by Paul Gerard
A world is emerging from a difficult period of darkness.
|A Dance of Shadows
“The long night is receding, drawing slowly to a close. Now the night that darkened the world for an age, will at last be supplanted, rooted out by the overwhelming light of angels and gods; a light without end. But with this light comes judgement and a swift sword. For the Kings and Priests of Light, foretold in prophecies of old are come.” (From the books of Light and Dark. Volume III)
Evil thrives on darkness. It aids it, gives it birth and sustains it. All manner of unthinkable acts are done in the shadows, where light can never reach, as souls long bereft of goodness lay in waiting for their next helpless victim. Souls who over time had abandoned all humanity, giving themselves over to lust and greed and hate. Such is the depth of their carnality, they do not even remember the light that once illuminated an age, having long since passed from knowledge.
But now, as the coming light draws closer, one thing will, in time, become clear. In the new light all dark acts committed in secret will be revealed, once there is nowhere left to hide. And when he comes with a full army of light begotten beings, ready to wrest back control of his kingdom, those who have used the darkness will pray that his mercy is full and his justice quick.
Chapter 1: The Fading Night
I brought my father a skin of wine, the last old wine in the very last cask. It was good wine, but the taste had become very wooden and he screwed up his face as he drank it. It was an expected reaction, but still disappointing. He put his cup down and returned his gaze star-ward. For a moment I thought he would say nothing.
“How long has it been Sera?” he asked without turning away from the sky.
“It seems like an age ago that I last saw the suns slowly fall in their melodic and graceful recession, placing us in this irrepressible darkness.”
“Indeed, father, I do not know. I have only known darkness.”
He turned around and in the dim candle light he seemed to be studying me. I tried not to read his thoughts, but I could not help it. They forced their way into my mind. So innocent still and yet always so honest…and so very beautiful.
I turned to leave, fearing he may have other thoughts, thoughts I did not want to know. If he had known that I was able to read him, he would have been ashamed and I did not want that, not yet. Instead I moved to leave, but before I could make my exit, he caught me off guard again.
I said nothing. He got up from his kneeling position and brushed off his knees. Then he put on his sandals and, with hands quickly placed together in one last gesture of prayer, he turned around again and made his way down the short number of steps from the landing to the floor beneath where I stood cold and uncomfortable.
“Nineteen years is how long we have been in darkness.”
He came closer to me and I knew what it was he wanted. My hands were trembling and my vein effort to hold the tray I was carrying was failing, as was my desire to listen anymore. I could do nothing. He took the tray from my shaking hands and clasped his own warm hands around mine. He was looking down at them, but as he slowly raised his head, stripping every piece of dignity from my body with his eyes, eventually those steely gems found my unwilling gaze and I knew that if I was to survive, I would have to give myself over again. I desperately hoped that inside his heart would be a thought, a prayer, some semblance of repentance that indicated he was in some small way sorry. But as he took me to his bed, there was nothing but the cool, dark thoughts of a man obsessed with his own flesh and blood. This same man, this priest, my father would long ago have punished such behaviour with nothing less than that which the law would allow.
Afterwards, as I cleaned the stain of incestuous desire from my fragile body, he spoke to me more softly, as if speaking softly would chase away the demons hiding in the dark who chuckled still, even as I dressed myself. I did not turn to look at him. But there was something in what he was saying that made me hope there was still a chance he would redeem himself.
“You will turn eighteen in a few days,” he said.
I was having trouble trying to figure out the significance of the statement. It seemed such a pointless and trivial thing to say, given what had happened only moments before.
“Your mother was eighteen…when she—“
I swung around, expecting to see him staring at me while I dressed. Instead his eyes were cast down and off to one side. He reached down and unlocked the drawer to a small desk by his bed. He pulled out a leather-bound book. He did not open it. Instead, he came over to me and placed it into my hands.
“This is all I have left of hers.”
I thought I saw a flash of guilt as I tried desperately to read his mind. But something stopped me. Strange that when I did not want to hear his thoughts, they crashed through every effort to halt them and yet when I wanted to read them, they were not forthcoming. I didn’t need to. He walked towards the door and stopped, hesitating for a moment. The salt of fresh tears stung at the tale end of bitter confusion and hopelessness. I had long since given up crying, but the pain had become unbearable, not the physical pain alone, but the pain of betrayal of a father I had once loved and admired for all that was good in him. In that moment I cursed the darkness. I cursed the gods-forsaken night without end. I cursed the foreboding in the pit of my restless gut and, unforgivably, I cursed the memory of a mother I would never again hold in my arms.
“The light is coming Sera. And as the darkness leaves, I must leave too. For I have stained the memory of my wife, your mother and the light that comes will never forgive me.”
His words echoed the thoughts in my muddled mind and in my confusion, I couldn’t make up my mind if he’d really said it or if I’d read his thoughts. Either way the truth in his words would mean that if he left I would be alone in this darkness and that was far more frightening than a father’s unwanted advances.
So despite all that he had done to me and in complete disregard for all common sense, I ran to him and threw my arms around him and begged him not to leave. I wanted to hit him, to slap him repeatedly until all energy left me. But instead I howled until his garments were soaked with my tears. He held me this time not out of lust, but out of fear and something approaching care. But as I watched him leave our home, I met his eyes for the last time and caught a glimpse of the father I had wanted to believe in, the father I loved as much as hated, the father I remembered as a little girl who still clung innocently to the ideology that fathers protect, cherish and love, but never harm their children.
I have taken note of all the critical feedback from my work so far and have tried to put all of that learning into this new piece. Although this is a first draft, I am keen to hear what people think. I have worked on voice, dialogue, structure, narrative and other aspects.
Copyright©Paul Day 2012