The Darkness. Short Story.

Hope everyone had a good Patrick’s day, mine was pretty relaxed and fairly fun, though I’m quite tired today as it was a long weekend, filled with wanderings and brunch and more wandering. For such a small city, you can wander through Dublin city center for a surprisingly long time.

On with the show!


He could hear them, skittering around in the darkness, not that they ever came all that close to him, no that would be too much like human contact. He didn’t know what the skittery things were, but he assumed rats, maybe spiders, but they would have to be big ones. That wouldn’t surprise him all that much in this place, it was after all, hell. He didn’t know how long he had been in the darkness, alone. He didn’t know what was real or what was fake. There was no light, no people. There was food and water given to him but that was it, delivered through what he thought was some kind of chute. It was hard to tell by feel alone, though he had felt every inch of this small room.

It wasn’t damp, or dirty as one would expect, it was dry and seemed clean. He had crawled across the room on hands and knees in the beginning, trying to find a crack in the floors or walls, something he could use to escape, but everything was completely smooth and slightly cool to the touch.

The longer he was in the darkness the more he questioned his previous life. Did he really have a wife? Children? Or were they just creations of his addled mind? Did such things even exist? Did he really have a life before all this or was his entire life spent inside this tiny room. Could he even see? He wasn’t sure about that. The darkness in the room was complete, there was no way to know if he could still see, if he ever even could in the first place.

In the beginning, what felt like years ago bow, he had screamed and shouted and pounded on the walls, but there had been no response, so he did the only logical thing and stopped. There was no point, after all, if no one was going to respond to him. It seemed that his facial hair never really grew all that much, he suspected there was something in the food to retard its growth, the hair on his scalp seemed to grow normally, however every so often it would suddenly and inexplicably vanish. There was never a gap in time, no period in which someone could have come in, shaved his head, then left, but it still disappeared. He could never find a trace of the hair, it was just gone. Perhaps he became a different person when light came and that was why he didn’t remember, it wasn’t happening to him, the real him, the light him. He was a creature of darkness, hidden away. He didn’t think he was evil, but then did anyone ever think they were evil? Were the truly evil aware of how awful their actions were? They surely justified it to themselves if the thought ever occurred. He suspected they were bad instinctively, without a second though or pause. He didn’t feel like that. He thought about hurting people, but the thoughts of it never brought him joy, he didn’t like the idea, but it didn’t repulse him either. If he was truly evil he would revel in the thoughts and images as they flashed across his brain.

Perhaps this was all some sort of science type test, that they were measuring things, measuring him to see what would happen. He didn’t remember giving permission to go into this box, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t. One day he had gotten into bed, kissed his wife goodnight and then when he opened his eyes he was here. Nothing to indicate how he got here or how long he’d have to stay.

Occasionally there were dull murmurs in the darkness, never forming words, more vibration even than sound, but when they occurred he screamed, hoping they’d hear him and respond, in the beginning he threw himself against the walls, but that didn’t help either, it just left him tired and headachy. Maybe his wife had paid someone to do this to him, to drag him from his home and life and lock him away for a long, long time. He hadn’t thought that they had maritial problems, but who could really say for sure? She kept secrets from him, everyone had secrets, so why not something like this?

The food arrived again, on time, flavourless mush. Well, it had a flavour, but it was overpowered by texture. It needed salt or sugar or something. He was sure that the mush had everything his body need to stay alive, after all, why would they go to all this trouble just to starve him. He’d lost weight, but not dangerous amounts so far. Not that it mattered, after all what could matter when he was trapped in a place like this? Where he was blind and things skittered in the darkness, just out of reach.

Angela sat on the stood next to the bed, she still visited every day. It had been almost eight months now, eight months since Larry had gone into that damned coma. The doctors didn’t know when or even if he would wake up. She visited and talked to him, in gentle murmurs. The doctors said he couldn’t hear her, but it wouldn’t hurt to try, what if he was in there, scared and alone. Maybe hearing her voice would help bring him out of it. It might help him find his way back to her. She rubbed her hand across his stubbled head and stood, kissing him lightly on the lips, the kids would be off school soon, she wanted to be there when they got home. Angela gave his hand a gentle squeeze, then left the hospital room.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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