My Father's Son, Part VI

February 22, 2010
I said nothing, knew not what to do; I walked briskly out the cellar door. The child followed me, walking on all four of his spindly limbs. It must have been him who immediately turned out all the candles. And Samuel said, “I am a creature of darkness.” This is what I heard, although I could not see him. All was pitch blackness, and roaming somewhere within it was Samuel. Equally lost within it, I could almost remember, was I myself. I had not experienced such darkness since I was a child in the cellar, but the presence of Samuel added—something, not fear, uncertainty maybe, an uncertainty as when something once private to oneself is involuntarily shared with another, though not necessarily a stranger. It was akin to the unnerving sensation of encountering a being that has shaken from the private holdings of another a dark reality brought into conscious perspective, without any other apparent reason to do so than the power and will to dig up what one has no right or claim to from another’s soul. The darkness had the somnolent effect of inducing me to withdraw from my surroundings, but the feeling would not leave me that I was not alone; not only in this darkness but also in that which in sleep was my own. There was no boundary from one to the other. There was not a name for one and another name for the other. But where was he? I was driven mad by the fact I could not place him, could not find him, could not know what he was doing; if he was close to me, far from me, inside me. Was he mocking me, testing me, a friend or an enemy of me, calling me from some distant corner where I could not hear him? My own being had fled from me and was wandering somewhere in the void, but I was in a place where my senses could tell me nothing further. I had lived in the light so long that darkness was now unreal to me, as unreal as seeing an old friend one knew was dead... I could never be sure if Samuel was somewhere near or close by; though I could fairly feel his presence just before he would creep up on me and pluck out one of my hairs or slip away my blanket, waking me from sleep. Yet it was always at an unexpected moment that I would feel his cold, faint breath, like a dying exhalation, whisper into my ear, “You cannot escape from me.”

Winter came along again; a year had passed since my father’s death. One day I was sitting in my room when I saw a light burning down the hallway. My curiosity was naturally piqued, for I had certainly not lit a candle; for weeks I had been unable to find anything in the darkness. I went to discover where the light was coming from, and by what means it was shone forth. Once I made it to the door, however, I was halted where I was by the most disconcerting déjà vu. Except the memories that came with it brought sharp, clear, painful images; there was no question in my mind whether an event similar to the one I now witnessed had ever occurred. It was not a mere haze that could have been a dream, but rather a painful sensation of reality, a betrayal of the past. And there was no doubting—doubtful as I had been of anything for quite some time—that what I saw before me now was real. There could be a phantom wandering somewhere in the hallway, and he equally real, but this ghost of my past was brazen enough to show itself in the light, indeed revisited me not in the dead but as something painfully alive that was undeniably and appalling real. A post stood in the middle of a room directly down the hallway from where I stood, and the light shone forth from it in a halo. Nailed to the post, through its heart, was a squirrel. I could not deny to myself nor to the darkness nor to Samuel himself that I was living with my father once again.

The next day the room was still lit, but the post and the squirrel were gone. Where the macabre display had been the day before, Samuel was now sitting, glaring at me with a stare that penetrated the darkness. He was wearing a hat and mittens made from the fur of the squirrel. He took them off and held them out to me, whispering, “My gift to you.”

Unable to stand his presence any longer, I turned in a fury and skillfully groped my way to the room where I was heading. Grabbing one of the fire pokers, I crept back to the room where Samuel was sitting. As I accosted him he sat and grimaced silently. I thought his gaze had the intent as if he were the attacker. I whipped the poker and brought it swiftly down upon his head, but his eyes suddenly blazed and he arrested my strike. With his wraithlike hands he bent the poker in two, as if he were a mighty god.

Now I am sitting here writing in a shaky scrawl all that there is left to tell of my life. My nerves have completely desolated my hollow soul, and in the throes of this lifelong torment I am no longer vulnerable to struggle. I have tried and failed to eliminate every adversary; I now only have the power to eliminate myself. It is my worst luck not to have a weapon to finish off the job quickly. All I can do to assist death is to sit here in the cellar and wait for the dark cold air to freeze my lungs.

I have given myself up to Death, to the end, to all that awaits me. I will endure, and believe I cannot endure much worse from now until Death, whatever I have to see and hear in my last moments. But with all the resolve of my own free will I will not resign myself to the darkness.
I have been able to stow away a candle in this pitch black house. Having escaped Samuel for quite some time, I now sit here in the candle’s light, and I hope to die in it. The possibility that this meager, flickering flame will stave away the clutches of death that lurk in the darkness, is the last hope to which I hold on. The darkness, which has encompassed my entire life, yet has evaded any knowledge I can claim to possess, I have no reason to believe will ever reveal its secret to me. It is enough that I am not swallowed in it in death as I have been in life.

Just as I will not give myself up to the darkness, neither will I give up the hope, however futile, that following my death I will not perpetually pass into oblivion. In my death perhaps I reach out to touch humanity. But now at the brink I call back to tell you of what I can see at the edge of History, at the edge of Time and Experience. My dire purpose is to warn any person who might stray here, however unlikely such an event may be, of the dangers I have faced and the cruel memories which I believe will forever haunt it. I have resisted and I have fought, I have believed in the highest truth; but all that there is, is here, in the lowest places. And I tell you now it will not be what you think; it has not been what any human being, including myself, has ever thought. The end is near. I tell you, do not dig deep for the truth, unless you mean to confront it. Yet I have done what my father never did. Amidst his misery, and though I have found myself to be the incarnation of his evil, I have created something. I have left my mark, the toil of humanity—humanity alone, perhaps, but humanity, even while I have lived with the dead. Now I will join them, and without a struggle I will know that my time has come to become one of them. I do not scream and fight this end. Samuel awaits me, for darker days than I’ve known here. I have done all that I can ever do, and I pray that someone will listen. One person—that’s all I ask. I refuse to die my father’s son!

James dies.

A ghostlike figure makes its way on all fours down the stairs and into the cellar. It nudges the boy James into a black box that sits beside him, so that he lies over his putrescent father. The white figure of darkness softly blows out the candle and crawls into the box. For a moment, the box sits in the middle of the room, its hinged lid hanging wide open to the empty darkness. Then a cluster of long, bony fingers reaches up and brings down the lid, closing it quietly.

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