“Hello Darkness my old friend.. I’m come to talk with you again”
My voice carries far across the field behind my little hut. Coming up here to get away from the city is one of my favorite things in life. The crisp breeze is soothing against my skin as I settle into my favorite wooden chair, my hand closing around the beer bottle I’ve carried out with me. It’s perfectly quiet. Well, as quiet as a field can be. There’s the chatter of insects and every now and then, a muffled animal cry. I take a long sip. It’s chilly, but not bad enough to go get a blanket.
I’m not your friend, you know
I hear the voice clearly. Or rather, feel it. It’s coming from all around me. I try to figure out where it’s coming from. The field’s a dark mystery. I can barely make out the fence in the starlight. I think of getting up and checking it out, but then realize I’d probably just end up breaking my ankle in one of the myriad holes and depressions that cover it.
You humans keep saying that. Weird, since for so long you’ve always been wary of me. Beware the night, you would say. Now I’m your friend
The ‘voice’ if it could be called that sounds derisive. An unspoken shake of the head.
“Who.. Who are you? Where are you?”
My mind’s racing, trying to figure out not just where the person speaking is, but also what I need to do. I left my gun in the city, and the only weapon I can think of is the iron poker hanging above the fireplace indoors. I clench my thighs and grip both arms of my chair, ready to make an explosive dash indoors.
Stay, John. Talk to your ‘friend’
“My friend? Who are you?”
My legs won’t move. The voice starts to press in around me. The stars seem to dim and the light bulb above me flickers. I feel a chill down my neck as I’m aware of a shape flickering right at the edge of my vision.
Yeah, I’m real. The Darkness. The void. The boogeyman, whatever you want to call me
I turn slowly to the shape. A black silhouette vaguely approximating the shape of a man leans up against one of the wooden support beams. I can’t make out it’s face, or any finer details. My fingers are shaking. My brow feels cool, sweat beading on it despite the chill.
“What.. What do you want? Are you going to kill me?”
My voice is meek. Barely audible.
No, John. I’m not a killer. I just want to chat with my ‘friend’. I mean, that’s what friends do right? They chat.
The faintest trace of menace enters the darkness’ voice.
This was so much simpler before you humans discovered fire. The night was my domain. Me and my children could roam free, travelling all over the world, seeing, hearing, experiencing the wonders of existence. But then you humans had to invent light
The form straightens and crosses its arms in front of its chest.
The dark scared you. The mystery. And what did you do? You found a way to kill us. We never hurt any of you. It isn’t our fault you humans can’t perceive through us. An animal attacks, a man steps off a cliff, it’s not our fault. But we bore the punishment. For so long humans have waged a war or me and my children, our only crime existing. That doesn’t sound too friendly, does it John?
I let the words ring around me. The shape shrinks slightly. A bitter, miserable air hangs around us.
How many of my children have died, John. Every single time you turn a light on in a room and banish the shadows, that’s one of my children dead. Every time a candle is lit, every time a fire is struck in the woods, my children die. And you have the audacity to call me friend.
“I.. I didn’t know. I’m sorry?”
My voice is hoarse.
I don’t want your pity. Or your apologies. I don’t even know why I showed myself tonight. Every single moment is agony. Every moment one of my children dies. Go about your day. I have nothing more to say. Kill my children. Punish them merely for daring to exist.
Before I can say another word, the shape dissolves. I’m aware of the sounds of the field again. My hand’s shaking as I take a sip of beer. I rub my eyes as I stand up slowly. The dark feels heavy. Oppressive.
I settle into my chair and look across the field. Nothing’s really changed in the three weeks I’ve been gone. The usual sense of satisfaction I get is replaced by one of apprehension.
“Darkness, are you there?”
I feel silly calling out into the night.
What do you want John?
I jerk in surprise as I get a response. I mean, I was hoping for one, but I’d half convinced myself I’d imagined the whole thing.
“I.. I have something for you”
I reach over to the table and beside my bottle of beer is a little box. * Oh? A gift? Spare me*
The silhouette is back. Leaning against the same support as last time, arms seemingly folded in front of it’s chest.
I pick the box up, put it in the palm of my hand and hold it out towards the shadow.
“See this? This box is completely sealed. Nothing can get in. And it’s made of lead, so that means light too.”
The silhouette moves towards me, emanating dark. It stops just out of arm’s reach.
“This probably won’t make up for everything, but one of your children will always be safe, and protected. I don’t know if your children get stir crazy, but if they do, I’ll figure something out”
The shadow’s voice is exceptionally quiet.
*Nisha. You have one of my daughter’s there. She’s a quiet soul so she won’t mind not seeing the world. She probably appreciates the silence and solitude * I close my hand around the box. It feels warm in my palm.
Goodbye John. Take care of Nisha for me
The shadow dissolves before I can say anything more.
The stars seem brighter than ever.