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The Other One

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Diana has always lived in the darkness with the Other One. But lately she keeps hearing voices, beautiful songs from unseen throats, beckoning her into the unknown beyond. The question is, does she have the courage to respond?

Fantasy / Children
Age Rating:

Diana knew there were other people around because she could hear their voices. The sounds would bubble up unexpectedly from within the cavernous belly of endless darkness, sweet, haunting noises pouring from unseen throats. Those songs made her heart ache. She longed to seek out the source, but she knew she could not. Other One would never allow it.

Other One had always been around, and most likely always would be. It was native to the endless darkness which surrounded them, and seemed to have no interest in leaving anytime soon. Other One’s face was pallid, sharp-cornered,and eaten up by a pair of gaunt black eyes. It had a slender, bony body, with hunched shoulders and stick-like limbs that didn’t seem to fit properly into its joints. Its hair was shaggy and dark, fanning out from its head like an ink spill.

“Have you heard those noises?” Other One croaked one day, wringing its hands and glancing nervously around.

“You mean the singing?” Diana asked. “Yes, I’ve heard them. I don’t think they mean any harm. Maybe we should try and talk to them. They might know how to get out of here.” “Get out? Why would you want to do that?” Other One said, looking stung. “We’re safe here.”

“But what if there’s something else out there, something better?”

“There isn’t, and searching is a waste of time.”

Diana didn’t appreciate the attitude.

“I’m going to go exploring,” she announced. She squared her shoulders and marched off to prove Other One wrong. Unfortunately, she discovered very quickly that she was the one who was wrong. No matter what direction she went in, or how long she walked, she didn’t see a single living thing. Occasionally, she caught snatches of those lovely melodies, but whenever she tried to run towards them, her legs would sag, as if something was pulling her down.

After struggling like this for what felt like days, Diana finally gave up and went back to Other One.

“You look awful,” It said coolly.

“It’s heavy out there,” Diana said desperately. “The more I tried to push against the dark, the worse it got.”

“I told you so. Stay here with me.”

So Diana did. She didn’t know what else to do, and over time, the darkness invaded. It grew inside of her, sewing its infernal coils into her flesh and muscles, and with its grip came a languor. Diana fell into a stupor, barely aware of her surroundings, or even her own body. She occasionally grew conscious enough to discover Other One laying at her feet, snoozing, or else chewing on one of her limbs. Diana never felt any pain during these unholy meals, just a sticky tongue lapping at her flesh. She knew she ought to feel disgusted, but she didn’t. She didn’t feel anything.

The cycle of gnawing and darkness went on for so long that when the golden voices came into their space, Diana initially thought she was dreaming.

Their arrival was announced with a sudden change in the atmosphere. The heaviness lifted and the shock of it made her gasp. Other One’s contented sucking noises stopped. Diana felt her fingers being removed from its mouth. Then she heard it scream as a searing, white blaze splintered the darkness.

Confused and panicked, Diana began to run away. Her eyes stung and the pain blinded her so much that she fell back down after only a few steps. The flare expanded, and the darkness around her shrank into nothing but a pinprick.

Every crevice of her being was flooded with warmth and incomprehensible shreds of sweet, distant music; the cobwebs in her brain were blasted to pieces, set ablaze by the fires of newfound clarity. Thoughts---seemingly pulled straight from the heart of the Light itself---shot through her mind like comets:

I am the Dark.

I am the Light.

I am the Other One.

When the last word passed out of her awareness, the Light went out. The music died, and the darkness scrambled back into Diana’s brain to regain its foothold. Only this time, she didn’t let it. She shoved it into the corners of her waking consciousness as she stood up, knees trembling. Other One crawled out of the shadows to join her. Its eyes were wild, and its whole body quivered.

“Come back!” Diana cried out to the voices, spinning around to peer into the now-silent darkness. But it was no use. They were gone.

“Shut up! Are you crazy?” Other One snapped.

“We have to go after them!”

Other One smiled: a quick, slithering movement of pale lips and small teeth.

“Do we? You think you could handle that blaze? Those voices? They would destroy you in seconds and we both know it.”

The words the Light had spoken flashed through Diana’s mind.

“You’re right. I don’t stand a chance...by myself,” she said.

Other One shrank away, comprehension dawning on its face.

“We would drown inside the dark’s belly before we even got to them,” it said resentfully.

Diana stepped forward and took Other One’s hand.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she said quietly. “I don’t want to get rid of you. We’re in this together. But I need you to trust me.”

“We’ll get lost.” “We’re already lost.”

Other One looked at her for a long minute, and then, at Diana’s gentle tugging, allowed her to lead them into the bosom of endless darkness.

As they walked, Diana noticed that the dark didn’t seem as heavy now. She could feel it pressing upon her, but its weight was fluid, constantly shifting, a temporary burden she could easily manage. Finally, after what felt like hours, Diana saw a crack of light in the distance. As they drew closer, she began to feel a jarring vibration in her stomach.

When she had gone about a dozen more steps, she broke out of her body.

It was like a cosmic hand had reached down and plucked her from her skin, disengaging her into the darkness without so much as a warning. She---or whatever “she” now was---drifted in the blackness, staring down at her body as she watched it start to change.

Her limbs rippled and shattered into thousands of fleshy shards.They lay strewn around in the darkness, breaking up and rearranging before melting back together in a different order. This new body was cracked and far from beautiful, but shining beneath its skin was a fierce gold light that seemed to hold the imperfect pieces together. Diana saw the new body turn towards her, and that’s when she was flung back into heavy flesh and solid bone just as suddenly as she’d left it. Feeling dizzy, and more than a little disoriented, Diana turned to speak to Other One.

But it was no longer there.

Diana stood and watched as the Light began to stain the blackness once more, forming a dome of glittering spiderwebs above her head that extended in every direction. In seconds, the universe was shot through with dazzling arrays of light and darkness, coexisting in a single fabric of pulsating life.

The body that was now Diana began to weep.

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