Sun | Aug 20, 2017

‘Darkness’

Published:Sunday | March 6, 2016 | 3:00 AMKerrian Stephenson

"The night light is yours." I heard him say. His breath was a disgusting mix of alcohol and germs. He needed to brush his teeth. My ankle felt itchy. I scratched it, and as my sharp nails that haven't been cut for weeks rubbed against my skin, a sweet sensation took over, and I dug my nails further into my own flesh. It became a maddening delight. But then I felt wetness against my fingertips, and then the distinct and pungent smell of blood. In the pale light of his lantern, I could make out the stained-red colour against my fingers. I sat, a little dazed staring at my blood; my life. The life is in the blood ... Whispers of forgotten bible studies drenched my ears. The light faded away. A lonesome feeling crept over me. In the silence I stood there, alone, pondering my dreadful existence; nothing in my past could have prepared me for this.

Then I heard it. My ears seemed to move towards the sound, my eyes bulged in the darkness. Was I hearing things? Was this for real? The sound grew louder, as though it was taunting me. The itch returned to my ankle, a sordid nuisance now; if I scratched it, I would only make the wound worse. Dryness suddenly consumed my mouth, and my tongue felt swollen, my lips felt cracked and my throat dry. Footsteps approached me, a small dim light appeared. As it grew brighter, I strained in the dark to see who was coming towards me.

"Did you hear it?" I recognised the voice; it was him, the one who had given me the night light that I now realised I hadn't got. I didn't even know his name. His ragged, dirty face was suddenly illuminated by the precarious light. His cheeks were dirty, his eyes seemed dark and tired, and his lips cracked. I felt the itch on my ankle again.

"Do you think anyone else heard it?"

"No," I replied, my voice barely a whisper. I didn't want them to hear and get the water before me. It might not be enough; it was only dripping. As the thoughts raced through my mind, I found my feet turning in the direction of the water's precious sound in the dark. We were staring at each other, but was he thinking what I was thinking? The drip got louder, as if announcing itself. I inched silently away from my companion. My heart raced in my chest. The light suddenly grew pale and I realised he had broken into a run. He was going to get the water before me!

I dashed after him. With each stride I felt sharp pricks and jabs against my bare feet. Then a jagged piercing pain ripped at my left hip, but I kept running towards the light, towards the sound.

My heart leaped into my throat as flames appeared to be coming directly at me. The wicked wretch had thrown the lantern! Prickles of hell and the utmost torment tore at my flesh, my left arm stung, I flashed and kicked and tumbled around, fumbling in the darkness, my eyes shut tight. The dirt tunnel felt as though it was getting smaller. Screams of anguish escaped me and ricocheted off the walls of the empty tunnel in frightening echoes. The thought of my imminent death brought terror to my mind.

BAD FALL

"Heeelppp!!" I tripped and fell and hit my forehead, and my lips crushed against something hard and pointed. My own blood flooded my mouth. I couldn't open my left eye. I squinted nervously and peered out of the other eye, where I caught a glimpse of a dying flame a little away from my feet. The small dwindling light was enough for me to see the burn on my left arm, from the elbow up to my fingers. I laid there and watched the light die out. I was fretful now, but then I heard water again. I scrambled to my feet, pain edging at my flesh. I staggered and limped towards the sound. I tumbled on, feeling my way in the dark, crushing my fingers and stumping my toes. The place grew cold and quiet; magnifying the sound. Then a bright blaring light hit me,

"The night light is yours."

"Mom, the DVD is stuck again."

I opened my eyes to see my sister devouring popcorn, and then I sat up frightened and stared at the television bewildered. We were watching the movie 'Darkness' again. I must have fallen asleep.