Okay, well this was supposed to be an entry for Lolly's competition-Once Upon a Shadowland, but I got the dates mixed up, sooooo, I couldn't just leave it on the computer all by itself. It's a little. . . weird. But, read it and tell me your opinion.

Disclaimed to Meg Cabot and the fairytale people.

I'd been thinking a lot about what Paul had said. You know, about me not having to exorcise myself to get to Shadowland. I mean, it was interesting, but this was Paul Slater. How did I know he wasn't lying to get me into his room?

Well, if that was the aim, he succeeded. Big-time. And, when he kissed me? It was. . . so- bad. Very bad.

As was the tingley-ness that came after.

And, what the heck, as long as we're using antonyms, the burns I got for stomping off to the 'Seaside Café' afterwards was very nice. Yep, didn't hurt a bit.

My sarcasm is so wasted in this room.

As I was home completely alone, without even a ghostly presence to see if my feet had dropped off, I began one of my best activities.


About Paul. 1. .2. . Get your minds out of the gutter!

No, I was thinking about what I'd mentioned before; Paul's claims about our extended Shifter abilities.

Okay, so we can travel back in time (right), and to and from Shadowland, and, obviously talk to ghosts. And, from Paul's books, apparently perform major and minor rituals to help and harm ghosts. There were some weird ones too. Ones for enemies, to shapeshift. . . Ones that made me shiver.

To think we had all of that power? And that Paul Slater had the exact 'how to' guide on honing it? Not exactly the most comforting thought.

My eyes fluttered closed. Shadowland. . .

"You are late." Said Fr. Dominic, with a reproving expression on his wrinkled face. He was clutching a gold stopwatch. I shook my head, in an attempt to clear it. We were. . . in church. Weird. I didn't remember telling Fr. Dom I'd meet him here.

Furthermore, the whole junior class was here. And they were in the line headed to Communion.

"Susannah." Father said. "Go." He gestured to the Communion line.

"Father Dom, I never did First Communion, am I supposed to-"

"Go!" He hissed.

Sheesh. Holy People. They really have big, fat holy sticks up their asses.

I went to the line. Then, saw a little kid in the corner, over by the altar, near the veil. But, this one was different than most. He emanated a faint glow.

"What's your name?" I asked him.

He looked up at me with big, brown eyes and chewed his full bottom lip. "Joshua. What's yours?"

I smiled. At least one thing was normal. "I'm Suze. Um, why are you here?"

Big, fat, tears leaked from his soulful eyes. I watched, entranced, as a single tear, fell to the ground, in slow motion. Then, I looked in fascination as the tear, on the white marble floor, turned red.

Blood red.

Then, they fell faster, and faster.

"What's wrong with you? Why's this happening?" I asked, as the boy wailed louder. I glanced around, distractedly.

The people in the Communion line had disappeared. Instead of the altar, there was a bone-white, marble basin, that collected the tears of blood.

The boy changed. He became larger, his hands like talons and his lip curling evilly. His skin became alabaster and his eyes the same colour as the blood he'd been crying. The wails turned to maniacal laughter, and he grew, getting bigger and bigger, making the pool enlarge at the same rate.

"Who the hell are you?!" I shouted, seriously pissed off now. Who even had this kind of power? What, did the Devil himself come out of one of the doors in Shadowland and appear in this church?

What was more, what exactly did he want from me?

Large talon-like fingers shoved me into the pool, making me seriously thankful for my lifeguard training. Disgusting. I was pretty sure this wasn't chicken blood. I gagged. Then, the giant snapped his ugly fingers, and it was like someone had pulled the plug from a full bathtub. I was going around and around, in a whirlpool of blood, getting sucked closer and closer to the bottom, almost unable to get air.

Then, I was falling, falling, falling, fallen. I landed on my butt. 'Where'd all the blood go?' I muttered briefly to myself.

Until I saw piercing icy blue irises, staring at me from atop a pedestal.

His cold gaze raked over my form, and his lips tilted up into his trademark smirk.

I glared. "What the hell is up Paul? Who was that guy? More importantly, why is he so powerful? And why are you here anyway? What's your involvement in all of this?" I babbled out, ending in a squeak.

"Wow. Lot of questions you've got there." He folded his arms, and I couldn't help looking at the tightening of his rippling forearm muscles.

"The real question is: Do you have the courage to ask the question that matters most for people like us?" He looked smug.

"Paul, do me a favor and stop spouting psychobabble. It doesn't suit you." I told him, utterly annoyed.

"Remember, in the meantime: If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. But if you teach him to fish, he'll eat all the fish you might have caught for yourself." He hopped down, preparing, I assumed, to walk away.

"Cut the cryptic crap. Tell me what's going on! Paul!" I screamed, as Paul faded away, his brilliant white smile leaving its haunting image in my mind.

What was going on in this place? Where was I?

With Paul gone, I studied my surroundings. They were familiar. They happened to be the very same place that gave me the creeps every time I ventured up here.

I was in Shadowland.

The room Paul and I had been in? Yeah, it happened to be a blindingly white room, with nothing in it but the pedestal that His Royal Jackass, Sir Paul had been standing on. Oh, and a door that blended in mightily well with the décor.

How much freakier can things possibly get? Might as well open the door.

My hand grasped the cold handle, and turned, and pulled. I was out in the hallway, the endless one with doors that seemed to go on for millennia.

I walked slowly, hearing my shoes clicking against the floor. I looked down. My Jimmy Choos! I wrinkled my nose in distaste. Weren't these the ones that permanently scarred my feet, oh, I dunno, like a week ago?

I didn't even remember putting on shoes, actually.

Really weird. This was turning out to be one of the strangest days I'd had in a long while. And, for someone who saw ghosts on a daily basis, that was saying something.

Then, I heard faint arguing on the other side of the door adjacent to me.

Without hesitation, I yanked the door open. And, a strange sight greeted me.

It was Andy. He was muttering wildly to himself as he stirred a large pot of soup. He kept adding black pepper to it, as if it wasn't hot enough.

"Andy?" I called. He didn't turn; he didn't even notice me.

I walked closer to him and put my hand on his shoulder. "Andy. Andy!" He shrugged me off, and paid no attention to me whatsoever.

Jeez. We were in a kitchen, with granite counters, one of which Adam was comfortably seated on, and wooden cupboards.

I moved to Adam, who was grinning cheekily at me like there would be no tomorrow.

"Hey Adam, I'm so glad to see you. I saw Father D and Paul, but they're both acting weird, like we're stuck in some sort of dream or something. Andy's not responding at all. Where's Cee, by the way?"

He still had that idiotic grin on his face.

"Suze, babe, I hear there's a flickin' party going on a little way from here. I'm going. Wanna join? I know the host, so we can probably get some booze in our tea or something." He grinned more.

"Actually Adam, I would like to find my way out of here. Could you help me?" I asked, giving him my best forlorn look.

He hopped off the counter and threw an arm around my neck and shoulders. "No worries. But after the party."

"I really need to get home Adam."

"No can do Susie-Q. Party first, home later."

I sighed. "Fine. Lead the way." I groaned.

He didn't move and continued sitting on the tabletop, grinning wider than ever. God, I was really gonna have to talk to him about the friendly herb he occasionally mingled with.

I went closer to him and waved my hand in front of his face. "Adam? Wake up." I snapped my fingers.

Then, his whole person began fading very quickly. He went paler and paler and paler until he wasn't there. All of him, except his smile. Well, no. All of him except his teeth. That still happened to be stretched into the grin that his mouth had assumed before. Except now, he was doing it without lips. Or a face.

Or any essential body parts really. Which, I didn't particularly want to admit was freaking me out bigtime.

Okay. I needed to figure this out. Calm down Suze, I told myself, and put the pieces together.

Alright. I'd been in church, then found what had appeared to be a ghostly little boy crying tears of blood, but turned out to be some sort of mutated, demonic, ogre-esque being.

Then, growing larger by the second, together with the pool. . .

Hang on. How could the beast, the basin, and the church get bigger all at once? It didn't make any sense whatsoever. So, if they didn't grow. . . .then I shrunk!

I shrunk, and was pushed into the basin, went down the drain, and landed in. . . Shadowland.

And had seen Paul.

If Paul was a part of this. . . then he wouldn't be just a jigsaw piece. He would've seen the whole picture beforehand. Which meant that he had to have planned it out somehow.

I mean, let's not get carried away here. I can see and speak to ghosts, true, but demonic ogre thingies? Give me a break. The world's not totally crazy. Ghosts make sense. They have unfinished business, so they come back to take care of it. End of story.

But, what would be the logical reason for that creature to exist? There's none. People only make up those stories to make sure their children behave. And I was way too old for fairytales.

So it was Paul. Paul cast some kind of glamour, some illusion, to. . . to do what exactly? What was the purpose of this?

He always wanted me to embrace my nature as a Shifter, but. . . how would this help? What was it supposed to be?

Only one way to find out. Get on with whatever test this was.

I ignored Andy, and left the room, and continued down the foggy hallway. Adam had said something about a party. If I'd heard Andy mumbling from the hallway, I was pretty sure I could navigate my way to the party by listening. It wasn't like the silence was deafening or anything.

So I walked. And I walked. And I finally heard some very loud people arguing about something. I reached the door, and, without hesitation, yanked it open.

And was pulled to the center of the room, in which the air, the harsh wind was icy and biting, whipping around my ankles, blowing my hair around.

Then, it went dead.

It was still, and I opened my eyes. There were ghosts, all around me. Whoop-de-frickin'-doo. Wait. These ghosts didn't actually look very. . . friendly. They looked familiar actually. Actually, I could swear I spotted one that looked exactly like Heather.

Wait a minute. That was Heather. And she did not look pleased. Neither did the RLS angels in the corner. Or. . . gulp: Maria and Diego in the other corner. Or the other ghosts from New York that I'd exorcised.

I didn't think it was too wise to attempt to take them all at once.

I started backing away.

"Oh, was I interrupting something? I'd better go." And get the hell out of this asylum.

"Oh no. Please, stay." Maria hissed at me, while she, and several other ghosts lunged at me.

I punched anything I got my hands on while edging to the door, and managed to make it out with minimum cuts and bruises.

I sped out the door, and, surprise, surprise: walked for a long while again. Until I came up to a door that was being painted red. By two men, gatekeepers actually.

I wonder what the did when they got bored up here? Brokeback Mountain style maybe?

"Excuse me." They turned. "Why're you painting the door?"

"He said we had to. Because he claimed that he couldn't tell which door was which." One's eyes was glazed over.

"'He' who?"

"The King. We would've refused, except he enjoys beheading people, so we decided it was better not to take any chances." They both nodded, and went back to painting.

I walked in.

And I saw the one person who could make my blood turn to ice. The person who'd left me up here twice already, the first time to die.

"Well, well, well. We meet again. So, what's happened while I was gone?" Paul asked, as if I'd been knitting or something.

"Are you kidding me? I was attacked by all the ghosts I've ever exorcised. I don't think they all got in that room by accident." I looked at him expectantly.

"I might've given them some incentive." He shrugged.

"Why Paul? Do you want to see me dead? What's your damage?"

"I have none. And, no, I don't want you dead. I just wanted you to realize something."

"And what exactly would that be?"

His features changed, swiftly, gracefully, liquidly, into a girl's. Not petite, curvy, with dark hair and-bottle green eyes.

What the hell?

"What are you? What d'you want?" I shouted, backing away.

"As much as you may believe that, Paul's not your true enemy. Your only foe, your only critic, is yourself." She said to me.

"You're lying. You are Paul. You've cast some type of illusion." I shook my head from left to right, trying to clear it.

If this was true, if she-I-had done all this. Then everything was a product of my mind. Of my imagination. It's all me. I created this dream, thought up the ogre, for what? What was my subconscious trying to say?

What if it wasn't my subconscious. I vaguely remembered Paul saying something about our psyche. . . the Id, and the. . . . I couldn't remember! But, something must have happened to trigger this. A shifting lesson gone wrong? Something had isolated and tended some part of me?

This didn't make any sense! And I didn't have any time.

"Nope Suzie. It's you. It's me. It's us. We're it. And if we keep up this 'I need nobody' attitude, pretty soon we're not gonna have anybody. And, newsflash, I like people. I don't like to be isolated. And I don't like to feel weak either. You are ruining our lives. So I am going to fix it." With a smug grin, she blew me a kiss, and pushed me and jumped into me.

I saw her body or soul or whatever fade, and merge with mine. Our blurred hands joined, and we were one.

I were in my room, with the frills and the pretty bay window. I had one goal, one aim.

I was going to drive over to Paul's house, and tell him to teach me. Teach me everything he knew.

I was fixing things.

Thanks for reading people. Please review.