Fear Of the Dark
"If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you" - Friedrich Nietzsche
John was a seemingly fearless man , healthy, strong , tall and capable to knock out other men with a single punch. It came as no surprise considering his profession- a lumberjack.
However, what his friends didn't know was that ever since he was a boy he feared the dark. It was not the darkness of the night itself that scare him, but rather the feeling that something was watching him from the darkness. Whenever he was alone at night on in a dark place that felling would come over him- something was watching him, he wasn't sure why but it filled him with dread inside.
The truck stopped near the tall block of flats. John thanked his colleague for the ride home and shoved his hands into his pockets, looking for his keys. He took the stairs up to his flat on the ninth floor. He turned the key in the lock, then opened the door but did not go in. he stared into the darkness that had settled into his apartment. It felt strange , it felt like somebody was in his apartment, hiding in the darkness and staring at him. He shut the door and locked it then made his way to the bar across the street, hoping that when he got back whatever it was will be gone.
Leaving the bar at quarter passed midnight the crossed the empty street and stumbled up the steps to find the front door locked, he remembered it being past midnight and cursed under his breath for taking too long to get back. The front door was always locked by the care taker to prevent vandalism and the homeless or drug addicts sneaking in and sleeping under the stair case on cold nights. Each resident had a back door key.
The narrow street that led to the back door was dark. The only light was a dim exit sign above the entrance door. John walked up to the white, metallic fence that separated him from the entrance and tried to unlock the padlock on the gate. As he was fumbling with the small key in the dark, he heard footsteps behind him. He thought it was another resident returning and turned around to ask for help with the lock.
The small street between two houses was empty. Yet he unmistakably head footsteps coming his way. The only thing between John and the street lamp was just a two-step wide area of darkness. With the speed unimaginable for a drunken man he unlocked the gate and shut it behind him, ran up to the back door and entered the entered the well-lit hallway. He entered his apartment and turned on the light in the hall before shutting the door. " Good" he thought to himself. The strange feeling was gone, his home felt like his own again. The lights in every room were turned on, except for the living room. The light switch was on the far wall of the room close to the bedroom entrance but far away from the kitchen entrance where he now stood. Staring into the dark room . " it will be fine" he told himself.
He had strange feeling whenever darkness was around . he thought back to the footsteps he hear in the alley. Feeling that something is near and hearing disembodied footsteps were very different things, but right now he was tired and slightly drunk, even he had trouble believing his own credibility on anything. Slowly, careful to not trip on something he made it to the switch and flipped it. In that part of the second after the switch is flipped and before the light floods the room, he felt it clear as day. Something was in the room with him, something was behind him. Something put a hand on his shoulder.
The light was on. John stood there paralyzed, cold sweat running down his back. Without looking back he darted into his bedroom, turned on the light and jumped under covers . " it's gonna be fine" he told himself.
Larry lit a cigarette , it had been a long day of searching. Three days ago his colleague John didn't turn up for work. He didn't pick up his phone, he didn't answer his door. When the caretaker opened the apartment with a spare key it was empty. No one had seen or heard anything about the man that lived there. There were n living relatives to contact, no one he could have gone to. Larry and many others helped out with the search but they found nothing. Now it was getting dark.
He blew out a cloud of smoke into the darkness. Suddenly a chill ran through his body, something was watching him. The man looked around but all he saw were the dark silhouettes of trees and lights of the lampposts in the distance. Something touched his shoulder and Larry jumped. He turned around. Standing behind him was none other than John, he looked different, more pale and had dark shades under his eyes, his dark clothing seemed to blend in with the darkness.
"Where have you been?" He asked " Everybody is out looking for you"
"I've always been right here" here said "tell them not to worry. "
There was something strange in his voice, it almost didn't sound like John.
"Are you alright?" he asked
"Never been better" John said." You know the strangest thing happened, I was terrified of the dark, ever since I was kid. My dad was a drunk and he lock me up in a dark storage room while he beat my mother. One day he beat her so hard she died. "
"I've never told anyone of this before." He said" so the next day while he was passed out I tied him up and put him the same closet and then I ran as fast and as far as I could afraid of that would happen if he woke up and got out of it. But he never did, had a heart attack in his sleep, no one could hear him scream in the closet, no one could help him, he died tied up in a dark place. Dark place I put him in."
Larry wasn't sure what to say.
"The dark is not so bad once you get used to it." John said.
He was walking away. Then he paused
"Tell them I did it to myself, will you tell them that?
"Sure" Larry said not sure what he meant by that
"Don't worry, I'll stick around here for a bit,. Take care now"
"You too." Larry said.
The next day they found John. His body floated up on the small river outside of town, he was tied with ropes and Larry remembered the story John had told him in the park and then the realization hit him. According to the police reports John had been dead for four day when they found him. Larry turned his eyes away from the article and looked into the shadowy hallway leading out of his kitchen and a feeling came over him that someone was there, someone was looking at him from the darkness. Never before he had felt any kind of fear towards the darkness but at that moment he felt cold ant mortified and he recalled the conversation he had with John at the park and he could almost see him in the shadows of the hall. But as soon as it came the feeling passed but Larry never the same about dark places again.