I’ve been writing for weeks now on it. Bits and pieces. And here’s one I think that I can share. I don’t know if this will turn into a story or not. But I hope it will.
The view from the bluff was breath-taking. You could see the flat desert spread out before you for miles and miles in the dark. Lights from homes in the city twinkled in the faint, but the persistent fog of December.
Marsha took a deep breath and stared down at the city of Midpoint, California. The sight reminded her of strings of Christmas bulbs carelessly dropped upon the floor. But it was so much more than that. Each light marked where life existed in spite of the night that tried to swallow it all whole.
She leaned against her 1968 Crown Toyota, just breathing. Not thinking. Not feeling. Just pulling the air in and out of her lungs.
She was hurt, she knew it. Deep, deep in her soul.
There are things that can never really be healed. Parts of the soul, once surrendered, that are lost forever. And loss so great that you can’t even cry. So instead, Marsha focused on breathing. And it felt like she was breathing in the entirety of the night. All of it flowing into her as she tried, almost without thinking, to transmute each particle into strength. And Will. And … whatever she needed to go on. And to, God willing, find some way to defeat the monsters.
She was alive. And that was still … something. She knew it was, at least in part, because Stephen intended her to be so. But also, she knew, that he wanted to break her. Smash all the parts of her that mattered into shards of glass and dust that would eventually be blown away by the stiff, desert winds. He thought he had succeeded. But she was still here, hiding in the shadows of her mind. And she knew that he was completely oblivious.
Marsha knew that this was a victory of some sort. She wasn’t sure yet what kind. But it seemed so incredible to her that she couldn’t believe that it was her own, small, mortal victory. No. There had to be something more to it, something Higher. Perhaps if the Evil she’d seen, this hideously intense, brutal Evil could exist in the world, then Good, too, must also be real. If evil planned, and plotted, and pulled people into its web as cat’s paws, certainly Good must do the same?
During the day, it was hard to believe that. But here, surrounded by the night, looking down into the Valley where the little lights burned, she could almost believe. Almost have faith.
The lights persisted. They filled her eyes, almost seeming to promise that this Night would fade into Dawn. And that sunrise … someday, would feel clean. And be something that mattered. And not just a dingy, soiled light that pretended to have defeated the Dark.
Somewhere out there, she knew, lives were being extinguished. Not always released into death, but molded into those who served the monsters.
As Stephen thought she had been.
He was partly right.
The monsters were so damnable good at breaking and recreating personalities. Part of her had become exactly what Stephen wanted, a laughably bright and cheery, human-monster. But by some miracle, a tiny part of her persisted. It held on to who she was. It existed separate from the rest, watching from the shadows of her mind, and only coming out when she was completely alone.
And it wanted to be free. It wanted the monsters dead.
The lights of the Valley twinkled in the night, and Marsha pondered that victory. She couldn’t even imagine how it happened. It didn’t feel like something she’d done. She saw others like herself every day. None had any light at all in their eyes beyond the parts they now played. She wondered, breathing deep, had something intervened?
Now that, Marsha thought, shuddering, was almost too terrifying to contemplate. If something had, then there was a reason, right? But nothing had told her what that was. The night, with its lights, and it’s canopy of darkness, remained silent.
Maybe it was nothing more than allowing her to keep her soul. To be aware. To understand what was going on around her on a Moral Level. And that was not a gift.
One day, Marsha knew she’d pay a high price either way. For the things she had done. And for the things that she would still do. Win or lose.
And she prayed. Out there in the dark. To Whoever listened. For hope, for strength, and for aid, and for answers. Prayed hard in that quiet intensity of the night.