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  • Writer's pictureMerle Emrich

Refractions - Part I

The Fissure

There was a fissure which only he could see. He could not help but keep his eyes fixed on it.

He could not look at the people around him; that crowd of people passing by without noticing. Neither was he able to move and search for shelter when the rain started to pour. He could not hear the people talk or the cars drive by or the wind in the trees at the corner of the street. All faded into a meaningless murmur. All that he was aware of was the fissure.

It had been a strange day to begin with.

He was walking down the street towards the market. The frozen puddles reflected the purple light of the setting morning sun. Had he thought about it then, he certainly would have begun to wonder. The sun could not possibly set in the morning, nor could it be morning if the sun was setting. But he did not think about it. He wasn’t much of a thinker; he took things as they were and made the best of them.

When he arrived at the street corner – the one he had been afraid of all throughout his childhood – he stopped. He was not entirely sure why, but when he looked up, there it was. Not in the wall of one of the buildings. Not in the pavement or the street up ahead. It was nowhere really and yet it was there.

If someone asked him, ‘So, tell me. Where exactly is that crack?’ he would have been unable to answer. At first, he felt it more than he saw it. Although, perhaps, it wasn’t feeling either so much as that he simply knew that it was there. And thengraduallyhe started to see it: a fissure radiating light that was as purple as the light of the sun. It began as a faint glow but continued to strengthen until the purple turned to midnight blue, then black. Black light… He might have wondered about that, too, if he thought about it. But of course, he didn’t.

He just stood there, motionless, staring at the fissure while people passed him by without looking at him; without seeing the light that tore through the everything and the nothing. He, in turn, stopped seeing them. Cars passed by and he stopped hearing them, too. It started to rain, and he did not even notice that. His mind was too occupied, too absorbed by the fissure and the black light radiating from it.

Time passed by and still he stood there. Now, that the sun had gone and the rain had ceased, a bright white light shone upon everything. But for him, the black light was the only lightthe only thingin existence, or at least, the only thing that mattered. Forgotten was all else. Neither did he feel hunger, nor thirst. Neither the chill of the wind nor the warmth of the white light.

But deep inside him, there was some kind of fascination. And even deeper in his head and heart, a terrifying horror which told him to run as fast and as far as he possibly could. Yet, soon, the black light reached even those regions of his soul.

Slowly, very slowly, the fissure widened, and the black light became brighter and blacker still. And suddenly, the silence that surrounded him was broken by whispers, quiet murmursalmost inaudible voices rising from the shining dark’s endless depth.

They were barely more than a soft breeze that playfully teased his mind at first. But their intensity increased steadily until they were a hurricane of hushed voices circling like vultures in his head. Still, he did not move but kept his eyes fixed on the now gaping chasm in which shadows swayed in a slow and hypnotizing dancedancing faster and faster until they blurred into the movement of a bonfire flame in the wind. And like a bonfire’s spark this eerie dance lit a small but growing fire in his heart. The old horrors returned, panic overtook him, and a burning fury raged inside him. But not a single muscle in his body moved – he was entirely unable to conjure the will to do so.

And then, the shadows came creeping out of the chasm singing their ancient songs in whispered voices. Their mouths distorted into grimaces of silent screams as they reached for him with their claw-like hands. One of the shadows took his hands. Cold was its touch. Cold as iron and death. And with a hoarse and cruel voice, it breathed his name.

It was then that he remembered how to move, and he snatched away his hands in disgust. He gripped the shadow’s throat and squeezed tight. Even though it had no eyes, it seemed to look at him in surprise, then shock. He felt the shadow twist and twitch in his grip, but he did not let go. After a timeless moment of eternity, it collapsed and made no more move. He tasted bile in his mouth, but his fear and anger had vanished, and a great peace came over his mind. The remaining shadows turned to dust. The murmuring stopped. A ray of sunlight touched his face, and the rushing of cars filled his ears.

He found himself kneeling on the pavement, smiling. He felt the wind in his hair and the warm sun on his skin. But something was bothering him. Something wasn’t quite right; not at all as it should have been…

He looked down. He saw. He realized. But he did not fully understand. The face of a young girl stared up at him. The soft wind played with a dark curl that had fallen out of her braid. Her skin was paletoo pale to look healthy and her eyes were wide open. She might have looked at him in shock or disbelief had her gaze not been so empty and grey. All light had faded from it. The echo of a lost heartbeat filled the air.

The peaceful feeling was gone. The warm light of the afternoon sun was tainted with flecks of a darker light. Behind the girl’s head, a hairline crack formed and began to open wide.

Read Part II here.

Written by Merle Emrich.

Cover photo by Merle Emrich.


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