The Shadow King

the man stares at the shadow on the wall

hoping against hope that it will leave him alone

but he knows his prayers                                                                                     

have fallen on deaf ears all along.


the shadow, writhing, shrinking,

elongating, gloating, pointing,

humiliating him, degrading him,

bringing him to his knees.


“you fool!  how weak you are –

how easy to manipulate!

from the beginning i have led you

down this demented, twisted path –

forever on the very edge of madness!

you have been so easy to control!

sentimental, guilt-ridden,

weak, empty,  and stupid…that is  you!”


in shame the man covers his ears,

singing, “i can’t hear you, la-la-la-la-la”,

like a little boy trying in vain

to ignore his tormentors.


the shadow continues his maniacal laughter,

knowing he has won.


for a moment, a face appears before the man’s eyes —

a once-beloved face, now sad and full of pain —

as tears stream from his swollen eyes

he tries to wipe that face, that beautiful face,

from his vision, from his memory, but he can’t –

it comes back to haunt him again and again,

no matter what he does.


so he looks to his tormentor, the shadow king,

now relaxing on his shadow throne –


“help me,” the man begs him,

hands folded in supplication,

pleading for mercy with his eyes…


the shadow king smiles benevolently

“say pretty please,” is his reply.

“pretty, pretty please?” whines the man.


the king smiles in satisfaction.

“of course, i will help you – don’t i always?”

the man nods fervently.


“to forget – is that your desire?”


“yes, please…um, your majesty!”


“very well, then.”


the shadow king then rose from his throne,

becoming larger, more powerful than the man

had ever before seen him.


“are  you sure you want to forget her?”


the man nodded mutely,

tears pouring from his eyes,

snot running out of his nose, hopeful,

even as a tremor of fear surged through him.

“i’m sure,” he whispered.


“close your eyes.”

the man did as he was told.


the shadow king smiled knowingly

and moved toward the man, slowly,

until he stood only an inch away from him.


then he raised his arms high above his head

and shot up into the air, all the way to the ceiling,

then flew straight down into the man’s mouth,

into his body, where he displaced the man’s soul.


the man stood up,

shook himself as if awakening from a dream,

then looked in the mirror…

“at last, i am free!” he said to his reflection.


as he laughed and straightened his collar,

his eyes blazed red momentarily,

then faded back to their normal blue/grey.


he smiled and went to join his friends.

they never noticed the difference.


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