I awake. Alone. The floorboards beneath me creak with every movement I make in getting up off the dusty floor. They smell of sweat and rotting hickory wood. I awkwardly stumble up in a daze. I seem to be aware of only one thing: that I’m dead.
But I can’t be dead. I’m moving across the room to the corner where the relief bucket is found and emptying my bladder. Somehow I then manage my way over to the small mold-encrusted table at the other end of the room and sit in its accompanying chair.
I’ve never felt so weak; so drained by the nothingness of my surroundings. But that is a dark, ugly lie, just like this place. For this is how I feel every moment of my existence. I wake up feeling the same way I do when I drowned into sleep; as if the walls are sucking out nearly all the oxygen from the room, leaving just enough for me to breathe in and remain barely alive at all. It’s a suffocating feeling; one that is not too unbearable and overly unbearable at once.
Somehow I have coped with this long enough to believe that it’s the purpose of my existence. In some manner, I was born to toil about, locked in a room of my own filth and corruption. The meaning of my life: to suffer in a pit of repeating agony and lust. The thing is, though, it’s not always been like this.
In the beginning it was just a simple, plain room, neither unclean nor spotless. It looked much like it does now, without all the waste and the filth and the dirt and the blood. Light even used to flood in from the window on the far wall, illuminating the room with soft, orange light. It was once peaceful here; nothing ever occurring except for the sounds of my movements and happenings. Those were younger times, simpler times; when all was brand new to me. Everything was a new discovery waiting to be found. That was, until I discovered the Darkness under the floorboards.
Something had been sparking my curiosity for some time. One day I had heard a new noise, but I could not figure out its origin. It was a bit eerie to my ears, something I had never heard before. It was like many whispers all speaking over one another so that nothing the voices said could be distinguished at all.
At first, it had startled me. Fear had set in and I tried to avoid getting close to these noises. But they were not going away. If anything, they grew louder over time; though, that may have been my curiosity thwarting my fear, allowing my ears to pick up more and more of the voices.
Soon I was on a hunt; a mission to find the source of this new, fear-inducing noise. For the longest time I could not make out its source. I even once opened the window to hear if these were just sounds being made from the Outside. But I heard the familiarity of nothingness.
The noises lingered in my thoughts, even in my dreams. I became obsessive over them. They would not depart from my ears. I became so distraught that I once, briefly, contemplated stabbing out my ears; thinking that deafness may be better than hearing these whispers continually in my head.
Finally, however, I identified their location. The sounds were coming from beneath me, from underneath the wooden floor I walked upon. Strange.
A new task was set before me. I quickly began attempting my assault on the floorboards and found my fighting worthless. Obviously I could not ply them up with my bare hands. I located a few other instruments I thought might work and nearly broke every one of them. I grew furious. I cursed those damned floorboards for holding me back from the voices. They taunted me; being in range but indecipherable and out of reach. I began to panic.
Can you blame me though? My life had been, up to this point, rather usual and boring, seeing as I was locked in a room all on my own. I found excitement in the little things around me. I clung to fleeting new discoveries and the sometimes random items that appeared in the room overnight. These were all that kept me sane. They kept my mind from unraveling into little pieces of mush. And now, something new had sprung into my existence, nearly calling my name to its self, and I had no way of reaching it. I could feel my mind begin an unraveling process and I knew I couldn’t let it happen.
I began to stomp around and throw objects at the floor in my fury. I even smashed one of the wooden dining chairs against it, shattering it into many fragmented pieces of hickory. All was useless however. I would hardly sleep anymore; my mind consumed with sounds. I hardly ate the food mysteriously provided for me every morning. I was losing it. My mind was swallowed up in anger and frustration. These unknown, peculiar noises would be the end of me.
At last, however, I broke through.
In that moment I became a paralytic. My knees gave out from beneath me and brought me as close to the floor as I could; with my face buried in the small dark opening below. The sounds had stopped, as if the orchestra had heard my sudden breach into their world. Silence— complete and terrifying silence surrounded me. Only the sound of my now heavy breathing could be heard in my ears. The new world beneath me awaited my next move.
I peered into the hole, left then right, but I could see nothing at all. The light from my room only revealed what appeared to be a never-ending abyss of nothingness. No sounds, no movements, no anything, was taking place down there. Was I just crazy?
As I was about to pull myself up off the floor, wearied by my lack of sleep and violent outbursts, I caught something on the edge of my vision; a gentle glow coming from far beyond. It appeared to be slowly moving towards me. It made no noise however. It merely continued to grow brighter and brighter. But just as the sounds I had been hearing, this glow began drawing me into itself. It seemed to be calling out my name, as if it was a long lost friend I had somehow forgotten about until now. It was familiar yet so mysterious. What the…
An abrupt noise shook me from my daze. An object had crashed into the window, causing my heart to nearly leap out of my throat. I stumbled up from the floor and almost toppled back over with the suddenness of it. My vision spun for a brief moment but righted itself once again. I scrambled over to the window to see what it may have been that made such a thud. I parted the olive green curtains and looked out, peering into the sunlight now pouring directly into the window.
When looking out at the Outside, the view is always the same. It never changes, at least from what I can remember. There is always many other rooms like the one I am in now (from what I can tell anyway) stacked upon each other in buildings; many, many buildings. These buildings all stand rather lofty and ominous around me, creating variously odd shadows that filter into my room throughout the day. My room is located on the first floor of a similar building. Again, I only assume, seeing as I cannot make out the structure of my own building. All the structures stand rather close together, and there never appears to be any signs of other life out there amongst them.
When I looked out there, squinting from the brightness of the sun beaming brightly overhead, I at first saw nothing. Then, suddenly, right in front of me appeared a sign of life. A flying creature looked right back at me, hovering as close to the window as it possibly could. It was all white in appearance, nearly glowing in radiance, though I assumed that was merely from the light reflecting off of it. It appeared not much bigger than my hand, with eyes of soft black peering back at me.
It continued to simply hover there, not moving at all. All I could do was stare right back at it. I had never seen anything like it before. I had actually never seen any other life form before. After a while it nudged at the window yet again, and then again. It seemed to be trying to get my attention for something. Did it want me to let it into the room? Nonsense. Why would it do that? That was an absurd thought for sure.
I immediately remembered the opening in the floor as the sounds softly made their way back into my ears. I abruptly shut the curtains behind me for the last time. The creature was still nudging gently on the window, to no avail. I could still sense its dark eyes upon me, fearing for what lie ahead, but I was already lost.
I climbed into the darkness feet first. Though my body was shaking with fear, I felt no fear in my mind. This was my calling. This was the beginning of something new; something terrible.
I held on to the ledge with just my hands as I dangled my feet into the nothingness. I could not feel any ground beneath me. I tried as hard as I could to reach something but nothing was there. Should I really just let go and possibly fall to my death? What am I doing? This is the actions of an insane person!
But I had to do it. There was a mystery to discover. There was something new to be found down here in darkness. But what if it destroys me? What if it tears me to pieces and eats me? What if I fall and never get back into my room, my place of safety and knowing? What if, what if, what if…
My hands slipped from the wooden flooring. I descended.
I immediately regretted my decision. Is this really happening to me? Maybe it’s just a dream. If only it were a dream. I could wake up right back in my bed, not a thing out of place; no hole in the floor and no strange noise coming from nowhere. But this was no dream. It was all too real.
I began flailing my arms and legs trying to grab hold of anything that could stop my descent. But there was nothing there. I saw only darkness. I felt only darkness. Then, that glow I had seen earlier re-appeared below me. It was rising up to meet me. It made no sound and it had no true form. It had the appearance of a faint gray mist, and it was immediately upon me.
It spoke. Its voice sent shivers up and down my body. I began trembling at its presence.
“There is no need to tremble, but fear… you should.”
I could not speak back. My mouth was frozen shut with dread. I knew I was going to die. This was it. It was all over. At any moment I would hit the bottom of this pit and crush every bone in my body. This mist being was just a hallucination right? It was something all experience right before death, I think.
“You will not die, Child. Oh no. You will now live like you have never lived before.”
I did not know why it was saying these things. What does it mean?
“You have set free a great power. And soon it will consume you!” The voice spoke in whispered tones, like many sounds all at once. This was the same voice I had heard in my room.
“Wh-what do you mean?” I croaked barely audible to my own ears.
“You have unleashed the Dark, the greatest of powers, the greatest of desires. Here, I will show you.”
Then I began to see my surroundings. My heart began to hammer harder against my chest. My body furiously shook. I began to see many strange creatures all around me. All were covered in dark mist. Their eyes were of the deepest black that could swallow up all life in one glance. Each creature was different in appearance and yet so similar.
They were walking around and conversing with one another; socializing. I had never seen such a sight in my insignificant life. There was no light in that room… my room. We were back in my room.
The next few moments are a mere blur in my memory. In reality, I believe my mind has subconsciously blacked them out, due to how shocking and disturbing they were. I had never known what I was truly capable of until I met those creatures that day. I had never known how terribly wicked the human mind can turn in such a short amount of time; how enjoyable the Dark could really be.
But I dare not attempt to bring to remembrance such things; such dark, twisted, terrifying things. I lay awake nearly every night with their images in my head playing back and forth, like a swinging anvil crushing against the sides of my brain. Each night I relive the previous day’s filth and in the morning it all repeats itself over again. The creatures, the images, the mist—all back again to swim in the vast sea of the Dark spread about my room. Eventually I came to accept my place. This is my purpose. This is my life.
Now, here I am, wrecked and broken. The creatures will be showing up soon from their pit. And I will go along with all of their desires, toying with me like a piece of clay. I can’t help it and I can’t stop it.
Maybe I should end it all right now. Maybe I can hang from the ceiling and dangle my feet in the rotten pit. Maybe I can slit my throat and bleed out into it, signifying my end. But they won’t let me. They’ll be here soon.
I’m done. I don’t care if they stop me. I have to try. I can’t do this anymore. It must end now. But I can’t just end my life, can I? What reasons do I have to stay alive?
I stagger up from the chair and reach for the knife set sitting on the counter next to me. I pull out the longest, sharpest blade there is. My hands are trembling. Sweat quickly forms in my palms and the knife slips from my hand, clanging against the wooden floor.
“You can’t kill yourself, Child.” I hear the mist’s whispers.
“Yes I can! I can’t do this anymore… I want to die,” I shout towards nothing, my voice cracking with grief.
“You’re already dead!”
I grab the knife again and sprint over to the hole in the floor. I sink down on my knees right near it and curse at it. I scream and yell and curse some more. Tears begin pouring out of my eyes. My body shakes in fury, resisting what I am about to do. I bring the knife to my throat and slightly bend over the dark chasm below. This is it. It ends here. I can’t do this… I can’t! But I must. It’s the only way. It’s the only thing left for me to do. I am ruined…
I try to ignore the softly spoken word in my ear. The sound of my beating heart nearly blocks out its sound again.
In a panic, I dart my eyes from side to side looking for the source of this unfamiliar voice. It wasn’t the voice of the mist, it was something else. Where is it coming from?
“Please, Son, don’t do it,” the voice speaks again, its heart breaking with each word it exhales.
“Who’s there?” I cry out in agony; tears still streaming down my cheeks into the darkness beneath me, the knife still firm against my throat.
“Look towards the window; the light,” it softly says.
I spin around towards the boarded up window; the only source of light that used to shine through into the room before they had blocked out every last ray of it. I now see a break in their barricade. There is a small stream of light beaming right towards me. It lands right at the center of the hole, one small ray; like a spotlight shining into the darkness.
“Let the light in Son. Let it free you!”
I still have no idea where the voice is coming from, as it seems to be coming from every direction all at the same time. But it has a grip on me; on my heart. It’s pleading with me with the most kind, sincere words that have ever touched my ears. I know what I must do. It’s all beginning to make sense.
The knife slips out of my wet palm into the cavern beneath. I stand up on weakened legs; the fear in my heart weighing me down, trying to stop me from my mission. But I’m determined. It’s time for change; for a new beginning that I have desperately been looking for with closed eyes all this time. I wanted change but I had not known the right way.
Now, here at my breaking point, with a knife to my throat ready to bleed out in damnation, I find a sign of something new; something different from the same ways I have been trapped in for as long as I can remember. This is all, however, wishful thinking as nothing has actually changed yet.
I sprint over to the window as fast as my wearied legs will allow, struggling to keep my footing. What am I really doing? I’ve gone insane.
“Don’t,” the familiar voice of the mist reaches my ears.
“Child, don’t do this to us! We love you! You’re only a dead one. You cannot survive without us. We are all you have. You need us!”
The voice keeps yelling out to me in a panic, but I block it out. I say nothing in reply. They have entrapped me for far too long. It’s over now.
I run full force into the barricade in front of the window in an attempt to knock down what I can. My full weight smashes into the pile of broken objects knocking lose many pieces. I violently bounce off the pile and nearly knock myself to the floor. Fortunately, I keep my footing and begin tearing at the pieces one by one.
I know the creatures will be here any moment now. I have to hurry. I can hear their sounds calling me from their graves beneath the floor. I pull and I prod and I rip into the pile of filth until there is hardly anything left between me and the window curtains. Suddenly the light streaming through the window erupts in a bright flash. The window bursts open and a violent rush of force obliterates the barricade out of its way. I am knocked back to the ground by this stunning pulse of energy; pieces of debris flying through the air in all directions. Then, without warning, an object crashes into my skull and everything goes black.
I awake. Alone. Beams of light crawl their way up the foot of the bed. They illuminate the room in soft yellow hues. It’s a beautiful new morning full of color. I take a deep breath as the smell of fresh Lilac flowers fills my nostrils. I sit up, aware of only one thing; that I’m truly alive.
But I can’t be alive… and why not? A new day dawns outside the window, sunlight shines through a wispy layer of clouds dancing on by, and the air is filled with the fragrances of lilac and lavender. I can feel the energy of creation bursting forth calling to action those who slumber and waste away their days.
I look about the room, filled with the natural luminescence of daylight. I gaze at the walls sprinkled with marvelous and vibrant paintings, the floors covered in elegant brown carpeting with no holes or tears in the flooring, and the corners of the room dotted with lively green plants. A graceful statue symbolizing love sits near the far wall. All is well, all is at peace.
This is my purpose; to dwell amongst the Light. There is no other; no other reason and no other way.
“Good morning, Son.”