a screech the rivaled the one in his skull, causing Mr. and Mrs.Cshamne to come rushing into his room. They tried to comfort him, told him it was only a dream, but he knew that wasn't true. Not when it started happening every night for two months straight.


One night, instead of the usual screams, Eric heard a soft, raspy voice call out to him.

Eric, Eric.

He curled into himself, hugging his knees close to his body.


Don't be scared, Eric. I'm only here to help you. I want to help you.

"Leave me alone," the boy pleaded. "Please! Just leave me alone." He hugged his knees to his chest and curled into a ball into the middle of his bed.


I can't leave you alone Eric. I'm a part of you.


Eric is a lonely boy. He spends most of his time on the playground sitting by the trees watching the other kids play tag.


One time, they asked him to play, but when they found out about him being adopted and saw his towering, stone-cold godfather, they stopped including him. His sister didn't count as a friend. They were never raised as proper brother and sister. It was more like two long distance cousins forced to stay with one another. The voice liked talking to him, though. It would always ask about his day and let him complain about the bullies at school. It was the first time Eric had made an actual friend who actually enjoys being with him!


The voice convinced him to let see and hear through him. It induced Eric to relinquish control of his arms so they could play chess. The voice told him that he was his Shadow. He remembers the night it happened.


"Why won't you tell me who you are?" Eric asked the voice. He was thirteen years old and had spent four years communicating with the voice in his head.

'I don't think you'll still be with me if you find out.'

Eric jerked his attention from the math homework he was struggling with to voice's appalling words. He was bewildered. How could it think Eric would abandon his first and only friend?


"I would never do that," he assured it. "I wouldn't leave you even if I could. So please, tell me who you are. You always tell me how much I need to trust you, now you should trust me." There was silence for a few moments before the voice rang out from the deep of Eric's consciousness.


'I'm your Shadow.'


Eric froze. This was it. This was the very thing the Cshman warned him about. The dark, manipulating monster that only craves chaos and destruction. Eric started to rise to run to his adoptive parents and tell them of what he just learned, but then Eric remembered when the voice would listen to him rant, sending waves of outrage on his behalf. It was there for him on his first day of middle school when he had "accidentally" sat on pudding, and the whole class laughed at him. It had sent its sympathy through him like a steady stream. 'If it was able to be there for me when no one else was, how bad can it be?' Eric thought.




Chapter 2



Eric's shadow became his best, and the only friend he had as Eric grew up. He became a short young man with a very slender built and no muscle. Eric grew light brown hair that he styled in a spiky mohawk and dark brown eyes blessed his face. His skin became tan from all the times his shadow makes him go outside so it can learn. That's all the Shadow did. Learn. It spent years learning. Learning how to talk to it get to begin the exploitation of its host, learning to read, write, and interact with others from the time spent looking through Eric's eyes. Most importantly though, it learned how to gain physical control over its host.


What Eric didn't know was that his shadow was like all others. That it really was the monster that his parents warned him about. Only smarter about achieving its goal.


Around the time Eric turned fifteen his shadow told him the real reason why he had come to live with the Cshmane. All his life, Eric had been told that his parents died in a car crash, but The Shadow cursed him with the truth. That they were so afraid of what he was that they wanted him killed. Completely broken, The Shadow was able to use Eric's moment of weakness to take full control of him. Mind and Body.



Chapter 3


It was the week after his fifteenth birthday that Maria started noticing her adoptive brother's changes. Eric rarely was in the house anymore, suddenly taking an interest in different programs and staying after school for everything. When he was home, Maria often found him surrounded by books in the corner of their library. What Eric was researching, she didn't know. He stopped talking to her, their parents, and everyone else too. Even Flagger, who had spent months trying to get through to the boy. The change in him had been abrupt, the boy she had known for years now seemed to be an entirely different person. Instead of better, over the next two years, Eric eventually changed into someone Maria no longer recognized.


"Eric, dinner's ready," Maria said to her brother who was once again in the library. Eric absorbed books; finishing one in a day, then moving on to another. Every week it was a different subject. This time, he was reading about human psychology and behavior.


"One second, let me finish this chapter," he said reading faster.


"No. Mom said to come right now."


"Fine," he growled, glaring at Maria before looking back down at his book. That's another change in Eric. He became increasingly temperamental with little patience for anything. He had gotten into more and more fights in school, surprisingly winning them. Eric became so vicious that he put two classmates in the hospital for calling him "short stack". He was suspended for three weeks.


Maria, not wanting to get into a fight, trekked back downstairs to help her mother with setting the table. Five minutes later, Eric came trampled down, a scowl on his face.


Tonight Flagger was coming to dinner; something that only happened every six months. Because of this, Frances set out porcelain china and lit all the candles on a golden lampstand and placed it in the center of the table. Everyone was dressed up in something business casual by the time Flagger arrived. Eric sulked throughout the whole meal, creating a dense atmosphere. After they had finished eating, Flagger announced that he wanted to speak with Eric alone, and everyone else cleared out of the room.


"I heard you're getting into fights now," Flagger said, trying and failing to stare the boy down. Eric met his gaze with a defiant glare of his own. "Wan0t to talk about it?"


"Not really, no."


"Are you sure."


"Positive," he deadpanned. "Can I go now? I have a lot of studying I have to do."


"No. Tell me about your studies. Why are you taking such interests in so many new subjects." Flagger tried to be casual, but the Shadow could hear the suspicion in his tone.


"Why? Is it bad that I like to do more things?When I was younger, you were always pressuring me to take up new hobbies, but when I finally do, you still aren't happy!? What do you want from me Flagger?" asked The Shadow predicting it's hurt tone would make Flagger guilty and end the conversation. He was, then, proved correct.


"Eric, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to accuse you of anything. It does make me happy to see you take up new interests. What bothers me is how you changed so quickly.


"Whatever. Can I go now?"


"You can go."


'The man was an impressive specimen,' thought the shadow as it climbed the stairs. 'But he soon will have to be disposed of.' This made it guilty, as it knew how much its host cared for the man.


"How did it go?" Frances asked coming back into the room. She took a seat across from Flagger.


"Terribly."


"I think he just feels alone. We love Eric like our own, and he knows that but it's not the same as having your birth parents. Plus he has to share us with Maria. Maybe if you take him out and spend more time with him, he'll get better."


"I don't know Frances. I have a booked schedule. I can't just drop everything because he wants to act like a child."


"He is a child Flagger," she reminded him. "He's at one of the most vulnerable times of his life, and he needs someone to be there for him. You know he looks up to you."


"Fine."


Over the next few months, Flagger came to dinner almost every day and spent every weekend taking Eric out. This didn't bother the Shadow as it allowed it to learn more about the world it was going to destroy. However, it also allowed Flagger to notice the differences between the Shadow and Eric.


"Where is he!?" cried Frances to her husband and Flagger. It was four 'o'clock in the morning, eight hours after Eric's curfew and he still was not home. At nine Frances had called Flagger about Eric missing, and he raced over. "We should call the police."


"Relax Frances. You know how teenagers can get. Remember when we were sixteens? We ended up staying out until eight the next morning? Eric will probably come knocking in the next five minutes," Bill tried to reassure his wife.


"Eric could be dead in a ditch, God knows where, and you're telling me to calm down!" Frances was still yelling at the two men for five more minutes when they heard a rattling of keys at the door. Eric stepped through the door covered from head to toe in dirt and blood. He was whispering to himself when he looked and saw the three adults.


"Oh my God! What happened?!" Frances shrieked. She quickly moved over and grabbed Eric trying to see where he was hurt.


"Get off of me," Eric whined, not liking the attention. "I'm fine. It was from a dead deer. We were in my friend's basement, I opened the fridge to get some soda, and it turns out it was the fridge where she keeps her game. One fell out and on top of me."


"From what I know, hunters tend to skin and drain their game the same day they kill them. How did you get so much blood and dirt on you?" asked Flagger with an air of skepticism. Eric glared at him over his mother's shoulder.


"I don't know. I guess they decided to wait until later to do all that."


"Flagger leave the boy alone," Frances turned to Eric. "Go upstairs and get cleaned up, dear. I'll make you some cookies."


Eric did as Mrs.Cshmane said and went upstairs, but not before noticing the cynical look Flagger was giving him. 'I'm done with this,' the Shadow thought. 'I'll kill him tonight.'

It finished showering and went back downstairs just in time to see Flagger finishing a discussion with Eric's parents and getting ready to leave. It acted fast.


"Can't you stay a little longer?" It asked, adopting a pleading voice. "I have some stuff I wanted to talk to you about in private."


"Mom, what's going on?" Everyone looked at the top of the stairs to see a sleepy Maria rubbing her eyes.


"Nothing sweetheart. Go back to sleep. We'll all go to sleep" commanded Frances.


"But Mom," Eric whined.


"But nothing," she cut him off. "Whatever you need to talk to Flagger about can wait until morning. You don't mind staying the night, do you?"


"Of course not Fran."


"Excellent!" Eric cried. 'Excellent,' the Shadow thought.

Chapter 4


Creeeeaaaak


As the Shadow slowly crept into Flagger's room its pitch black body concealed it in the darkness of the windowless room. Tightening its grip on the knife in its hand; it navigated by the echoing sound of Flagger's snores. A sick, twisted grin appeared on its face. When the Shadow reached the head of the bed, it swept its hand out, pleased to feel Flagger's hot breath. It raised the knife above its head, bringing it down in one smooth motion when a white light illuminated the room.


The Shadow, not able to take the pain of the brightness, let out an inhuman shriek. It scrambled about, trying to find a shadow for it to travel through, but all it could see was whiteness. It heard shouting but was too muddled to distinguish what was being said. It felt hands grab its arms and went wild. The Shadow flung its body every which way, trying to throw off its unseen opponents. Eventually, it passed out from the pain of the light and went limp.


Maria woke at the sound of a high, ear-splitting scream rounding about the house. She froze in her bed. Hearing the sound of several footsteps moving down the hall, Maria crept out of her bed and tiptoed out to investigate. Obviously, luck was not in her favor because as soon as she stepped into the hall, she walked into her mother.


"Maria? What are you doing out of bed?" Frances quickly tried to block the sight of men surrounding Flagger's room. Maria craned her neck around her mother to see the chaos while Frances ushered her back into her room.


"Mom, what's happening? Why are all these people here?" Frances could hear the worry and confusion laced in her daughter's voice, and it broke her heart.


"Go back to bed, dear. I'll explain everything tomorrow."


"But..."


"No buts," Frances cut her off. "Get to bed." Maria did as her mother said and went to bed, but did not sleep. As Maria sat in bed, she could only catch a few repeating words: Shadow, Lightroom, Eric. She didn't fall asleep until early the next morning.


When Maria woke, it was the afternoon and all the soldiers from the night before were gone. She went downstairs in a search for her family and found them all gathered in the living room.


Maria stood at the entrance of the room. Her mother and father sat on one couch with Flagger and a strange boy she had never seen before across from them. The person missing, she noticed, was Eric.


"Mom, where's Eric?" she asked.


"Maria you're awake," Flagger said. "Come here there's someone we would like you to meet," Flagger said. He stood to offer her his seat on the couch.


"Where's Eric?" she repeated, staying where she was.


"We'll explain everything sweetheart," her mother reassured. "Why don't you take a seat?" Maria did as requested and sat down between her mother and father, both of whom had a haunted look in their eyes. She looked at the boy sitting across from her. He was slender with some muscles that could be seen through his black graphic T. His hair was cut into an angular fringe, had light brown eyes and was unusually pale. He gave her a shy smile when their eyes met, which Maria ignored for her mother.


"Explain," Maria demanded.


"Maria, don't talk to your mother like that," her father said sternly. "I know you're confused but don't forget that you are a child and must respect us."


Her curly brown hair flung everywhere, and her brown eyes grew wide with anger. "Maybe I would if you guys would just explain what's going on! What were those soldiers doing here last night, who's this guy, why is my brother missing and I'm the only one who seems to care. WHERE IS ERIC?!!!!"


"Are you done?" her mother asked with a wavering voice.


Maria, noticing how distraught her mother was, sank back into her seat.


"Maria, I'm sorry but.." Frankie choked. "But Eric had to go away. It was for our and his safety."


"What do you mean he had to go away," she demanded, looking at both of her parents. "Where did you guys take him."


"Maria listen. What we're about to tell you is crucial," Flagger interjected, and all eyes were on him.


"Maria, I'm sorry that we waited so long to tell you, but you're special, and I don't mean it the way your parents always do," he took a deep breath. You're something called a shadow host. I know it may seem hard to believe, but trust me when I say I'm telling the truth. A shadow is an organism that takes over your body when you're unconscious to cause mayhem on the outside world. Remember when you were younger; you always woke up with cuts and bruises on your arm. That was because of your shadow."


"But all of that stuff stopped. I-it stopped."


"Your parents have been giving you something called a fusion. Remember when you were younger, and you had to hold hands with your parents every night. That was the fusion. Your parents would drink a chemical that causes their blood to resist shadows, then when you held hands it traded all of the blood in their body with yours, this causes your shadow to be dormant for twenty-four hours."


"Not saying I believe you; because I don't, but what does all this have to do with Eric being taken away."


"Eric is a host like you and your parents used to give him fusions as well. However, you're parents got the idea to give you two multiple fusions at once. Of course, no one had ever thought of that before so we didn't know what to expect. It caused you and Eric to have memory loss, and later we found that Eric's body started to become immune to the fusion. We don't know for how long, but it appeared that Eric's shadow has been communicating with him but his body started to become immune to them. His shadow took over his body."


"Why didn't that happen to me?"


The strange boy spoke up. "In a Lightroom. The only way to contain a shadow is to keep it in a room of white light. The pain of the light keeps it unconscious and out of the way."


"That's barbaric and inhuman." Maria felt sick. To think that her little brother could be tortured in some hell hole and her parents were allowing it. She tried to look at her parents, but they turned from her.


"It's the only way. We're not cruel because we want to be, it's because we have to be."


Maria stared blankly at the boy. "I'm sorry but who are you?"


"Maria, this is Samuel. He's visiting from California and will be staying with us for a while. He's a shadow host too. He's going to be mentoring you from now on," Flagger explained. "He's live with his shadow since he was a baby and only had to use the infusion three times. He is one of the few hosts that have control over their shadows."


"Why?"


"I don't know, it just listens to me. I named it Larry," Samuel said.


"So what's going to happen to Eric?"


"Eric is no longer Eric. His shadow has taken over his control, and he'll have to stay in the Lightroom until we can find a way to save him."


"And how soon will that be?" Frances asked. Her eyes expressed her worry.


"It will take a while. Maybe never. We've never had a case like this before so we won't know what to expect. Though we'll have our best scientists working."


Maria started crying, and her mother led her out of the room, eyes also filling with tears. Bill stayed but continued the conversation somberly.

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