“Careful, little one, you cannot see,” they say.
“Don’t call me that,” I growl. “You obviously know my name.”
“The one you like to be called or your true name?” they say.
I laugh. “Isn’t the name we prefer our truest name?”
The voice hums and I feel the air shift when it walks around me. I stay still, fighting the urge to look for its source despite the darkness.
“Who. Are. You?” I repeat.
“Names are a special thing amongst my kind. With a name comes power.”
“And you think you have power over me?”
I feel their face press next to my ear from behind, their hands hold my arms so I don’t hit them. I want to. Just to show them I am a fighter.
“Don’t I?” they say.
My breath hitches. I cannot figure out why, but heat flushes through me. Their breath is on my ear, the cold of their fingers presses into my arms. There is no logical reason to be turned on by this, but I am. I am an insult to feminism.
“No,” I lie.
“What do you prefer I call you? What is your true name to me?” the voice asks, each word sending a shiver of arousal down my neck. It is insane to feel this way about some mysterious creature who lives in the basement of my brand new costume shop. I am completely distracted by my feelings---so confused by them that I have forgotten that I don’t even know what this being looks like. Or maybe that's what makes it so exciting.
“Not little,” I hiss.
“Hmmm,” the voice pondered. “If you wish, Not Little.”
I bark out a laugh. This is absurd. I am talking to a shadow. Getting weirdly aroused by darkness and it is being intentionally facetious with me.
“So what’s your name?” I push again.
“Why don’t you give me one?” they say. There is something thick in the air as they say so. Like the name that I give them is important. That I have power over them, even if I do not know their True Name.
“You need something really evocative. Something that truly describes you for who you are…” I start, trying to think of something properly insulting. I am not about to give this thing something powerful. “The Dorkness… No. Nothing. You are Nothing.”
The voice laughed. “I am Nothing. As you wish.”
I hate how that laugh tickles the hair on my skin, how every cell in my body vibrates with excitement.
“You opened the door,” they say. “But you do not know why.”
I take in a breath as they lift a strand of my hair and play with it.
“What are you?” I try again, trying to push away the feeling like comfort filling me as they get close.
“Nothing,” they respond.
I walked right into that one.
“Then if that’s all you need from me, I should go,” I say quickly and try to pull away. They pull that strand of hair tight around their fingers so that when I walk off, it yanks me back.
“Fuck,” I hiss.
“You opened the door, and now you have responsibilities,” they repeat.
A heavy, sinking feeling gathers in the pit of my stomach. I feel like shackles are being put around my wrists, but as I shake them, nothing holds them down.
“There are ancient gods of your world who have been trapped in another. The gateway is here, and you have opened it.”
“Ah,” I say. As if that accepts any responsibility. As if I understand anything they just said. Gods. Another world. None of this sounds plausible or understandable. It is so far gone beyond reality. I live in a world of illusion---makeup and special effects and costumes. I stopped believing in magic long ago. I don’t even think aliens exist. That Earth is just some cosmic accident. Or I did.
I find my thoughts on everything rapidly shifting. Because whatever Nothing is, it’s supernatural.
Where do you stop, when one thing proves to be reality where so many things should not?
“They have long been restrained against the door. Kept out. For years, there was a cult that watched over the Doorway. Made sure none would unleash the power within. But as your kind does, they fell victim to the sins of humanity---Boredom. Curiosity. Death. The Doorway is right here, as it always has been. As it will always be. And you have opened the crack, let loose the first of its prisoners.”
I gasp, despite myself. “So you…”
“I am here to protect you, Not Little. To warn you of what you have walked into. To keep the others at bay until you can fix this.”