It was just a splendid morning. At least that’s what I thought at the time. The birds were singing, I was taking some muffins out of the oven, and my family was waking to the smell of my masterful breakfast. My little ones were the last to drag themselves down to eat. I honestly don’t even remember what their names might have been. I think the tall one with the blue eyes wore glasses that didn’t fit quite right—her vision must have been poor. She would have been easy to sneak up on, I imagine. My husband was a nice man, thin with rangy arms, but wide muscular calves. I believe he might have been named after someone famous, someone tall. After the table had been decorated with baked goods and fried delights, my family and I began our meal. I can only remember where everyone’s eyes were looking, and how far their hands were from the butter knives and expensive forks, and I could easily imagine how the little girl might have tasted. I should probably feel awful for thinking that, but it’s true.
The little boy—I think it was a little boy—said something about having a nightmare. It’s always the children who know first. His hand was adorably tiny as he wrapped it around his fork and clumsily delivered food into his messy little mouth. I think I might have loved him, then. I might still, but I’m not sure. I suppose it doesn’t matter anymore, does it? My husband was talking to the little girl with the crooked glasses. His hands seemed so weak-looking as they gestured alongside his words. As I picture them, they kind of remind me of a couple of dead, featherless birds. Yet there we all were, with our pointless words scattering the breakfast table as we shared our morning meal. At some point, as hard as it is to believe, I think I actually declined a plate of bacon that was passed to me, instead reaching for a grapefruit! Can you even imagine such a thing!
I do recall there being a steady breeze. The wind chimes never let up for a second. I was passively trying to hear something behind the noise of the tiny chimes, something that seemed out of place on such a beautiful day. I remember that I needed to look out the window, and thinking how odd an impulse that was, and how I had never in all my life felt something so strange. It was as if something from a dream had taken over my free will. Right there in the kitchen at breakfast, surrounded by greasy dishes and sunshine—the most unusual moment of my life (of that life, anyway).
No one at the table had any idea how terrified I was at that moment. They just kept eating and talking and laughing. Beneath my clothing I began to tremble. I couldn’t speak. I just turned my head toward the window and looked out into the yard. There wasn’t a thing amiss. Everything was accounted for—trees swaying in the breeze, sunshine dappled patio, and a big blue sky. But then I realized, in the very second I turned away from the window, something had indeed changed. The sound I couldn’t hear for the chimes had entered the room. It had to have come in through the window, naturally. I was still paralyzed. No one even noticed the invading thing. They were still carrying on as if the whole world wasn’t about to change. The little boy looked at me, and he tried to speak. (Yes, I’m sure now that it was a little boy.) His words, along with his entire body, just sank away into the sound of the soft breeze, gently, finally. Then there was darkness everywhere. I was still holding a grapefruit in my hand.
I think everyone imagines the Darkness as an event that was visible at a distance, like some kind of apocalyptic tidal wave, rolling slowly towards land. When everyone sees the wave rise up above the clouds, they run screaming, falling over each other as they go. But it really wasn’t like that at all, at least not for me. Of course, it could have been different for everyone, so who can say?
The world seemed so much smaller, more personal, like everything had been locked into a closet, but the darkness gave the impression that the closet might go on forever. I looked out the window again. I can clearly remember staring at a tree that was all lit up by a stray beam of light falling from somewhere above. Its branches were bizarre, wrapping around one another like eels in a bucket, and they were filled with the strangest blackest fruits, each one the size of a cantaloupe. They looked absolutely delicious, but they were squirming every which way, like something might’ve been trying to get out of them, or the fruit itself was breathing. I really didn’t know which. But neither reason would’ve made me want to eat them any less, not even when some of the fruit fell off the tree and rolled into the darkness, where I swear I heard them scurry away on little feet. I couldn’t take my eyes off the tree until I saw my little girl walk up to one of the branches and sink her teeth into a low hanging fruit. Her glasses were gone, and she was looking around as if her eyes were working just fine. I think she looked at me briefly before she backpedaled into darkness, her smile all sweet and black from the fruit. I wanted to chase after her almost as much as I wanted a piece of that peculiar fruit, but somehow I knew I wouldn’t catch her. I was quite a mess, then. Just a thing that cried and cried. When I finally turned away from the window I saw my husband, dressed for work and walking out the door with his briefcase. All he said to me was, “Don’t wait up, honey.”
I wandered around the house for quite a while, looking at familiar things. While I was sitting on my bed, staring at the cream-colored walls, I thought I heard someone knock at the door. I hid under the bed at the sound of the front door opening and what could only have been the footsteps of a large crowd of people entering my home. Whoever they were, they came right up the stairs and into my room. I could see quite the collection of footwear from where I was lying—dirt-encrusted boots, well-worn slippers, sneakers, even some expensive looking high heels. There might have been twenty or so people in there with me, and besides the sound of them walking around on the wood floors, I couldn’t hear a single one of them so much as breathe. They just kept walking around, moving close to one another and then away, like a gang of socializing mutes.
After a while, little drops of blood started falling to the floor. They didn’t react to it at all, they seemed far too busy scuffing up my polished floors with their nonstop mingling. Severed fingers littered the floor next, then all kinds of body parts. The blood started to pool around me, but I hadn’t even the tiniest inclination to pop up from beneath the bed. This went on for several minutes, with whole limbs and heads and whatnot hitting the floor. Long after it became obvious there were far more body parts than could have been provided by twenty people, the strangers left the room (at least their feet and ankles did. I can’t vouch for the rest of their bodies), trudging through blood and carnage as they went.
Once they were all in the hallway and moving down the stairs, I could hear them talking incoherently. I suppose they were just your everyday, ordinary crowd of partygoers. They just stopped by to wander wordlessly around my bedroom and shed hundreds of pounds of mutilated body parts. Of course, that whole fiasco with the blood and meat has a completely different effect on me now, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. Anyway, after I heard the front door close and the voices move out into the streets, I decided there was no safety to be had inside the house. It took me some time to gather enough courage to leave, but finally I put down the grapefruit and made my way into the darkness of the streets.
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