The following is a vignette inspired by one of the song titles of Bill Nelson, posted by Anthony Ravenscroft in a different thread.
The Shadow Garden
Something moved, almost beyond the periphery of his vision. Reflexively, he cranked his head to the side, but found nothing. The alabaster pool glittered serenly, its opaque hues soothing his retinas. He moved the golden cup an inch closer to his lips but did not drink. The clear liquid did not give off any scent whatsoever to betray its origin. Lightly, he touched the ring on his left middle finger to his lips instead. The ruby grated against his upper lip, touched the edge of a front tooth. Overhead and in the east, the sun was about to rise. He would wait a quarter of an hour more, no longer. He already anticipated the moon setting below the rim of the world, casting the final troublesome shadows over the garden in which he sat. The thought was higly discomforting and only added to the importance of the moment.
There it was again! The movement, this time from the left and cascading rapidly over the surface of the pool! He stood up, hastily, and unintentionally tipped the chalice in his hand. A drop of the colorless fluid escaped its holding and pummeled down on his white robe, soundlessly burning a hole in it. A tiny trail of smoke arose from the crater and rose to his nostrils. Yet no smell. And the shadow was gone. Too fast for him. Always too fast.
As the first rays of gold spilled over the horizon he sighed and threw the ruby ring into the pool. Then he braced himself, one eternal moment, and downed the contents of the cup in his hand. As the venom coursed through his body, he took a final relief in the thought of how the water would feel beneath him as he raced over it come evening.
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