The candles that surrounded the bed were made from the oil of a sperm whale's shadow. I had heard that such things were possible to obtain, in places of immense darkness; hunts for giant squid took these creatures to abyssopelagic depths, where oceanic pressures rendered their shadows too heavy to return to the surface. Once abandoned, they sank until they were made solid, whales unto themselves before being dissolved by the sun upon ascending for air.

The smoke from those candles absorbed the light of their own flames, as well as those of their surroundings. I stepped through the umbra, and as soon as I did so, I recognized that I was asleep. The boundary between consciousness and its opposite had lost all blur in the sharpness of the candledark, and my senses were turned backwards on themselves. The only element binding these two domains was an incense of ambergris and spiced rum; everything else that I could see and feel had emerged from inner space. 

I laid down with my back to my own sleeping form, and there, I closed my eyes. I knew that if I never did so, he would never wake up; but also, that if he never returned to this place thereafter, I would never leave.

Before our exchange was complete, I whispered to him that he should come back someday.

I like to think that he heard me.

Some whales have neither shadow nor body.

The extraction of shadows from animals is still considered humane.

There are worse ways to come undone.