Fiction Writing Friday: Bring on the Night

Originally posted 2015-10-16 18:00:07.

“They say there is no way to measure the absence of light.  I say they’re wrong.

“We fear the absence of light, more so in this modern age than ever before.  We light up our cities as the sun sets, praying that the moon will rise and add its light to the glow we make.  We fear what lies outside of our cities, in the wild places where man still wonders what awaits in the shadows. To most of us, the night time, the shadows, hold every horror we can imagine, and many we can’t even fathom.  Our hearts race, our minds pace their narrow corridors, and we think we are inventing terrors from scratch.  That in those shadows waits a nightmare waiting to claim us.

“Night time brings phantoms and illusions to our minds.  As children we know the terrors of the night, and that they wait, under the bed, in our closet, in the corner where the night light doesn’t quite reach.  We know then that as we pull the covers to our chins, and pray that the quilt or comforter is a holy shield against the unholy monsters waiting for us, that the darkness is not an empty place.  It holds something, a pregnant threat to our souls and our minds as well as our bodies.

“Don’t believe me?

“Go out to the wilds.  The deep wilds.  It’s never very far from where any of us live.  Go on out past the limits, where the lights of the cities no longer glow into the sky.  Out where there are no lights but what you bring with you.  Stay there for the night.  Do not light a fire.  Depend on the stars and, if you’re lucky, the moon to light your night.  Our eyes fail slowly and our other senses rise, magnifying every sound until the snap of a stick is the pace of a beast, coming for a feast.  Every tree is a silent sentinel, watching and waiting for your demise, ready to drink in your spilled life’s blood in some unholy and primal ritual.  Out there, where man is not the lord and master, we realize that the darkness harbors our greatest fears.

“But that darkness is insidious, and it invades our cities as well.  

“In the nights, in the cities, as we walk down the streets, we instinctually avoid the darkened alleyways, and the places where the streetlights don’t reach and the night smiles back at us.  We fear what may be waiting there, our child memories welling up into boogeymen waiting to take something from us.  Our money, our purity, our lives, our sanity.  Our loved ones.  We feel it well up inside of ourselves, and survival instincts flare into being, seeking to shed light on the darkness, hoping and praying that we can drive back the shadows.

“What you don’t know is that the darkness is also a soothing lover.  It covers us from the scrutiny of others, from their judgments.  It is a shield unto itself when we don’t want to be seen or noticed, when we shy away from the light, seeking solace.  When we want to be unknown, we seek the dark places.  As a child, maybe under the sink, or in our closet, the one that at night becomes a portal to some nightmare realm.  But in the day, we believe that the darkness in it is our shield, and not the weapon wielded against us.  We close the door and isolate ourselves, hoping that the darkness keeps us safe.  It is velvet and breeze, a comfort and a balm.

“But we don’t want to admit this.

“We’ve always been told that to shy away from the light was to be evil.  That to live in the darkness is to become the monster.  That if we do not embrace the day with open arms, we are twisted, broken, a predator, a destroyer.  As if plenty of those do not already live in the light.  Oh no, when we walk darkened paths, we are evil incarnate, inhuman.  We are the Enemy.  We must be, because no good thing would shy away from the light of day, and the warmth, and the scrutiny that light brings.

“After all, according to everyone, the night is where the lost souls live.

“We are judged when we don’t want to stand in the light, yet we all carry secrets in the darkness of ourselves, kept far away from the light of others, praying that they stay there.  We betray our vows to our lovers, and steal from our friends.  We lay those knowledge of those actions in the darkness and hope it stays there, not realizing that the darkness holds the judgment as well.  It watches us and presses against us, reminding us incessantly of what we have done and that it holds our secrets for us.  But we don’t want to think of it that way.  We just want to know that our own iniquities, our betrayals and our hatred are tucked away in a place we control.

“That is the sin of those that do not understand the dark, and embrace it.

“They think that the darkness is something that can just be used as they wish, a convenient dumping ground for the toxic wastes of their sins and misgivings.  Fears tucked away there, stupidly believing that what we fear will contain what we fear, like some child that doesn’t understand that pain cannot contain pain, and make it go away.  It is real, and it hungers.  There is a price to be paid for using it.  And we blindly agree, not understanding.  But to the one that embraces the night, the absence of light, we know where we tread.  Our vision is clearer in the dark, unfettered by the glare of light.  Our eyes see the depths and the shadows, and the truth of it all, the truth of the secrets held in the dark places become a library for us.”

A pale hand, nails finely manicured and kept, reaches from the shadows.  A beautiful ring, cast in silver, with an amethyst the shade of the just-there night after the sun sets at dusk adorns its ring finger.  You follow it into the shadows, and just a slight glint of the lights behind you flashing on eyes and the teeth of a smile.

“Would you like to come see the secrets of the night?”