Before two weeks ago. He still did not know what she had done. Nor, really, who she even was. But she had cracked him open and took out what was inside, and now everything felt so cold. And his shadow was talking to him.
“She must’ve just drugged me,” he whispered. “I’m just feeling some of the side-effects still.” Even as he said it, he knew he was just lying to himself.
Poor little Andy, the shadow mocked. Got his spirit stolen and doesn’t know what to do. Are your fingers numb yet? How about your toes? Your heart certainly is. Never knew a chill could cut that deep, did you? It grinned, displaying countless pointed teeth.
Andrew reached out as if to grab at the shadow’s neck, but pulled his hands back after a moment when he realized what he was doing. He was trying to strangle a shadow, for Heaven’s sake.
The shadow laughed derisively, so loud that Andrew was sure Michelle must have heard. Instead, he just heard her close the tap in the kitchen. Daniel did not even twitch.
Go ahead and take it, Andrew. It’s right there waiting for you. You brought it into the world, why shouldn’t you use it?
Andrew leaned away from his shadow. The very idea reached through the apathy that had wrapped around him like a heavy blanket, and he felt the bile in the back of his throat. “It’s my son. I can’t just—”
Of course you can, the shadow cut him off. Its voice was thick with disdain. You just believe you don’t want to. You want to believe that this is bad, and that I am bad for suggesting it. I am you, Andrew. And the only thing bad about this is that you aren’t willing to ensure your own survival, since we both know that this problem of yours will end you if you don’t do something about it.
“It is bad! It is wrong!” Andrew was not yet shouting, but realized he was getting loud, and lowered his voice. “I can’t do that to my own child!”
Somehow, the shadow sneered. Then go, and pretend nothing’s wrong. Eat your dinner with her. Pen a pig or cow in one place for all its life, then knock it on the head and bleed it dry. Boil a lobster alive in its shell. Chop a chicken’s head off and let its body spasm, running all—