What Hides in the Darkness?

What Hides in the Darkness?

A Story by RaptusLarve
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A story about a lone wanderer's experience with the forest, darkness, and the things that hide inside it.

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He is sitting at the old oak table, yawning mouth and yeasty, yellow mead in hand, allowing his mind to rest, even though he fully knows, that this rest can only be temporary. He has to go. Push on. ‘But why?’, had they asked. Why go through the cold, heartless night, why not rest under the cover of the warm, welcoming blankets. After all, there is nothing to be gained from wandering the night, for many old and dangerous things lurk behind the tall, towering trees of the bogs and marshes. And they told him bone-chilling tales of what the nightly forest hides. Tales of witches, ghosts, ghouls, and many more such mysterious monsters. And after all the mead was drunk and all the food was eaten and all the stories were told, he wished for nothing more, but to stay at the warm, light- and love-filled pub, but for all wanted to escape the night he could not. He could not, for he feared the consequences of staying at the pub and failing another delivery far more, than he feared the ghostly creatures, that the night might hide. He could not afford another late delivery, neither for his nor his family’s sake. As much as he was repulsed by the idea of walking through the moor, he had no other choice.


And so he went on his way. He drank his mead, paid the kind people at the pub, and packed his belongings. At first, the narrow road was full of weary travelers, but it was not long until it became quiet and solemn. And so our doomed traveler traveled down the dark, lonely road until he arrived at the edge of, what the locals only called, ‘The forest’.  A great array of trees, clearings, and moors, that stretched out for a hundred miles on either side, but was only a night’s walk across, at its narrowest stretch. It was a place of great mystery and danger, that everybody tried to avoid at all costs, especially at night. ‘The great trees hide nothing, but your own demise’, they always said. As our timid traveler stood at the edge of the vast wilderness he would have to cross, he again considered turning around and go back to the pub. But in the end, a certain fear always wins over an uncertain one. An only theoretical fear of what might hide in the darkness is not enough to motivate somebody if the other option is the very real fear of not being able to provide for your family. And while something, that you know is close and real can be quite dangerous, most people fail to realize, that something theoretical can be just as dangerous. And unfortunately, our traveler was one of those people.


And so with fear pushing him forward, he began his journey through the forest. He took his first step and the forest swallowed him. The trees started surrounding him on all sides, looking down on him, as they stretched out in infinite lines through the darkness. And with his entry into the forest, the light disappeared from the lonely wanderer. The friendly moon, who had guided him so benevolently over the road, disappeared behind the thick layer of leaves and pines. As complete darkness surrounded the lost wanderer, he lit up his tiny lantern, in a desperate attempt to hold back the darkness. And with his single sanctuary of light, he took one step after the other, trying his hardest not to make a noise, for he feared something might hear him. What was that? A crack behind a tree. Was that a bear, a bandit, a banshee perhaps, coming for him? What was that? A rustling in the dark bushes. Was that an evil spirit trying to sneak up on him? Or was this just the wind? It didn’t matter. Forward through the forest was the only option. The minuscule point of light, that was the wanderer, sped up his step. Step. Step. Another step. Careful a tree appearing from the darkness. Step. Careful a stone blocking your way. Step. Careful. A ravine emerging from the ground. Be careful little wanderer. The grasses and bushes and trees of the forest hide just as much danger as the night. Be careful of where you step and what way you’re going and whom you might disturb…


Quick, quick through the forest. Quick to cross these dangerous lands. That was all the lost, lonely, scared traveler wanted. If he could just leave these trees behind, leave the forest behind, leave the darkness behind, then he could… BOOM! With the sound of a thousand drums, a mighty thunderclap echoed through the thousands of trees of the forest. And even though he could see neither the lightning nor the storm he could feel the rainclouds gathering over him. And just as quickly as the storm arrived, the rain arrived, with the ripple of a thousand muskets. The rain, that came down from above the forest, was heavy and thick, bursting from the darkness above the wanderer heard, yet unseen. And with the rain, the wind arrived. The wind, that came from all sides of the forest, with the rushing of a thousand horses, was strong and sharp, blowing from the darkness around the wanderer heard, yet unseen. And with the arrival of those armies of nature, the general of the forest arrived. With wind and rain, the darkness came down onto the helpless wanderer, like a hunter moves in on its prey. Unheard, and unseen.


As the storm raged on, the doomed wanderer tried desperately to fight against wind and rain, so that they might not destroy his single defense against the terrible, unstoppable darkness. He could not allow for the storm to blow out his lantern, had to hold on to his tiny sanctuary, had to escape the darkness, for the darkness meant certain doom, in more than one way. But why was he so afraid? Was it the fear of getting lost, the fear of the things the darkness hides, or perhaps, the fear of the dark itself? It was all the same to him, he only knew, that he had to have a single light, a single bit of hope, to escape this forest. But I ask you, what can you really do against the darkness? What can a single lantern do against a thousand acres of dark forest, what can few towns do against a million miles of dark land, what can a single sun do against billions and billions of light-years of darkness surrounding it, what can they do but wait until they die and finally succumb to the eternal, vast, horrible darkness. They can do absolutely nothing. The wanderer had to learn that lesson as well, you see. He too had to learn, how foolish it is to try to conquer the forest with a single, tiny lantern. And he learned that lesson, when wind and rain, blew his lantern out, with the precision of a hawk and the strength of a bear.


And just like that, all of the wanderer’s fears came true. He was without light, swallowed by darkness, and lost in the unimaginable vastness of the forest. Yet still, amidst the thunder, wind, and rain the tiniest light, the smallest hope flickered within him. If he could just push on, if he could just survive the darkness, if he could just find a light somewhere in the distance he could survive the dark. And so he made a last attempt to escape the forest. Exhausted and lost he took one step after the other, getting toyed with, by the forces of nature. With the darkness, everything got more and less clear. He could suddenly smell every scent the wind carried, hear every single sound around him and feel every movement of air. But he could not identify them, could not comprehend what was around him, could not see the things for what they truly were. Between the trees, in the dark, all of his most primal instincts came to life. Every sound spelt danger, every crack meant a hunter was approaching, every shape he could make out, was his death, he was sure of it. He was sure danger was all around him, but if danger was everywhere, where was the right direction? And so he moved through the forest, like a lost, blind, insignificant, scared, little worm, inching forward towards…something, someplace, somewhere. And he inched. For years, months, hours, until almost all hope was extinguished. When there was no light within him, and he was at the complete mercy of the giant forest, a light came from somewhere else. With the mighty bang of a cannonball, a sound loud enough to split trees, a lightning bolt lit up the wanderer’s night, for the first time. And after a blinding flash of light, he finally saw the light. With his bloodshot eyes, he finally saw the light.

But it was not the warm, welcoming light of a fire. It was a dim, cold light, almost as blue as ice. It lit up the surrounding forest and cast long, menacing shadows upon the wanderer’s pale face. He looked up and finally all of his terror was forgotten. The horror of the forest and storm around him left and made place for the pure, absolute pleasure of finally seeing light in this terrible, infinite place. He had finally found it. He had finally crossed the forest. Finally, he had hope. Finally, he had light. He took his first step towards the tiny orb of blue light flickering just a couple of trees away from him. And as he had almost reached his goal, all of his primal instincts died. And he could smell nothing, could feel nothing, could hear nothing, could see nothing, except the light.


You know, the concept of human fear has always puzzled me. It works in such strange ways. The wanderer was so terribly afraid of everything, as he had traveled through the forest. He was scared of every little sound, every little crack in the bushes, every little thing he could not see, and yet there was nothing hiding in the darkness except his own fear. But now, as took his last steps towards the light, he was not afraid. He was not afraid, when he suddenly heard nothing, except his own breath. He was not afraid when he felt the cracking of old bones under his feet. He was not afraid when he smelt the rotting corpses around him. He was not afraid when he saw the thousand rotting corpses around the tiny, blue bulb of light. When there was every reason to be afraid, he was not afraid. Even as he took his last step into the light, he was not afraid. He was not afraid, for he believed, that all light is good and well and safe and protecting against the dark. But, as so many people before him, he did not learn his lesson. He did not understand, that the dark is all-consuming and that a light in the distance means nothing because around that light there is nothing but darkness. He did not understand, that, like an anglerfish, the light in the distance is nothing more to the darkness, than a bait, to get you to feel safe and protected, when in reality, the dark is just guiding you towards, what it hides. Finally, the wanderer did not realize, that it’s not the dark, that you should fear, for darkness is not the real terror. You should not fear the darkness, but rather the things, that lurk inside it.

 

Take a black hole for example. Nobody is afraid of a black hole, simply because it’s black. They fear a black hole because they can’t see, what hides in the complete darkness. They fear the true horror, hiding behind the inescapable, unseen wall of complete darkness. They fear the thing inside, that destroys everything, even their precious light. They fear it because they cannot see it, they fear it because it shrouds itself in darkness, they fear it because they cannot let their light shine upon it and they fear it because deep down, they know, that they don’t want to know, what hides in the darkness. If even earth’s temporary night hides horrible creatures, what truly terrifying things might hide in the eternal darkness of space? So, a last piece of advice from me. If you ever find yourself walking alone at night, just remember, that a little bit of light can do nothing to keep you safe from what hides in the darkness.

 

 

 

© 2021 RaptusLarve


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Added on June 4, 2021
Last Updated on June 4, 2021
Tags: horror, night, mystery, nature, story

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