He jumps at shadows now.

He didn't always. A long time ago, when life was blue skies and two best friends, he would lay in the shadows, enjoying the cool shade beneath the palms.

Now he prefers the sun. Let others lay in the shade. They don't know what it is. What it can become.

Heartless.

Everywhere he looks, he sees the potential. Even the friends who walk beside him...even they cast shadows.

Even him. Sometimes he looks at his own shadow, watching from the corner of his eye.

The only consolation is that he can see them. As long as he can see them, he can be ready for when they twist and move and peel themselves from the ground.

That too is something he used to believe.

He knows better now. He knows there's more to darkness than that. What scares him the most are the shadows he can't see. The darkness people hold within.

He knows the heart is the first thing to go. It can slowly rot away, and a person might never even notice. Those are the ones that scare him the most. The ones that think they still have something beating in their chest. Then the rot begins to spread, black and malignant, until just one thing is left...

Heartless.

And they are. There is no mercy in their yellow eyes. Only hunger. Hunger for one thing. The thing they lost and hear in everyone else, pounding like drums, drawing them from the depths...

Hearts.

So he walks, swinging a key that opens every lock, coming through doors that cannot be opened. His eyes are clear and blue as an island sky, fixed ever forward, searching for the one he knows is waiting.

He walks, but not alone. He fears, but does not waver.

He is the light in the darkness.