Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dead Stars

Greg was a very steady person. He found comfort in having a routine, a schedule and to break away from it caused him some distress. Although he didn't consider himself obsessive over his routine, he preferred to not change it. The unknown made his palms sweat, his breath shallow and tied his stomach in knots. The very idea of traveling, changing jobs or meeting people made him nauseous.
Although Greg considered himself as stable as his schedule he had always suffered from anxiety and depression. When he was younger he would tell himself things he didn't like or didn't want to do were boring. Anything that wasn't fun to him wasn't even dignified as a possibility, a true brat! He lived a life of only things that would entertain him, make him happy or bring him pleasure. However he found, after a year had past, that he found less pleasure in things, his appetite diminished and the nights grew longer.
Greg barely ate, slept, sometimes he felt he couldn't even breathe. His heart was either beating so fast he couldn't hear it or it had stopped all together. This wasn't working, this fun life he was living. His shadow was growing longer and when he looked at the stars he felt the darkness of the night sky was consuming them. “Perhaps...” he thought to himself, “living a fun life doesn't mean living a happy one.” With this thought he decided to seek help and get rid of the fun in his life. Entirely.
As the years went by he slowly became more and more afraid of fun. Fun was too unpredictable, unstable, volatile. His routine was easy and safe. He worked, cleaned, cooked and ran errands for himself to keep busy. It was simple and there were no surprises with the right amount of planning. He convinced himself he would live a bubble of contentment for the next few years, maybe even the rest of his life.
But there are some things you cannot plan for, that you cannot control. And while some people call this destiny or fate the reality is that you have a lack of power over your environment. Even with this in mind Greg was shocked when he got a call from the hospital. His sister, Alex, must have also seen the stars being engulfed in shadow. When Greg saw them he wanted to run and hide but to continue his life. Alex found the darkness too hopeless, it overpowered her sanity and very will to live.
Greg could live without the stars but could he live without his sister? And even then, could he allow the darkness into his memories, his mind again? By the time he hung up the phone he already felt his body being poisoned by his own shadow. He felt insane movements from his heart, he felt sick and started gasping for air. It took all his willpower to force himself to sleep that night.
Shortly after that night he found himself walking down a cobblestone path lit by dim lampposts. He couldn't remember how he got there but he remembered he was on his way to see his sister. He wondered if the hospital was even open this late at night. He checked the digital watch on his wrist but the battery had died. Had he forgot to replace the battery? Why didn't he plan for this? He decided to look up at the sky to see if he could find a sign of what time it was in the moon. The second his eyes focused onto it it shuddered and faded into the sky with a puff of black smoke.
Now he was starting to feel it, the darkness was coming. His palms were sweating and his mouth went dry. Greg swore he felt someone glaring at him and as he looked over his shoulder he saw a silhouette standing just out of range of the lamppost. The body was too dark to see, all Greg noticed was bright yet cold eyes of the character. They looked like orbs floating in the night surrounded by blue rims. Just as he looked into its eyes it took a step toward him. Once it stepped into the light of the lamppost the bulb burst and he could hear glass hit the stone. The silhouette didn't even flinch and just continued to approach him.
He felt an aura of dread loom over him and before he had time to process what was happening he turned around and ran. That glare had pieced his consciousness and hit his innate sense of fear. He ran faster than he had ever run, he was running for his life. There were many lampposts along the path and he could hear them shattering, and then exploding behind him as he ran. At first it sounded like a glass cup breaking on a tile floor but after a minutes (or had it been seconds?) it sounded like artillery shells hitting the ground behind him. It was following him, no it was chasing him and it was gaining speed!
He saw the hospital before him less than 100 yards away. He knew if he turned to look at the figure it would catch him so instead he put all his energy into sprinting toward the door. He felt that the presence of others would help him defeat the shadow or perhaps the shadow couldn't destroy the light of a whole building. As he reached for the handle and burst down the door he nearly fainted when he saw the silhouette towering above him.
“This is the end” he thought. He slumped to the ground and was ready to accept his fate. “This is the end...” He repeated, “It's going to take me!” He took this into consideration but rather than weeping he frowned. Rage was swelling up inside him. Why should this shadow take his life? It had already destroyed his happiness, nearly killed his sister and took away the stars. Just as the shadow lunged forward to strike Greg he noticed a fuse box on the wall. Channeling his anger he reached for the fuse box and flipped the switches in an instant. The lights came on slowly at first but then shot down like bullets piercing the shadow's body.
He gasped and jolted forward in his bed smacking the back of his head on the bed frame on the way back down. “A dream... It was... a dream?” he asked himself in shock. Maybe it was the bump on his head but he felt it wasn't any mere dream. He thought to himself quietly for the next few minutes.
Greg soon realized this was indeed a dream but it taught him something very important, something life changing. All the time he spent running from the darkness had only fed it and made it stronger. In the dream, the silhouette couldn't exist in the light so it destroyed the lampposts to continue chasing him. Through pure instinct Greg realized that light could defeat the silhouette.
He knew he couldn't simply point a light at his problems and watch them vanish but he understood what the dream was trying to teach him. It was trying to teach him two things. First, he couldn't just outrun his problems whether it be by changing his life, disabling triggers or physically running. Second, he had to fight the darkness not by drudging through it but by actually attacking it.
Greg knew exactly what he had to do and he wouldn't have to do it alone. A week later his sister was discharged from the hospital. He packed his things, quit his job, got his sister and flew off to New York. Maybe this was irresponsible but sometimes your needs outweigh your responsibilities. The darkness had taken fun from him and hope from his sister but it could have very well taken their lives. The purpose of the trip was to bring some joy to them and to help his sister realize there is someone you can always look to, always talk to.
They were terrified when they arrived in New York but when Greg looked up at the sky he had never seen brighter stars. And when he looked at Alex he had never seen a brighter smile. They had both become as radiant as the stars fighting the darkness in the sky.