A/N: This is one of a few fanfics I did in the past 3 years or so. My most recent submission to ttales aswell, I believe. This fic is based on the reality that there are people who actually believe in A shadow world and who claim that shadow folk exist. I'm not going to lie and say it's total BS either, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Either way, there is truth behind Julian's words when he says you shouldn't mess with things you don't understand. It's good advice! Enough rambling – here's the fic.

Julian is of course, as we all know, the wonderful creation of L.J. Smith and he will remain copyright property of hers forevermore. I'm not making money off this and I'm not stealing any characters/ideas. This is purely entertainment to pass the time.

Elle, Dylan, Shana and Tracy are actual people.

Refrain from using them unless you don't mind Elle's ka/doppelganger coming at you from your closet when you least expect it ... ;)

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It was all she could think about. Thoughts of him consumed her day after day. She could picture his frost white hair, as slick and cool as moonbeams. She could try imagine his voice, filled with elemental music that would melt her to the core, but she knew she couldn't quite get it right in her head. She daydreamed about those cat-tilted, piercing blue eyes - a blue like the core of a flame. Dazzling. Mesmerising. Captivating. She felt another pang of longing, quickly replaced with excitement.

It had taken her a week to get everything ready, just like in the books. She had the necessary runes and their pronunciation printed out on individual paper, she even properly numbered in what sequence they needed to be drawn. She went browsing through all the downtown shops until she found a river-knife that she thought would pass as wickedly cool. She even made sure she picked a day when her parents and brothers were sure to be in very late.

Today was the day. Elle Taylor glanced over at her friends, Shana who was a Latina and had only recently joined their crew, Dylan with her ginger hair and freckle spattered face, and Tracy with her blonde curls. So, they weren't exactly Dee, or Audrey, or Summer. In fact, they were nothing like the characters in the book. Elle wistfully looked ahead and hastened the pace when they burst out laughing at some retard joke Dylan had made.

'Okay, you guys,' Elle said, nearly breathless with excitement as they turned up her driveway.

Her friends followed at their own leisurely pace and spread out in the lounge as was their habit. Shana switched on the TV and flipped to the MTV channel. Avril Lavigne was performing her 'Girlfriend' song as Elle bounded upstairs to her room.

She was half-undressed in her haste as she stumbled into her room, shaking off her jeans in a fit of annoyance and kicking it aside. She dressed as quickly as she could in the Levi's and denim blouse she'd laid out for herself. It was what Jenny had been wearing the last time Julian had seen her. Turning to her reflection in the mirror, Elle ran her fingers through her honey-blonde hair and paused for a moment, considering her image. She always thought it was uncanny how much the description of Jenny Thornton fitted her own. Shaking her head, Elle laid out the utensils on her dresser.

'Hey, guys! Could you come here? Guys, hurry!' Elle called over her shoulder.

A few minutes later, her friends appeared in the room, armed with sodas and the hidden stash of choc bars.



'What's going on?' Dylan asked, curiously looking at the instruments on the dresser.

'We're doing it. Today.' Elle said.

'Right now?' Shana sounded alarmed.

'Right now.' Elle confirmed.

'What are we doing?' Tracy hiccupped and took another sip of her soda, frowning lightly.

'We're going to open the doorway to the Shadow World and see if we can find Julian.' Elle sighed.

'Maybe we should think about this...' Tracy started, looking startled as she glanced at the other girls for support.

'I have been thinking about this. I've been thinking about this a very long time.' Elle snapped.

'She's right, you know. It looks like she's had plenty of time to prepare for this.' Shana shook her head and sat on the bed, pulling her knees up to her chest.

'Yeah, Elle. Listen. Julian died at the end of the trilogy. Remember? He's dead, and he's not even real, so what are you doing?' Tracy demanded, fear creeping into her voice.

'Look, the worst that can happen is nothing. And that's probably what's going to happen, too. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No whirling wheel of runes, no shrieking, nada.' Elle licked her lips and put her hands on her hips. 'I have to satisfy my curiosity, and the only way I can do that safely is with my best friends. Now are you going to help me or not?'

'No.' Tracy frowned.

'What do we need to do?' Dylan sighed.

'Dylan...' Tracy started.

'Nothing. You guys just need to be here for me. That's all.' Elle shrugged.

'I'm in.'

'I'll watch.' Shana agreed.

'Oh...kay...' Tracy sighed heavily.

'Great!' Elle clapped her hands and grinned widely.

It took a full hour just to carve the runes into her closet door. Elle wanted it to be perfect, with no chance of messing anything up. When it came to the part where she needed blood to stain the runes, she made a deep cut across the palm of her hand. Blood welled up a second later and she used her fingertip to put it into the grooves of the runes. She'd thought she would need to cut her other hand to get enough blood, but after squeezing her aching palm it wasn't necessary.

'Okay, here goes. You guys ready?' Elle asked.

'Yeah.' Shana sounded bored.

'Whoooo!' Dylan said sarcastically. 'This is so exciting.'

'Oh, shut up.' Elle snapped and picked up the paperback book.

She pronounced each rune clearly as it was written in the book, her voice raised. Then, at the last rune, she paused to look at her friends eagerly. They didn't seem to share her excitement. Shana looked half-asleep and Dylan was tossing a pillow against the wall. Tracy was staring at the enlarged photocopy of the covers of the Forbidden Game trilogy, pasted above Elle's bed post.

Elle drew a deep breath and then said the last rune. Her voice came out clear and steady. She looked up at the closet door hopefully. Nothing. Nothing glowed, or moved, or flashed, or screeched.

'Maybe you did it wrong.' Shana muttered.

'I did not!' Elle snapped defiantly.

'See. This proves that that book,' Dylan pointed at the paperback book Elle was holding. 'Is fiction, from start to finish, just like it says in the fine print in the front. Fiction. '



'What a waste of time.' Shana giggled. 'If we'd known...but who reads the fine print, right?' Shana's grin faded when Elle sent her a cold look.

'I can't believe it didn't work.' Elle said, disappointment washing over her in a tidal wave.

'Come on. Reality is much more attractive than some guy from a book.' Tracy said matter-of-factly.

'Says the girl with a boyfriend.' Elle pointed out.

'Oh, come on. Boys aren't everything!' Tracy shot back.

'If it's about getting a boyfriend, you know, Jake really likes you...' Dylan started.

'I'm not interested in Jake!' Elle snapped, then sank down onto the bed. 'I wanted Julian.'

'He's not real. Never was, never will be. You can't give life to something by carving a couple of lines into wood.' Shana sighed.

'Say what?' Dylan frowned.

Shana sighed again, rolling her eyes. 'In the books the shadow men exist only because their names are...'

'It doesn't matter.' Elle cut her off, staring blankly at the floor.

Silence reigned in the room for what felt like forever. Elle avoided looking up at her friends. She fought against tears of disappointment. She'd waited to do this for so long, and now... But then what was she hoping for?

Elle glanced around the room slowly. Maybe she did do it wrong. Maybe she was supposed to draw the curtains shut and light red candles or something. But just as the thought came to her mind, a soft scratching noise came from within the closet. Heads snapped up to stare at the ordinary closet door. The scratching became more persistent, then abruptly ceased.

'What was that?' Tracy asked, pale.

'Did you lock your cat in your closet?' Shana demanded, eyes round.

Elle shook her head and slowly rose to her feet.

'Don't.' Dylan's hand shot out and clutched at Elle's sleeve. 'Don't open it.' Her voice was thick with a fear Elle had never heard before.

Elle shook her off and stepped up to the closet. She pressed her ear to it to listen for any other sounds.

'Who's there?' Elle demanded, all thoughts of Julian suddenly wiped from her mind and replaced with blind terror of the unknown.

There was shuffling inside the closet. Silence. Then the doorknob began to rattle violently. Elle jumped back, heart thudding loudly in her ears.

'Who are you?' She nearly shouted.

The doorknob continued its crazed shaking, then once again stopped abruptly. Something was very, very wrong.

That's when the noise started from the roof. At first it sounded like a steady thumping, as though somebody was jumping on it. It turned quite suddenly to what sounded like pouring rain, hailing down with force, before it changed to heavy footsteps. The girls jumped in fear when a clock began to chime, the beats nearly colliding over one another and loud enough to be coming from a loudspeaker. The ringing of the chimes itself were distorted and wrong, echoing and stretching eerily. Elle pressed her hands to her ears and gritted her teeth, looking at her friends. Shana had a pillow in a death-grip and was staring with frightened eyes and gaping mouth around the room. Dylan stood frozen to the spot, pale and staring at the closet. Tracy curled herself into a ball and was covering her ears, rocking back and forth.

Then all the noise died down quickly, and silence roared in their ears. This time, however, there was another presence with them in the room. They could sense it. Elle straightened up and glanced at Tracy, who was still covering her ears. She was whispering something over and over, her eyes tightly shut.



'Tracy, are you okay?' Shana whispered.

That's when a knock came on the door. The friends looked toward the closet wearily.

'We should get out of here.' Dylan whispered.

'Hello?' a voice came clearly from inside the closet. 'Hello?'

Elle froze, her mind stalling. A man's voice. Or was it a boy?

'Is anybody there?'

The four girls exchanged startled looks.

'It worked.' Shana breathed, fear forgotten. 'Elle! It worked!'

'Who are you?' Dylan frowned, nearly shouting.

There was a moment's silence.

'It's me. I can't get out.' The reply came.

'It's got to be him.' Elle breathed. The voice wasn't quite elemental like it said in the book, but it wasn't ordinary either. It had a certain uncanny ring to it. An otherworldly note.

'Please, help me. I'm stuck.'

'That's okay, I'll open the door for you.' Elle said, stepping closer to the closet.

'Elle, don't.' Tracy cried, then jumped to her feet and bolted from the room.

There was a moment of surprised silence as the remaining girls stared at one another.

'Should I chase her?' Dylan asked.

'Nah. Let her go. You know Tracy, always the saint. She won't come back, even if you threatened her.' Shana sighed. 'That's Christians for you.'

Elle shrugged. 'Elle. Let me in.' the voice from the closet. Pleading. Smooth.

'Okay.' Elle sighed and reached for the doorknob. She glanced at her friends and flashed them a goofy grin, then turned to the closet and opened the door.

At first all she could see was her clothes. No whirling mists and ice, although the room temperature dropped considerably. A moment later, a shadowy blur shot from behind her clothes and knocked her back against the wall. Unearthly shrieks and voices filled her ears, and she was rendered paralyzed with terror as red empty eyes glared back into her own. Her fear was too great to take note of anything else.

Dylan and Shana had both jumped, startled, when Elle suddenly backed up against the far wall when she opened the closet, as though a great gust of wind had blown her back.

'Elle. Are you okay?' Shana asked, frowning at the empty closet, then at Elle.

'We…need… to get out of here.' Dylan gasped.

Elle was screaming, an animal-like scream that froze them with its intensity. They watched her head banging back against the wall, making hollow thuds and crunching noises when it made impact. They could hear the crush of bones as her arms and legs twisted into inhuman proportions at their own accord. Elle's screams rose to another note that sent chills racing through them. Her eyes rolled back in her head and her body repeatedly slammed back against the wall violently.

Shana had somehow managed to move and was clinging to Dylan's arm as they inched their way toward the bedroom door.

Elle's screams stopped suddenly and she dropped to the floor with a thud. Her body lay there, limp and battered and deformed.

'Elle?' Dylan whimpered.

'Look.' Shana's voice was barely a whisper as she gripped Dylan's arm.

Something blurred the air above Elle's body and as it moved across the room, it shimmered. They could see a hand, pale and white, as though some unseen source of moonlight illuminated only that part of the body. The hand grabbed the side of the closet door and it slowly began to swing shut. It stopped halfway.

Dylan gripped Shana back when the hand on the door seemed to turn solid and real. The fingers took on the definite shape of long, slender, the creases and knuckles sculpted 

unnaturally perfect. The figure took a slight step from behind the door, only visible from the head down to the knees as the rest simply wasn't there. It was a guy with frost white hair and cat-tilted eyes. Eyes that first appeared to reflect the light back at them – hollow empty pits of nothingness. Eyes that, a second later, turned a cold vibrant colour seemed to shift relentlessly into millions of different shades of blue. The supple lips curved into a malicious grin.

'You shouldn't mess with things you don't understand.' His voice was exactly like the sound of water gushing over rock, an elemental melody in it that washed a new wave of shock over the two petrified girls.

He disappeared into thin air, a maniacal laugh resounding through the room that made their blood turn cold. The closet door slammed shut with force.

Elle was declared dead when the paramedics arrived. They put her death down as an attack from some occult due to the carvings on her closet door. They claimed she was used as a sacrifice, but in the end, Elle Taylor was simply a victim of her own curiosity.