I read this for the Manomet Writers’ Group and they sorta liked it. I had to change a little bit of it for clarity (descriptions, if you can believe it.) It’s good to have this down, because these characters are important in Shadow Glass.
An introduction is in order here. The main character has slipped through the Shadow Glass, passed through the realm of souls—the Shadow Lands, and wound up at Sevellius’ house. He is promply locked away, to be dealt with later. The when and where which Sevellius inhabits is a place of alternatives with parallels to our own.
Here’s how I see it play out…
I had been locked in a cellar. It was lit from the outside through a small, dingy window. To the left of the stairs the walled in area was piled with used furniture and assorted stuff. Along the right of the stairs was a couch, old and tattered.
Exploring farther from the stairs into the darkened section behind them, I see a sliver of light. I walk toward it. Groping about, I feel hinges and then a hasp held fast with a lock.
Hustling back to the section in which I could see, I rummage around until I find an old set of fireplace tools. Grabbing the barbed poker, I return to the door. Stabbing and prying, as quietly as possible, I manage to remove a panel from the door some foot and a half by three.
Outside, standing in the recessed doorway, I notice a fence topped with long barbs fifty feet away. So I return once more to the storage room for a remembered coil of carpet. Returning, two dogs are strolling by like sentry guards so I wait in the shadows, lurking like a goblin. Once they pass, I run for the fence.
Sevellius had said he kept dogs. He called them Golden Repeaters. Yet the dogs I saw were black and looked more like Dobermans.
As I reach the fence I unfurl the carpet and toss it over to act as padding for the long sharp points. Just as I land on the other side I hear what sounds like small caliber gunfire.
Two rounds, followed by two more. I crouch and quickly scurry to a tree. Standing, I peer behind.
Two dogs are staring at me. Each has a golden crest between pointed ears. One’s hind legs walk into a sit, and the other follows suit. They each do something that astounds me; make to bark or cough or upchuck and the sound of a gun comes out of their mouths. I flinch with the shockwave of sound.
I was not being shot at and I am relieved.
Far out in the woods, the trees grow large and far apart. Great tracts of ferns thrive in their shadows. A streak of red in the distance makes me wary.
I alter my course toward the direction of seemingly least resistance. But I see it again, two red blurs to the right. Tacking to the left, I see another.
In my best Scooby Doo I mutter, “Ruh-roh.”
Not wanting to appear hostile or elusive, I keep walking in a straight line. Since passing through the Shadow Glass, things have been different—alternatives abound.
Suddenly, from behind a tree, a child of about ten or twelve springs out to face me. He is wearing a red pouch-front pullover hoodie; the hood tied tightly revealing just the chin to mid-forhead. He holds out a sword made of wood.
I get the impression he’s waiting for me to make the first move—daring me to with his eyes and perhaps a bit of telepathy. Juxtaposed with the hoodie’s point and the wooden sword, the bravado seems comical. I snort, trying to hold back a laugh and fail.
Quickly, he’s on me. Thrusting his sword, free arm curled up behind him, his face a picture of singular focus.
From the mock weapon, roots or vines reach out for me and I am entwined and subdued in moments. My laugh and my smile fade to incredulity just as lightening quick.
From every direction, red hooded kids come out in the open. Each wears their hood the same. Some are as young as six and others as old as sixteen.
An older hoodie strolls close and asks, “What do you want?”
“Well, I…” That’s as far as I get because I hadn’t really had a chance to think that part through. I turn my head back the way I came and the answer comes to me.
“I’d like to go back; back through the Shadow Glass,” I say, motioning with my head.
The elder turns to the one holding the sword—its tendrils holding me fast—and nods once. The younger hoodie twists the sword with a flourish and the vines snap and turn to dust in moments. He tucks the weapon into his belt and steps back.
“You’ve come from Sevellius’s house?”
“Yes. I escaped.”
“Come with us then.”
The whole group scatters to four compass points, and I’m left to follow the head hoodie. I am led farther into the woods. It is dark when we reach a large blasted building, windows and doors missing to time.
Moonlight reaches us in the cleared area by the building. The other hoodies come out from the shadows and gather.
I see them in a new light.
In the moon’s glow, full as it is, each of the kids now have long muzzles. They sport little buck teeth, and pink noses split down the center, and whiskers that stand nearly straight out to either side. Their beady rat eyes glisten blackly in the moonlight, expressionless and elusive.
I see them as rodents only in the moon’s glow and decide to ignore that and focus on my plight. I ask, “So how do I get back?”
The sword wielding kid turns and says, “You are Johnny, right?”
Another says, “Of course he is.” To me he says, “You’re not forgotten Sir Rotten.”
The older one who led me here says, “We thought that once you were gone you couldn’t come back.”
“A darker muzzled kid comes over and says, looking at me thoughtfully, “There’s more to the picture than meets the eye.”
A chant rises around me reminiscent of an order of monks. The words come to me, words I had heard in my younger days.
Hey hey, my my.
My my, hey hey.
I want to run out of the moonlight’s blue cast into the black forest around me and I wonder, ‘why can’t I just fade away?’