Darkness on the Edge of Town


In the beginning…

That’s how stories always start, right? In the beginning? I guess mine should start that way, too.

In the beginning was the word. I know this because the Bible tells me so. The Bible tells me a lot of things. It says that Jesus loves me, and that you shouldn’t suffer a witch to live, and in the beginning was the word.

Words have power. So do names.

It might sound like I’m rambling, but this is important stuff, so remember it. Names. Words. Witches. I’ll come back to all of this later, if there’s time. Who knows? It just might save your life. I wouldn’t have believed that a month ago, but I do now. Things have changed.

My name is Robbie Higgins. There. Now you have power over me. It’s Rob or Robbie to my friends. Robert to the cops or my teachers or anyone else who has ever hassled me.

Anyway, in the beginning was the word, and it existed alone in the darkness. The Bible tells us that, too—tells us about the darkness. And this wasn’t just regular darkness either. No, sir. This was the complete and total absence of light—a darkness so deep and dense that it would have made your eyes hurt. A heavy darkness. Thick. At least, that’s how I imagine it was. I mean, I can look out my window for inspiration and see the darkness pretty fucking clearly. I can’t see much of anything else, but I can see the darkness.

According to the Bible, here’s how it all went down. You’ve got the word and the darkness and not much else. The two of them are just sort of hanging out together. The word and the darkness, chilling together in the void. And then the word says, “Let there be Light,” and there was. And things continued just fine after that, for the most part.

Then, millennia later, some asshole comes along and fucks it all up. Someone else says another word, maybe a bad word or a different word, maybe, “Let there be Darkness again,” and in doing so, effectively reverses the entire act of Creation—erasing the light. No, not just erasing it. Obliterating it. The light is fucking gone, man. Light doesn’t exist anymore.

And who knows? Maybe we don’t either.

Christy says that we’re all dead. That’s her theory anyway. She says it explains everything—why the phones don’t work, why there’s no electricity, no contact with the outside world, no television or radio signals, why we can’t see anything out there beyond the darkness and, most importantly, why nobody new has come into town since it all began, and why none of the people who went out into the darkness have returned. Christy says that we’re all dead and this is limbo. Purgatory. We can’t move on to Heaven or Hell, because we’re trapped here. Stranded. According to Christy, this is why ghosts always hang around the place where they died—because the darkness prevents them from leaving.

The problem is, Christy does a lot of drugs—or did, up until she ran out of them—so her conclusions are kind of suspect. Now, don’t get me wrong. She wasn’t into the hard stuff. She never did heroin or meth or anything like that. She just loved smoking weed and enjoyed the occasional line of coke or a tab of Ecstasy. So did I, truth be told. In any case, my point is this. Scientific method is not Christy’s strong suit. But I love her anyway—and not just because she’s got a great set of tits. Before the darkness, she made me smile every day. She made me happy. For guys like me, that’s rarer than you might think.

Christy’s wrong. We’re not dead. I know this because dead people don’t die. And every single person who has left town since the darkness descended, every single one of us who ventured out into that black space, has ended up dead. You can’t die if you’re already dead. So, that means they weren’t dead and they weren’t ghosts. They didn’t die or become a ghost until after they left town.

Of course, Christy disagrees with me. She says I’m just speculating. Well, fuck that noise. I know, man.

I know.

Sure, I didn’t see them die. Not personally. I mean, you can’t see anything beyond the barrier. But I heard them. Heard them die. I heard their screams.

And the other sounds. The sounds the darkness makes.

Sometimes it whispers. If you stand too close to it, right there on the edge where the candlelight