The Dark Night

This is not in any way related to World of Warcraft. Some time ago I jotted down an “as is”-thing, a rather poorly written opening to something … and then I buried it, because honestly? It was just bad. The idea didn’t leave me entirely. Since I’m not well versed in contemporary stuff – I find a lot more freedom in making up my own facts! – the story below sort of transformed … into something else, than that first very bad draft.

I’m actually rather pleased with how it turned out. Should you be so inclined, please take fifteen minutes or something and read it.

Oh.

Don’t mention O’Leary.

(Seriously. Don’t.)

I think this is the beginning of a grand adventure … it’s one of those ideas that traveled through space, like narativium do, and lodged itself in this scared piece of fatty tissue of mine.

The Dark Night.

(Yeah, it’s a working title, but I had to call it something!)

– – –

Deliah have never seen the dark night.

She’s right though. Nights come slow in these parts. Every night, as if it was shy, sorry to trespass on another day, even if it was grim or rainy or dry or hot. Sure, there’s plenty of different days – but there’s just one night in these parts.

The dark night.

It rolls down the mountainside like an avalanche of darkness. The daylight struggles, of course it does, but this is a battle the Light will lose. The burning brightness of day turns golden in that first frantic battle. Then it turns red, blood red. Then the night comes. Far, far away the glare of big cities paint an everlasting sunset against the horizon, but here … yes, here there’s just the night.

The night is the blanket of the world. It’s a quilt, sewn by hands who know nothing of the day. It’s rolls down across our little town. ”That’s how it’s always been” people in these parts say. Some people say ”It’ll be morning soon …”. They know what it means, you see. It means another day.

With a bit of luck, it’s a new day for everyone.

It’s curious how people, who knows that the night is dark and dreary as they dream of O’leary, whisper ”nevermore”.
That’s a secret! Don’t tell anyone! O’Leary … we don’t speak of O’Leary. They say, in these parts, that if you say his name three ti–

Oops.

Yet some people like the night. Some people are a bit weird (or so the other people claim, the people of the day). The temperature drops, sometimes it rains even though the day was clear and sunny. The smell of daylight shifts to the smell of night, as if nature herself did some housecleaning. The night smell better than the day. The night smells clean.
The streetlights come on at nine o’clock. It’s always been that way. The first streetlight was installed in 1781, it was an iron basket filled with firewood. A ”mr Pryttchard” was responsible for lighting it. It was supposed to keep the indians out.
It didn’t.

There’s quite a nice display made out of tin soldiers and styrofoam in the library if you want to know more about the massacre of 1786.

These days, and for a long time back, it’s been eletricity. The first electrical streetlight was installed in 1928 and since then there’s been thousands of them. All of them light up at exactly 2100 hours. It used to be that our little town bathed in light but people complained. These days, the streetlights are perfect. They shine upon the pavement in circles of light and the darkness reigns between them.

The system works, so there’s no reason to change the rules (even though night comes earlier in winter than in summer). When night falls, the display windows of the stores, those who got it, turn on their night lights. It used to be that all stores had spotlights in their windows. It used to be that Main Street looked like christmas shopping season, all year around. These days most of the storefronts have aluminum shutters. No more lights, sir, oh no. Just flood lights that come one if someone moves past a motion detector. Like everyone else, we’re scared of terrorists and thieves. Some people blame ”the kids”, others the Hollands (they’re from Away, and they’re black, and in these parts old habits die hard), but such people always find someone to blame and hate.

Pritchards Autos is resplendant with it’s lights, all through the night. Red and green and blue and yellow. Neon signs. Hanging wires so heavy with lightbulbs they sag a good two feet between the chromed steel poles. Lee Pritchard – he can trace his family back to the Light Keeper, Oliver Pryttchard – says it’s a customer support thing. People don’t know this because Pritchard have never told anyone but his husband, now deceased.

He’s afraid of the dark.

His lot is brightly lit. Someone might be passing by and glance at the cars. Maybe they’re walking the dog. Maybe they’re coming back from Pat Malloy’s, walking slowly like people with too much beer and not enough brains usually do. Maybe they spot a car, right then and there in the night. Maybe they want that car.

Well. They can’t have it, not right away.

There’s a chainlink fence around the parking lot. The two story red brick building, with ”PRITCHARD MOTORS & REPAIRS” painted on the wall between the first and second floor windows, have floodlights mounted on it’s slanted roof. Pritchard lives on the second floor. His lights go out around midnight. People think he’sa bit ”quirky”, or ”mad”, because he never remarried even though he’s only fortyfive. Still, someone undoubtedly comes back the next morning – Pritchards is doing good business, even for a small town such as this.

What town, you ask? Ah …

Welcome to Blackwood.

The night rolls in. The streetlights come on. Prichards, Malloy’s, Karpovs Fishing Supplies and a handful of other stores light up their windows. It’s automatic. It used to be the owner or some staff had to turn a switch but you know, that was way back in the 1940’s.

The stores that’s still lit? Those are the stores that trust people in this part of the world. Their buildings sit there, on the edge of the concrete sidewalk, all through the night with the windows lit. Rectangles and squares of multi colored light shimmer upon the sidewalk. When it rains, it’s like looking down a rainbow. In winter, when it snows (it used to snow a lot more), you just wait for Father Christmas to come by. Bells ringing, reindeers and all. It never happens, of course. Father Cee never comes around in his sledge. Even if he does, no one has ever seen him. Here’s a bit of local news for you: In 1963, mr Tim Labroux (he was from New Orleans originally) had his head caved in with a sledgehammer. Labs, as he was called, used to dress up as Santa. It was his wife who did him in. Let’s leave it at that.

Blackwood is otherwise a sleepy little town. Most of the houses goes dark after eleven. The only light you might see is if someone forgot to turn off their computer. There’s not many lights in the windows after midnight. People go to bed early in these parts. Everyone has at least one computer and several other devices but people like the dark in Blackwood. You won’t find much of the blue shadows, not in this town..

Those who are awake, those with the household lamps still on, well … Let’s just say that some people like to talk about those people. Funny that. A hundred miles south you can see the sky ablaze with light from New York Citys arcs, the self-contained small towns in the big city. The largest one, The Trump Arc, is exactly nineteen kilometers high.
Blackwood is rural country though. Time forgot to bring the town into the late twentyfirst century. Look over there, across Main Street. The sign above the doors to Love’s Food is a neon calendar. It spells out the time and date. Right now?
00:26:42. 03 25. 2042. The ”42” after the time is changing of course. 43. 44. 45. 46 …

However, this is an unusual night.

At 00:26:46, the clock on Love’s Food stops.

There’s a light on at 244 Birch Street. It’s an old light. Not many people use that kind of stuff, not these days. The light is glaring. It’s pristine white fluorescents. It spills out through the windows covered with plastic lace curtains and paints rectangles of light on the darkened ground. Tiny pebbles speckled with fool’s gold glimmer on the walkway. The grass appears to be tinged with wite and gold. It’s plastic grass. It’s a bit tacky, sure, but what can you do, eh? Water is expensive these days. Even on the East Coast.

Nathan Rumford lives here. He’s seventysix years old, a retired computer salesman (he started out with Apple). He usually goes to bed at ten thirty, like any decent person in these parts of the world.

Not this night.

He sort of went to sleep two hours ago. He still sits hunched in front of a half eaten bowl of spagetti in tomato sauce, his eyes staring at nothing. That’s why the Rumford House will be available for rent, to ”a woman who is honest, clean and calm. Pets are allowed (no dogs!), good internet connections!”. There will be a telephone number attached to the ad but the ad won’t show up in Weekdays in Blackwood for another three weeks (it’s still a paper newspaper even though they have a site as well). Mr Ferguson, he’s the lawyer in town, will place the ad.

Deliah will call that number.

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