I Can See Only Darkness
A story about the unseen horrors that afflict the small people of the world
“How’s it going, Frank?” a badly aging man in a cheap black suit says as he sits down at his desk.
“Better than ever,” Frank, a humble, black, slightly overweight, forty-something man says back to his coworker in their small office.
“What’s this? Did you do this Frank?”
“Yeah. I got bored. Thought I’d do something nice.”
The coworker laughs. “Here take this,” he says as he tries to hand him a twenty dollar bill.
“You know I don’t need money. I just like to help, that’s all.”
“Nope,” Frank says, holding his hands up.
The boss, a forty-something woman with too much lipstick and eyeliner walks into the office. “Where’s Frank!”
All the workers, smiling, point at Frank.
“Frank! Did you make me another cake? Look at my stomach,” she points fiercely with a flip of the wrist, “I don’t need anymore cake,” the boss says laughing as she tries to hand Frank a slice on a small plastic plate. “Frank!”
“And I don’t need it either. Take some home to your kids. I’m sure they’ll love it.”
“Oh Frank. If only the rest of the world had a heart like yours,” the boss says as she hugs him.
Frank Woodson drives home in his town car and pulls into the driveway to his modest home. He unlocks the door with his key. His daughter, Jasmine, holds up a painting that she drew. It looks like a bunch of scribbles, but she tried her best — and her best is still good to he because she is blind. She was blind the day she was born. Her mother held her in her arms and looked at the adorable baby right before she died from the toils of childbirth. Jasmine is homeschooled and has a lovely teacher, Sabrina, who comes to the house during the day and teaches her while her father is at work. She is like a mother to the girl.
“How was she today,” Frank asks Sabrina.
“She was good, much better than yesterday. Although, I don’t think the medicine is working yet.”
Frank shakes his head in disappointment. He reaches into his pocket, “I can’t thank you enough,” he says as he hands her the pay for the week. “Count it and make sure. Don’t want to cheat you any.”
Sabrina quickly counts the money and because she trusts Frank so much she was not surprised when the correct amount was counted: “That’s it.”
“Alrighty. See you Monday!” Frank says smiling.
“Goodbye!” Sabrina says to Frank. She says it again to young Jasmine standing behind her father.
Frank waves back and then shuts the heavy door. He turns around, the lights still off, and sits in his chair. He kicks off his shoes and lays back. Relaxed.
“Go get me a beer,” Frank says to his daughter.
The small girl, Jasmine, walks to the fridge by hearing its loud motor and feels around in the cold for the cans of beer. She grabs a can and walks back to the living room. She hands the drink to her father.
Frank opens the tab and the beer fizzles up. The white fiz overflows out of the can.
“You little bitch!’ Frank screams at the girl and slaps her face. “Go to your room!”
Jasmine turns from the pain and her heart beats quickly from being startled.
Jasmine feels her way back to her room and hits her toe on the door frame. It sends a sudden shock of pain to her. A small tear drips out of her eye. She feels her way to her small bed and sits down on it. Then, all around her she feels, deeply, intensely, the presence of something dark. Shadows in her black vision approach her; they laugh, and cry, and yell, and scream out in anguish! Jasmine swats at them but her hands go through them. But she can feel when they touch her. She cries out in terror as she runs out of her room back to her father.
“Help daddy! They are back!” Jasmine screams.
“What did I tell you!” Frank yells as he kicks in the recliner foot rest. He lifts the girl as she fights back swinging her arms.
Frank drops her back on her bed and looks around her room. He grabs the key off the top of the door frame to her room on the outside and locks the door. He walks back to his chair and turns the TV up to where it can drown out the sound of Jasmine’s screams.
Monday morning, a sunny morning, Frank eats his microwavable breakfast sandwich and drinks his coffee. Sabrina, the babysitter/tutor knocks and then walks inside. She holds a suitcase full of books and other papers to teach and help Jasmine.
“Good luck Sabrina. You’re going to need it. She had a terrible weekend,” Frank says.
“Oh no! Bless her heart.”
Frank says his goodbyes to Sabrina and pulls out of the driveway.
Sabrina picks up the kitchen chair and sits it across from Jasmine who is in her fathers big chair. She pats her on the shoulder. She notices her swollen eyes from days of constant crying. Jasmine’s face is pale from lack of sunlight.
“How are you doing today?”
“Good,” Jasmine answers unconfidently.
“Did you take your Clozapine today?”
“Yes. It doesn’t work. They are still there.”
“Where are they?”
Sabrina turns her head and looks around the dim lit room. All she sees are the grey walls and the dirty carpet and old furniture.
She looks back at Jasmine and says frankly, “There’s nothing there. We are the only people here,” Sabrina reaches out and touches the girl’s leg.
Jasmine flinches away. “I can feel them,” she says with a shaky voice.
“No dear. You only felt me. I am going to give you a hug now to prove it.” Sabrina hunches over and gives her a hug.
Jasmine screams. “I feel them! I feel them!”
“No you don’t hunny. You only felt me.”
Jasmine cries and covers her eyes.
“You’re eight now Jasmine. You must act your age,” Sabrina says as she reaches into her suitcase and pulls out a math textbook.
“Ok. Where did we leave off last week . . . Oh yea. We just started multiplication.”
Jasmine still continues to cry and begins to swat the air with her shaky hands.
“We will start with something easy. Two times two?”
“I don’t know,” Jasmine says.
“That one is simple — four. Ok then, three times three?”
Jasmine is silent.
“Six! Four times four?”
Jasmine starts to cry again.
“Sixteen! Five times five!”
Jasmine screams in horror.
“Go to your room!” Sabrina yells, “If you do not want to listen, then you will have to go to timeout.”
Sabrina gets out of her chair and squeezes Jasmine’s hand firmly and takes her to her room. She slams the door and locks it.
“One hour. And I will let you out,” Sabrina says.
Jasmine pounds on the door and tries to twist the cold handle. She is trapped. The demons move slowly towards her shrieking and speaking in strange tongues. Jasmine collapses on the carpet and rolls around like she is having a seizure, holding her eyes. She screams out dreadfully, hopelessly trying to escape the void of her vision and runs into the walls of her room and into her desk; her flower vase falls off the desk and shatters. She hears the door open and the voice of Sabrina.
“What is it Jasmine? What do you see!” Sabrina shouts.
Jasmine whispers, “I can see only darkness.”