Destiny is about to change. What lurks in the shadows may change the destiny of six young lives forever. That is, if they can survive at all. The Shadows: The Return Has Begun, the heart-pounding young adult debut novel by Alouy Martinez, is a tale of mystery, suspense, action, and romance that charts the perilous course of six young characters as their fates unfold, and their true identities are revealed as the formidable entities known as The Shadows. Dramatic, dark, and alluring, this enthralling work of fiction goes where no vampire or werewolf novel has ever gone before. The Shadows: The Return Has Begun shares the points of view of the six young characters as they journey together to Paris, France. They are Ashlenn Vandenhoff, Melinda Wadsworth, Darcy Roswell, Christopher De Groot, Kaden Worthington, and Justin Fraser. In Paris, each must grapple with his or her own inner demons. However, it soon becomes chillingly evident that someone is in bloodthirsty pursuit of them all. They soon thereafter realize their destiny as The Shadows, beings created over two thousand years ago to restore order to the unbroken rules of The Heavenly Laws. Upon their demise in 486 AD, a prophecy was born as they took their lives into their own hands. That prophecy marked their return. However this time, destiny won’t control them. At the onset of the novel, Ashlenn is having visions of her parents’ death, but she chooses to ignore them. As the novel shifts perspective from one character to the next, plots diverge, then intertwine again. Similarly, each of the characters in The Shadows brings into light his or her most hidden moments, only to face a destiny that may be even more terrifying yet. Will they overcome forces that are primed to wage deadly battle against them all? And can they face their own demons as they do? The Shadows: The Return Has Begun creates a new legion of deadly foes that rages through every gripping page of this wildly inventive, gripping new novel.
Chapter 8 - The Return
The darkness made it impossible to distinguish where everyone stood, but I quickly spotted Melinda’s golden hair and from there my eyes adjusted to see the others. Kaden and Christopher were still on their knees, but no rope was tied around them. I ran toward Kaden, dropping with a thud that almost sent him on his back as I hugged him.
“Are you okay?” My voice sounded low and flat.
“Is he okay?” Melinda shouted. “All hell breaks loose and all you have to ask is if he’s okay!”
“It’s not her fault.” Kaden pulled me up. “It’s nobody’s fault.”
“Ha, figures—it’s nobody’s fault—when you and Ashlenn knew exactly what was going on.”
There was a brief silence, and then Justin looked at us both and asked, “What is she talking about?”
Melinda cleared her throat. “I saw them passing notes earlier; one of them said something like, ‘We should tell Ms. Smith,’ but did you?” We stood silent and she continued, “Of course you didn’t, but I should’ve known this was coming.” She stopped and directed her eyes at me. “But no, you wanted to ignore your stupid dreams, didn’t you? Well, guess what, Ashlenn, my mother is…all because of you.”
Her words cut like knives, knives that I felt deeply because it was true; in a way it was my fault. I should’ve done something. I should’ve trusted my visions, but I didn’t, and now I had to pay the consequences.
Melinda dropped to her knees with Darcy by her side. They both cried. I wanted to cry, too, to release the anger, the pain, everything that was bottled up inside of me.
It hurt me seeing them like this. It hurt me that because of me everything was lost, our lives, our families, our friendship. “I’m sorry.” It’s all that I managed to say as tears blurred my vision. Even though the words couldn’t fix anything, I dropped on all fours and screamed them as loud as I could. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry for everything! I’m sorry!”
Kaden grabbed me by the waist and pulled me up. “It’s not your fault. It’s nobody’s fault. How many times do I have to say it? Things happen, and just because some stupid dream came to life, it doesn’t mean it’s her fault.” He gazed at the others and said, “Aren’t we a family, too?” Nobody answered. “Well, we should start acting like one because we are all we have.”
Nobody dared to say anything. Instead, we all stood there, soaking up each other’s misery, the ghosts that hunted us, the unbearable pain of loss and regret.
“Well, not that I want to break the dramatic mood or anything, but where the fuck are we?” Justin asked.
Yes, where are we, I wondered, and most importantly, how did we get here?
I gazed down at my necklace, but it was gone, not even a burn or sign that it had been there remained.
“Where’s your necklace?” Christopher asked as he too noticed it was gone.
“I don’t know,” I said as I watched his eyes fill with hatred. “I must have dropped it when it brought us here.”
“Oh! Did it really? Or did one of your dreams tell you that, too?”
I backed away, but he started walking my way.
“Hey, man, chill out,” Justin stepped between us, but Christopher shoved him to the side like a rag doll. Kaden, who was already in front of me, took the blow before it could strike me.
They both rolled on the ground, hits and kicks flying from side to side until Kaden pinned him down.
“Snap out of it,” Kaden yelled at him.
“She killed my parents! How can I let that go?” he screamed.
I didn’t know if it was his words, or that he wanted to punch me, but I walked right up to them, and told Kaden to step aside.
“Get up.” I offered Christopher my hand, but he only stared at it. “Fine, don’t. But if you’re going to blame me for something I didn’t do, be a man and say it to my face. Don’t go around trying to solve everything with violence, and you know what? If you want to hit me, hit me. Because you don’t know how much I blame myself for what’s happened.”
I didn’t know I was crying until Christopher stood up and pulled me to his chest. He sobbed and told me he was sorry, but the guilt still remained there, a silent enemy that wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Christopher’s arm was bleeding, probably because of Kaden, or the men who attacked us, but as one of my tears dropped to his wound and mixed with his blood, shadowy lines coiled around it. The moment the lines hit the ground, the wind became hollow, or at least that’s how it seemed, and sand erupted into the air and froze.
“Blood and love shall set them free,” a voice echoed through the night, seconds before the earth spilt in two.
“Now what?” Melinda shrieked.
Christopher and I stepped away from each other, looking at the ground as a circular concrete tomb raised us all in the air. Sand was falling all around the sides of the crypt, revealing a six-pointed star. Around and inside the star were symbols that seemed to blaze with fire, or magma, yet no heat radiated from it, only small, red embers that danced into the night.
I tried to move, but my body was stiff and rigid. I looked around me and noticed that everyone else was having the same problem. Suddenly, we became suspended in the air. My hair swirled around my shoulders as we were moved by some invisible force to each of the star’s points. From the center of the star, a thick black mist dissolved into the air. From this mist, six figures began to form, each of them hovering before us. Their bodies never merged into one form, and they kept changing into different wisps of air, but their faces were completely visible showing their gaunt cheekbones and the open mouths of tortured souls.
I knew I should’ve been scared, or at least surprised to see them. But there was something in their eyes that made me feel safe.
The air turn cold, and for an instant I felt as if the world had gone rigid, unyielding against the laws of nature. Voices whispered around us, chanting in a language that wasn’t familiar to my ears. Yet the sounds were enthralling, alluring, like the sound of thunder, rain, wind, and life filling the atmosphere.
My body went numb, and before my eyes I saw my life passing by. Each memory was succeeded by a new one, images of my past life, the person who I used to be, and the person who I would become. For a while I could feel my body going at full speed through a vast meadow. My feet burned on the ground, on water, on air, on earth. I was free, free from the problems of reality, from the nature of the human body. I was alive, and I was dead. I was in a place where one’s questions were answered with the truth, and where pain and sorrow were only recollections from a life no longer mine.
Unfortunately, this vision vanished away, leaving behind an excruciating emptiness in my heart. One of the shadows was standing before me, her eyes gazing at me with passion. Traces of long brunette hair began to show, her eyes were hazel like mine, and her nose, mouth, and forehead matched mine as well. It was as if I was looking at myself in the mirror, except she appeared to know who she was, what she wanted, and where she was going. She was the part of me I could never reveal, the beauty, the passion, and the love that would make any person turn and gaze.
I watched with astonishment as her body shivered back to the dark silhouette. Her scrawny hands reached toward me, sending an excruciating spasm throughout my body. As she touched me, she ignited into screams; all of them did, loud enough to make anyone’s ears ring. Her ghostliness didn't scare me; it only made me aware of every movement that she made. Then everything grew silent; there was no sound, no air, no pain, and no anxiety that consumed me, only the dark. I could feel my soul becoming strong and vindictive as the hands of the woman held me tight.
Her cloak of dark mist wrapped around my waist, floating gracefully up in the air. She whispered something in my ear that awakened the wisdom in my soul. My eyes became sensitive to every activity that encircled us. She kissed me on the mouth, pushing her breath down my throat. The pain and the anxiety that had vanished a while ago came back, hitting me like a punch. My life was ending, and memories began to flash in my head. My mother’s tears, my father’s last words, and the torturous pain of their deaths. I could sense the spirit of the woman possessing me, becoming part of me. Her thoughts, her feelings, and her past life became my own.
I was that woman; she was my past life, my present, and my future. She was…no…I’m a Shadow and this is our return. It’s the return of a war that for centuries had been kept in the dark, a war where those who had spilled their blood for secrecy would once again spill their blood to try to stop us.
When everything ended, I fell down onto the crypt; my body was fragile and unaware of my surroundings. I could hear the wind roaring through the sky followed by a loud explosion that smashed the tomb beneath us. After that, I felt my body fading away into a bright light. I covered my eyes as the light became more intense and strong, but then someone stepped in it, a small silhouette of a woman.
Mom, is that you?
About Alouy Martinez
Alouy Martinez is a creative writing major at Sul Ross State University. In high school, Martinez won several art contests and was a member of the National Honor Society. The Shadows: The Return Has Begun is his debut novel and first major project, both in the media of writing and art. He was born in Hobbs, New Mexico. When not in school, he currently resides in Presidio, Texas.
For more about the author and his book, visit: www.AlouyMartinez.com
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave questions/comments for Alouy below.
If you like fantasy, check out these authors: Richie Earl, Vanessa Finaughty, G. Russell Gaynor, Dana Journey, Katy Krump, Bryan O'Neill, T.C. Southwell, and David Temrick.