There’s a comfort in darkness that I’d never noticed before. Previously, the dark was just something to sleep through, or a condition to dispel with a 60-watt bulb; but, basically, darkness was always and only a thing to be overcome. I felt differently that night. With a living nightmare watching over me and a mutilated bear at my side, I felt…powerful. By this time, I knew the dog wasn’t going to hurt me, and I knew that there was a destiny set aside for me…and I knew that the witch was more to me than an obsession—she was a destination.
I stayed in the darkness, soaking it in like some kind of sponge. I nestled into the nearest, blackest shadow…and I smiled like a child wrapped in her favorite blanket. I was changing.
The night was finally out of surprises, and I spent the remainder of it on my back, in darkness, staring into the sky.
The next morning, I actually managed to make a fire (with a little help from the gasoline I’d poured into an old soda bottle and the lighter I brought with me). I made a few eggs and a small cup of coffee. It was the smell of the eggs that began to push back at the realizations (or revelations?) from the previous night. The smell of breakfast had a kind of reality to it, a hardness that scraped away at the idea of fate and magical darkness. And the sun that rose above the forest, backlighting the solid reality of trees and hills, joined in with the smell of breakfast to disarm my belief in a supernatural world. Or, at the very least, the light and the eggs blunted the hell out of my growing comfort with strange things. I started to feel foolish and damaged.
Even with everything I’d come to learn throughout my journey, I was still questioning the legitimacy of it all. It was the light that did it to me; it made me doubt my senses, even my sanity. And I wondered if, all this time, I’d gotten it all backwards— and it was the light that needed to be overcome.
There was one more spot I had left to sleep in—where the witch had once stood. Somehow, despite the light, I knew precisely where it happened, where the giant had met the witch. There was a bald patch of earth just in front of the remains of the cabin. I could almost see her shadow still lingering over the spot.
I laid my sleeping bag over the site, and made myself another cup of coffee.
The waning day seemed like the retreating ocean, backing away from the things that once lived at the bottom of the world, where they belonged; I couldn’t have been more excited to inspect the remains. I was sure of it, this time—I was going insane.
I don’t think that I even turned on my flashlight when it got dark. I just let the night fall over me. And when the sounds of the dark forest began to creep in, I took comfort in the fact that none of it scared me. Not even a little bit. It felt good to be out of the light. And I felt my growing insanity melt down into a simple realization of fact—the world is more than what the light can show us.
Of course, that was the new cycle of things: Insane during the day, and morbidly enlightened at night. I shouldn’t have to tell you which mindset I preferred.
Anyway, it was finally night and I could feel sleep coming on.
In just a few minutes, I was dreaming.
This dream was different. The point of view was my own, and I hadn’t moved from where I’d fallen asleep. However, the cabin was no longer just a pile of wood. It seemed to be completely restored, and it even had…electricity? There was a definite electric glow coming from inside, and I could clearly hear the hiss of television static. I knew that it’d do me no good to wait outside, so I just walked into the shack, fearlessly. Pretty stupid, huh?
The inside of the place looked nothing like it had during my last visit, but it was certainly recognizable despite the changes. It was my Livingroom. Sure, it was made from all the rustic junk that had been in the cabin, but it was a dead ringer for my place. Although, it was my TV and VCR that had been propped up on a pile of firewood. And the videotape that had been placed into the VCR was mine, too. It was the third tape in the “witch series.” Again, I didn’t waste time not doing what I knew had to be done.
I slid the tape all the way into the VCR, and pushed “play.”
The static transformed into the deepest black I’d ever seen, and the screen to the TV seemed more like a murky passageway than a flat plate of glass. That’s when I heard her. That fuckin’ witch.
“The trick to cultivating darkness is to find fertile soil—soil that has seen the ravages of the world and withstood them, even if, for all of that, it has become a bit worn down. And while a little wear is proof of resistance, and perhaps even strength, it’s ultimately a sign of pliability.
Generally, such souls and soils have been made intimate with the black facts beneath world, which describe this horrible little box we live in as a place where we were all supposed to be ancient children, forever frolicking in pointless wonder. But, for lack of its creator’s vision or passion, or both, the world became merely pointless. It is that truth, upon its very firmament, where darkness of the truest kind can take root…and flourish.
And this giant man, this monster, was not merely a dark flower that bloomed from the loam…but a garden of blackest fruits. He hadn’t only been ravaged by the world, he’d been eaten by it…and then fought his way back out from the world’s throat, kicking out its rotting teeth as he went. This man was special. And unlike so many others I had returned to the world, this one I would keep.
Until I would gift him to another…"
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