Foreword: I wrote Blight as a short story for competition with the theme of 'light'. It became a bit of a soul searching/ spiritual journey piece of writing for me (the meaning of which I may get into another time) and because of this it is a bit abstract and lacking in more traditional story elements. I did enjoy writing it however and certainly will continue to experiment with style in short stories in the future.
With that said please enjoy Blight and let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!
by Daniel R Graham
I stumbled, my feet scraping on shards I could not see. If nothing else the cold had numbed me to the constant battering my skin underwent. I relied on my hearing as I navigated the dark, but where was I headed? I needed shelter - some safe haven from this eternal night and its damned howling wind. Whether such a place existed I did not know, but I could not give up.
A warm glow peaked over the horizon, hurting my eyes. I turned away and headed in the opposite direction. I didn’t understand why the only thing that I could see in this place hurt to look at. Everything else is dark here, darkness absolute that stretches forever.
My foot caught on something and I went down, landing in the grit beneath me. I used my stiff fingers to search for the snare, running over the ground until they ran into something warm, warmer than the ground at least. I jumped as the mass started to murmur incoherently.
I gathered myself, realizing that I had just tripped over somebody else – somebody like me. I cleared my throat, it took a few attempts before I could speak loud enough to be heard over the wind. “What are you doing on the ground?” I waited for a response, but I couldn’t make anything out. I knelt closer, that’s when they grabbed me and pulled me close.
“Listen.” They rasped, before pulling me down to the ground. It took all my strength not to run, to leave the first person I had run into in so long. As my ear was pressed to the ground I begun to hear it. The scratching, clawing under the rough sands – and the shrieks, usually hidden by the winds howling were piercing screeches. I tried to stand, not wanting to be anywhere near this place for a second longer. The grip holding me down loosened enough for me to face the figure, I winced when I realized that I had been turned around and was facing the light that become brighter the longer I faced it. What it revealed scared me, the figure that held me was a man – in a matter of speaking. He was twisted, tightly drawn skin wrapped his gangling frame, long limbs ending in sharp points where his fingers should be. I gasped and had to stop myself from gagging as the new light revealed that his eyes had been removed, twitching nerves and flapping eyelids inches from my face.
“The night lays claim to us, the ones that stay in the dark, that don’t want the light.”
“What evil has done this to you?” I managed to whisper.
The man smiled with jagged teeth, “The dark is not evil,” the man stood, towering over me, “But what we become in the dark, well…” his voice trailed off - murmuring again. The hoarse words rattled in my ears, clawing at my mind. Run from the light. It hurts. Can’t be trusted. Doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to see. Don’t want to know.
I ran. I had been facing the light long enough to see my surroundings. Pale gravel for miles in every direction, bones that had yet to be pulverized by the feet of those of us that still walked stuck up like teeth ready to take whatever life remained in our bodies. I could see others, but they couldn’t see me. Their eyes hadn’t adjusted like mine, they could not see what we were in the darkness. I kept my eyes on the golden sphere on the horizon, it filled me with an unfamiliar warmth.
Perhaps there would be safe haven in the very light I had been running from.