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Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

“The Figure” Reluctant I

In the shadows, a figure lived. Its face was shaded, its silhouette insubstantial. It looked like it could walk through walls or disappear in a cloud of dust at any moment. It was as if it were not wholly of this world, as though it occupied a plane of existence where people were born without faces. The room felt icy cold in its presence, and every noise amplified into a cacophony of fear. What was it? What did it desire? What, or who was it waiting for? In just a second the figure moved, its body teetering between permanence and transience. It could not be of this world.

A click. The library’s oak doors were being opened, their heaviness bringing a loud creaking sound that echoed through the books. They slipped in warily, looking side to side across the empty shelves. They were obviously human, even obscured by their dark cloak. The cloaked figure, upon seeing no visible people, brushed down their cloak and made their way to a shelf of books. Their face was turned away, but their bright red hair was unmistakable. Carmen. Why was she here, creeping into the darkened library? And where was the unknowable figure? It had slipped away from its position behind the staircase. Slowly, the iciness in the room began to grow as did the pounding of rain against the stained glass windows. The shelves seemed to groan louder than usual, the floors creaking under Carmen’s soft steps. She seemed to notice the change around her, the dangerous feeling that settled over the room. She turned around and darted her eyes nervously across the abyss, the large library black and filled with uncertainty. On the table, the candle began to dwindle, its flame dimming the already dark room. There was no wind, all the doors and windows having been barred shut for the storm. Carmen turned back to the shelf and began sifting through it with vigor, intermittently looking back in growing trepidation. She was searching for something specific, that much was clear. 

What was also clear was the disturbance of air just a few feet away from her. It seemed as though something stood there, but nothing could be seen. It had no face, no form. The figure had appeared. Carmen felt nothing, saw nothing as it inched every closer to her vulnerable form. And only when it stood a hair’s breadth away from her did she freeze, her eyes widening in shock as she turned slowly around. There they stood, neck to neck. Carmen’s hands shook where they clutched her book as the figure’s swirling form took it from her grasp. Her mouth widened in preparation to scream, but any sound was stolen from her as her face began to melt away at horrifying speed. Her body seemed to turn to air, her face becoming like the whirling storm outside the windows. In just a few moments, her body fell to the ground, her face completely blank, devoid of any features. She had no nose, no eyes, no lips. She had become the figure, and the figure had become her. It now held the face of Carmen; her almond blue eyes, her hooked nose, her wide mouth, and her shining bright red hair.

 The figure twisted and stretched in its new skin, examining its new face like a buyer would with a new carriage. The figure patted down their hair and pinned on the cloak, picking up the book Carmen had been looking so intently for. It felt the dusty stem of the book, traced its hand over the dirtied title. Opening it gently, the figure that was now Carmen smiled as it flipped through the pages. It seemed it had found the book they were looking for too. They briskly closed it and picked up the candle Carmen had brought in, which was now more blazing than ever. Holding it in one hand and the book in the other, the figure that was now Carmen made its way to the heavy doors as the body of what used to be Carmen disappeared into dust and mist. As the figure gripped the wood doors and began to push them open, it gave one last turn around the room. Its blank eyes scanned the books and shelves before finally resting on me, fearfully hidden in an alcove. It smirked its hateful smirk and pushed open the doors, leaving behind the library and all remnants of the evil action that had taken place on that black and thundering night.

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