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Untitled Fantasy Novel (Chapter 1)

Updated: Apr 9

Chapter 1

Shadows danced on the dungeon walls, as the man glanced up at them from where he had been sleeping moments before. He watched the dancing shadows. Unmoving. Only his eyes followed them. They seemed to him to be acting out some kind of play—a play that after a few moments of watching, he recognized. It was his life. Everything that had led up to his imprisonment.

The shadows made no noise, they only danced—shifting forms gracefully in the small spot of light that was in the middle of a dungeon wall.

A cold breeze came through the dark dungeon and Aslan shivered, rubbing his own arms to try to stay warm.

He wanted to go back to sleep, but now he was awake, and now a show was being played for him on the wall. He couldn’t sleep through that, or the cold breeze. He had no choice but to watch the play.

One of the shadows, that was in the shape of man, betrayed another shadow that was shaped like a man. The two shadow men were identical and if you didn’t already know the story, you’d have no idea what was going on.

One shadow man had set up another shadow man for a crime he didn’t commit. But the shadow man was smart, conniving and very convincing to the court that decided their fate. And as a result, the innocent man had been thrown in a dungeon, with everyone thinking that he had committed a horrific crime. A crime that would make your skin crawl to hear about it . . .

Most of his friends and family knew that he was innocent, but it did not matter, the only thing that mattered was what could be proven, or manipulated. And in Aslan’s case, it was the manipulation of his twin brother, Aaron, that had gotten him locked deep down in this smelly and dank dungeon.

The shadows danced it all out for him. And he was numb to it.

He had become numb after four weeks of being down in the dungeon.

For four weeks he had hoped that someone would open up the heavy door and let him out, telling him that they were all so sorry for the grave mistake that had been made. Yes, he had felt like that was the only possible outcome.

But the days passed and no one came.

Then a week passed and no one came.

Then two weeks.

And then three weeks.

And after four, he knew that there was no saving him from this dungeon. He knew that he would soon die here. And after enough weeks passed, after he stopped counting the weeks, he started to hope that soon he would die.

Being utterly alone with his own thoughts and regrets had become unbearable to Aslan. It was torture. It was worse than his starvation, which he admittedly thought of a lot about as well. They fed him one meal a day in this dungeon and it was mostly leftovers from the King’s frequent feast, usually only a few days old, with only small pieces of mold on it.

Aslan had already shrunk to skin and bone, he wasn’t sure how much longer it would take for him to starve to death, but he hoped it wouldn’t be much longer . . .

But then the shadows caught up to his life, and they weren't acting out anything anymore. One shadow man was laying down, watching him.

Aslan found that confusing. He blinked, making sure he wasn’t dreaming. Then, he got up.

The shadow man stood up with him.

Aslan walked toward the shadow man and the shadow man grew. Aslan stopped, inches away from the wall. The shadow was the same height as him now. Aslan backed away a few steps and the shadow man shrunk. He shrugged and so did the shadow.

“So, Mr. Shadow, first you were reenacting my life and now you’ve caught up to me? What do you do now?”

The shadow shrugged.

“I see that you are just— . . . wait, did you just move on your own?”

The shadow nodded slowly.

“Sweet. I’ve gone insane.”

The shadow nodded again.

Have I actually gone insane? Aslan wondered. I’m surprisingly okay with that idea . . .

The shadow pointed at something. Aslan looked over at what the shadow was pointing at but didn’t see anything. “What? What is it?”

The shadow kept pointing, walking closer to something.

“There’s nothing over there,” Aslan said.

The shadow crouched down, pointed at a specific spot on the wall, and looked back at Aslan. Aslan walked over to the spot where the shadow finger ended and saw a small crack in the wall. “So what?”

The shadow kept pointing.

“What am I supposed to do with a little baby crack in the wall?”

The shadow kept pointing.

“I can’t do anything to that crack. I don’t have anything to—

A small piece of stone fell from the corner of the ceiling on the other side of the dungeon. It rolled right up to Aslan’s shoes.

“What the hell? . . . Are you being serious? With this??”

The silent shadow nodded.

“Ain't no way. Nooooo way. I am not smashing that rock into that wall in order to try to escape from here. It’s not possible. It’d be pointless. I’d rather sleep.”

The shadow shrugged and sat down.

This sonofabitch.

Aslan started pacing back and forth, biting his lower lip as did. Smashing a rock against a wall? How idiotic.

He glanced at the shadow. It was just sitting there with its head in its hands, watching him. Waiting.

The guards will hear. Yeah, the guards would definitely hear the pounding . . . but . . . what if I was coughing to cover up some of the noise? It’d have to be a pretty serious cough . . . maybe . . .

The shadow nodded. Asland glared at him in return.

This sonofabitch.

He threw his head back and started to cough. He coughed as loud as his lungs and throat would let him. It sounded as if he was dying, and that was the point. He figured it would take him a while to make a big enough hole in the wall to do anything, so his extremely loud and exaggerated cough would have to last for weeks. And only a dying man would cough this loud for weeks.

While coughing, he took the rock and pounded it against the crack in the wall. To his surprise, the crack immediately grew.

Holy shit! . . . I’ll be damned.

The shadow stood up and nodded in excitement.

“I’m not doing this because you told me to. I am doing it because I want to.”

The shadow crossed his arms and tilted his head to the side.

Sonofabitch.

Aslan coughed and hammered away with his rock. He paused after a few seconds and listened for the guards. Nothing. He coughed and hammered again. The crack was spreading across the wall at an almost alarming rate.

Is this magic?

He looked back at the shadow and for some reason he felt like the shadow was smiling at him. But the shadow had no mouth. It was only a shadow. Still, Aslan was feeling all sorts of strange things from this shadow.

“What are you?” he asked.

The shadow pointed at Aslan.

“You’re me?”

The shadow nodded.

“Huh. Interesting.”

He coughed and hammered again.

Am I magic then? Or am I insane? Could I be both?

“If you are me, then where is your pecker? I know what mine looks like and you definitely don’t have what I got down there. So, what do you got, huh?”

The shadow gave him the middle finger. Aslan laughed in response. “You’re me without a cock? That’s my best attribute . . . Shit, I am sorry, pal.”

The shadow gave him the middle finger with both hands.

I’ll be damned. I think he is me!

“So, cock-less me, are we . . . magic?”

The shadow shook his head.

“No? Are you sure?”

The shadow nodded.

“Hmmm. I don’t know, I am pretty sure we are.”

The shadow shook his head.

Sonofabitch.

“Are you going to break out of here with me?”

The shadow nodded.

“And follow me around?”

The shadow shrugged.

“What will you do with your freedom?”

The shadow shrugged again. And then the shadow pointed at Aslan.

“What will I do with my freedom? Shit, I stopped thinking about that a long time ago . . .”

What will I do with my freedom?? . . .

The shadow made a fist and stood like a fighter would. The shadow threw a few jabs in the air.

“Fight? Will I fight?? Against who?? Oh . . . Aaron? I suppose I might. I haven't seen him in . . . Shit, shadow, how long has it been now? How long have we been down here for? Five months? Six?”

The shadow held up ten fingers and then two fingers.

“Twelve months?? We’ve been in this shithole for twelve months??”

The shadow nodded.

“Sheesh, time flies when you’re having fun, huh?”

The shadow didn’t move.

“Bad joke, huh? Sorry, a whole year in a dungeon can throw off comedic timing a little.”

The shadow nodded in agreement.

Sonofabitch.

“Aaron, huh? . . . Aaron? Revenge? Revenge? . . . Revenge?” he started pounding the rock against the wall again. “Revenge!” he screamed each time the rock connected against the crack in the wall. “Revenge! Revenge! Revenge!” Aslan was almost foaming at the mouth, his eyes wide and bulging, “Revenge! Revenge! Revenge! Aaron! I am coming for you, you sonofabitch!”


CH 4/8/24

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