The Tangible Dark: Part One

Never thought and never found, in the bower without a sound.
A prism cracked and liege forsworn, with cuppered fringes fall'd to ruin.

In the attic, pressed in by box and dusted over, a strange and fearsome presence grew. A stray notion, borne up by bitter thoughts silently brooded upon, intersected with and became entrapped inside a particle of falling wood. And so intangible notion became infused with germ of matter, and was preserved, rather than dispersing out to the wind, as all its kin were wont to do.

Splintered by particle of wood, the dark notion pulsed and splayed tendril-like phalanges outward. It grasped upon passing detritus and ruin, and drew them in to its core. It claimed for itself all that was refuse, all that was forgotten, all that was meant to be nevermore. It caught also passing ill will and ringing insult, the vapors of malcontent from home below. It ensnared and drew them in, so that they also could not pass into forgetfulness, but rather became blended with its own original sin.

Heart it formed, then sinew and bone. Layer upon layer, it fleshed and clothed itself in all that was poor and all that was wrong. And the more it grew, the more evil and discontent were drawn to it, until it no longer became necessary for the darkness to pluck the lost and the harsh out of the air, they came swimming to it of their own accord, like salmon returning home.

Not only this, but evil and ruin that ought not have been were drawn unnaturally from wall and heart. Bits of beam and bauble splintered and broke before their natural expiry, and unkind words burst out of mouth for no reason. All summoned to answer a secret quota, all wrest free from their origin with a sudden crack, then trickling away to join the swarm of darkness above.

And the more that that matter and ill will bonded together, the more the being rounded out to a defined thing. Thought and reason, limb and claw, beast born of evil, and therefore fixed upon it.

In hammock and cradle, the patrons sleeping in home below would oft dream of it. Half-formed visions of malcontent, obscure and vague, of feverish bent. And even as they were discomfited by the undulating darkness, black tendrils began to grow in their veins, spreading its poison through an inner blood. Upon waking, no apprehension remained, all was immediately forgotten, yet the skin strained tighter over the face and tempers roiled at all manner of imaginary provocations.

Now and again they would pause in porch and parlor, and look upward, and stare hard at the patch of ceiling behind which the mind-fiend pulsed. They did not know and yet they did know. It called to them, but they were still too afraid to raise the ladder and meet it fully.

Come night again and the demon took its infant steps. It descended itself through the attic hatch and brooded in the halls, compressing itself inward and then releasing outward, like a breathing gas. Again and again, it loosened its ash particles and spread them out, until they pervaded every room and were inhaled by every slumbering mortal. Then the dark being compressed again, and bits of inner blood and unspoken secrets were drawn out of the sleepers and rushed to join the creature’s throng. In an out, in and out. Give and take, give and take.

By morning’s light the beast was nowhere to be seen, having silently returned to its dark recluse. But the people were even further changed, staring at one another with mad, blood-shot eyes, sending hate in every glance. Barely saying any words, barely accomplishing any work, barely holding on to their own humanity.

On second night the silent vigil commenced once more. Alone upon the rug the beast stood and emanated itself. Breath-by-breath, hour-by-hour, it felt, it infested, it drew out. A summoned clot of blood caught in the throat of one squire, pulling him forcibly out of his bed and onto his back. Still unconscious he thrashed his arms as the clot continued pulling, tugging him backward along wooden floor. A few more moments of struggle, then he coughed, and the clot finally rushed out, slicing lines in his inner esophagus as it went. His lips parted and two rivulets of blood ran like miniature rivers out open mouth and across muted air.

The dark being in the hallway tasted their freshness and trembled deeply. All the rest of that night it focused its energy on that one connection. One of the streams of blood continued to run out of the youth’s neck without ceasing. The other changed direction, becoming a river running from the dark entity back into the boy.

By morning the squire was pale as moonlight, completely vacant in expression, and entirely unrecognizable from what he once was. It mattered little, though. All the other patrons of that place were in such a haze of mind that they could not even acknowledge the shift. They walked about senselessly, drawn by invisible strings, mere puppets without individual purpose.

Even the sky overhead turned into a muted, gray haze. The sun became dull and lethargic, like the memory of a light only. The next day was even more clouded, and by the third the home was steeped in eternal night.

And as the home and grounds and immediate surroundings were swallowed into the dark, the memory of it passed from the minds of its nearest neighbors. Passersby took the long path around it, fearful to linger under its shadow, never daring to contemplate who it was that lived there and what had become of them.

But though they tried to keep themselves from it, an inexplicable oppression emanated from the place even so, and it began to cloud and darken the rest of the community. Bit by bit the hamlet became more silent and stifled, and eventually faded entirely to the same darkness as the original home. And as all this occurred all the outer world could do was wonder.

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