Darkness. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Death? Evil? Despair? Answering any of those won’t make a person any less; in fact, those answers constitute the norm. However, does the norm always hold true, or is it like the English language that has rules, and to each one, an exception occurs? Most probably, a girl named Diana would say that there are always exceptions. She’d say that it could be good, a refuge, a veil, or even a shield that could prevent evil from happening. If only should say it, but alas, her story would not allow her to do so.
Diana was a college student that rented an apartment next to her school. She picked it because it was near, a mere few meters away from her college campus. Even if she woke up 20 minutes before her first class, she never got late because it took only 5 minutes to navigate her way to her classroom. With wet, wind-swept hair, she always manages to sit on a chair before her professors arrive.
Despite the fact that her apartment is near the school, Diana never got home early. She was an active member of her school organization since she’s vice-president for internal affairs for a co-curricular club for communication arts major. She actually had the choice of picking the less demanding position like treasurer, but she enjoyed interacting with the other club members, specifically, a boy named Jason, one of her committee members.
Diana and Jason would always talk after class. While they’re both in the dean’s list, Diana made it a point to write down questions to ask Jason so that she can be with him longer. It’s either class-related or there’s a detail that needs to be noted down regarding communications with the members of the club, resulting to the sun setting down on her.
Her admiration for Jason was more than her fear of the dark. The path that lead to her apartment didn’t have street lamps on it, and there were huge trees with dense foliage that seemed to block out the light of the moon, so all Diana could do was look straight and aim at the light coming from the apartment to guide her way. Every night, she’d hear strange noises coming from the vacant lot that bordered her path to her apartment. Sometimes, she’d hear scuffling noises that sounded like a high-pitched screeching conversation. On rare occasions, she’ll feel something brush her legs as she strode on the dead leaves on the path. She’d step on some parts that felt soft like stepping on a balloon or a mound of mud, which was an oddity since the place was usually dry. Once, she thought she saw a huge toad with glowing eyes watching her in the dark path. Whenever these strange occurrences happened, all she’d do is to close her eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine Jason walking next to her with him smiling, radiant as the soft silvery glow of the moonlight.
One night, Diana got held in school later than usual. They were preparing for the annual recruitment for their club, and as VP for internal affairs, she headed the meeting. At around 11:45 PM, she wrapped up the meeting, and sent her committee members home, including Jason.
“Alright, see you tomorrow,” she said coyly to her crush.
“I can walk you home if you’d like,” Jason offered.
Keep them guessing. When they’ve guessed long enough, make them guess even more. She remembered the advice of her mother when it came to controlling boys. “Oh no, it’s ok. You still have to drive home, and that’ll make you lose sleep. It’s best that you go home now. Tomorrow’s a big day for our org, so you need to be there early,” she reasoned while smiling at him.
“Alright but you’ll let me pick you up tomorrow morning, ok?” he asked.
“If you can wake up earlier than me,” she jeeringly said, tilting her head to the side to show smugness and to hide her giddiness with what she’s heard.
She started walking towards that densely dark pathway after seeing the red tail lights of Jason’s car slowly disappear into a pin point. Tired, she set her mind to getting home as soon as possible, so she quickened her pace. She looked at her cellular phone to check the time, which read “12:00AM,” so she put more haste into her stride.
Wow! I must be really tired. It seems like I’ve been walking for 30 minutes already, but I’m still not home yet.
Even before she can finish thinking her thought, the strange but expected things started happening. Feeling tired, she didn’t mind the noises anymore, but all of a sudden, she felt like she’s stepped on something soft and squishy, stopping her dead on her tracks.
“Awrch! Grrwrrr,” screeched a voice after Diana put her left foot down with the full intention of getting home.
Curiosity mingled with surprise motivated her hands to take out her cell phone and used it to examine her foot and find the source of the noise. Her pupils dilated fully with what she saw. She was stepping on a creature that looked like the underside of a frog with quills sticking out of its back like a porcupine. Its head looked human with slight indications of a toad’s face, but before she could gather more descriptions, the creature started to petrify as it clung to her left foot that was on it the longer she kept the light glow of her cell phone screen on it. Horrified, Diana tried to run.
Her gut instincts to flee that place intensified when she started hearing the screeching noises drawing near her. Her left hand, still clutching the cell phone, was flailing wildly as she tried to move away from the spine tingling source of strange sounds. With the petrified creature stuck to one of her legs, she tried to run but it was slowing her down. Closer and closer, she could hear the strange noises growing from screech to snarls, those that sound like vengeful ones punctuated with the sound of crisp leaves being trampled on by clawed feet.
Then, Diana felt a sharp pain on her hand, causing her to drop her cell phone. In total darkness, she felt small hands and teeth tearing through her flesh as more creatures jumped on her and brought her down, writhing on the ground. Screeching, crunching, and scraping sounds filled the air, and then, silence resumed.
It seems that the only thing that set the night apart from other nights was the light of her cell phone. What could have happened if she just closed her eyes and thought of Jason? Could the darkness acted as a veil or shield to protect her from the creatures that lived in that dark path? We’d never know, but still, it makes one wonder if, in this case, darkness has functions that deviate from the norm.