In the Darkness

"They say that there are creatures of the darkness that can tear the Light right out of a person!" A man, the story-teller, exclaimed, causing children around him to jump, "The Light flees wherever they roam, causing darkness to fall over all the land! They like to prey on children most of all, for it is in a child’s soul you find the most light…"

A young boy—eight, maybe nine years old—sat in the middle of the family sitting room. His father sat in a large chair nearby, watching as his son happily played with small wooden toys. A fire crackled homely on one wall, warming the whole room and casting a reddish light over it’s inhabitants. The boy’s mother was in the adjoining kitchen preparing their evening meal.

The young boy had blonde hair and his skin was a fair tone. He was not known to be overly fragile or susceptible to diseases despite his frail appearance and slim frame. His father was a large man, rough in appearance with dirty blonde hair and a beard of the same. From first look this gruff man would appear intimidating at best, nothing like the gentle, loving father his son knew him as. His mother was soft spoken, the perfect gentle-lady. She was lovely as a flower and nearly as delicate, but when need be she was strong and had been several times for her small family.

The boy frowned suddenly, looking up from his play. His confused eyes wandered to meet his father’s.

"What is it, son?" The man asked, his voice low and rough, much like his appearance.

The boy thought for a moment, "Something," He started carefully, "something bad, I think. Something dark, scary. Papa, you won’t let it get me, will you?"

Hidden in the man’s deep brown eyes was worry, but he did not allow his son to see this. It was true that what his son feared was out there, and not far enough away for comfort either. The darkness had been spreading and was nearly upon their very doorstep. But there was nothing poor villagers could do about that.

"Listen." The man said quietly, beckoning the boy closer, "Listen outside this room, outside our house. What do you hear?"

The boy listened carefully before hesitantly replying: "I don’t hear anything, Papa."

The big man smiled, "Right! Right! You don’t hear anything." His son looked up at him in confusion and the man elaborated, "If anything bad were coming, the big city bell would ring, warning us of danger. You know the bell, don’t you?"

The boy nodded, "The big one way up on the watch tower in the middle of town!" The boy exclaimed.

The man nodded, "That’s it. As long as the bell is silent, we here in this town are safe."

The boy frowned, still not completely satisfied, "But what if the bell doesn’t ring? What if it can’t ring and something bad gets through?"

"It will ring." The man assured his son quickly, "There are many watch men." The boy still did not look convinced. "Feel inside yourself, my boy." The man directed momentarily, pausing until he had his son’s attention again, "Feel for the Light in your own soul." He paused a moment again, "Do you feel it?"

The boy shook his head, "What does it feel like?"

His father frowned, "What does it feel like?" He repeated, stumped by the question. "Well, that’s not important just yet." He regained his composure quickly and continued, "What is important is this: even when you’re in the darkest place, in the blackest hour you will always have that Light inside you. Wherever you go it will be and when you find yourself afraid, or in danger, it will make itself known and will give you strength." The man finished, "Do you understand?"

Sadly, the boy shook his head again, "I don’t know."

The man opened his mouth to continue, but quickly shut it again—focusing all his senses off in the distance. His eyes widened in horror as a faint Dong-Dong reached his ear.

"A bell, Papa!" The boy exclaimed, hearing it as well.

"Yes, that is the warning bell in our sister town, less than twenty miles from here!" The man agreed, frowning. He quickly stood, walking first to the kitchen to speak to his wife.

"Mama!" The boy squealed, beating him to it, "A bell! Something’s happening!"

The woman looked up, her eyes quickly meeting with her husband’s. He silently answered her gaze, unspoken words exchanging between them. Silently, so as not to worry her son, she went back into the bed rooms and began packing bags in case it came to fleeing their home.

The man nodded in satisfaction and quickly grabbed his over coat from a nearby peg, his son mimicking his preparations. Together, the two men of the house stepped outside into the cold night air.

The boy shivered in fear at the darkness surrounding them, but his father quickly lit a large torch right outside their house. Looking down the lane, other torches were being lit and the town’s own warning bell was now ringing. Soon the whole town was ablaze, so many torches were lit that it was almost bright as day in the streets of the town. Women were beginning to come out of their houses, passing bags and weapons to their husbands and children.

As the bell stopped ringing, the whole town gathered on the Eastern side of the village, looking out to where a similar blaze could be seen in the distance. The boy was at awe, never having seen his village like this before. Yet even the excitement could not stave off his inner feeling of impending doom.

The people watched in horror, gasping as the light on the horizon slowly went out—and the bell was heard no more. Quiet whispers were exchanged amongst the adults and fearful exclamations between the children. A few long moments passed and their own warning bell started up again, joined by others throughout the town this time.

The women and children were ushered further back into the town as the men prepared to take on this mystery. One young boy clung to his mother’s side, staring fearfully after his papa. This had never happened before—not in his life.

The men waited silently, spears, swords, and bows at the ready. Fear was beginning to mount in their brave hearts as well and an icy chill seemed to grab at them. They watched, looking into the black gloom and yet even their most piercing eyes could not make out any form. But they dared not hope it was a false alarm.

Strange noises slowly made their way to the men’s ears. The screaming of death and crying of life seemed to both live on in the fearful screeches of the enemy. Yet even as the strange cries came closer, the men were still unable to see a thing.

They grew restless. It seemed they were waiting for their own death, yet none had the courage to move. They were frozen in fear to the very spot they stood. Until it happened.

Suddenly dark shapes—darker than the darkness itself—sprang out at them. Men screamed, falling at the very sight of such things of nightmares. Some threw their spears, some loosed their arrows, yet none of these things did any good against the enemy.

The stance was soon broken as the men realized this was an enemy they could not fight. Not at this time at least. The fled in all directions, shouting out for others to do the same. The villagers ran in all directions, trying desperately to get away from an unseen enemy as the lights in their town went out one by one.

The boy was momentarily elated to see his father running towards them, but quickly this joy transformed back into fear as the darkness crept in on them. With barely any encouragement from his mother the boy turned and ran, as fast as his legs would take him. He ran to the west, in the opposite direction the shadows were coming from, away from the spreading darkness. His parents followed closely behind, shouting encouragement to him and warnings that he was not to stop running no matter what should transpire.

The town was soon dark—like their sister town miles away. No people ran through the streets, no children played in the homes, no light burned in the candles. Nothing. Nothing was there. A vast blanket of nothingness, of darkness, lay where the town had once sat and the few inhabitants that had escaped were scattered in the dead of night.

Somewhere in this dark a boy finally collapsed from exhaustion. Too tired to take another step, too tired to even look around him. Too tired to notice a thing in the world. And he lay there for hours, unmoving and seemingly dead until his weariness was removed from him.

Slowly, the boy became aware. He rolled onto his back, stretching slightly to heal himself of kinks he had gotten from lying on the hard ground. He opened his eyes and looked about.

The land was dark, black clouds loomed over head allowing minimal sunlight to break through it’s holds. It was light enough to see about him, however, to see that he was alone.

The child’s mind raced, "Mama! Papa?" The boy called, wondering where his beloved parents could be. Standing, he quickly scoured his surroundings until he was satisfied that he was, truly, alone.

Overcome with grief and fear the boy dropped back down to the ground and allowed his emotions to surface, sobbing bitterly to the dark.

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