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Tag Archives: darkness

It’s the short cut. The one behind the corner shop that dips down through a strange stretch of scrubby urban wasteland and creeps out under the one working streetlight on that back road. Even at night, the path is clear enough from here – a thin, pale dragline with the welcome beacon of light diffusing the farther end.

Between here and there though is the blur of indistinct twilit shapes on either side. They’re probably just tree skeletons clutching at each other overhead, or dead kitchen appliances and dismembered shopping trolleys, or bare-branched bushes harbouring a feral cat or mouldering midden or the broken remnants of a drunken binge.

It’s tempting to stop and look back about halfway down. The stolid reassurance of the shop’s back wall and the battered garbage bins and the quiet empty path behind.

However, while looking back, what lies in front is no longer in sight. 

A quick glance forward is enough to guarantee there is nothing ahead but the stillness and the shadows and the cold street light ahead.

Of course, one should never discount the shadows though. You see – you’re not the only one who likes to make short cuts.

We do too.

And this won’t take long…

 

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You know that feeling you get? There’s all kinds of cliches to describe it, but they read like you’ve been possessed or something: hairs raising, skin crawling. Like somehow your body knows something you don’t. Some earthy desire for self-preservation that modernity hasn’t managed to breed out of you.

You get it late at night, during the ritual. You know the one. Check the doors are locked. The windows fastened. Turn out the lights. Room by room. Your cosy cocoon of light getting methodically diminished by darkness at its extremeties. By your own hand.

And your eyes start playing tricks, don’t they? Looking back into a room newly dark, the space seems cavernous. Watchful. Hungrier. You have fleeting visions of a figure. A face. A form that moves – but it’s nonsense. There’s nothing.

You could turn the light back on to check, but that would be an admittance of the ridiculous fear tickling around – not even your mind which would be acknowledgable – but your neck.

Retreat. Don’t look back. Well, maybe once, but… nothing. Though there could have been. Move a little faster, snap off the last outer light before closing the door firmly and satisfyingly on the uneasy, uncanny space that used to be home. Bunker down gratefully, albeit temporarily, in the clinical bright light of the bathroom.

No corners here. No shadows. Door closed. You might even take time to laugh at yourself in the mirror before turning on the faucet.

Water falls with noisy familiarity and there is relief as you bend, splashing it up into your face briskly and efficiently.

Vulnerable position, that. Head down, water running, sight obscured. The door could open. The shower curtain twitch. But it would take you time to wipe your eyes to look.

Turn off the water, still leaning, drips running smoothly down your face and plinking relentlessly into the basin. Now, contrarily, you don’t want to look up. Imagine if you did, straight into the mirror, and saw something impossibly and awfully behind you. Right there. You’ve rarely known that flash of raw fear, but your body is anticipating it without you.

You know that feeling?

 

That’s me.

 

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Saw you playing with the lighter.

Flame on.
Rush of ignited gas; interest sparked.
Yellow fire, red glow.
Eyes alight, a hot flush of face color.
Flame off.

Came a little closer.

Flame on.
Your fingers orange and translucent, passing fearlessly over the primal force trapped temporarily in a plastic capsule: fire in your hands.
Little streaks of smoke now across your fingertips, but unscathed; licked, but unconsumed.
Flame off.

Came within reach.

Flame on.
You can’t see me beyond the circle of light.
It only makes the darkness darker, but you hold it up: a tiny flaming torch fuelling that sudden burning anxiety.
You are not alone.
Flame off.

Shit…shit…shit…
The little frantic sound of sparks failing to fly extinguishes my approach.

The memory of firelight in your eyes is masking the materializing shadow: so close, so near, just here in front of you.

Flame on.
Hello.
I am the smoke that always comes with fire.
Flame off.

 

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