Whole, engulfing, complete. Terrifying.
You stop, listen with every pore of your body, feeling the hairs on your arms stand up and pay attention. There was someone - or something out there. Yes. Something.
It betrayed nothing.
You wait. Wait for a noise, a scent, a flickering glow. Anything to crack the blackness.
You hold down the panic with a trepid swallow and flick your eyes back and forth, hoping to catch some glimpse of the thing within. Monster? Daemon? Creature from the black lagoon? There is no hint of what madness could lie within.
You breathe, for the first time in what seems aeons. And then...
A noise! A horrible, scraping scratch, like claws across stone... or someone with really long nails scratching them across a blackboard that was really old and so was a bit rough.
You let out a shuddering sigh of relief, close your eyes and your heart begins once more.
A tiny, pin-point of light less than a wing's length before you. The sound - a match being lit. The flame sputters, then lights more fully, taking the taper into it's grasp and lighting something beyond it.
A face - a man. Dark hair in a triangle on his chin, curved maliciously on his upper-lip. Eyes, lit from below, eerie. Depths unknown writhe and ignite with the tiny fire, reflecting the outside world, but not allowing it to enter. Like a broken window. Or... a mirror.
He draws breath, the cigarette between carefully pursed lips crackles and burns, and the face disappears. You hear a nasty, wheezing cough and wonder if you should recommend a good healer.
The taper moves away, almost out...
No! you cry in the dreadful silence of your mind. The light!
It lowers slowly, slowly... to a glass bulb. And suddenly, brightness flares.
The man, dark hair hung long and loose around his head, is gaunt. His face somehow irresistible, his eyes drawing you inside. He perches like some alien bird of prey on the seat of a wooden chair and looks at you, cigarette in one hand, black cloak trailing behind him on the floor. All his clothes are black, except for the ornate silver ankh he wears on a chain around his neck. It stands out like a beacon, pulling you nearer... closer... so close you can see the really bad make-up he's used to cover up a zit on his nose.
"What," he speaks with the gravelly voice of one who drinks too much and smokes to cool his throat. "Do you want?"
You open your mouth, unsure of whether to fall to your knees and praise him or run for all Hell. Or maybe to offer him a throatie. They have blackberry flavour now, you know. Hesitating, choking on your own breath and forcing your legs to remain solid, you take the latter option.
But as you run, his laughter echoes after you, chasing you, taunting you... you run even faster.
"Wait! I haven't read you my new poem! Ode to Black! I never get visitors any more. Stupid people. Maybe I'll get a pet. He'll listen to my poetry. Oh woe, I'm so unhappy!"
The Dark One Wishes You To Know...
...I am known as the Soul of All Evil... but you can call me Gerald! I'll let you call me Gerald if you'll listen to my new Ode to Black!
...I have roamed this dank place for many turns of the Earth... but you're invited to my nineteenth! I'll be reciting Ode to Black for all to hear!
...I am of a species unknown to mere mortal. One so dark and evil that it's name cannot be uttered in this tongue... but I guess the closest would be human, you know? And I s'pose the language isn't so bad - I mean hey, I could construct the most beautiful 125 stanzas in the world, couldn't I? Have I mentioned my new Ode to Black?
...I am neither male, nor female, and I was not of woman born... You know, like the play. Macbeth, right? Get it? Not of woman born? But hey, if you see Mom and Dad, tell them I love them, kay?
...Because of my greatness, I am the Chosen One! I AM THE CHOSEN ONE!... Actually, that's pretty much true. There's a dragon from this place called the Healing Den and he'll listen to my Ode to Black. He'll never run away just when I'm about to read Ode to Black. It's the best thing I've ever written - it's my masterpiece! Why will no one listen to me? I am the CHOSEN ONE!... Did I mention I wrote a poem? It's called Ode to Black. Wanna hear?
Go home, then. See if I care. Go tell your Mommy. Go run home and tell good old Hydee, then, eh? Tell her what a horrible boy she's got living in here. No one wants to stay anyways. Stupid people. Wait til I get my dragon! He'll teach you! Muahahaha! Muahahaha! Mua...eagh...ergh...cough...splutter... Um, you still got those throaties?