Circle of Darkness  

 

The darkness frightened him. It had always frightened him, even when he was a child. But it also fascinated him, he felt as though he could touch it, taste it and understand it.   It didn’t bother him at first, it was only when he started mixing with other children that he realised he was strange. They laughed at him, calling him cruel, schoolboy names. So he stopped talking about it.

        He built up the courage to tell his father. His father also laughed at him, it hurt him deeply,  he felt betrayed. He knew that this was now his secret, that nobody could be trusted with his feelings. He became isolated from others but this didn’t bother him. He drifted away from his family, he had no friends except the darkness which he trusted. At least until the noises started.

       They were  quiet, almost imperceptible. He had to strain to hear them but he knew they were there.  Like a voice talking to him, a voice that didn’t make sense. It whispered to him in the darkness. On many  occasions he quickly switched on his bed side lamp hoping to see who was talking to him. The light frightened the voice away, So he switched it off quickly . The voice always returned.

        As he grew older the voice troubled him less often. He listened for it every night but it only visited him occasionally. He craved to know what the voice said but it was still too quiet. It was only after he left home that the voice started to get louder. He had left home suddenly one day on an impulse, he had a job in a small grocery store which he hated. The job gave him money so he started to rent a small flat. Nobody even said goodbye to him when he left, he just stopped going home one night.

         He hated the daylight hours. The bright lights and the people who came to the store. They talked to him as though he cared. They told him the petty, insignificant details of their lives. He always smiled politely and said the right thing. It was easy to fool them, they thought he was interested. His life only came alive when the shop closed and he walked the short distance home, then he would sit in his chair and wait for the darkness before he truly woke up. 

              He sat in his chair, in the middle of his small room. He could sense the darkness slowly enfolding him.

Tonight , however, something was different. There was a strangeness about the dark he didn’t recognise. It was colder, more hostile, it seemed to threaten him more than comfort him. He felt uneasy, deep down he knew something strange was happening, it scared him.  He heard the familiar noise that had been absent the last few nights, but it was more urgent it was louder, and it sounded threatening.

             ‘ Old ‘

For the first time he understood what the voice was saying, it was clear distinct and very close to him.

             ‘ Old, so old ‘

He started to shiver, his hands felt clammy, the darkness was pressing in on him. He reached for the light switch but stopped himself. After all these years maybe this was the moment his life had been leading to.

              “ Hello “ he said. He immediately felt stupid, he was about to add “ is there anybody there “, he smiled even though he was scared , he sounded like a second rate b movie. It was when he saw the small speck of light that his smile quickly faded. His eyes were transfixed on the small speck of light, which was slowly, gradually getting larger.

              ‘ OLD ‘  shouted the voice.

He sat bolt upright in his chair, his hands gripped the arm rests, he was shaking. The darkness was pressing in on him, he struggled for breath, His hands seemed to frozen to the arm rests, he tried to move them but it was as though somebody was holding them down. He turned his head, the small speck had grown larger, it was forming a shape, an indistinct outine was clearly visible in the darkness. 

              ' OLD. SO OLD ! ' screamed the voice.   

 He now had only one thought in his mind, he had to get out. He tried with all the effort he could  gather to get out of the chair. He was gripping so hard he could feel the sensation of blood trickling  between his fingers. Sweat was pouring down his face. He was shaking uncontrollably, he felt sick.  The shape was moving towards him, it was getting clearer. It was a face about half the size of his own but it was growing, he could make out features, a nose, eyes and deep, deep, age lines.The face was getting closer and closer. The black eyes were so close to his face he could see his own reflection even in the darkness. The face, so old, so tired, pressed towards his own, he could feel the cold breath , it was the rasping stuttering breath of a man so very old. Closer and closer. The face was touching his own, he had the sensation of drowning as the face continued into his own. He tried to scream, but it was choking in his throat. He drowned in the face as it pressed into his own.

             Suddenly it was gone, it was inside him, part of him. He screamed so loudly the room seemed to shake.All he could remember were the black soulless eyes touching his own. He lost consciousness.

               He woke, he was shaking, sweat was pouring down his forehead. He reached for the light switch but his arms felt so heavy they seemed to move in slow motion toward the lamp beside him. To his great relief the light illuminted his room. His vision was blurred, he struggled to view the everyday objects of his room. He shook his head trying to restore his normal vision but even that simple action filled him with pain, he tried to stand up but his legs refused to obey him. He pushed with all the strength he could summon and stood up. He was swaying, he nearly fell over, but he gripped the arm of the chair to steady himself. He tried to walk but his legs were so weak.All he could manage was a stumble, he moved forwards but every step seemed to take an eternity. He felt so weak, so fragile. He managed to get to the door and pushed it open. He made his way to the bathroom, resting against the wall every few steps. He switched on the bathroom light and turned on the cold tap.  He leant forward and pushed his head under the cold water hoping to revive himself , to restore some sort of normality. Every movement, every effort drained him, his eyesight was still blurred, his head bowed. He leant against the wall and painfully raised his head. In front of him was a mirror. The scream that followed came from his very soul.  His face was the face of his vision.  Deep, cratered lines, hollow sunken eyes, skin so sallow he resembled a skeleton. He was old beyond recognition. He screamed  until he lost consciousness.

           He woke suddenly, he had no idea where or who he was but he was in darkness and all fear had gone. He was an old man lost in the darkness. He tried to move and found it easy, he had no sensation of movement, pain or even the sensation of a body. He could see although his vision was still blurred. He saw a bed in front of him, somebody was sitting in the bed watching him, but the eyes seemed to be looking straight through him. It was the face of a child, staring at him. H e moved towards the face but no recognition did it show. There was an expression of concentration on the face as though it was listening for something.  He had to try and talk to the figure in the darkness, he had to tell him what had happened, to ask for help. All he could think of saying was ‘ Old, so old ‘ but his voice was like a whisper. He begged the face to hear nim, to help him. 

           Then the truth hit him. He was looking at himself. He was loking at the child he had been, the child who heard voices.He must warn the child of the fate that would be his. He would keep trying until he was heard.

How many years it would take he did not know, but he had only one thought on his mind.

          ‘ Old’ he whispered ‘ Old, so old ‘…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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