“Let your light shine so bright that others can see their way out of the dark.”
It is something I can remember being told once. Was it a friend, family member, maybe church? I cannot remember who told me that, but I remember the words. But what happens when you are the one in the dark? Who helps you when your light goes out?
I sit here, staring unseeing out the window, not that there is anything to see out there. Just Darkness, open, empty, and unforgiving. My long dark hair, lays disheveled across my shoulders. I pull the threadbare blanket in my hands tighter around me. There was no hiding from the cold here.
How long had I been locked in this room, days, months, years? No one locked me in, no the door locks from this side. I locked out the Darkness, locked out the world, locked out help. How could I lead others from the dark when I had come so far into it that I no longer knew the way out? Why should I leave, sure it is cold and dark but it is also quiet and empty. No one bothers me here, anymore, they used too. Some would come and shine their own Light up at the window or knock on the door. I would tell them to leave, I had no need of their Light, mine was plenty bright. They stopped coming and now my Light fades.
I look down at my hands, the orb there flickers dimly. This had once led me through the void outside. It had once helped others to follow me back to the Light. Now I have been here so long almost no Light remains.
I lift the dying light closer to my face, to get a better look at what was within. What made the Light within this strange orb we all carry? What would happen when it finally went out? Would the Darkness simply consume me, or would I stay here forever, alone?
There is no redemption for me now, no, I had been here too long. It is too dark beyond that locked door. It is too far to the Light. If my Light went out it would be here where I am safe.
I set my hands back in my lap, the pale Light barely illuminating my face. My ghostly reflection stares back at me from the glass of the window. Did I always look this way, my face drawn, my eyes blank, a frown on my mouth, my hair tangled and unkempt?
“There is no escape,” The Darkness would whisper, “All that wander are mine, your little Light cannot keep me at bay forever. One day your Light will blink out and I will be there to take you,” Its voice echoes against the window, like the wind of a storm still on the horizon, thick and heavy, threatening and treacherous.
Never had I given the voice much mind, but as my Light fades the voice grows louder. I stare down at the orb in my hands. I feel a tightness in my chest, my heart beat pounds in my ears, and my breath comes in shallow gasps
“What have I done?” I whisper, I look out the window, the empty unyielding Darkness, void of Light, of life, color, love, or happiness. I suck in a rattling breath, without my Light there was no escape. The Darkness laughs at my growing despair.
I climb to my feet, my legs stiffening in protest, I had sat here for too long. I should have never ventured this far. I hold my dying Light in my right hand and reach for the lock with my left. The door swings silently open. No noise breaks through the empty void beyond.
I hold my Light out before me, but there was nothing to see. The glow barely illuminates the ground beneath my feet. I let my arm drop to my side. I would become a wanderer, that is what would happen to me now. Those soul’s whose Light is to weak to lead them, those same that I had once had pity on. Who would help me, were there any that could lead me back, any who cared?
“You are alone,” The Darkness whispers in my right ear, a breath stirs my hair. I spin holding my Light aloft. There is nothing there. “You are mine.” It says in my left ear. I shiver, the hair along my body stands on end.
“I will make it,” I step away from the door I had hid behind for so long and step out into the void, there was no going back now.
The wind laughs as it tugs at my cloths and hair. I just hold my Light tighter and wander onward.
I stumble my foot catching on something in the dark. I fall to my knees and I feel my Light slip from my hand. I watch as the faint orb rolls away from me. I feel my heart stop, my breath catches in my throat. The Darkness closes in around me, in my sight the orb is right in front of me, but I cannot lift my hand to reach for it.
“Is this yours?” A husky voice asks from the dark, I look up from my Light to see a man’s face lit by a faint glow. His orb is held in one hand and the silhouette of the other reaches out to help me to my feet. I take his hand and he pulls me back to my feet.
I bend to collect my own Light, I hug it to my heart and look at the man beside me. I cannot remember the last person I saw, or even the last voice I had heard, besides my own and the Darkness. I glance at his Light, it flickers weakly in his hands. I look up and met his eyes, too dark to see what color they were, but he seems happy to see me. There is a kind smile on his bearded face.
“Are you alright?” He asks.
“I’m fine,” I say stepping away from him.
“Do you want to join me?” He asks, not deterred by my sharp tone.
“For what?” I demand, “Your Light is as weak as my own, what good are we to each other?”
“Two times even the weakest Light will help keep the demon at bay,” He replies calmly. “Our Light is stronger together, we are not meant to walk here alone.”
“I have always been alone, why should that change now?” I retort, he gestures to the unyielding silence around us.
“Do you want to be alone here?”
“No,” I whisper. The wind howls in response, I flinch and the man puts a comforting hand on my shoulder. I could feel the tremor move through him, the Darkness scared him too.
“We will help each other then?” He says.
“Yes,” I step back from him and hold my Light before me.
Together we wander. The thick, silent, starless, abyss around us, seemed to grow more ominous with every step. “Have you ever seen the Light?” I ask.
“Yes but I do not remember it, I cannot recall how long I have wandered here.” He says, “I know my Light was once bright and that there are things out in the Darkness that I once could see.”
“But it has all faded now,” I finish. How long have we wandered now? Our Lights flicker, we stay by each other’s side, we know we have beings following us, are they wanderers or are they demons? I flinch as something to my left snaps, a tree branch, a stick on the ground, a bone in the jaws of a demon?
“Do you know the way?” He asks.
“Once, but I got lost a long time ago,” I reply. The wind whips around us again, the Darkness laughs at our grief. “I cannot help you,” I say to him, “My Light fails and I will be consumed by the Darkness.”
“We help each other,” he says looking down at the orb in his hands.
“I cannot lead you from the darkness when I know not the way,” I despair.
“Then make your own way,” He encourages, “You will find a way, Light or Darkness, you will not succumb to what could be.”
“It is your fate to come to the Darkness, I will consume you in time,” The Darkness whispers in my ear.
“My Light dies,” I whisper, I can feel the cold spread over me, as my orb flickers. “Leave me,” I say.
“Never,” he retorts, he grabs my wrist in his hand and puts his orb beside mine. “Let your Light shine bright that others may see their way from the Darkness,” He whispers.
His orb flashes, blinding me for a moment. The creature in the Darkness screams in agony and the cold retreats. I feel his hand leave my wrist and I look up, he is gone, I am alone but my orb burns so bright it lights the trees around me. I take a shaking breath and hold up my Light. A beam of brightness shines through the trees, an unending path leading me from this hell.
I step from the trees back into the Light and wrap my hand around the rod along the narrow path. Warmth spreads through me, I raise my face to the Light overhead and breathe deep.
I look back at the Darkness, a wall of thick fog blocks the forest from view. I hold up my Light but do not release the safety of the rod at my back. My Light cuts through the miasma and beings slowly step from the trees, their own Lights relit and their hands reaching for the rod.