There was a young Chinese girl attending an outdoor funeral. She wore a smart black shirt and skirt, and shiny black shoes. She even wore a black veil over her face. Her face was pale and her eyes were dark. She stood away from her family at the funeral, and watched the ceremony with unblinking eyes. The world around her was grey and green. It started to rain.

Without another glance at her mother and father, mere shadows in the distance, she turned, and knelt toward a nearby tombstone. Rain specked the tombstone, but didn't touch her face. There was a black shadow against it on the corner. It was deep and penetrating, but the girl knew there was something beyond it. She crawled into the shadow like it were a tunnel and vanished from sight. The shadow was never found, and neither was the girl.

There was a white corridor with one hundred blue rectangular windows lined parallel against the walls. I was the girl who disappeared. I lived in this corridor.

I stood at the end of the hallway, and heard my name being called from the other end where there was nothing but abrupt darkness.

I was older than I was when I left via the dark passage, and entered the shadow-world. This was my home. This is where I belonged.

I walked toward the end of the corridor, and saw somebody appear in the gateway. A boy my age. A teenager. He was wearing a long-sleeved black school uniform. I heard my voice echo throughout the corridor as I approached him, and extended my hand to touch his figure. But he vanished, as if a memory only passing. I stand in front of the shadow-gate, waiting.

'This is the man you could have spent your life with,' said the voice.

It was my voice. It sounded faint, yet clear.

Time passed differently in the shadow-world. I touched the shadow-gate in front of me and felt its familiar pull and chill. It chilled my body, but warmed my soul to the very core. As far as I could see... I was the only person who had ever managed to enter the shadow-world.

As I was swallowed by the shadow-gate, the world changed.

I was standing on a wooden balcony near a pond in the daytime. There were tall bamboo trees around the house nearby. I was watching an elderly lady and man conversing in bamboo chairs on the veranda. The pond was green and clear. Some orange fish flitted in the water.

'This is the life you could have spent, had you not entered the shadow-world.'

My voice... It was my voice again. I don't quite understand why the shadow-world is showing me these things from the life I never had. Was entering the shadow-world a mistake?

I saw the familiar shadow-gate once more. It was underneath the chair of the old woman – the wrinkled and happy old woman. I approached the woman who never once noticed my existance. I kneeled, and crawled into the shadow. I am engulfed by warmth and darkness, as if entering the womb of an unborn child. But there is nothing human about this place. I am the shadow-keeper, I am the gate-maker. I am the shadow of a life that could have been, but never was. I enter a gate of emptiness and exit with the form of a lost person.

What purpose does a person have when they live a life in the shadow-world?

There was a Chinese girl standing at an outdoor funeral ceremony, wearing neat black clothing, no doubt ironed for the morning event. Her eyes were dark, as if seeing another world. She watched her parents from afar, and observed their empty faces. There was a circle of people surrounding a spot of earth in the middle of the graveyard. Tombstones surround them, scattered. The grass was green and needed mowing. The grey sky shrouded the world in monochrome. Rain started to fall, and the pitter patter of droplets did not overwhelm the sound of the current speaker.

The girl collapsed onto the damp earth, the black veil falling off her pale face. The girl's parents ushered forward and pushed through the crowd as it turned to engulf the girl. A few moments of hushed whispers later later, a tall man announced that her vital signs were missing.

She existed in the shadow-world, no longer a lost person. What the girl had been slept in the womb of the shadow. It lived as a nothing, in between worlds - in the middle of the passage of time and space or existence; the shadow-gate. The nothing was finally home, and no longer plagued by lost memories and lives-to-be.

The rest of existence would join it one day.

The shadow-gate was waiting.


A/N: Just a one shot. I felt like writing it. Not sure how it comes across, though. It reminds me of 2001: A Space Oddesey and the monoliths. It wasn't my intention to make it like that, though. Review or don't review.