Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Darkling - A Short Story
It’s quiet now. Somewhere beyond the confines of our stunted vision, somewhere in the teeth of the snarling darkness beyond the reach of our dying torches, in the cold, close air over our heads.
In this silence, our breathing echoes like the dying gasps of an army. An army of frozen souls wandering in some cold, empty oblivion, fleeing in fear from they know not what.
We dare not move for fear of tripping the air’s silver threads and shattering the glass ceiling of quiet above us. Though perhaps it would not be so bad. Blood, at least, is warm. And the pain, at least, would be brief.
The quiet burns with a fire made of icicles and knife edges.
It is said that dead men tell no tales, but here it is the living whose tongues blacken and shrivel in the cold. The kiss of the air is laced with trailing fingers and wandering souls. Down, down, six feet deep, their bodies lie in ashes, but here, among the last frigid bastion of the fearful, they walk among us.
Maybe they try to warn us. Or maybe they laugh.
A cry, strangled before it can be heard. We cannot break our last defence; that last opaque wall, that last frozen comfort. Steel and stone and fire have failed us. Now we have only silence; blind-eyed silence, dancing on her blade’s edge, ‘till she shatters into dust and porcelain screams.
Dare we believe we are alone? In this nightmare fantasia it is all too easy to lose sight of the truth, or that which wears its face. Our vision dies with our torches, but still we scrabble in the black for phantom lights and promises.
There are too many liars here.
The brave may mock the coward in the light, but when the night draws in and the grey death looms, he will cling to his dusty heels and mewl with the rest of us. There are no heroes here; there are no heroes anywhere when the darkness rips away our pantomime shadows and bares us, naked fools, as what we are.
The last torch gasps its last. Now the reign of darkness is complete, as she takes hope in her arms and, with a last pointy-toothed kiss, tenderly snaps her neck. A black queen on a black throne, staring with her knowing eyes and empty, empty smile.
Down and down and down we go, watch the ebb and laughing flow, hear the silent sirens sing.
Hear the queen devour her king.