Darkness and Fear
J. Zachary

Hayward Fault Line Winner

S he is there; she is always there in the darkness crouched outside the glow of the street lamps, a phantom floating with the fog, all eyes and bloody claws; sometimes on the north side outside the taverns waiting, sometimes on the pier.

As you walk by she eyes you like a predator eyes a mouse in a field. Helpless. Ignorant. A sheep to slaughter, unknowing and happy until the world crashes down on you like a tidal wave.

“Its not so wicked. What she does.” My grandmother says to me. Her cleaver slams and cracks into the rack, she twists it loose of sinew and muscle. “It’s all they know.”

“Am I one?” my voice sounds small and weak in the cool emptiness of the meat locker.

“We don’t know yet, little one.” She pats my head softly. “You will know, it will come, a temptation like you have never known, a temptation like I have never known.” She crosses her self and glances at the ceiling.

Down by the water market she waits, in the rafters as still as the night as still as death, waiting to pounce.

He walks by whistling and happy, thinking. Thinking about the big fire, and how he rose up out of the ashes and built his business back to its former glory. He thinks of his wife and his kids at home, warm in bed. He stops for a second to look at his pocket watch, 2:29. He watches as the second hand ticks towards the 12. 4-3-2-…. In a second, obliteration, all that he was, skin, muscle, blood, brains, ideas, thoughts, dreams, plans, prejudices, love, hate. Gone in a split second.

She is a flash of evil fury. She stands over her prize; she takes time to enjoy the feeling.

I wake up with a start. Sweating in bed. The door slams downstairs. I listen as she climbs the stairs. She opens the door. I can see her eyes glowing in the darkness. I am not scared. She wraps her arms around me and holds me close. Her breathing is a low growl. My heartbeat slows and she pulls away from me, and she knows. She smiles at me and strokes my head.

“Such a good boy.” She says. A drop of blood trickles from her mouth, it lands on my top lip. I feel it, warm as it slides towards my tongue.

“You might not like it. You may want more.” Her voice is like a cold shiver.

Sweet, like honey, bringer of life, taker of lives.

Hollowness, wanting more, a never-ending hole opens up inside of me. A never-ending quest begins.

Fear and darkness become my companions, my only friends.

First published: November 2001
comments: knobs@iceflow.com