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It was always the black out.
Blackouts gave Seth the creeps. They brought back both good memories and bad ones-but mostly bad ones. Memories of manhunt with the neighborhood kids were quickly overshadowed by thoughts of days shut away in dark library rooms-grounded. Forced to study for hours. Forced to fear the non-existent monsters lurking behind the sinister and lifeless shelves.
As Seth lit a few candles in his tiny Rhode Island home, he shivered. The candles cast long, spindly shadows that reminded Seth of skeleton fingers. He looked over his shoulder, as if he might find a garish Halloween skeleton smiling behind him. All he saw was darkness.
The tiny halos of light that surrounded the candles were not nearly enough to light the house, and Seth cursed under his breath, wishing that he had bought those red flashlights at Walmart the week before.
He rubbed his cold fingers together and blew on them, wishing that he had bought gloves as well. Even though it was late June, he was freezing. Having just moved into his summer home, Seth had not yet accumulated the essentials that one needs in the case of a black out. It also did not help that Seth had a very over-active imagination. He was a writer, after all.
He sat down at the scrubbed wooden table, most of it obscured in shadow. Waves of dark seemed to cover the wood like a black table cloth. Pulling a black ballpoint pen out of his pocket, Seth crouched over a tiny candle in an effort to work on a new story he had been working on. After a few blots of hot wax had dripped onto the paper, however, he quickly gave up.
He sat in silence, staring at the ceiling. The candles created horrible dancing shadows that covered what little of the walls and ceiling he could see. He tried to ignore the shadows and darkness, but found it nearly impossible. He was bored, nervous and irritable.
Finally, Seth could not take the silence any longer. He got up to check that the front door was locked, grabbed his coat, and then walked out the back.
The back porch opened up onto a beautiful little expanse of beach. The white sand reflected the light of the full moon, sloping gently into the bay.
All of the other cottages were empty, their owners still in other states, living other lives. The beach completely belonged to Seth for the moment.
He kicked off his leather shoes and sat near to the water’s edge, not caring that his work pants were getting covered in grains of wet sand-he would deal with that when the lights went back on. He stared up at the moon, thinking about his story.
The bright white orb reflected back in his large blue eyes as he contemplated it.
The story’s plot revolved around a young, single woman-Hollie. Hollie had a very happy-go-lucky personality. She loved rainstorms and sunshine equally, enjoyed a glass of wine from time to time with her girlfriends, and had a huge crush on the local weatherman. Hollie worked as a therapist, and she had some of the most curious patients.
One patient of Hollie’s was a young skyscraper builder named Jim. Jim was in therapy because he had a crippling fear of heights. Being a skyscraper builder, this was a horrible fear to have. However, if Jim wanted to follow in his great great great grandfather’s footsteps (his great great great grandfather had helped build the Empire State Building), he would have to overcome his fear.
Another patient of Hollie’s was Austin Berry who was put in Juvenile Hall for stealing laxatives and dishwasher soap from the local supermarket. When asked why he would steal such things, Austin replied that both items had been on sale, and so he did not feel as bad taking them. Hollie had to help Austin to overcome his compulsive stealing so that he could go to community college and learn to become a fighter pilot.
Hollie’s favorite patient was Cherry Blaustein. Cherry was a professional cheerleader for the state football team who had a particularly horrible case of anorexia. Cherry’s condition was so bad that she had been considering legally changing her name so that she would not be named after a food. Hollie took particular interest in Cherry. Possibly due to her own dealings with body image issues as a child, Seth mused, taking mental notes on the developing character of Hollie.
But the one character that Seth could just not create was that of Andy Melnick. Seth had originally made the man a middle-aged insomniac, but had later changed him to be tragic teen with arachnophobia. But why? Wondered Seth. Why would a teen need counseling for a fear of spiders? And how would Andy’s issues help to develop Hollie as a character!? Maybe it was time to get rid of Andy.
Lost in his literary thoughts, Seth had not noticed that the sky had grown even darker. He looked up at the black, starless sky and was suddenly struck with an idea.
What if Andy was a killer who only murdered on dark nights with full moons? What if-during the day-his parents took him to get help for arachnophobia? What if he met Hollie at therapy for his fear of spiders, and choseto make her his next victim?
The plot was thickening. Seth was inspired.
Just as he got up to go and write his ideas down, the lights in his little house flickered back on. He laughed in relief as he heard his heating system flicker on and harmonize with the static of his satellite tv.
Running to blow out all the candles, Seth silently thanked God for the blackout.
There was truly nothing like a lot of darkness to offer a little clarity.