On The Edge of Darkness - Act 2: As Long As I Can See The Light

On The Edge of Darkness - Act 2: As Long As I Can See The Light

A Story by Dr. Robert

Act 2 of my 3 part series


It was the best of times…
    It was the worst of times…

    I remember those words from a novel I read when I was very young. Gone was the man who wrote those simple words but for some reason they had stuck with me to this day. Sometimes you don’t need elaborate prose for it to ring true. The fact remained the same and applied so much then - it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
    No, I did not meet my maker on that gloomy November morning. By some strange twist of fate or divine intervention or whatever you may call it, I was spared. Now that I look back to it, I realize death was the easy way out. Instead, I was to live knowing my best friend had died lying next to me. That was the hardest part.
    Karma. That is what I like to call it. I lived a long life adhering to the simplest moral a man could have; I treated others as I wanted to be treated. I think that maybe, just maybe, that’s why I found myself in the most unlikely of situations when I awoke - in a warm bed looking at smiling faces.
    It took me a long time to really grasp what had happened. One minute I was in the woods; broken and bloody, the next I was in a warm bed with several strange faces looking at me. When they spoke, they let a mix of genuine concern and excitement drip from their tongues. They found me in the woods that morning and they had done the impossible - shown compassion.
    In a world so hopeless and people so far removed from themselves, the strangest thing is to feel what I felt that morning when I woke up. The five people that stood in the room eagerly spoke to me about my wounds and how one of them stayed by my side since they found me, praying for my safe return from the darkness.
    Their were five of them total but at the time, only four were present. For reasons unknown, the fifth member would not join us till much later. Those five faces would forever be engraved into my mind and my heart. They had saved my life and in time would help me realize what I longed for the most since I began my travels - to feel normal again.
    When I asked them why they had saved me, they simply laughed. “Because there is still good people out in the world,” Travis said to me. While not the first person I would get to truly know, Travis was undoubtedly the leader of this ragged band of do-gooders. He towered over everyone else; a handsome six feet of pure Texan. He spoke in a kind southern drawl reminiscent of the westerns of old. He held sway over the rest not because he was the smartest or the strongest - simply because he had an air about him, a charisma seemingly long forgotten. Still, even charisma could only control the people of this broken world for so long. It was during a late night chat that I found out that he had come up from Texas and was the reason some of the others were alive today.
    Now as well as I would come to know Travis, I would come to know the others equally as well. Their personalities, while undoubtedly different, were linked together by the one thing they all had in common - the longing to feel normal again. It had been years since I was able to do that and that first night after the group helped me to a hearty meal, I cried myself to sleep. I was home again.
    In the coming days, Travis would explain to me how they were dug into this vacant mansion outside a small town for the winter. The group had been on the move since spring and settled for the winter months, much like the nomads of old, and while I was a stranger to them, they had welcomed me with open arms as one of their own. That was the reason I didn’t move on. I wasn’t alone anymore - I was among friends.
    Now I spoke of Travis but I had yet to tell you of the rest of the group. Gwen was the youngest of the group - a beautiful bright eyed girl fresh into her late teens. To me, she carried a distinct air about her; one that didn’t let the evils of the world in. Perhaps it was ignorance or she was just jaded. The girl seemed barely old enough to remember the time leading up to the collapse. It was during a late night poker game with Travis that I found out she was sheltered from the storm; they found her in a bunker outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her innocence was her beauty but even that had a way to nip her in the butt from time to time - for her carefree personality made her a prime target of friendly teasing from the others. She handled it well though, sometimes acknowledging her lackadaisicalness.
    Despite the teasing, Gwen held the mutual respect of the group for her abilities in the kitchen. I cannot say how many great memories she conjured up in my head by the smell of her cooking. Even with the scavenged food that the group managed to collect, Gwen always had a way of turning it into something more that just a meal. Every meal of every day was an event none of us would miss. We would sit down like a family would and talk and laugh and cry about anything and everything. It was only possible because of Gwen.
    Josh was a person in his own little world. The skinny blond haired man was always quick to crack a joke. His mouth was his weapon against this cruel world and oh how he used it well. He was much like Gwen for the fact that he carried a similar air about him but this was just a clever ruse. The man was a little older that the rest and had seen his share of the evils that plagued the world. He carried an inner sorrow that was masked by his sense of humor. Everyone had to shield themselves from the harsh realities of life after it all fell apart - that was Josh’s way of coping.
    If there was a smile to be had, it was only their because of Josh. He was quick to please the others and showed a genuine concern for others that seemed lost on them sometimes. Here was a man with a kind heart that didn’t deserve to live in this barren age. He had been found with a broken leg from a nasty fall outside of Chicago and since then, hasn’t left. Unlike Gwen, Josh was not exceptionally well versed in any skill. Instead, his brightness was what the group craved. He was the playful older brother. He would become my brother.
    If there was one person I would get to know best, it would have been Stephanie. A dark haired beauty of tall stature, she was the embodiment of everything I missed over the years. Speaking with a crisp Kentucky accent only added to my lust for her. She had been the one who’s keen medical knowledge has brought me back from the gates of Hell.
    In contrast with her medical skills, Stephanie was deeply religious, something I would come to admire. Often she spoke of growing up a devout Christian and God’s plan for the world and how we could be saved. To her, the end of everything was just the beginning of something greater. It gave her the strength to hold on when their was no light to be found. It gave her the strength to survive long enough to be found by Travis and Josh in Springfield, Missouri - victim of circumstance, much like myself. Thinking about it, maybe if I had some sort of religion, I wouldn’t have tried to take my own life long ago.
    To the others, Stephanie was known as sort of a hot-head. Her assertive personality often collided with the others, specifically Josh. Her rants which most definitely ended up with religious tones would heat up Josh something fierce and the two would go at it like a brother and sister. Despite their differences, the two were well versed in brushing off their fights and by dinner time everything would be normal.
    It was no surprise from the moment I awoke, that I wanted Stephanie. What started out as a mutual lust not long after I was able to get out of bed would develop into something more in the months that followed. Around me, she dropped her tough, assertive guard and spoke to me of things she had never told anyone. This was a woman that deep down, was just as vulnerable as the rest. Some nights she would even cry to me about how her faith had been shaken by the evils of the world. I simply kissed her forehead and listened. It was all I could do.
    When I awoke I explained there were only 4 people present. Their was another man with the group by the name of Gavin. Gavin was an odd sort. He was deathly quiet, more so than the rest. The bearded man not only had seen his share of pain - he had lived it - and for too long. Often I would find him sitting alone staring off into nothing. At first I thought him a mute when he didn’t bother to speak a word to anyone my first few weeks with them. It was during that late night poker game that Travis had explained the enigmatic man.
    Gavin was not a victim of circumstance nor disciple of faith nor courtroom jester like the others. Gavin came from a darker place than most of us could have comprehended. Even the group was unable to gather much about him but what was learned was that he was a soldier when everything collapsed. I think it was safe to say they took the most of the damage trying to hold everything together when the s**t hit the fan. Who knows what atrocities he had to commit in his time - what evils he held deep inside.
    I recall the first time he actually said something to me, it was a sleepless night in February. That day would stick with me because it signified the end of things. A chance encounter with a few highwaymen left Gwen injured, only spared because of Gavin‘s training. We all knew in time they would come in force and that night I couldn’t sleep at the thought that we could lose it all. It was the calm before the storm.
    Gavin was sitting alone in the basement next to an old record player. As I sat down next to him, he looked to me and smiled and simply said “Listen.” He dropped the needle onto the spinning vinyl disc and the sweetest sound escaped it’s speakers. It was an old soul tune by William Bell.

Every day will be like a holiday / When my baby, my baby comes home.

    Even now as the highwaymen reign down upon us, all I can think about is that song. We were right - they did come in force and the did find us. Now Travis’s body lies wrapped in a blanket in the corner of the room. He had sacrificed himself to give us the time to escape into the basement and now for the past 2 days, we wait quietly. We haven’t seen Josh since the attack and I can tell Gavin is getting restless as he sharpens his long knife. Gwen clings desperately to him, weeping quietly for she knows what is soon to come. Stephanie prays quietly by herself. And me? I do the only thing I know how to do…

Keep writing

© 2010 Dr. Robert

Author's Note

Dr. Robert
Act 2 of 3. 2nd Draft. I feel pretty strong about this one. Like many second acts, the rising action is always the longest and hardest to fill in on the way to the climax in act 3, so i wanted to keep this one short and sweet. Focus solely on the characters and the protagonists feelings with them all the while set up everything for Act 3. I could really use some serious reviews to give me a heads up and tell me if it worked or didn't.

My Review

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Really well done.

This draft is pretty polished. I noticed a few minor grammatical but nothing major.

You've done an excellent job getting the reader emotionally invested in each character even with just the short amount of time we spend on each one.

I'm eager to see how everything plays out.

Posted 10 Years Ago

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Added on December 12, 2010
Last Updated on December 12, 2010


Dr. Robert
Dr. Robert

Kalamazoo, MI

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