The Shadow 3
The next day her life was back to the usual and she had no late night deliveries, but that night she dreamed about Dr. Bering and John. When she woke she shook her head to clear the disturbing images.
Being the Shadow as dangerous work, but she also enjoyed a certain amount of knowledge that came with the job. She knew things about many prominent individuals in the city that no one else did. She smiled with satisfaction. She really was the Shadow.
She glanced down at her hands and gasped. They were gone! The previous evenings scare returned. She lifted the appendages, feeling them there, yet unable to see them.
She scrambled out of bed and ran to the tall mirror in her dressing room. Panic set in as she watched her body slowly fade into nothing until all that remained was a silk nightgown. Her hands flew to her face. She was still there and yet…invisible. What had those men given her? She was Lady Edgington a bright star in the English aristocracy, she couldn’t be invisible, she couldn’t disappear.
She looked back into the mirror and with relief saw her image return. Her pale cheeks and trembling hands were now clearly visible. With relief she sank into a chair and put her head in her hands.
There had to be something in that wine and she was determined to find out what. Her messages between Dr. Bering and the Minister had consisted of something that had worked, but in the conversation she had overheard the second wasn’t ready.
She was now certain that they had tested that something on her, a potion that could make one invisible. She laughed at the idea. It had to be her imagination. The only reason was to be invisible was to be like her night job, a shadow.
She glanced in the mirror again and realized her face and hands were gone again. She pulled the sleeves of her nightgown up, watching the movement in the mirror and then pulled the gown off completely. Her body was completely invisible. The only sign that she was actually there was the nightgown hanging from her hand.
A knock sounded on her door and she immediately became visible. She hastily put on her nightgown back on and crawled into bed.
“Come in,” she called.
“I know it’s early, Lady, but I thought you’d want your breakfast,” Eliza said bring in a tray of food.
“Thank you, Liza,” Marissa replied distractedly.
Her thoughts were far from breakfast. She wondered what made it turn off and on. If she could control it…the thought instantly excited her. She truly could be a shadow, or better she could be invisible.
“Ahh!” Eliza screeched.
Marissa was pulled back to the present. “What?”
“You hand, I couldn’t see it,” Eliza cried.
“You’re being sill Eliza, it’s right here. It was just under the covers,” Marissa held out her clearly visible hand.
Eliza stared at the hand wide-eyed. “My nerves can’t take this at this hour,” the maid mumbled.
“Go down and have cook make you a cup of tea,” Marissa ordered. “And relax for an hour.”
Eliza nodded and left the room shaking her head. Marissa made sure the door was closed and stepped in from of the mirror.
With a look of concentration she spoke, “I am the Shadow.”
At first nothing happened, so she concentrated more on what she felt and who she was at night. Slowly her body disappeared. She examined herself carefully in the mirror. Every bit of her five foot six inch body was gone even down to the silky brown, waist-length hair.
Delight filled her heart, but then panic ensued. What if she couldn’t change back? She was the Shadow by night, but during the day she was Lady Edgington. As that thought rested on her mind, she noticed her image reappearing slowly.
A knock sounded again and the change finished instantly. It was like two different people were inside her body. The Lady who was well known and frequented the social uppers of Queen Victoria’s court and the Shadow who delivered the most secret of secret messages at night; the seen and unseen.
She watched her body make the change with each thought or frame of mind. Only a second knock brought her fully back to the present.
“Marissa?” Sean called worriedly.
She marched over and opened the door. He looked penitent and she was chastised.
“I thought you were dead,” he accused. “Don’t do that to me.”
She pulled him into the room anxious to show him her new ‘ability’ but something in his expression stopped her.
“What is it?” she asked.
“We just received word. Minister Cherington is dead,” Sean said slowly.
Marissa could feel the blood leaving her face. “What?” she gasped. He had been her message two nights ago. She was probably one of the last people to see him alive. Her hand went to her throat. What if the first dose had killed him?
“How?” she demanded.
“Murdered, a knife in his chest. The servants found him this morning in his study. They think it happened sometime after midnight.” Sean looked at her his expression pleading. “Please tell me you’re not involved in this Marissa.”
She sat down dazed and relieved. “I don’t know.”
“Who did you deliver to last night?” Sean demanded.
She looked at him surprised. He had never asked for particulars before. He said it was easier not knowing where she went and whom she did business with.
“An old woman who lives down near the docks. It is the same and only message I deliver on Thursdays.”
“And the night before?”
She dropped her gaze. “A doctor down in Cheapside and…” she couldn’t finish.
“Minister Cherington?” Sean finished.
Marissa nodded. “But the messages had nothing to do with anything that could get him killed. He was paying for some sort of potion or medicine.”
“Are you certain?”
She looked at him uncertainly. She didn’t know for sure. She was horrified that her work might have cost a man his life, but then she realized her work didn’t do that. His purchase may have though.
“Sean I just deliver messages,” she argued.
“You deliver secret messages that no one wants anyone else to know about,” he countered.
“I’ve never delivered an order to have someone killed. I don’t work like that. Besides, no one knows who I am,” she replied urgently.
“What happened, Marissa?” Sean demanded coming to her side and placing his hands earnestly on her arms. “Why were you in such pain? I have to know. Are you sure they didn’t see you?”
“Yes, I’m sure. They want me to come back next week to deliver another message to Minister Cherington, but I suppose that is pointless now. I won’t go,” she replied.
He looked at her expecting more. She hung her head.
“I drank some wine the Doctor offered,” she said finally. It was actually John who offered it. She never would have taken anything from the doctor.
“Are you mad?” Sean exclaimed. “They could have put something in it!”
They did, she thought. “The decanter was in the room the whole time,” she argued. “I watch carefully. I wouldn’t have made that mistake.” But was the cup? She thought to herself.
Sean turned on her grasping her arms tightly and staring at her intently. “Marissa Edgington, if you die on me because of your own stupidity…” He left the sentence hanging and turned away from her.
Marissa stared at his back in surprise. He had never expressed emotion like this other than chiding her for her nighttime activities. At that moment she decided it would be too much to show him her new ‘ability.’
“I’m not going to die, Sean,” she said quietly. She was pretty certain about that. “I delivered that message two days ago. I’m certain his death has nothing to do with me.” But she wasn’t really certain.
“But you can’t be sure,” Sean argued, as if reading her thoughts. He turned to face her again. “This work is too dangerous, but I know it is pointless to try and convince you to stop although I wish you would.”
“I can’t stop, Sean, not now,” she answered quietly. Her earlier temper was gone. She cared too much for Sean to fight with him about this now. “I promise I will be much more careful in the future.”
His shoulders slumped. “I suppose that is the best I can ask for,” he answered grudgingly. “I…I need a drink,” he said leaving the room.
Marissa watched him leave feeling guilty for not telling him why she had to keep doing her job. Now she could do it better than ever and no one would ever see her face.