I hate the dark.
Every time it gets dark, I run. I scurry back to whatever hold I can find where the light is and I wait for the day to come back. Night is acceptable as long as the air is clear, the stars are bright and the moon hangs like a beacon to guide me home. But when the cloud cover is thick and the lights from the sky can’t break through, panic rises in me like vomit.
There were three of us out that day. Fred, Elena and me. We were out on the Dales, crossing the fields and climbing the hills. The sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, just the way I like it. Summer was at its peak, heavy in the air like a waiting storm.
Three steps. That’s all it took to get me from the light, open fields to the darkness. I strayed from the path by three sodding steps and the ground swallowed me up like I’d often wished it had. No warning, no ominous rumbling, just three steps and then whoosh. The Earth claimed me, summoning me with the soil, entombing me.
I was trapped. Buried alive. I could hear Elena and Fred calling for me, searching for me. Occasionally their footsteps would reverberate through to my poorly protected ears, but I couldn’t risk calling out in case the earth got into my mouth. I was struggling enough with keeping my breathing under control, let alone waste any precious air in shouting.
I wanted to scream. Or cry. Or both.
I did neither. The darkness had finally found me.
I started to squirm. Felt the rocks that had surrounded me scratch at my skin like fingernails grabbing at me, the soil crumbling around me. I didn’t know how long I could stay here but I was sure that I wasn’t going to go without fighting for it.
So I wriggled. I squirmed. I wormed, wiggled, whatever word you want to choose I did it.
The ground let me go. I plummeted again, further into the darkness. I landed with a bump.
It was still dark. Panic rose, fighting for control of me, fighting me to make me run around screaming. At least I wasn’t trapped inside an earthen coffin any longer.
Something gave me pause. I raised my hand to my face and realised I could make out the shape of my fingers. My eyes darted around the blackness before catching, hiding on the very edge of my sight, a blue glow. A second appeared, and another, until I realised that the ground was giving me a present. The glow stretched away from me, but the darkness was kept at bay.
In for a penny, in for a pound. I followed the glow, deeper into the bowels of the earth.
The Idiot in Tin Foil