The Darkness Inside
rating: +7+x

I remember the crippling fear the shadows under the stairs gave me. There were shadows everywhere when I was a child. Deep nasty ones, laying in wait for me. The trip downstairs to fetch anything from the freezer was a walk of pure terror. Slowly creeping downwards, trying not to watch the darkness in case it watched back. Then running back up again as if hell itself was hot on my heels. So many times I'd trip in my haste, the agony of scraped shins adding to the trauma of the moment. Paralyzed, prone, waiting for the darkness to get me.

They all said I had a vivid imagination. That was my problem, just imagination. They couldn't see them, didn't feel their presence. I wonder what they would say now, if any of them were still here to say anything. Now the darkness has come to get everyone.

I can't describe the darkness, I think everyone sees it differently. To me it's a formless horror. The best I can do is tell you to think of your worst nightmare and then multiply it by a thousand. Then you might start to come close.

I wasn't home when they got my parents. My family. God, they even tore apart my dog.

I know how to fight them now. Years of being tormented by them I learnt how to fight back. Now they are afraid of me. Not that it helps anyone else. I may be the only one left, I don't know. I don't know why my childhood horrors stalk the world. Is it my fault? Did I really just imagine them and give them life? I sometimes think like that, get myself into a dark funk. That's dangerous, they live off dark thoughts. But they feel old, primal, ancient. Dark secrets and long ages of humanity being afraid of things that go bump in the night. That's my best guess anyway. Maybe I just believed hard enough they got free.

The first inkling of the horror to come was that live broadcast from outside the Beehive, parliament steps. I don't know what other people saw, but to me the inky blackness was quite evident. I wanted to yell at them, to warn them. Not that it would have done any good, they were hundreds of miles away. I think when they stopped screaming was the worst moment. The camera on its side where it had fallen, the feed just rolling on. I threw up several times. I still have nightmares.

I watched as they slowly spread. No shadow, no dappled piece of shade was safe anymore. They sucked the colour from the world. Then the other things arrived, as if the presence of them allowed everything else the freedom to stalk reality. The tiny bejewelled dragons were my favourite. Small enough to perch on a fingertip, gently smoking. There were bigger less pleasant creatures too, but I just avoided them. Unicorns for example, nasty tempered and wickedly dangerous, best given a wide berth.

The birds were the first to go. It's surreal how silent the world is without birds, or insects. You just take for granted that background susurration until it's gone. The silence was cloying, heavy, thick with menace. I lived for so long with my headphones on, my MP3 player taking the place of what should have been. Until the power failed that is, and the radio transmissions stopped. I think that was when I figured how alone I really was.

It's been six months since the first incident, 'ground zero' the military called it. I'd been listening into their chatter with my brother's radio equipment. Our Kiwi soldiers went quiet first, then the Aussies. Last I heard from the Americans they were planning to drop nukes on us. They never did. It wouldn't have worked anyway. Even the static stopped after a few months.

The last human I saw was when I ran out of food two weeks ago. The look of fear set forever on his lifeless face. Ripped pieces of his body spread across the supermarket counter. The nametag hanging off his tattered uniform said his name was Jason, and he was pleased to help me today. He wasn't going to be helping anyone ever again, and somehow seeing him like that was worse than any of the horrors the darkness held.

Sometimes the loneliness eats at me, and I think about letting them take me. Just to end it all. I get the feeling they wouldn't though. They need me. I give them just enough despair, just enough darkness of my own. They say it's darkest before the dawn. I wonder what the dawn will bring, and if there will be any place in it for me.

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