[Author's Note: Another writing challenge in which I participated. This one provided the accompanying picture and challenged writers to put words down about it, no limit.]
The darkness is complete.
I reach out tentative fingers, an exploratory hand desperate for something to ground me, something to offer me reality, anything. The sharp edge of a coffee table, the smoothness of a wall, a doorknob, anything at all that will give me a back my senses.
There is nothing.
I search about the floor. It is smooth like polished stone or glass. There is no difference in any direction as far as I dare to reach, which is not far in this strange land of no sensation. I can hear nothing. There is no smell, nothing to see, nothing to touch but the flatness upon which I crouch.
I stand. A moment of vertigo ensues as I catch my balance in this black world of nothing. I take a step forward. I have no idea where I am, or what direction I'm going, but I will go. I will walk in a straight line and eventually I will encounter something. One hesitant step follows the next, my progress uncertain and faltering, but I am making progress.
I walk, my pace becoming more and more sure as I continue, my hands held out before me to catch the brunt of whatever object I finally encounter, hoping that whatever it is is above waist level. I pick up momentum, I will find something.
Minutes go by as I walk. Minutes turn into a half an hour, perhaps an hour, time is meaningless in this blackness. I may have been walking for days, weeks, years. I have been walking forever. There has never been anything other than the walking.
Then I notice a difference.
The air is cooler. A sense of motion... a breeze? Something moving nearby? It is as if a cold winter breeze were blowing across this undefined landscape. I can feel it on my hands, my face. My spirits soar; at last, I'm finding my way!
A sound reverberates through the darkness. I cannot identify it. It could be a moan, or a growl, or even a hum. I have no way of knowing what it is or from where it comes. Like the darkness, it surrounds me.
I stop, arms extended, sweat beading on my brow, eyes wide in panic. Though I can see nothing, I can sense, feel everything. Something is here with me. Something created that breeze as it circled me slowly, thoughtfully. Something that does not share my difficulty in this place of moonless midnight.
Something potentially unfriendly.
I am waiting for it to approach, waiting for another sound. There is nothing. But something tells me to reach out, something tells me it is right in front of me. I reach out my hand, fingers extended, reaching outward, upward, searching for the thing in the darkness.
There is a light. It is dim, so dim in fact that I hesitate to call it light, but after an eternity of shadowy blackness, it is like a beacon of radiance. It casts illumination like the edge of the spot lit by a flashlight, like the furthest corners reached by the glow of a candle, like the distant tree line seen by firelight. It shines in a way that conceals details, that hides more than it displays. But it shines.
By the grainy half light I can see the silhouette of my hand before me, reaching out, reaching forward, seeking. Color is nonexistent, the coarse edges of sight show me my hand, and reaching up to it a ghostly image of a semi-hand, almost formed, nearly complete, the indistinct shape unclear in the grey murkiness.
The hand reaches for me as I reach for it. I want to recoil, to pull back from this ethereal appendage, but then... it touches me, and I know.
I know that it is me.