GloomyVerse ™ :
The Origin of Shadow Monsters
by Roxana Line
Long ago Gossamer was the first one to appear in GloomyVerse, the dark and foggy wonderland of lost things, forgotten ideas and lonely children wandering through the fog in search of light and a way home. Ironically, being a creature of shadows, Gossamer was the light for many, helping lost travelers find their way out of The Dark Forest, yet remaining silent and often hidden behind the trees.
Gossamer enjoyed the company of his spider friend named Lennox who lived in Gossamer’s crown of antlers and tended to leave light cobwebs at any corner of the forest that they had a chance to visit. Gossamer guarded The Dark Forest with its eternal winter, blurry dawns of the timid sun that never rose up enough to shine, and upside-down snowfalls. He wished to see this twisted forest bloom but it was just not the right place for that, and he was not the right creature to witness it as all shadows tend to die in sunlight. So, instead he was given this “garden of gloom” that never bloomed.
Gossamer’s heart was a fragment of a broken distant star which he kept in his chest behind hundreds of branches full of thorns that were sharper than knives, so that no one could reach it without cutting their hands to blood. That star, according to legend, was known for its magical property - a gift of eternal life to those who come to its possession through gift, otherwise, if stolen or taken violently, it would lose its power and fade away.
Roxana Line © 12.07.2022
Murky appeared in GloomyVerse when he was needed there the most - a few years after his brother Gossamer was gifted his burning heart of star and tied forever to the Garden of Gloom, blessed with eternal life only to spend it in the cold land of endless fog. Murky, in his turn, didn’t mind the darkness at all. He embraced it in his own twisted way - he chose a big hollow tree and made there a tiny dwelling for himself. It was dark and safe. He was sure that there could always be a possibility of an actual dawn in GloomyVerse, and since most shadows tend to die in sunlight and he was not gifted an eternal life, unlike his elder brother, he decided to play it safe.
Sometimes, though, Murky thought that they might have been given one heart for all, as if Gossamer carried the lives of all his brothers in that fragment of a broken star as carefully and devotedly as he carried the burden of the Garden of Gloom. He would bet Gossamer didn’t know that. Or maybe he did know it - somewhere deep inside his burning crystal heart.
Murky had fascination with shiny objects, so he collected things lost by travelers wandering through the Dark Forest. He examined those things carefully and then hung them on the branches of his hollow tree. His peculiar collection distracted him from the gloom of the Garden captivating and carrying him away to the stories of the previous owners as much as reminding him about Gossamer when he was away for his another noble quest.
Murky thought that even the souls of the travelers lost in the Dark Forest can be saved if they are reminded who they are. Had they just a tiniest piece of their previous lives, they would definitely remember! So he thought and kept those findings safe just in case they can be useful. This, after all, was another reason for his collection.
Roxana Line © 12.16.2022
Among the first things Murky added to his collection was a peculiar small vial with purple liquid inside. Its label proudly proclaimed the content to be "All-in-one Elixir (Not Poison)".
The second part was written in much smaller letters and struck out several times as if the previous owner couldn't decide for sure whether the liquid was poisonous or not. Murky thought it was pretty odd, so he had no desire to prove or disprove the confusing label. In the back of his mind, though, he worried that having a potentially dangerous vial hanging from a branch of his tree house was quite reckless of him and that one day he would have to deal with this matter, especially considering the circumstances under which the vial came into his possession. You see, it was the only thing in his collection that was not lost in the Dark Forest but rather abandoned willingly by its owner as if he wanted to get rid of it. As if the vial was cursed or someone followed him because of it… scaring the poor man to death.
Murky wanted to run after that man and hand him the lost object, but the man vanished in the fog behind the dark trees leaving Murky no choice but to return to his tree house and hang the vial on one of the higher branches.
“No matter if it’s cursed,” he thought, “If one day that strange scared man comes after his belonging, it will be waiting for him right here, no exceptions.”
Even though he didn’t quite understand why, he knew those objects were important to human souls, as if their life force was somehow connected to them. Most were not even able to leave the Dark Forest without them, and those few who did manage to pass through the gates of the Garden of Gloom back to their world and left their prized possessions behind… Well, they were not “all there” after that.
Time has passed and no one showed up to claim the vial, neither was there ever any sign of a curse tied to it. More objects got added to Murky’s collection, the vial almost disappeared from his mind altogether and all seemed just quiet and gloomy in the land of GloomyVerse.
Roxana Line © 08.04.2023
It was a particularly dark night when Volter, the third brother, emerged from the shadows of the cold stones and ruins of long-abandoned homes. Neither Gossamer nor Murky could tell whose homes those had been before, but now the structures were solemnly silent, standing just outside of the Dark Forest. Volter liked to visit the ruins walking through the walls and looking for something that could give him a hint to the riddle of his own existence. Sometimes he could even find old portraits and names of the people who had lived there, and he tried to imagine their lives through the lens of his understanding.
One night he came across a house with a lot of peculiar objects. He would bet that he could almost hear some intricate sounds coming from those objects even though the house was completely silent. So, he supposed those were coming from “before” as if they got frozen and stuck in that place, echoing through the distance of time. As if someone used to make those sounds using the unusual, elaborate objects that he discovered.
Volter desperately wanted to touch them and try to make those sounds too, but his hands were falling through the wood of the masterfully crafted relics the same way that his body always passed through the walls. He was only a shadow after all. But now he could hear the sounds even clearer - they were music, rhythm, emotion. Emotion which got tangled in the strings and remained in that abandoned house for decades and maybe even centuries, despite the lifelessness and bitterness of this land - it must have been so strong. He felt it too, and he also felt chagrin and even anger for realizing that there was so much more in the world that others could not even imagine existed and not being able to be part of it, for hearing but not being able to touch those sacred sounds.
His own emotion might have been as strong as the one he felt coming from the objects. That emotion created something even he could not foresee - in his hands emerged another shadow as dark as Volter himself and as thick as the fog of the Dark Forest. It looked almost like one of those peculiar objects he felt connection with - it was about the same height as him, with four misty strings attached to it and a long neck which dissipated slightly towards the top.
He touched the strings, and… he made a sound. With his own fingers. It was a new feeling that was now consuming him entirely, so he spent night after night from dusk til dawn exploring his divine and mysterious gift, touching strings and changing position of his shadowy fingers until he figured out how to make that same music that he had once heard in the abandoned house - the music that was strong enough to survive in nothingness and find its way through time, so that he, Volter, could find it too and make sure it would never ever be gone.
Roxana Line © 12.20.2022
It was a cold winter night, when Grin, the forth brother, had his first apparition. It was a very special and unusual thing since that night he emerged from the darkness in the two worlds at the same time - in the world of the living and in the foggy realm of lost things and colorless dreams. He appeared in a room of a little girl - one of those lost children who usually get lonely and confused in a daylight and then disappear into nightmares in hopes to find answers and solve the puzzle torturing them from the inside.
That girl, in fact, thought she saw a ghost standing in a doorway and watching her while she desperately tried to scream but couldn’t even move a finger. Frozen in her fear, she just looked at the “ghost” in a doorway, while the “ghost” looked at her. It lasted for a few seconds but felt like a share bit of eternity.
“The perception of time in the world of the living is a very peculiar thing,” thought Grin. “No wonder they get confused all the time.”
Grin didn’t want to scare that girl. In fact, he didn’t even know how he got there. He could see the Dark Forest around him while he was still standing in the girl’s room, as if the two locations were two film frames placed one on the top of the other, which was a bit confusing even for a shadow monster.
He noticed a big mirror hanging on the wall in the hallway, right next to the door of the girl’s room. The door was left open and the empty doorway was reflected in another big mirror standing by the opposite wall. Grin just happened to appear in the middle of the corridor wondering whether it was him, the mirrors or the girl who brought him to that strange situation.
Grin was curious about people. First, he even liked them, he found them complex and peculiarly emotional beings of another dimension that he, Grin, somehow accidentally discovered. But they didn’t share his interest. Scared of him, they couldn’t stand his presence, they screamed at him or just cried in silent fear. He was discouraged by those interactions over and over again. Disappointed, frustrated and angry with both himself and those people, he disappeared.
Eventually he decided to go every night to random people’s houses and scare them the best way he could imagine in order to keep proving the point that all humans are the same. Somewhere deep inside his dark shadowy soul, though, he still hoped that one night someone, at least one living being in the whole world, would not scream and run away after looking at him, but stay, at least out of curiosity… but night after night it was not happening, so he found his strange confidence and stability in never ending disappointment. If darkness could have a dark side, that would be his.
Roxana Line © 01.08.2023
Flick was the youngest of the five shadow monsters. Lively and curious about everything around him, always craving adventure and finding light even in the darkest corners of the forest, he was given a different gift.
Ironically, Flick’s entire existence started with a spark coming from a lantern of one of the travelers passing through the Dark Forest. The rusty lantern was screeching in the hands of an old man who might have seen something he didn’t expect to see that night. Trembling in silent fear, he was staring at a grey solemn stone in the middle of the Garden of Gloom, when from the dancing shadow of that same stone detached a small flickering silhouette. It was moving rapidly, jumping, as if in agony, from one tree branch to another, trying to escape and refusing to surrender to the same light that sparked it into existence just a moment before, and when it finally found a safe dark spot at the bottom of a massive ancient tree where the light couldn’t reach, it stopped, took a short break, shook a little bit and opened the eyes. It was Flick’s very first glimpse into the world.
Unfortunately, the fight for life with the life itself didn't go without a trace, it left a big glowing mark on Flick's shadowy face in the place of his right eye. First, he didn't even realize that something was wrong with the way he saw the world, he just seemed to have the need to move faster than other creatures around him to get what they naturally had - a full view of the Dark Forest. He wanted to know what they saw and how they saw it, what they felt and what that meant to them. He had so many questions, some of which even wise Gossamer couldn't answer.
Flick learned very early in his life that although shadows are meant to die in the light, they can’t be born in complete darkness either, and the one giving you a chance to live is also capable to kill you, so everything is relative depending on a side you are watching it from. Having only one eye, though, makes it a bit harder to see the whole picture right away. However, the light didn’t kill Flick that night, though it left him with a scar. Maybe Gossamer’s immortal heart was indeed big enough to carry all of his brothers’ lives in it and keep them safe.
Flick also had a dream that never left his mind. When his long nights full of fun adventures and explorations came to an end, right before the dawn, for a brief moment he usually came to visit the grey stone that was still standing solemnly in silence in the middle of the Garden of Gloom. He sat on the top of the stone dangling his legs and looked into the distance where the purple fog of the Dark Forest met the cold wistful ground. He watched the thin red glowing line between them becoming bigger, so he knew he had to leave and hide. But he couldn’t help dreaming that one day he would be fortunate enough to see the sunrise.
Roxana Line © 01.20.2023