The Speed of Darkness
Reversing away from The Terminal the hulk swings around on the back axel in a wide pendulum arc. A grandfather clock is conjured in my mind. Time. What time is it? I wonder flatly.I feel strange all of a sudden an ache grows in my teeth needles sharply into my jaw. It feels like all of my teeth have come a little bit loose and an invisible hand is using little hammer and chisel to working each one free. The pain spreads speedily, reaching down to my finger and toe nails, fanged worms in the soft soil. It’s like the worst growing pain I’ve ever felt. Internal agony blurs with the external reality when the slammed into… all of space contracts, the front of the bus shoots out through the back of the bus. I’m looking down at twenty fingers on four hands waving in slow motion. The strain is immense, but not as bad as the earlier trans-liminal leaps that the bus made. The Terminal, or getting to the terminal seemed to have inoculated me to the physics of the place. When everything straightened out and the world stopped reeling The Terminal was no longer visible. There was nothing at all recognizable about the city. Somehow I had accepted that I was gone. Deep into nightmare territory. How could I escape? I didn’t want to have my soul or whatever sucked out like that poor schmuck back at the terminal. But was death the only exit? I had no idea how long I’d been here, how far we’d travelled, but none of that seemed to matter anymore. My thoughts kept turning back to the poor soul at The Terminal. The whole scene replaying like an old VHS being rewound. She had consumed some part of him. Taken him in. There was a little pleasure in it for her, you could tell and it got me thinking about him again. The nights we got rough with one another and the nights we got ‘rough’ with one another. I wondered aloud, “is this what it was like for him? To lose bits of himself? What does that pain feel like when you’re losing a key part of yourself to someone who only lives for their own self interests? Taking and taking and taking. I suppose if I’m being honest, I was never really that good at giving. But was I that bad, that selfish and consuming? It was almost like she was inhaling his soul, like a drug. It occurred to me that, I should probably be more afraid of her. What if I was next? Should’ve been more frightening. But I was succumbing to the place. To the dread, to the horror. Desensitized. I rationalized that she didn’t seem to be interested in me in that way. If she really wanted to drag me like a cigarette or anything else, she would have tried by now.
No matter the rationalizing, I couldn’t stop thinking about how Charon had consumed a person. Soul. Was it confirmation of delusion? Or that there is more to the world than what we perceive? I’ve always enjoyed the idea that the soul exists, but I never really understood it. Just a fun fantasy. To imagine that there was something else. Something deeper and more meaningful. More connected to the Earth and the Universe - eternal - than just simply being and procreating. Continuing the species like ants in a colony. Living for work without any real substance behind why we are here. What does this place say about that? But this couldn’t be anything more than a bad dream with some good moments. Ah, there is the rub; good parts. What is wrong with me? Everything here has been a horror show. What does it say about me that I’m romanticizing a lost love in a place that is completely twisted and black? What would my soul even look like? I tried to imagine Dorian Grey’s portrait. If he was right, that I never cared about anything or anyone but myself, what would my soul look like? Would I even still have one? Does the fact that there is such nuance remove what would make this a dream? Could it be real?
The sights of this deranged city blurred past, the lights like comet tails. Another jolt and the bus began to slow. Outside the windows medieval cathedral style buildings adorned with fierce gargoyles that shifted and crawled along the parapets and towers, horned and spiked jet marquees ornamented the entry ways splashed with white text displaying shows like, The Second Death of a Salesman’s Soul, Lord of the Flies overlaying the pitchfork symbol of Beelzebub, and Cotton Mathers’ The Crucible. Giant posters on each of them advertising their shows as Theatre of the Absurd or Theatre of Cruelty, “Watch, as your flesh is disrupted and stripped away!” one poster claimed. Another stated, “A sensory experience that will leave you soulless!”
We loved the theatre, he and I. We would go almost every Friday night to see a show. If nothing new was on, we’d watch our favourite shows again and again. The performances were always so invigorating, giving us things to talk about all weekend, especially if there was a new actress or if the show was just starting, we’d get tickets to the Preview. Previews were great, because sometimes you’d catch mistakes and missed cues. On occasion you can see the players with nerves because they were still a step away from figuring out a last line or block before the official opening night. We’d gossip all weekend among ourselves or with friends as if we were special and were part of the theatre crowd gossiping over rival actors. We went so often we felt like we did.
One night we were headed down to see a show, I can’t recall which one. It was a cold night and sleet was falling periodically. The streets were full of slush. We were in a great mood despite the weather, we hadn’t had a fight in days and we were really excited to see the show. I remember that much. We were laughing, full of a joviality. “With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey. She acts like summer and walks like rain reminds me that there’s a-time to change, hey, hey.”
The bus stopped at a platform in front of an alley between the ornate buildings. The doors of the theatre burst open and out flow shadow creatures. These ones were less cracked as if seeing some sort of entertainment held them together. They came crashing through the doors like a Black Friday mob.
“Did you make it to the milky way to see the lights all faded? And that heaven is overrated?” That night, in the cold and the sleet, I managed to step in a puddle of slushy water. It immediately soaked through my shoe and sock, right down to the bone. It was freezing. We laughed because, of course I did. I was always such a klutz. He offered to carry me and of course we both knew he couldn’t, he was far too slender. We also knew, that if he could have, he would have. He was a chivalrous man. So we laughed again and made more jokes and continued to laugh in spite of the fact that we hadn’t made it to the theatre yet and I was going to have to sit through an entire show with my foot wet and freezing. When we finally made it the line for tickets was through the doors and out onto the street. We joined it on the sidewalk at the side of the building. A moment later an older couple squeezed their way in front of us. I wanted to say something but he grabbed my hand and squeezed it. He felt that there might be a reason for their rudeness and in light of their age and the weather maybe it we should just let it go. I wanted to yell at them, couldn’t they see us? It’s not like we’re invisible. But he put his arm around me holding me back. See? Chivalrous. Someone else spoke up on our behalf any way, they told the couple they couldn’t cut in the line and to get to the back, that we were all waiting for awhile and were all soaked. That they were incredibly rude. But they ignored them as city people are so fond of doing.
Themob of obsidian figures was frenzied,scrambling over one another clawing and hacking, rushing into the street. It was ascene from World War Z happening in real life.They were breaking each other apart, huge tears and legions scored their obsidian flesh where emanations of orange light smashed into the air oxidizing in sprays of sparks. What was happened to everyone? People used to look after one another, stand up for one another. Everything and everyone have devolved into hateful, mindless monsters. But these creatures, were they people? They were different from me. From the one Charon accosted at The Terminal. Souls? Is that what a rotten soul looks like? They swarmed the bus shoving at it and rocking it on its axels. They were trying to tip it. To roll it over. Why were we even stopped here? I didn’t want to end up like one of them, or The Terminal guy. “Can we get moving? They’re making me nervous.” All I cared about was not ending up like those charred things outside. I wasn’t even thinking about where I was headed anymore. I had completely forgotten. I didn’t know it yet but the darkness had crept in. This was becoming normal. What I was doing previous, where I was, who I was were nearly gone. These memories are old film reel run through the projector too many times, seen too much exposure requiring painstaking refurbishment. It’s an incredible struggle now to remember any of this.
Remember space. How odd it is. It is intangible and yet it shapes you like a hammer and an anvil. I had gone so far from where I was, who I was. I was changing somehow. Losing things to the deeper recesses of the mind. It is faster than light and it has a tighter grip on reality than we’d like to give it credit for. Darkness is not only faster, but it can grab and hold onto light forever. So which is it that really shapes our reality? Light gives us borders and boundaries, defines the edges. Darkness, on the other hand erases the borders and boundaries. It is liberating. It is all space and it is ever expanding.