There isn’t exactly a source of my fear of the dark, not really, but it haunted my nightmares, it crept on me during the night, making me feel as if someone was sitting right there watching me as I was powerless, completely unaware of their presence.
I cannot sleep in the dark, not at all. The second the sun goes down, my candle is lit, and the window is shut so the winds don’t cause the flame to die.
Tonight was just like any other; with my little candle a light and my window shut for the night, I lied down in my small bed and try to think of sunshine instead of the demons that liked to visit me in the middle of my dreams.
That’s when I heard it; a rustle. Anyone else would simply ignore it, thinking it was just the wind, or a small animal jumping from tree to tree in this wooded area, but I was compelled to look out the window at the noise. It almost sounded like someone running by… running from something.
I slowly went to the windowpane, not daring to open it for fear of blowing out the only light I had, and stared towards the forest that encased my little house. Nothing seemed out of place; the snow remained untouched by any steps, the leaves didn’t so much as move with a breeze, but I felt something deep in my stomach, something telling me that someone was out there.
Normally I would ignore such a sensation, especially if it meant venturing out into the dark all alone, but I couldn’t stop my feet from moving back to the center of the room to put on my slippers and jacket and head towards my door. It was already late, despite it only feeling like a few moments since sunset. My parents were sound asleep in their cots, my baby brother sleeping softly in a tiny cradle next to them. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be so small that I needed to stay in the same room as them again, to be protected from the unknown. Yet here I am, making my way towards the door and out into the darkness itself.
Making sure not to cause the door to creak, I slipped outside into the cold, instantly regretting getting out of bed. I tried to turn back, but something caught my eye. It moved so quickly I didn’t even know if anything was really there, or if my eyesight was merely playing tricks because of the lack of lighting, but either way, I followed.
Decaying leaves barely made so much as a crunch underneath my feet due to the freshly fallen snow. Under different circumstances I would find the sight before me beautiful, but the night transformed the scene, making the limbs of trees look like tentacles springing to life, ready to capture anything in their path. Despite the time of year the leaves were thick on the trees, creating a large canopy overheard. I couldn’t even see the stars; the dark was all that was there.
I could hear nothing but white noise. Trees were still, all the little animals stayed tucked away on a night such as this. Maybe I should have followed suit and gone back home to bed, but I couldn’t turn; I couldn’t get my feet to listen to me, they just took me further and further into the forest.
Even through the quiet, I felt the presence of… something. I knew it was there, I just didn’t know what it was.
“Hello?” I whimpered, not wanting to attract any attention to myself but needing to know what was compelling me to carry on when my mind screamed for me to turn back.
I heard nothing, not even a sliver of a noise, but the sensation in my gut was telling me that I was being watched.
My feet came to a halt and I looked all around me, looking for what could be out here in the heart of the woods with me. My head swirled around, I moved in circle after circle, trying to glimpse around every corner without moving out of my little haven of ground. I saw nothing besides the shadow of trees and bushes, not even seeing a small bug on a leaf. A sense of pure and utter calm filled the atmosphere. The tightness in my stomach began to subside as I started back to where I came from.
Then a heavy branch fell where I was standing just moments before. With a loud thump, it crashed into the earth, causing a huge indent in the surface.
My eyes widened. That could have been me; I would have been lying on the ground near dead. I thought. I heard a creak somewhere above me, knowing, oh knowing that it would be another branch crashing down within seconds.
I moved away from the spot as quickly as I possibly could, barely avoiding the deathly collision only to be faced with another one a few feet ahead. Again and again branches fell, one by one trying to get me to fall. Snow and dirt flew into the air, hitting the back of my legs, almost making me fly into the next declining branch. I don’t know how I managed it, but I wasn’t hit; I got through without even a scratch.
Breathing heavily, I finally made it to a slightly spacious area where no low hanging branches were. I looked back towards the mess that lied in my wake, seeing the pathway of thick tree limbs that tried to crush in my skull. I breathed a sigh of relief, amazed at how I have outrun fate like that.
I turned around a tree, making sure my back stayed covered after that episode.
I sighed deeply, trying to catch a single gasp of air, and that’s when I saw it; a flicker of light, my candle.
A smile snaked its way onto my lips, making me feel almost light compared to the situation I was in.
I moved towards it, wanting nothing more than to crawl into my nice, warm little bed. I took only a single step when something shifted into my vision; I could barely make out any details except that it was tall and lean, standing right in between my safety and my demise.
Before I could utter a word, I felt a zap go through my entire body and before I could hit the ground my entire world went black.
I hear buzzing; I hear things crawling around me. I cannot feel my body underneath me but I know I need to get up. Get up, get up.
Feeling slowly makes its way into my limbs; I wiggle my fingers and my toes, I move my feet and my arms. My neck moves from side to side, and I fight my suddenly aching body to sit myself up.
Making my way onto my elbows, I push myself up and prop myself against a nearby tree. I can’t see anything, and at first I think it’s just the night around me, but soon I hear the distinctive chirping of little birds in the trees and know it is morning. But why haven’t I opened my eyes? Is there something coving them?
But I can’t feel anything. I reach up to feel if there is something there; maybe my face was still numb and regaining feeling like my other body parts.
My hands are on my face and I feel… nothing, absolutely nothing. My eye sockets became smooth indentions, my lips no longer there. My face is a state of nonexistence, a blank canvas.
At first I believe this to be a trick of the mind, an effect of being hit on the head far too roughly, but when I scream no sound is made and I feel no motion happening around my mouth. I move my head but I cannot see. I begin to claw at the flat surface that used to be my eyes. I claw and claw, trying to remove whatever was placed upon them to block my vision. I feel my nails bite into the flesh and tear, I feel blood begin to pour down my cheeks, and I try to scream out the pain, but only silence fills the air.
I stop my actions as a realization crawls its way into my mind; I cannot see, I am trapped in the darkness I fear most, and there is no way to escape it. I don’t know what is in front of me, and I never will.
Unless… unless I can pass this on to someone else, place my misgivings and my fear unto them. A sudden heated emotion fills my being, causing me to rise and l begin to walk carefully around twigs and pebbles buried under the snow. I am trapped in this forest, in this darkness, in this personal hell… but I could give it away.
It won’t be long until he gets older and curious… all I need to do is wait.