Shadow: Third Eye
I remember—I’ve had this dream before….
I remember… Maria.
Yes, I’m sure I've been through this before, Shadow thought to himself as he approached the petite girl huddled in the corner. Her name was Maria, and she was one of the few people in the world he considered a friend. No, he corrected himself, she was his only friend. True, there were a few others in his life whom he considered his allies, but that wasn't quite the same. No, Maria was the only one he truly felt he could trust. Only thing was, she was dead. She had lost her life on the space colony ARK trying to save him. That had been over 50 years ago, but the memory was still somehow etched in his mind. Even after he’d forgotten everything else in his past due to amnesia, Maria was the one memory that stayed with him. And apparently it was memory that was now manifesting itself in his dreams...
A small sound suddenly jerked him out from his nostalgia and he paused just a couple feet from her. She was sobbing?
“Maria,” Shadow asked gently, “why are you crying?”
The girl didn't turn to face him. “Oh Shadow,” she said her hands cupped over her face, “I’m so sorry.”
Sorry? Shadow thought to himself. For what? Being here? “You have no reason to be sorry for anything,” he said taking a seat adjacent to he her. “I was the one unable to save you, but that’s all the in the past now, nothing I can do or say can change it. Still—“He let his hand rest on top of hers. It was cool, and he was glad it was no longer covering her face. “I remembered the promise I made to you. I've been following ever since.”
Maria gave a faint smile. “I know,” she breathed softly, “and I’m very proud of you.”
“Then what’s wrong?” Shadow said puzzled.
“It’s—“her words were cut off as suddenly her face took on a look of horror. “N-no!”
Shadow turned. There, just inches from them was a mass of… darkness? It swirled about seeming to almost crawl along the ground.
“Maria!” Shadow shouted trying to free her from her frightened trance. He tried to rise, but the darkness grasped his wrist. A wave of dizziness struck him catching him off guard. It was like nothing he’d ever experienced before; the shadowy mass felt almost like water: cool and flowing, carrying a kind of weight. What was truly disturbing, however, was the weight didn't seem to be physical at all; it seemed to be created purely from emotion. Hatred, despair, fear, isolation, every negative feeling imaginable seemed to be collected in this thing. And there was something else... a mind?
“You…” Shadow said, hatred filling his voice, “GET THE HELL OFF OF ME!” He jerked his fist upright and the shadowy mass lost its grip. “Maria…“Shadow said facing the frightened girl his hand outstretched.
What happened next was all a blur; Shadow recalled saying something, but couldn't remember what. Then, in a jump-cut that only dreams can create, he was rushing down a narrow corridor in the ARK holding Maria’s hand.
Shadow’s mind raced as if trying to keep up with him. When it did a whole new sense of dread took root. It was happening again, God damn-it, it was happening again! The corridor, running for their lives; the memory was playing itself out and Shadow knew what was going to happen in the end. No, he thought with determination, not this time. This is MY dream damn-it and it’s not going end that way!
Sensing the hedgehog’s distress Maria pushed herself to speed up. Like Shadow, she knew this was a dream, and knew what the final outcome would be. But, unlike Shadow, she was also aware that there was more going on than just a nightmare. There was a danger lurking in the darkness that pursued them; an evil that threatened to tear Shadow apart. She wanted to warn him, wanted to tell him of the threat, but she was dead, and this was his dream. So she prayed, prayed that he’d open his heart to others. She knew that no matter what happened Shadow would keep on fighting, but still, this was battle she feared he couldn't win alone.
Then, as if reading her resolution, the darkness seized her, ripping her away.
“Shadow!” she shouted helplessly as the black mass engulfed her lower half.
“MARIA!” Shadow was stopped as the darkness griped him once again. It held firm this time and started pulling him backward. “Not again!” panicked, he pulled against the darkness with all his might. “Maria, give me your hand!” She was so close, so bloody close!
“Shadow!” she screamed, reaching for him. She was just inches from his hand.
Tears beaded from the girl’s eyes, then, in a heartbeat, she was gone… Shadow was alone.