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The Afterlife of Rebecca Ashford (TAORA) – Shades

This is the first in a series started some time ago called The Afterlife of Rebecca Ashford (TAORA). Rebecca is the main character in the Dark Ascension series. These posts are short stories (flash fiction), usually with drawings, sketches, paintings, etc. of things that Rebecca might have seen during the Dark Ascension series. All TAORA posts will be in Rebecca’s point of view and voice. Enjoy!


My name is Rebecca Ashford, and this is my afterlife.

We saw the Shade that killed Sam today. At least I’m pretty sure it was the same one. They all look alike, but it’s the only one I’ve seen lurking around our street. Sam was the older brother of a boy in Errol’s biology class, and they lived at the end of the street. Seeing the Shade chilled my skin and made my stomach revolt with fear. I can still hear Sam’s screams echo inside my mind.

“God, no! Help me! Please, don’t—Don’t hurt me!” he had screamed. I don’t know what the Shade was doing to him, but gurgling screams followed his pleas, filtering into our tornado bunker from above ground. We stayed inside even after the sounds had stopped; we were too afraid that we would meet the same fate.

Sam was the first dead person I’d ever seen. I’ll never forget the image of him hanging from the tree in a neighbor’s front yard or how his head drooped to the side in an awkward, impossible way. His neck must have broken for it to look like that. I couldn’t begin to guess how long he’d been hanging there, but I’d wondered if he’d killed himself or if the Shade had done it for him. Errol guessed that Sam took his own life and insisted we bring him down.

We worked together to cut the rope and lay his body on the grass. After that, we weren’t sure what to do with him. It was dangerous to have his body out in the open since we lived so close to a group of Scavenger demons, who were most interested in human corpses, but they’d still smell him even if we buried him. Errol suggested we burn the body, but it was too dangerous to have smoke filling the sky so close to our hiding place.

In the end, we wrapped his stiff corpse in a tarp and buried him anyway.


I once asked Fox about Shades, and he said that they had once been humans. What sort of person could become those shadowy demons? I shuttered at the thought of becoming one.

“Can any person become a Shade?” I had asked.

For several moments, he had watched me silently with his intense, blue eyes before answering, almost as if he knew my fear. “No, not as far as my father and I have discovered. Only people who are exceptionally violent or evil have the chance to become a Shade. Even then, they would have to conspire with a demon first.”

Whether what he had said was true or not, I don’t know. It sounded plausible, but I wonder now if he was just trying to make me feel better.