When The Darkness Gazes back

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


A story of a man who encounters true darkness in his youth. Haunted by what he saw he never spoke of it to anyone. Finding a way to cope with his own darkness he helps bring light to those in need.

Submitted: May 14, 2018

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Submitted: May 14, 2018

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Fear is the most basic and necessary of human emotion.

 

The most ancient fear is that of the unknown. We do not simply fear the dark for darkness is just the absence of light and cannot harm us, darkness is not corporeal. It does not have the means. It is what lies within the darkness that we cannot see or sense that we fear. A child is not fearful of the sound it hears after the lights go off, and she lays solemnly in her bed waiting for the bliss of sleep. She fears what may be causing the sound. What if the darkness we fear is not just the absence of light, but a real tangible force that is all around us? 

 

My name is Phillip Howards. I am a beacon of light to those who have fallen into darkness. I am here to guide them back into our world. I am a psychiatrist for the un-sane. I do not call them insane for I truly believe insanity is just a temporary state that can be changed when you listen to what they have to say, and not mock them. One does not simply wake up insane; something drove them there. I am writing something now that I have never dared utter to another soul. Not even to my patients whom might relate. Up until this day I feared that it may cost me all credibility, and worse my ability to help those that are lost. I have made great strides in my field helping those of sick mind, but of healthy body. Old as I may be now, I have not forgotten the day I too was touched by darkness. I do not speak of a darkness in the sense that you are accustomed. I speak of true darkness. An entity that is all around us, but we remain blissfully unaware of its danger. Only those that have been touched by it are awakened to its presence in their everyday life. An ancient force impossibly old, mayhap older than time and space itself. I am getting ahead of myself. For now we need to travel back to a day in mid spring, 1957. I was still young and thirsty for knowledge of the unknown. My quest for obscure and nearly forbidden knowledge led me to many places from ancient Egypt to the rain forests of Africa. Most thought me mad in my endeavors. Why seek out such things that have been long forgotten? Surely mankind has no need for such irrelevant things lost to time. I was always intrigued in that which most were not. Ghost stories, most would call it. Legends of old beings not of this earth that lay dormant. Slumbering eternally until they may rise up again and reign over the cosmos.

 

I have chased after these beings my entire life. Feeling compelled since a young age to see what lies beyond the veil of darkness. The ancient Greek called it Erebus, for even they could sense more than just something that came when the sun went down. One fateful day while being guided through the a Nigerian rain forest, I lost my footing and slid some 70 feet almost as if something was pulling me down. I did not travel fast enough to break any bones, but I did accumulate many cuts and scrapes, and a sizable lump on my head. When I reached the bottom and gained my balance, I stood before a wide cavernous opening in the cliff side. I looked back up to see my travelling companions trying to mount a rescue. Shouting back up to them letting them know I was alright, I suddenly felt compelled to enter the cave. Against better judgement my yearning for discovery was too great and I began to descend into the dark.

 

After my previous adventures in Egyptian tombs I learned to always carry a flashlight. Thankfully that particular day I had strapped one to my belt, and miraculously it stayed fastened during my ‘decent’ down the cliff side. With a few gentle taps it came to life, illuminating parts of the cave the sun could not reach. The air was thick with the smell of rotting earth; seemingly untouched by man. I felt a swell of pride that I may have been the first to step inside this cave in millennia. My feet sank into the wet mud of the cave floor, but as I went deeper the ground began to feel solid again. This winding cavern seemed to stretch on for miles. The deeper I went the heavier the air became. Thick with an indescribable potency of mold and decay that seemed to creep from every crack in the rocks. Unafraid I pressed on, something still burning inside me to reach an unknown goal within its depths. I took note that there were no signs of life inside this cave. No guano on the ground nor plant life creeping along the cavern walls.

 

For what felt to me to be mere moments was probably an hour or more, but I finally reached what appeared to be the end of the cave. Still being weighed down by the thickness of the air, I was like a man possessed: floundering around in the darkness looking for anything I could identify within that cave. Finally the light of my flashlight caught something on the cavern wall that seemed to glimmer every so dully. Hastily making my way to it I found what could be described as some form of ancient hieroglyphics, scrawled in the dullest golden paint I had ever seen. They depicted an octopus-like creature as well as others I could not decipher. Mostly bipedal creatures that looked similar yet wildly different from today’s. I felt drawn to it. I needed to touch it with my finger tips. Let them dance across the symbols; perhaps I could get a better understanding of what they were. Once my fingers reached the end of the last hieroglyph something within the cave shook wildly causing me to stumble backwards and fall to the dirt, shutting my flashlight off in the process. A gust of wind that I had not felt since I first entered blew over me as if there was a new path that opened up. Reaching for my light, I turned it back on quickly to reveal the wall I was just standing in front of was gone. It seemed to have retracted into the ground. The wall may have been gone, but something else had taken its place. A type of blackness so strong that when I shone my light upon it, nothing reflected back. I could tell it was an open space, but for reasons yet unknown to me my light could not reach into it. Still bewildered by what I may have discovered, I threw caution to the wind and stepped through the portal of blackness. Instantly I felt as though something heavy was pressing against my chest and shoulders. The weight of this room was startling. I wanted to turn and leave it post haste, but I had no sense of direction. Shining my light vainly around to try and see what was around me, a sense of panic began to wash over me. Looking into the lens of my flashlight I could see the light trapped within it, but it was unable to escape into the darkness. As if it was hitting a wall at the very end of the glass the light would not illuminate the blacked room. I reached in my pocket for a lighter I had in hopes that it would fair better. Sparking the flame I witnessed something I thought impossible. The fire danced and flickered like any normal fire would, however, there was no incandescence from the dancing flame; as if wrapped in shadow the fire could not even illuminate my hand which I held close. Heat did not escape it either for the air around it was as cold as the rest of the cavernous room where I stood. True panic and wonder took over me. What kind of darkness was this? Did I finally stumble across one of the sleeping old gods I pursued with such zeal? As the room rumbled around me I felt as if the darkness itself was moving and causing the ground to shake. I heard the distant shouts of my companions calling out to me. They sounded as if infinitely farther away than they were.

 

Was I in another dimension of space and time? Did the rules of physics not apply in this place? I am not a man of such sciences, but I do have a mundane understanding of these things. I was no longer within the boundaries of reality. When I moved I gained no distance. When I screamed, no matter how loud, there was no echo. This darkness was inescapable, even by the light. My head began spinning and visions of wicked beasts that were mere masses of flesh and eyes gazing at me began. Voices began to whisper in my mind, echoing throughout the impenetrable silence of the darkness. More than I could count they came. Not one by one, but many all at once. Speaking in some lost language I doubt any human has heard before. Their voices were guttural and sinister. Even though I could not understand I could feel their intent. It was maddening. After what felt like an eternity I must have passed out, and when I awoke I was at the opening of the cave surrounded by the worried faces of my cohorts. Gasping for air that I would never get enough of, I sat up slowly. They told me I had fallen down the side of the slippery cliff and hit my head near this cave. According to them, I was unconscious when they found me only a few feet into the cave. Not wanting to cause alarm, I simply agreed that I must have fainted after taking a few steps inside. If only that were what truly happened that day.

 

Why am I writing this now you must wonder? I have been given an opportunity to sit with and question a man who has been said to be touched by true darkness. By all accounts, he is a normal 30 year old man. Perfectly healthy, aside from maybe ingesting too much caffeine on a regular basis. What's more is he did not show signs of this until last week, May 6th. May 6th was the day in 1957 I opened that door and stepped into the darkness for the first time. He will be in my office tomorrow around noon, I am told. He is known to show sudden and violent shifts in mood and attitude. Going from a reserved man into a feral beast that speaks in a language no one can discern. Should anything happen to me I wanted to make sure I wrote this down, proving that he is not alone in his experience.
                                          - Dr. Philip Howards.  


© Copyright 2018 RJ Willis. All rights reserved.

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