Thursday, July 22, 2010

“Writing In The Dark” by Randy M. Salo

He had not stirred for at least an hour. I knew because I had not written anything for at least that long and spent most of that time watching him. I mean, not much else happened in a coffee house at that early hour in the morning. Either I was genuinely getting tired or the insomnia was making me delirious. I’m not able to write. But it was okay because I had become content, for the time, to just watch him. I wondered what his story was. Why did he come here so late? My excuse was legitimate, if not absurdly self-inflicted. I think the night allows me to express thoughts I would otherwise leave to dreams. It is a cloak of protection, which nurtures my need to create and destroy, to manifest and devour. I could hardly write in the afternoon when the sun is at it’s brightest and the birds are singing. I think it is the isolated feeling of the night. I feel at times wrapped in its embrace. The insomnia is my cover. It comforts me. I have begun to live with it as if I had never needed to see the light of a sunrise again. Besides, I can’t think during the day. I feel weak and lethargic. It’s silly but I think the night gives me strength, now. I’m beginning to feel much of what I envision. It is like being marooned on an uninhabited island for a very long time, alone. You might eventually begin to fabricate in your mind what is happening to the rest of the living planet. You might spend fifty years imagining what happened to old friends and family members. I assume that after such a period of time, if not quite accidentally, you’d lose your mind. Perhaps you would completely create a new and personal reality, which exists only in your own mind and only by the laws that you govern. If you were suddenly rescued, after a lifetime of delusional reality, you might never be able to return to the accepted norms of a collective society; forever trapped on that barren island, which your mind has become...

She had not written anything for at least an hour. I knew because she had been watching me. She watched me as I sat deep in thought, my mind tracking endlessly through the city outside. I wondered if she was a writer by profession or hobby. Her work, if professional, was scribed during late night sessions in this coffee house on her little laptop computer. I had only decided this because I could not imagine her maintaining a day job with her late hour-habits. A freelance writer, journalist, or a novelist, perhaps. Certainly, her writing had a nocturnal flavor. Thrillers or crime novels were my first guess, perhaps a touch of horror. There was sure to be some irony in this.

This wasn’t the first time I saw her. She had started coming here about a week before. She had obviously been looking for a new location to nurture her creativity. Or was she looking for something deeper, darker? It was here where I guess she found it because she came every night since. It was just a little corner coffee shop, one that catered to the nocturnal in us. Those of us who worked and thrived in the hours between sundown and sunrise needed the dark like others need the daylight. It embraced us. She embraced it with a careless naivety, which would cause her to succumb to it. She watched me, but knew not that it was I who had first discovered her. She didn’t see me the first night I came upon her in the metropolitan library. I found her in the ‘True Crime’ section. I concluded right away that she had a taste for violence. I could see it in her eyes as she scanned the first few pages of a novel based on the peculiar death of three prostitutes on the port side of town. I remembered the incident well. It happened nearly six years ago, down on the docks. The women were found hanging from a cargo hook above the water. Their hands and feet were bound together and their bodies were tied by a single red cord, wrapped tightly around them. The police discovered scratches and bite marks on their bodies. They found tiny slits in their neck, wrist, and thigh areas. It had appeared that the bodies were drained of blood, as they hung for three days before being discovered. The blood would have completely diluted in the ocean below by the time the bodies were brought down from their deadly suspension. It was also apparent that they were alive before they were suspended above the cold seawater. Eventually, it was discovered that the bite marks were inflicted by the women themselves. It seems that after several days of hanging there, most likely driven to a certain disparity, the women began to claw and bite at one another. This was concluded after autopsy reports produced the approximate length of time from the initial tying of the red cord to the freshness of the wounds. No evidence produced a suspect, only a witness: an old, drunken ex-seafarer. Claiming to have witnessed the incident, the old fool described a scene in which the devil himself led the women down to the docks, performed unspeakable sins with them, and then began to bind them together. The drunk went on to claim that the women did not even struggle when they were being tied and, almost willingly, allowed themselves to be suspended above the water. The police found the old man the day the bodies were discovered. He was inebriated and unconscious in an alley a few blocks from the dock. They say that once he was revived he went completely mad, shouting and screaming. They wrote him off as a lunatic and dismissed his account. He was sent to an institution, for his mental state, and was never questioned about the murders again. Coincidentally, the poor old fool was found a week later hanging from the bars in his cell window. His wrists were also slit. Due to certain bureaucratic reasons and some liability issues, involving the institution, the incident was written off as a suicide even though no weapon was found. It appeared that the man had also bled most of his life into the defecation drain before tying his neck to the barred window using, not coincidentally, the same red cord as that used in the murder of the prostitutes. Strange indeed... She, obviously, was aware of her darker side and if not deliberately, then passively, satisfied it. Not exactly the most digestible subject matter. It really takes a person of some inclination to the morbid to be interested, even fascinated, in this sort of gruesome folklore. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her.

Every now and then he glanced up at me and I turned away. It may be just a random gesture, but I wondered if he saw me watching him. At first it embarrassed me. Startled, I’d look, quickly, down at my computer and act like I was typing away. Then he would go back into that strange, sedated look again. The more I watched him, the more he interested me. And he wasn’t even doing anything. Did he really come here to just think? Perhaps he’s a philosopher, I thought. Maybe he comes to this coffee shop at late hours to contemplate the existence of self or the reasons people obsess over things and are controlled by their obsessions. I wondered if he obsessed over this. I didn’t know him but I could sense that he was like me. I felt his contemplation around me, on me. How do you see someone and just know that they are like you? Without notice, it is there. Those unseen mental connections are made without any sort of verbal communication. It’s like sensing one of your own is present. I usually didn’t find comfort in people. I didn’t really find comfort in anything, except writing. Those people never understood what it was that I was trying to say. They had always read my work and given me that strange, dishonest nod and smile: “It’s great. You have a real sense for horror”. What did they know? They’d just go around their little self-created worlds and pretend it’s not there. They pretend that it’s not sitting there, watching them all the time; waiting to strike. They pretended that the darkness wasn’t there, that it wasn’t already inside of us, waiting to be released. It is their repression of it that causes their misery; their loathsome, mundane existence spent obsessing over the trivial, petty details of a trip to the local supermarket or shopping mall. What power had they really had over their lives? What choices were really theirs to make? When destiny is right in front of you, you have no choice. There is no screaming, no fighting it. You accept it and succumb to it. You can’t escape what you already are. Soon he would be leaving. And I would follow him. I do not know yet, why. But I feel the need to. I needed his life.

I knew that she would be leaving soon. I knew where she would go. However, that night, she would never make it. It was her time. You don’t choose those moments. They chose you. I wanted her. She thought she wanted me. However, she had no idea what I had in store for her. The others had not known either. They were all seeking something too. They were fed up with their lives. Life brought no fulfillment anymore. They had disconnected with every other living being. No real life permeated there being and they accepted it. Why let them suffer? I knew what they wanted. I provided it. This one was different, however. I wanted her for myself but I knew that it was impossible. It was, I guess you could say, against the rules. I only performed out of being controlled. I only did was I was told to do. I did what I was told to do and I received what I needed. I never asked questions. She packed her things the way she always did. She would watch me and hesitate her movement so as to get my attention. Maybe she fantasized that I would notice her and, out of some sort of common ritual, strike up a meaningless conversation with her. As if frustrated with me, she left quickly. I sat there and pretended to pay no attention. In a second I was behind her. I could smell her. I sensed her desperation. Soon, she would not suffer anymore. I would take that pain away from her. I couldn’t help but think of her so fondly. She was so pleasantly different than most of those people. She became so passionately involved in her work that it would bring her to tears. I had watched her struggle with a passage. I was able to watch, from a distance, the persistence and will that she had fought with. Finally, she would soften and let the darkness speak. When she did this she wrote her best. The truth of self is always the path to contentment. She fell quickly. I do not think her brain was conscious for long enough to receive the pain impulses, before triggering the protection mechanism of fainting. She made no audible sound as she fell to the ground. She was beautiful in that light. The streetlights reflected her well enough. She was now visible to me, up close. For so long I had to enjoy her from a distance. Now she was in front of me and I was, for a second, powerless. The darkness had called me to her. I knew I must satisfy it. It is the regular course of things. But this time I felt defiant. She gave me that strength. How I would defy them. I bound her wrists and ankles together with the red cord which I had grown so accustomed to using and prepared for the next phase. This was where I received what I needed to thrive and, therefore, was rewarded my end of the bargain. For several minutes I sat there, looking down upon her. I folded the razor back and returned it to my pocket. This time I would use my true tools for feeding. I lifted her head; feeling the soft, cool hair in my hands. Her neck, exposed to the streetlights, glowed with such radiance that I felt faint. Of course, it had been sometime since my last feeding. I had forgotten about it completely when I first laid eyes upon her. I bit, deeply, into her jugular and drained her of all possible energy. This act fulfilled me like no other pleasure could stimulate. This time, however, I did not take her life into me. The moment was at hand. That was the night I defied the dark. I was intent on having her for myself. I’d given centuries of victims to them. Never being able to express a sensitivity or intimacy since my rebirth, I rebelled. After all, I was human before I was what I am now. I bit my tongue, deeply. Hours after I mixed my blood with hers, she would awake. But she would awake for the first time in a new life. This new life would bring with it, sacrifice. She would be able to see things, as she always believed them to be. She would see the dark. She would feel it. But she would have to serve it, for it controls our world. She would have to feed off of life in the other world in order to serve the darkness and continue to live in this existence. I would be punished for what I did. That was my choice. I chose her. But it did not matter now. I would suffer because for another.

I imagined that she would some day write about how she came to the darkness. Maybe she would write about me. If she was not aware of my sacrifice she may return to that coffee house each night thinking that she was just more suited to the night. She would not know that it did give her strength and nurtured her, now. I imagined that she would believe that she created it all in her head and that she was just naturally different than others. Soon she will become her true self. She will sit and watch someone, so intently, that she will begin to obsess over him or her. This is what happens when the hunger takes you. She needs the blood to thrive. The poor, helpless victims will not see it coming. She will follow them home and strike when they are most vulnerable. The dark will show them to her. It will provide the pleasure -- her life, for a price.

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