Monster

Mike Lane

“A fell night awaits.”

A deep rain pelts the concrete ground. Lightning strikes off in the distance as thunder sends its rolling waves throughout the scene. At the center of it all is Mike Lane himself. The rain does not touch him. It seems too afraid to wage war with the Shadow. Yet it is the moon that has his attention.

“Soon comes the cold, and the night that never ends. Old dreams rise like wraiths to cry to the heavens. Three monsters rose out of the supple clay to stand before the man who was chosen by the people. Behind them loomed a tall golden tower, its master awaiting the victor. The wraiths formed a wall of utter despair, unbreakable by man’s frailty.”

Lane looks down at his body, slowly moving a knee that was injured many moons ago by the Savage Tommy Hawk.

“But there was one who saw what lurked in their hearts.”

With a smile, Mike begins to walk through the storm. Mist rises off the ground before him, taking the shape of a cold mask slowly being released from a cage of rainfall. 

“The first wraith was fashioned out of an endless thirst for domination and control. Molded for his mission by fate, piece by piece he was smashed and broken over and over again until he was driven to hysteria. He now bows to smarter men, tainted and cursed to never stand in the tower he once held. Yet his life is nothing but an inferno of lies, and the only thread that connects him to this world is his undoing. Forever guarding the tower, the same fire that formed him will not save him as fear becomes nightmare and the shadows of his past rise up to consume him.”

The mist apparition fades as another rises behind it. Mike Lane continues walking forward as the mist seems to form something resembling a smile. Death lingers in the air.

“They once thought the second monster was nothing more than a broken pebble to be swept away. Scarred and deformed, the mocking face he wears is nothing more than an illusion, for the cold steel in his hand is not dull. Once encumbered by doubt, beneath his smile lurks a creature who has immersed himself in the crippling fear that binds many. His hatred gives him strength, his menace gives him focus. Yet his desire to control his destiny has blinded him to the shadow on the wall. Even in his cackling doom, he never truly saw the knife in the dark that pierced him.”

The Shadow walks through this mist as well before the final apparition seems to rise. This one is the form of a man. A frown forms on the face of Lane.

“The final wraith to stand before this warrior is a sad tale. The warrior and wraith had once been allies. How many times had their swords rose together against evil? Yet he now rises as something tainted. The man been consumed by fear itself, so powerful that it comes unbidden from the innermost sanctum of his soul. In his end, he slumbers in a permanent catatonia, forever chilled by the darkness that broke his soul. Yet this wraith continues to fight on, never ceasing. It’s this attitude that found him consumed, broken by the monster that lurks in his heart. In the end, he would be felled by that which he did not see, by the darkness within him that he fought to ignore.”

With trepidation in his step, Mike Lane walks through that mist as well, feeling it dissolve around him. With much effort, he stops his trek and his eyes seem to turn dark. The voice emanating from within him seems to come from a different place.

“For it was not the brash warrior that felled the wraiths. No, he alone would never be able to stand against them. The three wraiths were instead defeated by the true monster. Like the rumbling of thunder, this monster rose up from all around them. From within them. Filled with the power of death itself, the Shadow came to stand before the golden tower with a blood-covered knife, his eyes fixed upon the man at its peak. The brash warrior joined this Shadow with fear in his eyes. Fear that washed away as they entered into that golden tower as one.”

Stepping out of the storm, all that greets Mike Lane is darkness.

“For the Shadow endures.”

Yet the comforting blanket of black surrounds and seems to form itself into a suit of armor as the Shadow walks towards his destiny.