Wraith vs Shadow - A Literary Example
I am alone in Pine Knoll Elementary — at least as far as I can tell. Soft scraping sounds, faint voices, high laughter and the muffled sound of doors opening and closing echo through the dark school building and from down in the basement. I can hear deep, reverberating groans and what sound like heavy, clanking chains. I feel only a slight measure of relief that I haven’t encountered any other wraiths here. For now, it seems to be about as safe a place as I’m likely to find.
Outside, the night is dense and pressing. A heavy sheet of cloud hides the sky and dulls the blue glare of the streetlights. The air seems charged with electricity. Low clouds pulsate with rippling purple light, like heat lightning that edges everything with an eerie glow.
Through the opened doorway, I catch glimpses every now and then of faint lights, shining like candles seen through dense fog, moving from one window to another in the buildings across the street. Closer, I can hear the faint rustling of wings, unseen in the dark.
I’m sitting on the floor in the darkness, wondering how and if I’ll ever be able to find my daughter. I can’t imagine what she might have experienced if she’s been here in the Shadowlands for the last five years. A deep, twisting sense of guilt and frustration stirs within me. Regret fills the center of my chest like a cold, iron ball.
Isn’t there such a thing a “Heaven” or “Nirvana” or “Paradise” where the dead can dwell in eternal peace and bliss? This can’t be all there is to the afterlife. At least, I hope it isn’t.
I realize ruefully that at least I’m beginning to accept the fact that I am dead. The best I can figure, it’s only been a day in “real” time — whatever the hell that means — since I died, but I’m still wrapped in an overwhelming sense of sadness and despair.
I’m finding existence in the Shadowlands extremely disorienting. I experience emotions and physical sensations very differently now. I have to keep telling myself that this is simply because I no longer have a physical body that has biological reactions to what I feel and think. My emotions are no longer complicated or enhanced by the physical reactions, so I experience them in what seems to be a purer, more essential way. It is just incredibly disorienting the way my senses are distorted in this new state of being.
I can’t figure out what my Corpus is made of. Maybe it’s an illusion, an echo of the form I’d once had that has no reality other than as a memory. The impression I have from my encounter with the Renegade is that the substance of my Corpus is valuable in and of itself here in the afterlife. The sudden fear grips me that maybe I won’t find my daughter because she has already fallen prey to that or some other Renegade.
An urgent sense of impending doom fills me. I know that I have to act swiftly and decisively, but I have no idea where to begin.
Maybe I should just give up.
Where is the sens of inner peace and tranquility you’re supposed to obtain when you die
A sudden bolt of anger and fear rips through me. I leap to my feet and begin pacing back and forth in the darkness. My footsteps drag across the ancient floorboards echoing weirdly in the dense darkness. Everything I did, everything I tried to do, where did it get me? Dead and right back where I started.
You’re right…It’s all for nothing. a voice whispers inside my head.
I look around to see who spoke, but there’s no one else here. There’s must me, and I think that’s more terrifying than anything else.
All of it, it’s all absolutely worthless! All you’re doing is a useless waste of time and energy, so why not give up now? Karen’s dead. You’re dead. You’ll never find her, and even if you do, what could you possibly do to help her? All you’ve managed to do since you died is hide, just like you did your whole life. No, you’ll fail Karen, and then, a failure, you’ll go back and fail Sarah. You’ll try to watch over her, but it won’t do any good. All you’re going to do is watch her getting old and ugly. You’ll start to hate her, and you’ll hate yourself for it. Then, when she dies and crosses over, she’ll come looking for you, and you won’t even be able to look her in the eye. Everyone dies, everything dies, and nothing you do will make any difference. Let it all go. It’s all headed for Oblivion anyway, so why not get a head start? Why prolong our agony?
Against my will, I listen to this voice, whispering harshly inside my head. It terrifies me, and I have the unshakable impression that someone is standing beside me in the dark, poring these terrible things into my ear like hemlock. But when I turn, there’s no one there. It’s just me. Me and that voice.
“No,” I say as I clap my hands over my ears and shake my head in adamant denial. “It wont be like that! It can’t be!”
Oh, but it will, the voice inside my mind continues. You’ve always known it. Oh, yes, deep down in your heart of hearts, you’ve always understood the utter futility of it all. So why pretend anymore? Why not just give in? Why not embrace Oblivion? Let yourself go; that’s the only way you’ll find any kind of peace. All of your suffering will end, all the pain and hurt will go away in the cold, eternal embrace of Oblivion. Just let go…
“Stop it. Damn you, stop it!” I find that I’m slamming my fists into the sides of my head, trying to pound that voice into silence.
No, I won’t stop it, the voice hisses petulantly, and for a terrifying instant I am convinced that I have said this out loud. Give in. There’s no point to your pathetic little mission. Eventually everything — even the Shadowlands — is going to fade away, so you’d just be buying Karen a short reprieve before losing her again. You’ve known all along that I’m right — you said it in your last book. “Existence is nothing but a terminal blip in a meaningless, endless Void….”
“No.” My throat feels like it’s burning, and again I become acutely aware of the fact that I can’t breathe. “That can’t be all there is! There has to be some kind of meaning or hope, or otherwise—”
A terrible ache fills my chest and chokes off my reply.
“I have to find her…help her if I can.” I mutter in a broken voice. I’m not sure if I’m trying to convince this other voice, or myself. Maybe both.
Why even try? the voice inside my head whispers. No matter what you do, it won’t do a damned bit of good. Why torment yourself? It’ll be just wasted effort, anyway. Wasted agony. Give yourself over to Oblivion now, if only so it will be over all the quicker. Why prolong our suffering?
“You may be right. It may be better that way,” I whisper hoarsely, “but…at least I have to try.”
The last thing I hear is his — my — laughter.
(taken from Wraith: the Oblivion, page 222-223)