The World of Darkness

Submitted into Contest #83 in response to: Write a fantasy story about water gods or spirits.... view prompt

10 comments

Fantasy Horror

The feeling of wind on your neck. The crunch of sand beneath your feet. The call of a gull as it flies overhead. Many of these sounds, feelings that have long ago lost their magic, their beauty, we take for granted, though they make us who we are. Feeling, breathing, living humans. 

But what happens when you take away that breath, those feelings? You are left in a world of darkness. A world of mystery that instead of beckoning you in, makes it clear to you that you will never know its secrets. A world that welcomes monsters and shields itself away from humanity. Such a place could never exist. And yet. Deep down, deep below the towns and cities, deep below anything we have explored, deeper than we ever guessed. Deep below, there is life. Living, feeling life. But they aren’t like us.

 While we have lungs to breathe sweet air, they have gills that bring the very substance around them inside of them, soaking it in, embracing the darkness, before releasing it back into the void. While we have arms and legs to run, to climb, to touch, they have great webbed fingers with skin dyed a deep green from life without sun, without life. Where we find nothing in the dark, they grasp out in the darkness and they clench onto a hidden rock, a stand of seaweed, a stray from their group, gripped fingers making sure that once they’ve taken hold of their target, there is no way to escape. They are not human, nor fish, some terrible combination of the two. They could never be accepted in Heaven or Hell. And yet. The ocean chose them. 

It respects this bony figure with seemingly no place on this Earth or anywhere else. It looks deep into their blackened souls and sees promise. Promise to do what no sane creature could do. They were selected. They rule this sick place. The world of darkness, now theirs. A gaping hole in a rock is their palace, the remains of a dead, unrecognizable thing, scraped off the ocean floor, is their great banquet. Their loyal subjects are monsters, full of teeth and claws, many of them literally blind to their own terror. But where could they go? They only know of this dark merciless place, they have never seen the surface, never know we exist. Never will they see the bright sun on their pale skin, nor the sounds of laughter or playing. They have no need for it where they come from. So they remove any trace of it. That’s how they survive. They adapt, manipulate, change everything about themselves to fit this awful world’s standards. They know what will happen if they don’t. Those remains on the ocean floor, bones scraped clean, soul floated away in the current, claimed by the ocean floor, could be them next. There is no mercy for the weary. No sympathy for the weak. Down, deep down, there is a watery hell, and they rule its demons. Scorching hot underwater volcanoes. Currents that guide you down gently at first, but the pull becomes too strong, and there is nothing you can do but disappear. Things that hide in the sand or in a hole, camouflaged and dormant, cursed to be alive but not living forever. And yet. They are content. Until they aren’t. 

Until they decide they must expand their borders. Until they decide to swim beyond the darkness, the only thing they know. They begin their journey, moving directly upwards for days on end, their red eyes focused upward, forward, away. They move swiftly, knowing where every riptide, every current is, never letting themselves get tired, never letting themselves show weakness. As they continue their ascent, the water begins to become brighter, cleaner, and even they wince as the pressure drops, forcing weight off their shoulders, weight they never knew they could live without. In fact, many of the other fish begin dropping off in places when it becomes unbearable for their compressed bodies. They know their place. But not them. 

They continue to swim, never ceasing their strokes, every push upward incredibly efficient, revealing years of practice to target, to flee, to attack. They reach the final layer. 

They stay beneath the waves, but the sun still manages to burn their pale skin, strains their eyes adapted for darkness, welcomes them to this world with a harsh shove. This world of light. Then they see something. Floating above the waves. It starts with one, an odd, bobbing blob. Then another. And another. They are yelling, screaming, laughing. 

They stare at these creatures for some time, frozen as they survey this foe, for there are no friends in their world. They stare at their fat, manicured feet, and rub in between their webbed, clawed hands. They stare at their molded, sunburnt bodies, and hug their skinny, pale figures, blistered from even the brief encounter of the sun, the light. They stare at their vibrant suits, and hide deeper behind a strand of seaweed, their dark skin blending in perfectly. They stare at them, frozen for a moment, thinking. Then they look at each other. And back up at them.

By some language learned only by spending a lifetime in silence, a single sound alerting your murderer, a place that straying from the path could mean instant death or a new adaptation that could save your bloodline, from a lifetime living in that horrible world of darkness, they understand each other, and what they must do. They stare up at the bloated, unaware creatures, not so curious anymore. Their eyes shine with malice, their fingers twitch impatiently. There is no use in trying to understand these rejects of adaption. They are simply prey invading their territory. They swim up, ignoring the sun warning them to get no closer. They know how to live, in their own terrible way. They know how to handle prey. They were taught. Taught by the world of darkness.

March 05, 2021 18:26

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10 comments

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00:30 Mar 12, 2021

This is amazing!!! You got some great talent, here were some sentences that gave me pause and then I can critique: "A world that welcomes monsters and shields itself away from humanity" "And yet." This one was repeated quite a lot... Critiques of elements of style: I did this a ton too on my first story and second and... well a while after. You do the same thing a lot where you extend a sentence and basically restate something in a different way. For example: "They would run away, run where the world melted to nothingness." This can be cond...

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Ophelia Mc Bride
02:51 Mar 12, 2021

Ah you’re totally right about that! I’ve heard that a few times before and have tried my best to remember that as I write. I’ll look over this again with your point in mind! Do you think there’s still time to edit it before the results come in? I’m not confident that I’ll win especially with stories like yours in the lineup, but I really think I could take it that extra step. Thank you for following me as well!! It felt so nice to open my feed to see that a person placed so high on the leaderboard of this website would choose to follow ME lo...

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Ophelia Mc Bride
02:55 Mar 12, 2021

One more thing which is more of a question of style: I absolutely know what you mean when you say this is more poetic, its just how I write and honestly I don’t think I could write good dialogue to save my life😅. As a result of the poetic feel though, I tend to repeat certain phrases or words, to try and give them more effect and draw the reader in if that makes sense. I am in no way trying to put down your comments, I realize some repeats do more harm than good, but would you say as a whole that repeating phrases at least a few times during...

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Ophelia Mc Bride
02:58 Mar 12, 2021

Aaaaa sorry for all these responses, but I checked and it seems I can’t edit it after it has been approved, which I suppose makes sense lol, though after your comments gave me just a tad bit more stressed about the quality of it. Do you think it will make any difference of the result? I suppose I’m giving myself too much credit though huh lol😅

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12:52 Mar 12, 2021

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO WAH... Oh no don't be stressed because of what I said!!!!!! My first story is, believe it or not, almost exactly like yours!!!! And its okay not to win on the first time.

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12:51 Mar 12, 2021

Ha, you are the spitting image of me when I wrote my first storyyyyyyyyyyyyy. I made a story where there's no dialogue, just internal monologue, because its an island survival sort of thing. Its insane. Over time, I've gotten the hang of it though. Well, I think that with that, what's important is to try and make all of that better meaning the initial meaning instead of cluttering. Aw I know!!! Repeating phrases can be helpful in some occasions such as Anaphora.

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12:49 Mar 12, 2021

OF COURSE THERE'S TIME!! Awwwwwww that's so sweet!!! I really like to think that I spread joy through my feedback in addition to writing.

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Ophelia Mc Bride
18:04 Mar 12, 2021

The results are in, but I really think you had a chance! Thank you for giving my this interaction and I hope to submit more in the future!

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18:07 Mar 12, 2021

Awwwwwwwwww well that's great to hear!

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Mousumi Biswas
18:06 Mar 10, 2021

👌👌

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