He didn’t know exactly what Ralph meant by his shadow. Somewhere in his mind, which was gripped in an unfamiliar fog since he’d awoken, was a sense of language. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, the very foundations of speech were there, but he did not know how he had acquired them. The evening air was sweetly thick with pollen. Dust sat frozen on the heavy sunlight, like it was caught in some sort of magic spell. His ears could not hear this drum Ralph mentioned, but he could hear bugs, wind, and the occasional whisper from the shadows. His tongue was heavy and absent with panic. And his eyes and sweaty neck slowly turned to his shadow.
The amber slab of light peering through the hole in the roof was striking him in such a way his silhouette was highlighted perfectly on one of the nearby church walls. He didn’t know if shadows were supposed to look this way or not, but instead of a normal human outline of shoulders, arms, legs, and a head, there was a tall, tangled mass of spikes, points, and what looked like horns. It looked ominous, jagged, like a nightmare was casually following him along like a sort of puppy. The more you tried to explore those details with your vision, the more the penumbra seemed to sink into itself and flex, like it were both in motion and standing still.
“I’ll say it again, what the hell are you, Erasmus?” Ralph said.
He held up his hands frightened at Ralph. For the first time he noticed his fingernails had small green veins beneath the keratin. He could almost feel them beating.
“I don’t, don’t know.” He said.
“You’re clearly one of those Reanimated fuckers, but you don’t have a single trace of the Unnamed on you. Not a thread of vine or a bit of discolored skin. I never would have suspected anything.” He said.
“What, what’s Reanimated?”
The wall suddenly crashed inward to his right, throwing plaster, wood, nails, and concrete outwards in a sideways geyser. The immediate cloud of debris blinded him, sending Erasmus backwards. A hulking shape consumed his vision, blocking out Ralph, the stage, the podium, and the sun itself. It was dark, flowing, and almost fluid-like. It was twice his size, being both taller and wider than Erasmus’s small frame. The only real details he could separate out of this pulsing, fabric-like mass towering ahead of him, were golden horns or spikes jutting out in jagged tendrils from the beings shoulders and head.
“No, no get away!” Screamed Ralph. There was a rapid popping sound in front of the shape. It was metallic, steamy, and violent. Walls, benches, and the open doors of the church crackled in fragments as bullets bit and tore the building. In seconds the gun was empty. A smokey, sulfuric fog stung the air. Trickles of debris from the onslaught started to slide down and crinkle onto the ground. The massive shadow shook. Deep in Erasmus’s brain a voice suddenly sounded. It was a mixture of animal and human. It was throaty, deep, and struggling to make the connects between letters and sound.
“Run,” it said. The raspy gurgle seemed to spring out from the dark mass like a long dormant dart. It was like it had wanted to speak for ages.
Erasmus grabbed his head and shook it. Everything was new. He wanted to listen to everything, but didn’t know anything.
“Run!” It hissed again. The world flexed into a colorless blob like before, a melody played somewhere, and Erasmus’s legs turned him towards the door in a panicked sprint.