Based on real life experiences, we enter the mind of one afraid of the dark.
|The Dark Room
I felt as though I were a small child again, my parents prudently leaving me in time out in the basement, no light as punishment for bad behavior.
My friend sat below me, going through the odd motions photographers must do to preserve their craft, light viewed as though a great enemy, seeking the quiet and the cold dead places to wrought their worldly colors, their own creations.
She had come to my house carrying some behemoth of a lensed beast, excitedly describing in great detail the senseless jargon of film, light, and clarity.
‘We have to load each piece by hand in absolute dark, because they are so light sensitive.’ She exclaimed. Not even a flashlight covered in red paper would do, her beloved creature needed to fully flourish in black.
The rustlings were getting more strange to my virgin ears, my brain scrambling to carefully chart and catalogue each sound to make sense of this whole new world.
What sound was that? Basements were always dank and black, correct? What troubling vibrations startled my sensitive lobes?
I pressed my fingers to my eyes, searching through touch as my sight was suspended. Yes, they were in fact, open.
The hissings of our insane cat did nothing to ease my trembling soul. I babbled into the silence, asking, begging, pleading with my friend to hurry her rustling, let me out of my personal Hell. Who needed Dante’s Inferno, when they had the basement cruelty I was forced to endure? She did little to ease my suffering, her full concentration on her Frankenstein creation. ‘No light.’ She groused at my doom filled heart.
Phantom shapes began to grow in my mind, grotesque faces grimacing as they appeared in the film of my thoughts, dead faces, horror filled faces.
She was speaking again, and my ears rejoiced to no longer strain for sounds of dread and comfort. Even in darkness, the blackest of black, my friend would close her eyes to focus.
‘Did you see that?’ she did not. I tried to breathe, then stopped when I heard another breathing louder. Yet, it was my own, and I hastened to keep myself quiet. They might hear me.
‘They who?’ she asked across the gulf of her reality and my own. Never mind, I spoke in vain jest. She returned to her black magic, and I returned to my agony.
The cold draft blew down my neck, and images of a swinging man suddenly flooded my cerebrum, and I duck as his spectral shoes dangled just above my head. I didn’t want contact with the suicide man hanging loftily.
My movement jostled the door, and it opened briefly, my black cat hissing innocently at the dogs. The muted screech behind me, however, was my friend’s anger and dismay at my failed attempt at blocking the light.
I shut the door immediately, hoping to save her film from overexposure, secretly reveling in my little window into the realm I longed to return to, the realm of light.
Something touched me, brushing past my cold feet, I knew it. I stayed very still, so to not attract attention. This project of torture and freakish misery was taking far too long.
The rustling below me slowed, then stopped. May I turn on the light? I hoped she said yes, and I could be finished with this particular tale.
Her reply almost caused weeping to commence, but I flooded my starved eyes with light instead of salt water.
Several weeks after my brief interim into Hades, my friend, the Phantom Photographer, called with sad news. ‘The film must have touched in the tank; there are all these opaque patches in the film, little white spots I couldn’t quite make out in every picture with that new camera.’
Opaque patches? I simply agreed, but I knew the truth. The faces in my head were real. My eyes had been open the whole time.