Skip to main content
PBS logo

The Eclectic Pen - Darkness, I Am

By: Tony H. (Tony500)  
Date Submitted: 2/23/2007
Last Updated: 7/8/2007
Genre: Horror
Words: 4,893

  Darkness, I Am

by: Tony500 (Known elsewhere as theworldhadteeth )

Horror, terror, fear, dread, trepidation and then panic set in. The car came from nowhere. Dana saw the front of her car crush in slow motion as it impacted with the other vehicle. All at once there was a loud metal wrenching sound mixed with the resonance of glass shattering all around her. The steering wheel seemed to lunge though the sparkling shards of glass that were flying from all directions. Then there was silence.

When Dana awoke, she was lying on her back in total darkness. For a moment she didn't know where she was. She felt confused and couldn't think clearly. Then the image of the crash returned to her mind, immediately followed by the panic. She tried to sit up and as she did, something wrapped itself across her neck. Dana screamed and grabbed at the aggressor, only to realize it was the shoulder strap of her seatbelt. The seat back broke during the collision and she and the seat had fallen backward. A thought crossed her mind: That may be the only reason I survived. The thought quickly vanished as she remembered the other car.

Dana fumbled with the door handle for a minute, but the door was jammed. She leaned over and pulled the handle on the passenger door expecting it to be jammed too, but it popped open a small amount. She pressed hard on the door and it opened just enough for her to climb out of the wreckage. Under the dim moonlight, Dana could now see the blood on her clothes and the gash on her left arm. Her knees felt weak at the sight of so much blood, but she refused to let herself faint. She had several cuts and scratches but the gash was the only one that seemed to need real attention. She pushed her dark blonde hair off her face and went to the hatchback of her car. It was jarred open, and she could see an old T-shirt lying inside. She laid the shirt over the wound and tied it into a bandage for her arm.

Dana looked around and saw no sign of civilization, only trees. Both sides of the road were lined with trees as far as she could see in either direction. The thought of the other car came to the front of her mind again.

She went to the front of her car where the two vehicles came together. The metal of the two automobiles seemed to be nearly intertwined. To Dana it looked like the cars were locked in some sort of grotesque death kiss. Like Dana's car, the inside of the other car was covered with glass shards and the dash was twisted. The windows were all but gone and there was blood everywhere. There was one major difference though: There was no one inside. The driver was missing. Dana nervously whirled around, suddenly expecting to see the driver standing somewhere nearby, but no one was there. She was alone and suddenly felt uneasy. She thought that maybe whoever was driving the car had gone to get help. But why would they just leave me lying there without trying to wake me?

The wind picked up and the noise of the leaves reminded her that she was alone. You're all alone again Dana, a voice in her head whispered. Not one car had passed by since the accident and Dana felt she should start walking to try and find help. She was in the middle of nowhere on this deserted road and it might be hours or even days before anyone came along. Days, just like last time, the voice came again.

Dana thought back to a time when she was four. She spent four days in that apartment before being discovered. A co-worker of Regina Allen, Dana.s mother, called the police and asked that they check up on her after their boss threatened to fire Regina for not coming to work all week. Regina had slipped off the stool she was using to reach a platter stored on top of the kitchen cabinets. She died instantly when the back of her head struck the counter. Dana spent the next four days eating from a box of animal cookies and trying to wake her mother.

Her therapist, appointed by Social Services, said that at her age she probably couldn't comprehend what had happened. Her young mind wasn't developed enough to realize the finality of a subject as deep as death. He said that her mother's death would have no lasting mental effect on her. He was wrong. He was dead wrong. Although the finality of death was hard for her to understand, her dreams on the issue were powerful beyond words.

Dana didn't dream often, but when she did her dreams were always of the same sort. While growing up, she would tell her foster parents about the dreams she would have. Often times, she would end up in a different foster home shortly afterward. She didn't always dream about people she knew, but sometimes she did. And sometimes they died.

Dreams seem to carry certain truths. They speak of things from deep within, things deeply rooted in an individual's past. Or at least that is what Dana's shrink told her. Sometimes Dana thought he was full of shit. She sometimes wondered if he got his degree by reading "Psychiatry for Morons." Still, sometimes she felt a little sentimental about him. He was the only person who had actually been a part of her life for more than six months at a time since her mother's death. Foster parents, social workers, and everyone else had shuffled in and out of her life so fast that she hardly had time to learn their names.

Dreams though, at least Dana's dreams, seemed to speak of things to come. Horrible things.

Now, standing here on this deserted highway, Dana tried not to think of the events of that evening so many years ago. She dried the mist from her eyes and tried to clear the cloud in her mind. She thought about the hours before the accident, and couldn't remember how many miles she had come since she last passed a town. It all seemed a little blurry. She remembered mostly passing open fields and scattered trees. Somewhere along the way the trees started to thicken and become the forest that was now nearly all around her. She decided it might be better to go forward than back. It had been so far, there had to be a town soon.

The air smelled of rain and she remembered seeing some lightning up ahead before the accident, so she decided to crawl back into her car to retrieve her coat. She carefully rescued the jacket from the glass-covered back seat and shook the loose pieces out of it. They sparkled in the moonlight as they fell and Dana thought again of the windshield shattering all around her. She shuddered at the thought. After a moment, she put the jacket on and started to walk.

The dark blue jeans, black shirt and dark hair blended so well with the shadows that Dana never saw the body of the other driver lying face down in the ditch only a few feet away.

The thunderclouds devoured nearly all of the moonlight within the first fifteen minutes of her trek. Dana had to strain her eyes hard to see more than ten feet. She didn't have to try hard at all to hear the noises coming from the forest though. When you're alone, there are always plenty of noises to keep you jumping one way and then the other, and Dana found herself looking over her shoulder at every crack and rustle of the trees. As she walked, she heard cracks like the sound of someone stepping on sticks or old branches. With each pop or snap she would turn, frozen, trying to see who might be there, but quietly hoping it was no one. Given enough time, her mind would hope to see someone, just to stop the feeling of being followed. Not now though. Not now.

The air was thick with the coming rain and quickly cooling with the night wind. The sky looked hollow from the faint glow of the moon behind the clouds. The glow was growing more faint, however, as the clouds converged on it for their gala to soak the earth. Dana was getting cold and would soon be getting wet. This was a combination that didn't sit well with her.

Lightning flashed bright white in front of her. The sky and the landscape were momentarily lit in a bluish-white luminescent glow and then it was dark again. In that moment she could see a great distance ahead, but she saw nothing more than the road and the trees that lined it. Both seemed to go on into eternity. Seconds later the thunder rolled across the sky in a deafening roar, echoing from every direction. The storm was getting close - very close. The first drops of rain began to fall and Dana pulled her hood over her head. This made her feel a little safer from those insidious noises that kept sneaking up on her in the dark. Safe like when you pull the blankets over your head in bed or pull that uncovered foot back into the blankets. They can't get you if they can't see you. Yeah, right!

Trudging on in the increasing rain, Dana began to wonder just how far the trees followed the road and just how far the road went. She wasn't familiar with this area, but that hadn't bothered her when she was in her car, zipping along at 50 mph. You aren't lost until you run out of gas, right? That was a favorite saying of Will Simmons, a foster father that she lived with when she was thirteen. Will was a truck driver. "It's the Truck Driver's philosophy," he once told her. Yes, but he didn't walk away from his collision, not like you, did he Dana? The voice came again from the back of her mind. It was a voice she knew well, but had never heard outside of her own mind.

The voice was right. Will was killed when his rig smashed into the rear end of a van carrying 23 tightly packed illegal immigrants from Mexico on an otherwise quiet Interstate in New Mexico. The van was travelling at about 25 mph on the interstate at night with the lights turned off so as not to be noticed. Will's rig was topped out at 72 mph. He was barreling down the highway, a man on a mission. It was a cool, crisp night and there was no moon. Will was happy that evening. He had bumped into an old friend at a truck stop earlier in the day and they had reminisced about the glory days of their youth. He left that truck stop with a smile on his face and that smile had not faded all day. Now he looked down just long enough to get his lighter from the console and it was over. He never knew what hit him, as they say. Along with Will, all 23 passengers in the van were killed, most of them instantly. The rest burned to death in the wreckage.

Will was lucky. One second he was smiling, the next second he was gone. It wouldn't be so easy for some.

Dana knew it was coming. The dream was so vivid and detailed that she could have read the license plate on the van before it was hit, but no one ever believed her when she spoke of her dreams. Not until it was too late. Will's wife, Jenny, was devastated after the crash. Dana was shuffled off to another family and Jenny spent years in therapy.

Dana was beginning to feel lost now. She hadn't run out of gas, but then neither had Will. Gas won't get you far when you've smashed your car! A small laugh escaped her lips, but it was devoid of humor. The rain was coming down hard now in big fat drops and Dana wanted shelter. She was at least two miles away from her car now and it wouldn't be much of a shelter anyway with most of the glass busted out. Still, she couldn't see any structures ahead through the limited visibility so she decided to go into the woods. She found a rather large evergreen about twenty yards in and crept under the lower branches to the base of the tree. It did a decent job of keeping most of the rain away so she sat back to relax for a while.

In her left arm she could feel a dull ache where the gash was. She was pretty sure the bleeding had stopped but she didn't unwrap the wound to confirm it. She felt a little more comfortable now that the rain was drowning out the sounds that made her jump, but her heart was aching. The tears welled up in her eyes as she thought of her predicament. She felt more alone than she ever had before and now this woman of strong heart and strong independence allowed herself to cry. She cried quietly, but she cried hard.

Lightning lit up the woods and she was four years old again, staring out the living room window into the dark storm. It frightened her and she moved back away from the window, visibly shaken. As she turned to call for her mom, a solid thump came from the kitchen. She hardly noticed it, and called out hoping for comfort from the frightening storm. There was no answer. Lightning filled the living room window again and she ran for the kitchen to find her mother.

When Dana stepped through the entrance to the kitchen, she saw Regina Allen lying quietly on the floor, her eyes closed in a seemingly peaceful sleep. "Mommy, wake up," Dana said. Regina didn't move. Dana shook her shoulder in an attempt to wake Regina and when she pulled her hand away it was wet and red. She noticed that Regina's hair was wet as well. "Mommy, wake up!" Dana repeated with a little more anxiety in her voice. No response came. Dana lay down by her mother on the floor and snuggled up close. She felt safe now. Her mother would protect her. As she lay drowsing by her mother, there was a loud clap as if lightning had hit the house. The lights went out immediately and Dana's mind jumped awake at once.

She was back in the woods, wide-awake now from the loud strike that fried a tree just ten yards away from her. The lightning split the tree down the trunk and a good portion lay on the ground smoldering as the rain dampened the fire.

"Fuck you, I'm getting outta here!" Dana shrieked.

She rose to her feet quickly and ran back to the highway. The rain was coming down heavy and fast without the cover of the trees. Dana was getting soaked but she wasn't going back in those trees now. No way in hell! She was running fast down the highway and she was out of breath. Her chest was heaving and her sides were hot and aching. She realized that she still couldn't see shelter anywhere ahead so she slowed her pace to a walk. What good would it do to run if there is nowhere to arrive? Her lungs burned as she sucked in the cold air and her side was still aching some. Dana walked wearily along the road in the rain for a while, watching the lightning strike in the distance. It didn't strike so close again for some time.

She had dreamed again the night before, and now walking in the rain, Dana thought about that dream for the first time. She remembered a dark room with high ceilings and thin carpet on the floor. There was a woman and a man in the room. The woman was bound to a wooden chair that sat on a large platform like a stage and she wasn't wearing shoes or pants. Dana wasn't sure who the woman was but she looked familiar. This was often the case when she first thought of her dreams. The people and places were usually fuzzy at first and as she mulled over the events for a few hours or sometimes days, the details would come into focus.

The woman was young and scared and Dana could feel the intensity of her fear. She was distraught and in pain. Her eyes were wild and she was afraid she was going to die. Dana knew the woman was right, she would die.

The man was dressed in dark clothes and his face was shadowed. He tightened the cords that held the woman to the chair, tying her arms behind her back and her legs to the front chair legs. The woman sat wailing as he did this. When he finished, he stood up and yelled at her to shut up and slapped her hard in the face. The chair fell over backwards and rolled to one side.

The woman, tied to the chair, lay crying on the floor. She sobbed deeply. Dana felt herself move between rows of wooden seats towards the stage. The seats were covered in a heavy layer of dust and there were cobwebs in the corners. The room was dimly lit with candles around the stage and there was a smell of old books.

The man walked slowly across the stage, his dark eyes flashing in the candlelight. He lit four candles on a podium and then put his head down against the wood. He stood like this for a minute or so, then without warning his head swung up fast and his hair whipped back. Immediately he began to speak, or rather he began to preach. "I am the light," he said. "I am the light and I am the dark. I am the light taken from all, leaving only darkness. I am the darkness left for all. Darkness in the eyes, darkness in the soul, I am," he paused momentarily. "Whosoever findeth me, findeth darkness and shall be darkness," he preached. He lifted his hands above him and he came louder now. "Darkness is but death and death comes slowly. Slowly like the disease that creeps through the body quietly destroying everything as it goes." There was a flash of light and the woman screamed and Dana screamed, losing her thoughts and coming back to the rain and the road.

The rain was falling even harder now and the thunder rolled loudly. There were puddles of water on the street and the deep ditches were filling up. Dana's clothes were soaked through and she was shivering cold. She felt her teeth start to chatter and tried desperately to stop them. Dana kept moving. She had no choice. She was freezing and wet and she had no shelter.

Dana wondered who the woman was. She knew that it was someone she was acquainted with. The woman seemed so familiar. She had to know her. A name came to mind, Cheryl Benton, a name from the past. Cheryl had been Dana's foster mom when Dana was eleven. They lived in a small town called Soddy-Daisy in southeast Tennessee with Cheryl's husband, Don. Dana's time with Don and Cheryl was uneventful. She had few dreams during the time she stayed with them and nothing out of the ordinary happened. She was placed in another home for potential adoption after about eight months and Don and Cheryl slowly slipped from her mind. Was it Cheryl in the dream? Dana wondered. She walked on, thinking of Cheryl and the more she thought about her the more she was sure.

The water from the ditches was starting to flood the road where she walked. Up ahead the road seemed to have fast moving water crossing it. It looked as though a bridge over a creek had washed out. "How am I going to get across this?" Dana asked aloud. She looked hard at the water wondering if she would be carried away if she tried to wade through it. She searched each side hoping to see some sort of way across. Then she noticed a fallen tree down stream from the road. She could shimmy across that and get to the other side if she was careful, but she was still going to have to get into the ditchwater to get to it.

With apprehension Dana slipped down into the ditch and the water rose nearly to her waist. The water was moving fast but the ditch was not wide and with some effort she held on to the other side and pulled herself up. As she started climbing up the other side her left foot got stuck in some mud. She pulled hard hoping not to lose the shoe but her foot slipped loose and came up without it. "Damn! I hate you!" she yelled at the ditch, "I hate this! This is fucking stupid, get me the hell out of here!" The tears were starting to stream again mixed with the rain on her face. Dana was frustrated and she didn't want to go on. Her emotions overwhelmed her and she lay by the ditch weeping like a child and hating everything around her.

After a while Dana's tears began to subside and she slowly started to get a grip on her emotions. She sat upright and wiped her face with her soaked shirttail. It didn't help much but it did remove some of the mud. Her clothes were now seriously soiled and her pants were caked in mud. She felt ten pounds heavier with the mud and water soaked in to them. She sat in her muddy clothes and thought again of Cheryl and the dream.

She remembered the woman, whom she now knew was Cheryl, struggling with the cords that bound her to the overturned chair. The man preaching on stage continued to shout. "I am the extreme, Dark and Light," he said, "When Darkness comes it sheds the Light, light to see the world as it is. The Light does not show merciful death, but the long, slow and painful death of living. Would I but save you from this Light by bringing you into Darkness."

Dana reached the spot where the tree was across the water and carefully climbed onto the tree. It was a large pine and it was sticky with sap even in the rain. She started slowly crawling along the trunk of the tree until she was well out over the rushing water. By now the creek was at least 25 feet across. Dana looked down at the thrashing water and saw tree branches and other debris racing by and tumbling against the rocks. She crawled on, just wanting to get across as soon as possible. About half way across the creek her hand slipped on the slippery bark and she plunged forward into the water. Dana was thrashing around trying to reach the surface when she realized that her pants leg was caught in a limb of the tree she had been crossing. She pulled and tugged with her leg but she couldn't get free. The water was holding her under and she couldn't get to the surface to breathe. She realized that the only way to get loose was to remove her hung pants. She pulled at the button and zipper, and was able to slip out of the leg that was caught and she quickly surfaced, gasping at the night air. Dana was still stuck though. Her other foot still had its shoe and she had to remove it to get completely free. Once free the water quickly pulled Dana down stream. She crashed into a large rock and held it tight. From here she managed to get her footing and she could see that she was near the edge of the water.

Dana climbed out of the water barefoot and ran as quickly from the stream as her tired body could run. It wasn't long before she was walking slowly again. She was exhausted from fighting the water. The rain was still coming down and Dana now only had her jacket, shirt and panties to protect her from the elements. She was just realizing that she had no idea where she was when she saw it: a light through the trees ahead. Immediately Dana began to run towards it. She came out of the trees into a grassy yard and she could see that the light was in the windows of a church. Protection from the rain, sanctuary from the storm, and if she were lucky the phones would work. Dana could call for help. She ran across the grass, to the steps leading to the doors of the church. She pulled on the door, hoping it wouldn't be locked, and it swung open against the night.

"Hello?" Dana said as she stepped into the church, leaving the storm behind her. "Hello, is anyone here?"

"You're soaked, my child!" came a voice from across the room.

Dana looked over and saw a tall man dressed in a suit holding a Bible. "Oh, thank god you're here!" she said. "I need a phone." The man looked at her curiously and she suddenly remembered her state of dress. Her jacket was covered in mud and her shirt and panties were soaked. Dana felt a little embarrassed so she removed the jacket and wrapped it around her waist.

"I'm sorry, the phones are out due to the storm, but you're welcome to stay here until it's over," the man said. "Do you know of the Lamb of God, my child?"

"Yes sir," she replied, "My grandfather was a preacher. I used to go and hear him preach when I was young."

"Come with me into the sanctuary then and we will get you dried up and into a dry choir robe. Then we can talk theology to pass the time," the man said.

Dana followed the man through the double doors into the sanctuary. From there they walked to the front of the room where the man said she could use the curtain by the piano to change. He then walked to a door behind the pulpit and went to get a robe for her. Dana stepped behind the piano and took the wet jacket off of her waist. When the man returned he was holding a maroon robe. As he stood before Dana and held the robe out to her, he looked down at her panties and said, "The light of this life comes from the simple joys, the simple pleasures. The Darkness of this life, the origin of all sin, comes from the same." Then he reached out and slid his hand quickly into her underwear. Dana jumped and let out a shocked scream.

"What the hell are you doing?" she yelled as she pulled away from him.

The man quickly grabbed her by the hair and pulled her along forcefully. He dragged her out in front of the pews where a single wooden chair sat. He dropped the robe he had been carrying and underneath it he had concealed three electrical cords. He told Dana to sit in the chair and when she refused and tried to pull away, he struck her hard across the face. Dana fell to her knees in tears and the man lifted her into the chair. As he tied Dana's arms behind the chair, the dream came to her once again. The chair was overturned and the woman was sobbing. Not Cheryl, but Dana. The dream had been about Dana.

She cried out for help, now sobbing just like in the dream. There was no help, only the man tying her up. He struck her across the face and yelled at her to shut up as the chair fell over on its side. The man lit four candles on the podium and then put his head down against the wood. He stood like this for a minute or so, then just like in the dream, his head swung up fast and he began to preach. He spoke the sermon she had heard in her dream. "I am the extreme, Dark and Light, when Darkness comes it sheds the Light, light to see the world as it is. The Light does not show merciful death, but the long, slow and painful death of living. Would I but save you from this Light by bringing you into Darkness," she heard him saying.

The man walked from his altar back to Dana and pulled her chair upright. Dana squirmed in the chair trying to get free. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a long black silk scarf and wrapped it around Dana's neck. "Sin breeds evil, and evil belongs to Death. I deliver you now into darkness, into death," he said and then he pulled the scarf tight around her throat. Dana thrashed and fought hard but she couldn't get loose. The harder she fought, the tighter he pulled and soon the dimly lit room began to fade. Dana's fighting began to slow and her eyes slid half closed. As the last of the light washed out, Dana slipped into the most peaceful dream she had ever known.

* For more of my stories:

The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Tony H. (Tony500)

Member Comments

Leave a comment about this story...

Comments 1 to 10 of 10
IONE L. (zaneygraylady) - 2/23/2007 9:11 PM ET
creepy but good writing
Roberta S. (Birdie) - 2/25/2007 12:27 AM ET
All I can say is.......WOW!! That was intense.
William S. (bingobill) - 4/22/2007 6:06 PM ET
I love it, and I know it feels good to have someone say that and really mean it. Bill Sluis
katzpawz - 11/6/2007 6:59 AM ET
spooky and well written
Elizabeth B. (meowysmiles) - - 12/2/2007 10:28 PM ET
I enjoyed reading your work : )
Pam Y. (wisdomspath) - 12/11/2007 10:34 AM ET
WOW! I lived every moment.
Dixie M. (reader4321) - 1/5/2008 12:28 AM ET
Tracey - 10/29/2008 3:03 AM ET
Creepy in the best possible way.
Blake B. (Blakeish) - 1/27/2009 4:20 PM ET
Nice! A good creepy factor as well. True talent, you have.
Valyn - 5/17/2009 9:11 PM ET
Wow, that was awesome. You have a real talent!! I enjoyed reading this, very much!
Comments 1 to 10 of 10