A short story about a man who didn't manage to fight his fear. Inspired by my own horrors.
|He didn’t want to open his eyes – he was afraid. The worst thing was that he’d known he’d see nothing, and he feared it the most. Although there wasn’t any difference between open or closed eyes, there wasn’t anything around him at all except for abysmal, evil darkness. He felt it mantle him, weightless and hefty and the same time. Around him, there were no sounds, no silhouettes, no motion, even not a smallest wind. And no souls – neither dead nor alive, but himself, somewhere in the middle. Though the darkness was silent, he could hear its voice: piercing into his head, moving through veins, muffling the heart.
He must do something.
But he couldn’t do anything at all. The brighter he imagined the absolute darkness and those ghosts that were lurking soundlessly around him, the stronger grew the feeling that all that – ghosts and darkness – wanted to haul him to their world, to dissolve him, to make him the nothing they were. The darkness ruled over everything in there, and there couldn’t be anything but darkness.
The fear of darkness was born in the early childhood when the errant imagination began creating horrible things where they hadn’t existed. Neither his parents nor psychologists were able to find the cause of it, but he had always felt someone’s presence in the dark corners. He knew that where a human eye couldn’t see the monstrous creatures lived, and every night they would come to get him. He didn’t know why. Had a guess that they needed to feed themselves and feared even more, because he didn’t want to be someone’s food. The monsters and the Darkness itself became his worst enemies who he used to run from instead of fighting. He had a reason to do so: it was much easier to turn on the lights than to force yourself not to cry when the dark was pressuring and letting its monsters go free again. Sleeping with a light on became a habit very soon, and his family accepted his unchangeable person. During daytime, when the sun was shining, he would assure himself that the fear will pass. But none of his hopes could become real; as soon as the night fell, cold sweat would flow down his forehead and neck, he’d curtain all the windows so he didn’t see the hostile faces with black holes where eyes must be, and he’d turn on the light in the entire house to let not the smallest piece of space for Darkness to live in. There was one exception – the basement that he’d never dared visit during many long years. Then he would blame himself for that wimpiness, being sure it was the basement where the terrors of darkness were coming from. The fear then grew into something bigger. If he was left near a darkened place or – which was much worse – surrounded by dark, he’d have a panic attack. Quicker breathing, spinning head, sweat streaming down his back, the whole body shaking, legs wobbling; his head was full of panic thoughts: What is there? What is there? What is there?! And at very last he would just faint and only come around in his bedroom. Every single time it happened his sick mind was drawing horrors much more dreadful than any horror movie. He was surrounded by spirits, ethereal bodies, formless phantoms with no faces, with slender arms that they would always draw out to reach him, they used to swallow him, look him in the eye and deafen him with their silent shouts. And then they would just disappear, and nothing was left after them, except the Darkness – it was his fears’ Empress. It was planting the panic inside him, it had always stood behind him and crept down his skin, giving him goose bumps, and there wasn’t a way to get rid of it. It was possible to fight the attacks with light, but then it stopped being of any use. A shadow that had followed him everywhere began its own life, it was ringing around him, as a reminder of the ordeal he dreamed about while being out of his consciousness, and of that the Darkness will always find a chink to sneak through inside his soul. It came to an absurd: he was afraid to close his eyes, being sure that he would never open them again. He knew: the Darkness will find him and bring him to where no one can return from, although he’d never known where that place was.
Now he understood that, possibly, he’d made a huge mistake when he preferred to turn the light on instead of turning it off. He didn’t know what exactly had happened; it was just one instant when the light disappeared, and nothing was left, except dark.
It’s came for me. He decided that it was his last clear thought.
Panic was penetrating inside him, streaming through him with the blood, misted the mind. He felt his heart rate quicken, breathing become sharp and whistling. His head began to spin. When he opened his eyes and saw nothing, he felt something wet on his cheeks. Tears, mixed with sweat, were falling down from his skin and disappearing in the dark. His back had already been wet through, as well as his chest and face, but there was no use in wiping the salty water off – he couldn’t help it. He wanted to shout; a cry if despair and helplessness was escaping his throat, but he heard nothing. Opened his mouth, pushed the voice out, but produced no sound. The was looking around, not able to stop weeping, but he saw nothing. No earth, no sky, no horizon, no items, no human beings – nothing that could pull him out from this place. If it was a place at all… If it was somewhere, somewhen and somehow. But everywhere around him was absolutely nothing, so it was impossible to understand.
Nothing was the worst thing for him in the entire world.
You can’t sense, comprehend, see or hear it, it’s deadly for a human. But, damn it, why nothing is always darkness?! What does it need? Why does it come? Why doesn’t it leave me alone? He’d never could understand it, it made him fear even more.
He sensed his legs tremble, then bend and become the air, and then he fell. There was no floor or ceiling, nothing to fall onto, so his entire body only dove into lightness. Is this really what turning into the Darkness begins with? He couldn’t even see his own body, but he felt every single atom of his cells; atoms themselves were dispersing and becoming nothing, mixing with the dark, mixing with the emptiness. All of a sudden, he started producing quite clever thoughts.
“You’re a fool,” passed through his mind and dissolved, “Remember what your mom was telling you: When you’re afraid, recall something that makes you laugh. Or sing a song. Or speak loudly and make a lot of noise. The fear lives where people are alone. Or what your daddy used to say: If you’re afraid of the dark, then it means it gains control of you. Show it that it’s wrong: conquer her. Watch the dark for as long as it’s possible until it becomes something you know, something you understand well enough to stop fearing it. And you, like an idiot, you were turning those lamps on all around the house. Don’t you think Darkness cares about the lamps? Fear is not something to live with, but something to fight. Otherwise, it will turn you into nothing. It’s a parasite, feeding on your despair, tears and panic. And you were feeding it for your entire life.”
When the last word sounded, the thought disappeared, he didn’t feel anything. He didn’t existed anymore.
He became what he was fearing all those years – he became the Darkness.