The Pagoda of Shadows
By Jeff Baker
“The gods have condemned this place. The Spirits have fled. And you should too.”
The old man cast a backward glance at the tall structure. Familiar, slanted roofs, dark windows, somehow more dark than they should be.
“How long have you been here?” I asked.
“Fifty years,” the Old Man said. “Since my youth. As my Father and his Father and his Father and their fathers before me.”
“And you have no one to take over for you?” I asked.
“This place has driven away all that is good,” the Old Man said. “The only reason to be here is to destroy this place and send the evil back where it came from.”
“Destroy it?” I said.
“The only way to be rid of this invading abomination is to destroy the building. The earthly anchor that keeps it on this plane.” The old man shuddered. “To do so would risk your soul. Your very being.”
“I am called here,” I said. “I must enter. It is my duty to confront.”
The old man took a deep breath.
“You must lay down all weapons outside the threshold,” he said. “For only your own power can defeat what is inside this place. Only the light that is within you.”
I had only the sword, sacred to generations of my family. I set it down in front of the door. Then the Old Man and I bowed to each other. I removed my shoes and walked inside the pagoda.
There was no furniture in the large room inside. Just carpeting and cool air. And darkness. There were squares of light on the floor but the windows looked outside to pitch blackness, even there in midday.
I stood in the middle of the room and raised my arms to the ceiling. The squares of light began to swirl around the room; the shadows blended with them into tendrils, surrounding me, groping me. I rose into the air.
“Father,” I said. “I am home. We are one.”
The darkness began to expand outside the pagoda.