It didn’t take long for the word to spread. Before Dale even made it to his apartment, his phone alerted him that all social media sites were exploding with posts about the accident he caused. He leaned against the wall of his apartment building. Breathing heavily, he scrolled through his notifications with shaking fingers. He didn’t even take the time to read any of the posts. One single word kept jumping out from the text. One person after another, sending the same message. Coward. Coward. Coward.
Dale stuffed his phone back in his pocket with a sigh that turned into a sob half way through. They were right. He was a coward. He ran away from the scene of the accident, away from the problem he caused. Because of him, a young girl was now fighting for her life. And he didn’t have the guts to stand by her.
Darcel had never felt as powerful as he did in this moment. His mind crackled with the power he drank up from the humans. All of him seemed to be itching for action. But making a move now could be a grave mistake. He still knew too little about this world, he had no idea how long the energy would last. But he knew how he could get more. He had to find the human Dale again. Darcel’s consciousness spread out, searching for the mind he had come to know so well. It didn’t take long before he found his target, leaning against a wall in a street.
Again Dale had the uneasy feeling he was being watched. He looked around. The street was practically empty. There was a man some distance away, but he wasn’t even looking in Dale’s direction. The windows. Dale looked to the building on the other side of the street. The windows were like blank, lifeless eyes. All he could see was his own reflection, staring back at him. Yet there was a clear sense of not being alone. Were there people hidden behind the glass? Either way, Dale felt too exposed where he was. He hurried into his building.
Darcel felt a strange sensation, like a tickle traveling through him. In that moment he was convinced the human had seen him. How was that even possible? Everything he had learned about humans pointed to them being the most unaware beings in existence. Yet the human Dale appeared to be looking at him, sensing him. Then the second was over and Dale fled into the building, out of Darcel’s sight.
Dale unlocked the door to his apartment as quickly as his trembling hands allowed. Slamming the door behind him, he ran straight to the bathroom and splashed water on his hot face. The cold water helped him calm down a little.
Darcel smirked. Did Dale really think he could get away from him? With the power he now possessed, Darcel was convinced he would be able to push himself through the barrier and follow the human in his own physical world. But that might drain his newfound power. With human’s love of mirrors and other reflective surfaces, letting Dale go out of his sight hardly seemed like a risk. He was proven right not even thirty seconds later, when Dale appeared in front of a mirror. You can’t hide, Darcel smugly told the human.
You can’t hide
Dale was not surprised to hear the voice in his head again. On a different day, hearing voices might have worried him. But after all he had gone through today, it was comforting to hear someone talking to him. Even if he was certain his mind had made the voice up to help him cope with the stress. “I know,” he said out loud. Dale took a deep breath and lifted his head. He looked into his blood shot eyes in the mirror. “What do I do?”
Dale’s complete lack of surprise or anxiety was almost startling to Darcel. He was used to being feared, or at the very least regarded with suspicion. Now that the human was aware of his presence, Darcel’s assumption had been that Dale had been running away from him. It never occurred to Darcel that the human might have been running towards him. Towards a better reflective surface, where they could more easily communicate. Did Dale think of Darcel as his ally? The calm and hope radiating off the human pointed to this being the case.
You seek my counsel?
Dale let out a half laugh at the obvious disbelief in the voice. Even the figment of his imagination had started doubting its own worth. Man, he was really shook up. “You were full of good advice this morning,” Dale reminded the voice. He studied his face in the mirror. Again, he got the impression of his image observing him rather than simply being his reflection. “Come on, help me. How do we turn this mess around?”
How do we turn this mess around? Darcel echoed, tasting the words, the intention of them. This human was still young, unaccustomed to, perhaps even unaware of the power he wielded. The human must have instinctively understood Darcel’s experience, and was asking for his help. Guiding the human through, winning his trust, could be beneficial to Darcel. How do we turn this mess around? There was only one correct way to handle any situation, the most valuable lesson the human would ever learn — if he did manage to learn it.
You own it. Control it before it controls you.
Dale nodded to his reflection in the mirror. “Right. Take charge. Of course.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Without thinking about what he was doing, or why he was doing it, Dale briefly pressed the palm of his hand against the mirror. The glass was warmer than he would have expected, but he didn’t notice that fact. He just knew he felt better after doing it. Energized.
Darcel, locked in Dale’s reflected image, lifted his hand. A hand he didn’t recognize as his own; five blunt appendages with useless, thin layers of horn on top. Both their hands pressed against the barrier that separated their realities. Darcel could feel it melt away. For that fraction of a second their energies freely exchanged. A sharp stabbing pain traveled from Darcel’s arm through the rest of his body. Before he could cry out, Dale had broken their connection and turned away from the mirror. Stunned, Darcel looked at his hand. Even though he was no longer locked into Dale’s reflection, his hand still had those fleshy, blunt fingers. He touched his face, feeling the soft, fleshy features of Dale’s face. Panic tried to claw its way from his stomach up to his mind. It didn’t take long for Darcel to regain his calm. He was still him. His form really didn’t matter much. In fact, the change might work in his favor. Of course it would. Darcel started to grin.
I am Dale Seymour and I am in control
Dale heard the voice, softer than before but beaming with confidence and satisfaction, and nodded as he closed the bathroom door behind him.
“Yes. Yes I am.”