Coming Darkness

He would suffer no darkness.

I stood before the door. It was plain, painted white. There was a simple brass knob, brass hinges, polished and shiny. The paint seemed fresh as well. All around the boarder, where the door and the doorframe met, the bright glow escaped. The circumference of the door shone with dreadful intensity.

The knob turned. It was cold. I felt the spring resisting me, building up to unleash its bolt once my hand was gone. I was blind for a moment as I came in. Into the room I stumbled. The door shut behind me, another spring.

There was nothing here. My head turned from wall to wall. An opaque glass covered everything, floor to ceiling, diffusing the light of what I knew to be thousands of LEDs all burning brightly. My eyes burned, and tears flowed down my cheeks.

I called out to him, “Where are you?”

I heard his voice, broken and coarse, “Samuel?”

“I can’t see,” I said.

“Over here.”

I turned to where I thought I heard his voice. There was maybe something there, a shape within the light. Holding my hand in front of my eyes—I could see my hand—I tried to cast some shadow by which to see. Light came at me from every angle. It was hopeless.

“Come closer,” he said.

I could see my feet, could feel the ground beneath them, but for all that, there seemed to be nothing there but light. I took an uneasy step forward.

“Yes,” he said, “this way.”

I followed the voice. The shape I saw distantly resolved. There was a chair, comfortable and worn, a knitted blanket of a soft yarn, and between these an old man. The blanket, the chair, even his clothes, they were all white. A lamp was beside him, its long, thin body a silvery color like a mirror. The manila shade covering its bulb disappeared as my weak eyes struggled to see.

We stood there—I stood there; he sat—not a word between us. I could not see his face well, not see his eyes.

“We need to talk,” I began.

“I’m not leaving,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“They exist in the darkness.” He was quiet a moment. I could see him moving as if turning his head from side to side. His arms were hard to detect. His long sleeves seemed to blend into everything. He was like a bare outline of a man, an unfinished drawing.

He resumed, “They can’t get me in here. I’m safe now.”

I nodded, not knowing whether he could see me or not.

“So you’re just going to hide from them forever, stuck in this room.” He heard the word, understanding it. He heard what I said in that small syllable, room. My mind filled in the detail I could no longer see, filled in the pursing of his lips, the drawing in of his eyebrows. He glared at me, I suspect, but I don’t know.

“You listen here,” he said. I think he was wagging a finger. “You’ve seen ‘em too, so don’t you go knock’n them.”

“You can’t do it this way,” I said.

“There ain’t no other way,” he blurted.

I clapped my hands together loudly. They were still pressed together. I held them before my face, hoping he could see.

“You hear that?” I asked. “My hands, they’re together. What’s between them?” I went on. “There are always shadows where there are men, and there will always be darkness in you. You can’t—” I didn’t know what to say. Sighing, I let my hands fall to my sides. “What do you think? They’re coming tomorrow whether we like it or not. And if, by some miracle, this flashlight of yours works, if for some reason they can’t get in, what’s to stop them from cutting the power?” I didn’t leave him time to respond, “But it won’t come to that. I know, you know, that there will always be darkness. There is always something we hide—you most of all. So hide away in your little chamber of light. It won’t stop them.”

The spring was loaded, and I left, groping my way back to the door. My hand on the wall, I found the place I had entered. The white door was nearly invisible, but its brass knob shone through the blinding light. Inside the door, where there was no light, I knew that spring was waiting. Hidden away, it would resist my hand, it would stubbornly shoot its bolt back out once I let go. Such are the things of darkness.

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