The Dark

THERE WAS NO LIGHT. That was precious knowledge. The realization of which had cost her more than she would have thought possible, if she had but known.

Everything needs a context. And for the darkness to mean anything there had to have been a memory of light. The memory was fading fast.

It would happen, and then, more often than not, happen again. Sometimes there was more than just the tentative awareness that, in its-self, did not always register.

She could not remember.

It would come back to her, things usually did. She always remembered didn’t she? But she couldn’t remember.

Time was something she had an eternity of, milliseconds were like millennia here.


Wherever here was. Time’s last foundation had fled, leaving her…where?

She remembered. What was it? She had it a moment ago. But what was a moment? Something about light, whatever that was.

She could have wept but there was nothing to cry with; nothing, period. There was no sensation, or physical awareness—nothing but the perpetual dark.

Horrors crawled just beneath the thin veneer of consciousness.


Hadn’t she been here before? Yes, but don’t let that thought go. She needed that thought, it was all she had. She had been insane many times, but what was insanity anyway. What was anything to her, any more? She didn’t know and that frightened her more than anything, more than the dark itself.

There were thoughts, fleeting memories, fading fast. She chased them through the dark. Vague spectral images that haunted her. Images of what? Of who? Then it happened. Like someone striking a match in the dark. Everything jumped into clear view. Life, hers, rushed in upon her, almost drowning her in a tidal-wave of vision. She grabbed at it all and swam in a confusion of unconnected thought that flowed this way then that, converging on madness. She pulled along little realizing she was fighting for her existence. Whatever existence it was that she had.

There was a moment’s sanity when she thought she understood. Understood the nature of her dilemma.

Sensory deprivation.

A few hours of which could turn the sane and healthy into gibbering idiots. She remembered. Look for breathing, heartbeat, the twitching of a muscle. Anything. She searched in the only way she knew how, but found and felt nothing. She couldn’t locate what her memory told her, should be there.

Pressure then. Something please, anything, if only. Then it would prove to her that she was not, as she was beginning to believe and fear, dead.


Wasn’t that supposed to be the absence of consciousness?

So what if she did lack a body? This was all wrong. She struggled with notions that came and went. Was this a glimmer of something far worse? What if—and she had been through a few of those—what if you didn’t die, ever. But when your body died you had this; eternal nothing.

Was she in fact dead? Or… Doubt lurked. Regardless, she clung to what she had.

There seemed to be no way out. No way to take her from where she was, except to remember. She used that thought to go beyond the dark, to that last look at light. A substance that was fast becoming myth. That precious substance that warmed body and soul. Where was it now when she needed it most?

Somewhere there had to be a body to support her, her thoughts. Somewhere there had to be substance.

Somewhere was a fading memory hung upon a bough—

Where silent fishes swam down a dry canal—

Where birds winged their way through a burning sky—

Images assailed her, but this time she felt detached. Dreams or reality? It didn’t seem to matter.

The endless aching need to weep overwhelmed her. She had no way of knowing how long this had been going on for. A minute or an eternity?

Waking was gradual this time. Was that possible?


She sobbed into the silence, while something stabbed at the back of her awareness. It happened again, even as she was thinking about it. She must be mistaken? Shock rocked her as she tried to rationalize what was taking place, to understand, while waiting for it to happen again. This was no trick, no illusion or false memory.

She had a body…she had a leg…that twitched…in the dark. She had—sensory overload.

Somewhere she swam through the waters of life. She had a body, one that she had no control over. It twitched of its own accord, independent of her wishes. It was unnerving. As if everything else had not been enough.

At times she wished for more, at times she just wished. And still the dark held her in its thrall.

Sensory information now provided for her needs. Bringing her to the conclusion that she was entombed. And as important, she was floating in something. Had she been right with the sensory deprivation thing? If only she could put the pieces together—then she would understand.

Something was taking place about her. She only wished she knew what. She felt pressure squeezing upon her. She didn’t dare think about it. It was happening and she knew, somehow, she had to flow with it. An irresistible force had taken over.

She tried not to panic when there was movement. At least she thought it was that. An arm jerked, while a hand clutched at something liquid, which oozed through fingers.

A cold chill of fear raced through her as she began to understand, to finally equate what was happening. As her body moved, going somewhere.

A barrier of some sort stayed her progress, but only for a second. She felt the contours of her head press against it. Then it began to yield, giving way round her. And still the pressure bore down on her.

In these final moments there was little time for reflection. She broke through the barrier, her body freeing its self in one last tremendous effort. Only to feel a pain like none she could ever remember. Lungs emptied of mucus. She screamed a momentary protest and slipped into unconsciousness.

She breathed, she lived, she dreamed, but would she remember.