The Night Air

The Night Air

A Story by Tom Aubin

Everybody once thought "There is something about the night air..." And if they did not, it's only a matter of time.

There was something about the night air. 
It was not a feeling that could be easily described, it was not some simple thing that you could just explain with a few words. It was not like anything else in the world. 
His mother had once told him: “Do you know why the night is dark? Because the night is dangerous. There is a reason why people cannot see well in the dark and it’s because there is nothing to see. Nothing to look for. Especially for someone like you. You want to stay alive, you stay away from it.”
The words came clearly to his mind, although they had been spoken a long, long time ago. His mother was dead since many years and nonetheless the voice that spoke to his ears had been the voice of a young woman. A young mother. 
Filip Mantes was a good old man, with a good old head. He knew for sure that in the last fifty years the words of his mother never crossed his mind. Never, and there was no doubt about it. 
The only part he did not get was “especially for someone like you.” What did she mean by that? 
The night’s arms stood in front of him, motionless. They seemed to be waiting for a reaction. Filip had none. He was petrified. 
For the first time in his life, he could really smell the night air, and it smelled like… popcorn? But it was not like any popcorn smell, this one was special. 
It was the smell of a summer night of the year 1966. The fair was pretty popular that year. Each tent had something special. Filip’s favorite was the maze with all the mirrors, while his best friend Eddie rather enjoyed the shooting range. He could have stayed there the whole day, despite being totally bad at it. 
The scene was still quite clear, at least the part right before total chaos. 
Eddie was holding on to the gun while the shop’s owner reached and tried to get it back. He actually had to pull on Eddie’s ears to get him to let go. The scene caused a few people to look at them. The next noise would freeze everybody on site. 
Eddie had pulled out another gun. A real gun. 
From that moment, it was not clear anymore. In Filip’s mind, it felt as if he was witnessing some stampede in Africa. People were running for their lives. A few could not move at all, and just stood there in shock. 
It was the first time Filip ever heard the sound of a shooting gun, and it was also the last time he ever saw Eddie. 
He just disappeared. First from his life, then from his mind. 
“There is a reason for that, you know?”
The voice froze him completely, like a stream of icy water dripping on his neck, running slowly down his back. 
The night did not wait for a reply. 
“He was not there.” the words hissed at an inch of his ears. 
He felt something he had never felt before. Some new emotion he wished he had never discovered. 
The images in his head played again. The fair, Eddie pulling out his gun. But then the hands holding the gun were changing and he was seeing something that could not be. 
Eddie was wearing his watch, and it was impossible for the simple reason that never ever would Filip land his watch to anyone, not even his best friend. The watch was the only thing he had always kept, the only token of his early life, and became somehow his most precious belonging. As he grew up it also became the only thing that reminded him of the outside world. The world outside his job. 
Filip was a doctor, and it was an activity that took a lot of time. He felt like he could not even remember the day he saw sunlight for the last time. 
But he was a good old man now, with a good old head, and the watch had never left his wrist since the day he first put it there. To this day. 
The pictures kept moving, he could almost see them in front of him, like a movie projector on a night curtain. 
Eddie was not real. He had never existed. 
Filip was remembering now. It was a long time ago. He knew that. But still… he went on with his life and became a doctor. 
“No, you did not.” whispered the night, and then it moved even closer, and the tone did not seem to be moved by any kind of emotion that Filip was familiar with. 
“Wearing a white coat doesn’t make you a doctor, Mantes.”
The pictures moved forward and he was looking at himself on the glass door of the cafeteria. Next to him was his colleague, Nelson, telling him these exact words: “Wearing a white coat doesn’t make you a doctor, Mantes.”
Filip did not understand. They were colleagues since a while, and very good friends. There was no reason for him to say something like that. 
When Filip tried to ask him what was wrong, Nelson knocked him out, and Filip spent a week in the same hospital he was working for.
Nelson had been fired and Filip had only seen him a couple of times since, from far. 
“He told you the truth.” whispered the night. 
It was ridiculous. Filip was hearing things, seeing things. He was too old, his mind was playing some tricks on him. 
The pictures changed again, and the office did not look the same anymore. It had gone back to before the fight had even started. His desk was gone. The door was different, too. It had this opening with three bars in the middle. 
It was another memory of the night. 
“After the fight, they told you that your best friend and colleague Nelson was in fact your new cellmate, and as you welcomed him as an old friend, he had a normal reaction and defended himself in front of a mad man.”
And at this moment, Filip looked up, straight at the night. He could not see any eyes but he knew for certain that it was staring back at him. He could almost feel it on his skin.
He found the courage to ask: “Why are you here?”
The answer took a long time. A lifetime. 
“I’m here because you need to see. I cannot describe it.”
Describe… This word resounded deep in his mind. And he remembered. 
“Especially for someone like you…” his mother had said that night. 
His life had actually been a long series of descriptions, some by the people he knew, some he would draw to himself with the tip of his fingers, others he would sometime just invent, to have something or even someone to fill the darkness with. 
He needed to see... These had been the words of the night. But how could he? 
Filip Mantes was blind since the day he was born. 
“This is why you could not remember your last sunlight.” 
And suddenly everything seemed to change. Maybe because he now realized he had been running away from the night his whole life when he had nothing to fear.
They were old friends. 
“Look at it now.”
Filip saw. He saw everything. 
The trees moving with the night air, the bright light of the moon trapped behind dark clouds. 
“Don't look away.”
The moonlight started to pierce through the clouds, and soon night turned into day. 
Filip had to close his eyes, and he heard a shriek coming out of his own mouth. It was strange, though… He was crying. But not tears of sadness, and also not tears of joy. If Filip had to choose a word, it would have been… glory. 
He could not see it because his eyes were closed shut. The light was too bright. 
And suddenly, out of that same light came two arms grabbing him, pulling him into the light. He could hear voices on the other side. 
The night looked at him going away until he was completely out of sight. 
He was one of many that had lived a life of darkness, like night itself, and it had always felt a connection to them. They were living a whole life in the dark before being allowed to see the light, and most of them would not even remember it. 
The night sighed, and the night air coming out of it began its travel. 
Someone would smell it soon, somewhere in the world, thinking: “There is something about the night air…”.  

© 2017 Tom Aubin

Author's Note

Tom Aubin
Hello there, I hope you will enjoy it.
I'm pretty sure I got some tenses wrong, I would be grateful if you could point them out to me. Thanks!

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register

Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on November 7, 2017
Last Updated on November 7, 2017
Tags: the, night, air, short, story, tom, aubin