ProLogue: brEAking free of the Shadow lifE
The house was empty, the man had known that it would be, but the silence still unnerved him as though the trail of death that had been following him for far too long would catch up to him if he stayed alone much longer. Even so he sat quietly in what used to be his bed room, reading a book he'd already read years before as he waited for one of his few remaining allies to come find him.
In his paranoia he glanced up at the windows and door nearly every five seconds, but after a minute had passed he determined that even that interval of time left him far too vulnerable so he put the book down and proceeded to glance back and forth between the window and door without pausing except to blink. Eventually however he decided it was to much effort and gave up on the task completely, returning his attention to the book but still listening so he'd know if anyone approached.
After an hour had passed he finally heard soft footsteps approaching the front door. He placed a bookmark in the book then laughed quietly to himself for doing so knowing that if the person that had come was an enemy then he'd likely not be alive to finish the book and if the person was an ally then he'd probably never return anyway.
The footsteps stopped outside the room he was in and there was a wary, near silent knock on the door.
'An enemy wouldn't have knocked', The man thought, letting out a hushed sigh of relief as he opened the door to find a familiar woman. He took a quick glance at the window to be sure that no one had appeared when he'd let his guard down earlier, satisfied that he and his ally were indeed either alone or outmatched he finally spoke.
His voice came out sounding harsh but hesitant, it was the voice of a person that had known suffering beyond his years, "You... you aren't supposed to be here."
The woman responded in a similar tone, but coming from her it sounded bitter and cold, "There was a change of plans."
"Wha-" The man was taken aback, he had thought the plan had been fool-proof, there should have been no way for their actions to have been predicted by the enemy... and yet he wasn't truly surprised, "... how bad was it?"
The woman looked away, not wanting to see the man's concerned expression. She managed to reply, her tone was more sorrowful than before, "Nearly everyone died... we didn't stand a chance..."
He cursed himself for not having been there to stop whatever had gone wrong, blaming himself, "... If only I had-"
"If you had been there it may have turned out worse, especially with how things always are when you're around..." The woman interrupted, adding a laugh as she said the last part in hopes of getting rid of some of the tension in the atmosphere. When he didn't respond to the ill-humored joke she continued, "Besides you know as well as I do that we can't risk those people discovering you."
"Yes, yes, I'm a person whose existence must stay shrouded in darkness, never to step foot into the light while those I'm fighting against still exist as well... perhaps I'll even remain in the shadows even after they're gone, I've gone to far to turn back as it is," The man said as he looked at the woman, his eyes held a sorry tint in their gaze as he continued, "but being in the shadows as I am, even I'm starting to get tired of all this indirect conflict. The pain of knowing that there are others fighting on my behalf while I'm left alone in my cowardice is unbearable."
The woman returned his gaze, her expression clearly showing that she didn't like how he was acting, "If either of us is a coward it's me. I'm well aware that if you had a choice you would be out there foolishly fighting on your own, it's my cowardice that keeps you in the shadows."
"The fact that I haven't tried to leave this shadow-life after all this time is proof that I've become a coward."
"It's proof you've developed common sense," The woman remarked, sounding cold and sarcastic.
At that the man let out a laugh, "I've had common sense the whole time, I'd have probably died by now if I didn't."
"No, what you had before was uncommon sense, but I'm sure that's what kept you alive back then," She smiled for a moment before returning to her comfortable cold facade.
"Yeah, things were definitely different back then..." He showed a thin smile, "These days I never know what we'll be doing next, after today's failure... if it's really how you say it was then it'll be a lot more risky from now on, I might just have to start taking steps out of the shadows."
The woman grinned more than the man had seen in years as she said, "It didn't go well, but it wasn't a failure."
"Y-you actually succeeded then?"
"Yeah," The woman said, handing the man what appeared to be a normal cellphone.
The man looked at the phone quizzically as though he'd been expecting something more, after a moment of inspection he asked, "And you're sure that this will work?"
"I'm not certain, no, but it should," She replied, her gaze held a strong confidence that she hadn't realized she possessed, "It's not exactly the most orthodox application of the black hole theory but it's the best shot we have."
"Alright, I'll have to trust you on this one," He said as he habitually glanced at the window before turning to head for the door.
"Where are you going?."
"Anywhere but here," He replied, shutting the door behind him silently, adding a nearly inaudible,"To many memories that I'd rather not replay."
She really wasn't sure what to say to that so she stayed silent.
She could hear a faint whisper, nearly drowned out by the almost non-existent sounds of his footsteps, "Sayonara."
The woman started to say something but stopped herself, sensing that it was already too late. She opened the door and her suspicions were confirmed when there was no sign of the man on the other side, he'd completely disappeared. Quietly she laughed to herself.
"That's so like him... to not even give me the chance to say 'goodbye'..."
With the knowledge that he was gone, she was flooded by an intense feeling that she would never see him again. However this didn't worry her at all, the opposite in fact, she was glad; because if she never saw him again that would mean their goal had been achieved.