My first taste of darkness had me gagging. It was too oppressive. I couldn’t make sense of it, this darkness. It was a word I knew, a concept I understood, but it was also not normal for a strange blind girl like me. Nothing was dark in my world, but now I was drowning in it.
So, so dark.
Why was it dark?
I tried to make sense of my surroundings without moving. Not that I could, with my hands bound tightly behind my back. I was lying down on something old and hard. It was not the carpeted floor of my bedroom, not the marbled tiles of the living room, and definitely not the soft grassy lawn of our yard.
Unfamiliar sounds whispered hints to my ears.
The sound of water lapping underneath wooden planks.
Wherever I was now, it was not home.
Murmur of voices. One, two, three…four…
Was that all of them? I couldn’t tell. All I knew was that the people around me were not Mom or Dad. They were not people I could trust. They were…bad.
Heavy footsteps heading towards me, the darkness becoming more suffocating—-
“Are you awake?”
No! I almost cried it out, almost allowed myself to be baited.
The words came from the darkness.
The darkness was alive. It had spoken. And now I knew.
Oh God. Now I knew why it was so dark. The darkness was all…him, and it made me wish I was really blind like the others.
But I wasn’t, and because I was not, because my eyes worked differently, like soldiers with infrared glasses, like canines with heat vision, I saw.
I saw the darkness. I saw him. And I saw death.
In my world, man-made objects were outlined, and everything else, like the sun, the sky, the ocean, and the earth, blended in a great blank white landscape. Every creature whose heart beat was a fiery orange. Or at least it used to be until Mr. Darkness.
Mr. Darkness was so twisted inside his soul had swallowed every bit of light inside him, drowning all shades of orange with black – empty, hollow, evil black.
“You’d like to pretend you’re still sleeping?” Mr. Darkness’ voice was cultured and filled with cold amusement, each syllable that dropped from the darkness ripping my world apart.
You’d like to pretend you’re still sleeping?
Rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip.
My world was black, dead, and lacerated into pieces by the time he finished speaking.
But we both knew he wasn’t finished with me.
“Is this how you want to play it?”
My world continued to rip apart with each word he spoke. It was a struggle not to answer, not to squeeze my eyes tightly shut to ward him off. It took everything not to move and reveal just how terrified I was of his darkness – God, he made my world so, so dark.
His eyes remained on me, something I sensed like insects crawling all over my skin.
“How about we play make believe?”
He almost tricked me into shaking my head and betraying I was awake. I would never want to play with him. Never ever. If I played and he said ‘game over’, it wouldn’t just be the game ending. It would mean I’d stop breathing, too.
“You’re the sleeping princess and I’m the prince who’d wake you up with a kiss.” This time, his voice was no longer a playful taunt. This time, it was laced with bitterness, the words loaded with meaning I didn’t really want to understand. Mr. Darkness’ words told me that there was a person he hated, and he was taking out that hatred on me.
God, oh God, please make this darkness end.
“Do you want a kiss?”
I didn’t react.
“No? Then what about this? If you don’t speak in the next three seconds, I’ll kill you.”
Oh God, oh God—-
What do I do?
Was this a trick?
“Where are my parents?” I opened my eyes as I spoke, never feeling so thankful that I was blind.
Mr. Darkness laughed, the sound as chillingly musical as his voice. “Where do you think?”
“Clairvoyant” was the first word I learned to spell when I was three years old, drawing the letters with my fingers when Mom placed me in a sandbox to play with other kids. I only needed to touch someone to see the good things that could happen to them. Sometimes, the images were vivid and clear. Other times, the images were hazy.
But when bad things happened—-
Everything would become painfully sharp, each scene in high-definition 3D. To the point that I could feel the splatter of blood on my face as Mr. Darkness sank his knife in my father’s back and severed his spine.
God, I hated it when I saw the bad things people could do. It made me wish I was really truly blind.
(My mother’s corpse draped the stairs, all mangled limbs and dead eyes dilated.)
(My father next to it, face ashen as he stared at my bedroom door.)