A Prayer in the Darkness

No one is going to save you when the lights go out, when the last stub of a candle flickers and dies, when you are left alone. The sun will never rise again; this empty room will be your coffin, and you’ll be buried in darkness.

~The Voice of Fear

I boarded up the door, toppling the dresser before that worn threshold. It would have been better, quieter, had I slid it there, but as it was, it would keep the door shut. I prayed it would keep the door shut. Whatever they were, they had bodies, a physical presence. They didn’t walk through walls, or appear out of nowhere.

Sitting down on a worn cot, I bounce with the creaking bedsprings. A nightstand rests peaceably enough beside me. In the nightstand there’s a drawer, and in the drawer there’s a hole for a lock; I try opening it anyway, even as that voice mocks me for my troubles.

I laugh when it slides open effortlessly, as if it longed to be opened. Inside is a red leather Bible. I reach for it, but the voice continues.

Can you believe in a God after what you’ve seen, what you’ve been through? You’ll die before the night; why waste your time with these old lies?

I reach for it anyway, and feel the soft, cool skin of the cover, the gentle texture, smooth yet lumpy, a welcome familiarity within this nightmare. Taking the book up, I turn over the front flap. It reads, “This Bible belongs to Juliet.” The name is printed in large capitals, the writing of a child.

I think to the terrors I’ve seen in this house, the hellish ghouls roaming these halls, while the voice ridicules, disparaging the hope I’ve felt in merely holding this book. What could turn a place like this? Once a little Juliet, with an unwritten future, wrote her name in her Bible thinking nothing but the thoughts of children, and now a tired man holds that same testament dogged by immortal monsters, his mind awash in fears.

I try to read, but the voice of fear is too loud, interrupting every phrase, every thought, so that even as my eyes read every word, my mind knows nothing of it. I lie down on the bed, laying the bible over my heart.

“God,” I pray, “I know you’re up there. I know you’re surrounded by light, and there’s no darkness in you, that you look upon all things and decide. Please keep that door closed, keep them out.” I think to be quiet then, but the voice—that mocking, churlish voice—has been silenced, and I feel a touch of clarity strike me. “But if not, please forgive me. I mean, forgive me, accept me. I know I haven’t been perfect, and I haven’t always been kind—” I feel myself losing the thread. I stumble for the words, “—and teach me to forgive. I know I don’t deserve it. Keep me from making mistakes, and save me from this pit. It’s all you; it’s all in your hands.”

I slept.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

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