In the Darkness

Part 2

He didn’t know which direction was north or south. He wasn’t sure which way he had come from or where he was going. All he was sure of was that he should be going somewhere, he should not linger in one spot long.

All around him the lands seemed in shadow so he was not able to steer by the light of the sun. And thus he unknowingly ventured further into the darkness. He stumbled far into the land of the shadow, grew closer to that which plagued his nightmares and waking fears.

The boy wandered for a very long time. He kept going in what he guessed was a straight line and he didn’t see a soul. It was impossible for him to tell how many days had passed as he was unable to see the sun and sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference in the level of darkness around him.

He was very grateful for his mother’s preparations as what she had packed was all the food he could find. However, even his mother’s food soon began to dwindle.

It was maybe a week later, the boy reckoned, when he came upon his first sight of some kind of civilization. It was very dark here, he could barely see a foot in front of him when a dim light shone down from away up a hill. To the boy’s eyes which were now used to the darkness, the light seemed very bright and welcoming and he immediately made for it.

When he came closer he could see the light was emanating from two torches on either side of a great door. The door belonged to a rather impressive looking stone mansion. The sturdy walls extended in all directions as far as the boy could see.

Around the castle lay a courtyard, and not a very friendly one at that the boy noted as he looked around further. He was almost upon it now, it was ringed by a skimpy fence made of rotting wooden poles every five feet and a thick cord twisting through those. The yard was full of unkempt, spidery bushes with barely any life left in them and large strangely shaped rocks.

The boy ventured closer, his eyes captivated mostly by the stones he had seen. He easily and quietly jumped the small fence, taking care not to make more than a muffled sound upon impact. He sat still for a moment, crouching low in case someone had heard him despite his care.

Satisfied, he crept closer until he was right beside one of the stones. He turned to study it further under the dim light of the torches. He couldn’t help a gasp of horror as he read the scrawl carved into the stone and realized these headstones were marking graves!

Not caring now if anyone heard him, his only wish was to leave this place. He stood and ran back towards the fence, but he stumbled on something and fell to the ground with a shout. Breathing heavily from fright, the boy tried to free himself. Failing that, he sat and looked at what had tripped him.

The boy was horrified to find the hand of a man curled around his small leg. The dreadful man was still half in the ground and pulling himself out further with his free arm. The boy couldn’t hold back a scream at the creepy countenance of this creature—it’s skin was pale and gray, it was eaten away and occupied by insects in some areas. It had little hair upon it’s scull and that which it did have was slimy and black.

The boy squeezed his eyes shut to block out the nasty vision, trying to force the hand off of him by kicking at it with his free leg. His eyes snapped open again as he heard the large wooden door of the mansion slam open. He gasped in fear as more like this one piled out the door, accompanied by others even more dreadful to the young boy.

He struggled more in the creature’s grasp, hoping to free himself before these others bared down upon him. He almost made it too, he got his foot free moments later, but the other creatures were nearly there. He turned to run but it was fruitless, he was quickly seized by many of the horrible monsters.

Vainly, he wiggled in their grasp, trying anything to get free in his desperation. They easily drug him with them, back to the castle and brought him inside. The large entry which greeted him was filled with more of the same, many, many more.

They were making hideous noises that the boy guessed was some kind of cruel laughter. When the door closed, making his appearance known, they turned and stared at him with wicked, cruel eyes.

He had been afraid before—he had almost died once—but this took the cake. The boy was sure these monsters would have some torturous way to end the life of trespassers. He was certain he would never see outside again, dark or light. He closed his eyes and silently prayed that they would at least have the mercy to end his life quickly—though he doubted it.

He was ushered through the crowd, the creatures jeered at him and consulted each other in mocking comments regarding him. The room was very dimly lit as if the ones who dwelled here hated the light and the boy didn’t doubt such beings as these would.

He found he was being brought in the general direction of a staircase which was off to one side of the room. He was almost there when the room suddenly went silent. He frantically scanned the room, for what could demand silence from such monsters must truly be horrible.

The sound of a lone pair of footsteps directed his gaze up. The stairs led to a second floor balcony. It had a railing on the side overhanging the room below it and on the opposite wall it was lined with doors. He spotted another being walking across this balcony towards the stairs, all eyes were on him as he slowly descended.

The boy shivered at the coldness this new creature seemed to bring with him into the room. He dreaded the thoughts that sprang to his mind about what would happen when this thing had finally descended but was unable to tear his eyes away from the graceful body approaching. Nor was he able to move had fleeing entered his mind, so enraptured by the presence of such an obviously powerful being.

At length the creature came to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. It studied the boy quietly for a moment and the boy in turn studied it back. It was rather tall, being over 6 ½’. It was shaped something like a man although instead of hands it bore two rather large scythes, it’s skin was leathery black and it had no face that the boy could see.

"What have we here?" It spoke at last, although it was unclear where exactly the voice had emanated from. The creature had a voice like honey, smooth and relaxing and the boy felt some of his initial fear drain just at hearing such a voice.

"We found him creeping around our graves!" One of the man-creatures hissed with an eerie voice that seemed somehow not whole.

The black creature ignored it, "A child, I believe is what they call you." He stated after another short study of the boy’s small frame, "Am I right in guessing that you hail from one of the two villages destroyed nigh a week ago?"

The creature seemed to look expectantly at the boy although he could see no eyes. "Yes, sir." The boy finally managed in a small voice.

The black head nodded approvingly, "I was not aware any escaped." It mused before turning it’s attention back to the boy, "You have ventured a long way from home, little one. Have you a name?"

The boy didn’t answer, shocked at the creature’s earlier words about none escaping. “I am called темнота.” The creature continued in it’s smooth voice. It paused, seeming to consider, “Perhaps, you and I can be friends?”

The boy felt something inside himself go off. Something told him this creature was not to be trusted. He was not sure what the harm could be since it seemed pleasant enough, but he had the vague sensation of a warning bell going off inside himself and if he had learned anything from growing up in his village it was that when a warning bell sounded, you listened to it.

The boy remained silent once more, unsure of how to put a refusal. The creature, темнота waited patiently for some time, but soon it’s patience began to wane.

"Is that your answer then?" It spoke, it’s tone much harsher than it previously had revealed itself, "Fine, you want to do this the hard way."

The evil in the room seemed to increase tenfold as the creature realized it’s displeasure. The boy’s brown eyes widened in horror at this new side of the creature and was glad he had not trusted him, for what then would have become of him?

“Take him away!” темнота spat in annoyance. Regaining some of it’s self control as the boy was being forcibly lead up the stairs, it’s tone remembered some of it’s former smoothness and he added to the boy, "You will join us, young one. In time."

His escorts took him away, however, before he had a chance to wonder what the being had meant by that. He soon found himself out of the large room and in what seemed like a never ending corridor. They did not go through this long, turning into another room not far from the entrance.

Soon the boy found himself thrown into a very small, very dark room. His captor’s shut the wooden door quickly, leaving him alone in the pitch black. The boy blinked several times, trying to force his eyes to focus on something, but they couldn’t and he was forced to submit himself to the darkness that was now his abode. Sullenly, the young boy found one of the back corners of the room and sat down, hugging his knees to him and closing his eyes, willing this to be naught but a dream.

It seemed like forever. How long it was really, he was unable to tell. Nothing ever changed, darkness all around him, eerie noises he couldn’t imagine the causes of echoed from outside the door.

He knew it must have been while when the hunger pains began to come. He had lost his pack when that creature grabbed him, it had fallen to the ground somewhere beyond his reach and he had not eaten since early that day. Now his abdomen complained over his situation insistently, his parched throat only slightly less angry.

An unyielding weariness was upon him but his mind could find no rest in a place such as this. For as long as he could remember he had been terribly afraid of the dark and this small room was like a nightmare to him. He imagined the walls must be closing in around him and would soon squeeze all life from him.

The hunger pains eventually numbed slightly as he grew used to their incessant presence and he was unable to stave off a feeling of claustrophobia, even though the room was easily four by six feet, plenty big for him to stretch out in. He hadn’t moved since he had been thrown in here, he was too afraid to even reach out his arm. It seemed to him at this time that even the darkness of the outside land would be welcomed rather than this, even the company of those monsters favorable to the unrelenting loneliness he felt here.

The boy’s ears perked as he heard noises so close they could be right outside this very room. He looked in the direction he knew the door to be, hoping that perhaps today it would open and he would be released from this wretched prison. He was elated as the sound moved until it was upon the very door of his cage, hope rising quickly within him.

He heard the fumbling of metal against metal and finally the door swung open. Blinding light that he had thought to be rather gloomy before came rushing into the room, landing upon the poor boy huddled in the corner. He clenched and covered his eyes against this unexpected surprise, feeling perhaps the darkness was more comfortable after all.

He heard what seemed to indicate laughter, though he was not sure he remembered that sound so well himself. The boy tentatively removed his hands from his eyes to see темнота standing over him. He cringed at the harsh laughter and shut his eyes again, wishing it would just disappear.

The laughter stopped and the boy opened his eyes again, thinking perhaps that his wish had come true. But темнота remained over him, his being radiating hate. As afraid as the boy was during this moment, however, something beckoned him to stand. He obeyed and soon the two beings stood opposite each other in the large, dimly lit room.

They must have looked a comical sight, the two standing beside each other silently, both so different from the other. темнота was very tall, and his skin a black color that absorbed all light. If you looked at him for very long you would become dizzy as your eyes strained to focus on that which reflected nothing. His arms and legs were powerful, muscles flashed at his every movement. The creature’s appearance was flawless, bearing no stain.

The boy was very small and his figure was slim, slimmer even than normal. His skin—which had never been particularly dark—was now very pale and his blonde hair was light as well. He wore a plain white shirt with buttons up the front and a brown coat over that. His brown pants were dirty and his boots were worn.

"Are you prepared to join us, child?" The creature asked again, it’s voice dripping with a false sense of kindness that the boy would not be fooled by again.

The boy hesitated before answering, preemptively bringing some moisture to his dry lips. He feared that if he refused he would be thrown back into the dark room and he wasn’t sure he could take it again, now that he had been free. He did not know what would happen if he were to agree, and this unknown frightened more even than the darkness he had come to know.

At length, he raised his head, brown eyes flashing rebelliously as he answered, "I won’t ever join you!"

The creature let out a screech of anger at which the boy could not help but cringe—he would have covered his ears had he been able. He felt himself shaking with fear as the creature proceeded to voice his anger, destroying the door in the process. The creature did not seem to notice as two of the man-creatures entered the room quietly and took the boy from it.

He was still shaking with fear, his brown eyes wide and bloodshot from a lack of sleep. He barely even noticed as he was escorted out of the room and back into the entry where he had been brought in so long ago.

The room was not so crowded now, a few of the monsters milled about but for the most part it was empty. A small door, about half the height of a normal door was opened. The boy noted it was probably meant to be a pantry of sorts, his home had had one like it once.

His escorts cruelly pushed the boy into this new room, closing the door firmly behind him. He heard a faint click as the door locked and he was once again trapped in darkness. He huddled himself back in a corner, still shaking with fear from his encounter. Perhaps if he would have been more upset with this change if he had not been so preoccupied with his own terrifying thoughts.

After a while the boy was almost able to convince himself that it had never happened, that he was still in the same small room he had been put in initially, that he had never been let out since, that the encounter with темнота had never occurred. This thought calmed him some although he knew it to be false. If he raised his hand it would bump against the low ceiling and he could easily touch the walls on all four sides from his corner.

Inside these cramped four walls the boy sat for another long while. Any strength that he had previously held onto faded. He became weak with hunger and tired, oh so very tired. He was certain now that he would die in here. He would starve to death, he could feel it beginning already. A throbbing pain, starting in his abdomen was spreading slowly and sometimes pain would shoot through him for no apparent reason, causing him to jump and hit his head against the wall or ceiling.

He began once again to give up hope in his black cell. He wished for more than anything, a light. Just a small one would do, but he knew not where he could find one in such an inhospitable place as this.

He tried desperately to remember his life, before the attack. He found his memories seemed to be overhung with a heavy cloud of sorts, making even his memories seem dark. He focused everything on remembering once again what it was like to be in the light. The homey light of a fire or the joyful light of the sun, it mattered not.

He knew such things had existed and he knew for a fact he had once experienced such. But in this, his darkest hour, he could not even recall what the dim light of a torch looked like. He had been in the darkness for so long now that his memory of light was fading completely.

Just as he was about to give up all hope that he would ever remember light, he remembered something. They were some of the last words his father had ever spoken to him he recalled. He had spoken of a Light that lived within him, a Light that could never be put out, the boy recalled.

He bent all his thought now on finding this light, delving within his very consciousness for something of comfort. He searched for some time until he finally gave up in despair. It was useless, he did not even know what it was he sought.

More time stretched on and the boy deemed his life had ended. He was not really living anymore, he reasoned. True, his heart beat on and his lungs continued to breath in the dank air of his cell, but he reasoned this was not actually living. He existed, that was all.

He did not even look up this time when noise once again came upon his door. His spirit was listless, he didn’t even imagine they would let him out again. Even as he heard the lock opening he felt no hope arise in him. The door opened, once again releasing it’s light to torment him and yet he didn’t even cringe at it, so certain was he that it would be stolen away once more.

He didn’t look up at the menacing form before him, didn’t stand even when beckoned to do so. He couldn’t stand, actually, he hadn’t the strength anymore. темнота stood before him once more. If his face had been able to do so, he would have smirked at the boy’s weakness and broken spirit.

It nodded to one of the man-creatures, nothing more than a slave, really. The creature picked the boy up, placing him unsteadily on his feet before it’s master. Finally the boy averted his eyes, looking up at the face he had come to hate and love.

темнота held a haughty air around him, even if his face could not show his feelings, "Are you ready?" He asked, certain he already knew what the answer was.

The boy found his mouth too dry to reply, try as he might. He felt more than saw the creature’s temperament change as he became annoyed at the delay. Desperate not to be locked away again the boy answered in way of a nod, indicating he was ready for whatever темнота would have him do.

His temperament changing once again, the air around him took on an almost giddy feel, "Excellent." the creature responded.

The boy hadn’t strength left even to feel afraid, else surely he would have as темнота crossed his arms in front of him, right above the beginning of his blades. He started chanting quietly as a way to focus his concentration with his head bowed. The boy finally looked up with slight interest and at that moment the creature raised it’s head again slightly so that their gazes locked.

The next thing the boy knew was excruciating pain as what appeared to be a thin wire of darkness shot out from where the creature’s arms were crossed over, hitting him in the chest, right over his heart. He heard a deafening scream of pain cut through the air around him and it took him a moment to realize it was his own.

Finally the wire evaporated as the creature stopped his witchcraft, looking intently at the boy who collapsed upon the ground, writhing in agony. темнота was confused, a state he did not like to be in. He stared at the boy for a moment longer before quickly climbing the stairs again and disappearing into one of the back rooms.

The other creatures in the room stared at the boy in some confused mixture of horror and awe. They were not sure what to do with him, so they did nothing, leaving him where he lay in pain upon the floor.

The boy slipped between consciousness and unconsciousness for some time, his pain not allowing him peace in either world. Finally he was able to open his eyes. Looking around, he was still in the same room, but again it had very few creatures inhabiting it at the moment and most of those were keeping their distance. They seemed almost to shrink away as his eyes passed over him and he did not know why.

His chest hurt intensely but at length the boy found the strength to sit. He slowly unbuttoned his shirt—which seemed in fine condition—to see what was causing him such pain. He pulled back the material some to expose a great burn upon his skin, just over his heart. He gasped at seeing the raw flesh and the pain hit him anew.

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