He looked to the room with a renewed vision, the nurse had run screaming, and it made him feel powerful. It was peaceful, perfect and black. In some strange way, it made Bram feel fulfilled. The emptiness he had carried for years, stripped away after his grandmother’s death, the attempts to help others, the denial of love from Malhi. He had become empty and lost, but now, he was full again. The darkness engulfed him, and he embraced it. He swayed the wall of the hospital room to dissipate, and it responded efficiently. No longer did he have to offer a piece of himself for Obscura to oblige.
Bram glanced around the room, and it felt strange how greyish hue everything was. As if his life were sitting on another dimension, made of an old movie. He was a spectator, and it was no longer his life—black and white musical notes playing a new tune.
The walls of the hospital faded quickly, as his name seemed to slip from Bram as well. He walked into the darkness as new energy to balance Obscura. A new entity to allow the use of this black weaved world now belonged to him. A sense of separation as the original Nought monster pulled its fulfilled aura from Obscura, and Bram was left to track down another. He knew all too well the beauty of the red roses he had wanted to see so bad would never again be his. Just as his hands were no longer his own, his legs and torso no longer human. He was something else; something meant to live in a world made of shades.
Shadows danced from the corners of his freshly healed eyes, and black death flies swarmed to cloud his vision. Bram closed his eyes and tried to will himself back into the room but had a deep awareness this nightmare was his reality now. The greys, blacks and off-white hues were all made him. All held together by Obscura, it was on him, in him, around him.
It was him. He blinked again, and the whole room shifted into a deeper Obscura. A level further from where Bram recalled he had ever been before was the emptiness he has now sunk him as oil in the water. Below a surface, he would not climb up, not without some emotional float attached to him. It once had been filled with the energy, dependant on Bram. They seemed to be threatening him and calling to him, and eating his feelings. As Bram sunk to Obscura’s newly open lower level, this energy seemed to float upward. The monster of Nought full of what Bram once was. It climbed above Bram as he fell into the darkest murk of Obscura.
He landed on blackness, surrounded by blackness and saw only blackness. Knelt, he felt as though his skin was crawling away from him. Not as though he were afraid, since his mind no longer understood fear, but crawling off his bones. His skin and sinew are leaving behind a gangly crooked elbow. Bent at the wrong angle as he knelt in the wispy black furrows of fog.
The creature, once was Bram, shook violently, as a wet bear shakes off water. The skin flew off, and he felt free. Less confined by the tightness of his body’s flesh. Threw away any human features he once had, and he was left with only blackness. The fibres held him as Abram Blashke disappeared. It freed him in a sense, made him feel weightless, as if he could move anywhere in the dark world he lived in.
The emotions which made him dull were torn away, dissipated to a distant memory. He allowed the darkness to step in, to fill his void. It was all that was left for him to take. The blackness of Obscura was everything and nothing. It poured into him, made him something rather than nothing. It knocked down the steep incline of his guilt, his regrets and childhood traumas. It soothed his wounds. All the sadness and devastation became nothing. It was him, and he was Nought.
But as he turned, a sparkle caught his eye. A glint in the world of darkness, a place of shadows, was all he was privy to, yet this small glow was magical. Brighter than the sun, which was a distant memory now, more brilliant than grandmother’s love, stolen so long ago. The shooting white of a star and it sat near him, calling to him. He moved toward it, his body made of empty darkness still ached and moaned as he forced it to move. His head so heavy he felt he only wanted to lay down to sleep, but he had to see this light.
The sparkle, in the corner, he was nearing it. He could smell it. The scent of ice crystals in the forest air when frost is threatening, the freshness of frozen water on the river crashing through. It smelt of jewels, frozen icicles, perfectly symmetrical snowflakes. He didn’t need to demand Obscura to move him any longer, and it obeyed with no question. It answered with no doubt. His slim black hand reached toward the small light, nestled in the darkness of the corner. It was shining off the sharp edges of the dark matter walls. As his palm covered the light and his fingers wrapped around the light’s sharp edges, he felt in the palm of his hand, and it was a diamond.
He clambered backward with it, and his awkward double-jointed legs moved him spider-like. With his palm closed, the light still stretched through his thin bony fingers. The blackness of his solid ebony eyes even felt the light. He sat crouched as he bent his hand open to touch the shiny diamond with his opposite hand, and it sprung to life. A rainbow of shades: cream, ivory, vanilla, baby powder white. All white but all pristinely beautiful, created of emotion and left precariously to feed him.
His finger tapped the oval cut diamond, and a sound filled Obscura. His cracked and black bleeding lips smiled at the sound echoed of the nurse screaming. One seemed from another lifetime ago. It filled the space, and he felt his frail energy grow stronger.
The scream was shiny and warm in his palm, and loud, oh, was it ever so loud! It smelt delicious and tasted like home as he popped it into his mouth. Then he stood firm, proud to call Obscura home.
He, too, could feed off fear, love and hatred to fulfill himself, and maybe once more, walk in the world of the light. To once more see the red of roses, but for now, it was the black of Obscura, and he was the black of an empty Nought Monster.
Victoria pressed the brake pedal to the floor before pausing to make google eyes to Abram in the rear-view mirror. His tiny face sticky from candy and poked out from under his fuzzy black checkered ushanka. Thomas bought the cap on one of his work trips north to Canada, and Victoria thought her husband made a good selection. It was over the top cute. Some days, even just pulling Abram out of the , she would plunk the hat on him, and he would sit in the living room playing blocks in his diaper and ushanka. It never seemed to bother him either, and he would smooth the furry ear covers as if he were a puppy and they were his floppy ears. It made the blue of his eyes pop, and she pictured it would be perfect for his first birthday next month.
Maybe I could find a matching coverall outfit, she thought. It had been so cute how she had taught him to bark like a puppy, and he was so smart. Beyond his age and it made Victoria’s heart swell with pride.
“Baby beluga,” Victoria sing-songed in the mirror, waiting for the light to turn green, “swimming in the deep blue sea” Her hand waving in the air made Abram giggle. His toothless laugh forced his dimples to be enunciated.
“Ooooooo-aaaaa,” Abram sang the basic syllables back, puckering his lips creating deep dimples around his smile.
“Baaaaaby…” A honk behind her woody wagon startled Victoria out of the song and caused her to smack her elbow on the wooden antique steering wheel. She swallowed the sharp pain to avoid cursing in front of her infant son. She was late for work, and she loved her job. The relationships built while nursing at the local retirement home was fulfilling. Bill and Janice loved hearing stories of baby Abram. Joe often wanted to shop at Wal-Mart, and Tom just wanted to play cards. It brought warmth to Victoria’s days. Baby cuddles added even more in the evenings. She smiled widely as she recalled how perfect life was for her.
phase “Baaaaayyyy,” Abram continued the song for his mother as she returned her attention to driving. The drive to her friend Bethany’s house. She offered daycare free to her as she had the open space, and Victoria cared for Bethany’s mother at home. It was a fair trade between the two, and coffees on Sunday mornings were a bonus. time sharesBethany was a few years younger than Victoria but had a good home set up already, a proper daycare centre in the basement, and she trusted her very well. It made work more enjoyable when Victoria knew her baby boy was taken good care of. Bethany had even started showing him to draw circles.
The sun shone through the windshield, warm enough it made her want to turn her face up to the sun and soak in the rays. The traffic was moving swiftly once more, slow but swift. She will be late to work.
The sound of sirens suddenly crept up behind Victoria. Abram twisted in his car seat to see the ambulance flying up behind them and mimicked the sounds of the siren, “woooo.”
Victoria rolled her window down, she was less than a block from Bethany’s house, and the ambulance was coming right up behind her. Less than a block away.
She thought there would be enough time to turn into Bethany’s driveway before the lights blinded her rear-view mirror but the ambulance was flying. She gauged distance wrong and instead, she quickly jerked the wheel to the right and stomped the brakes to allow the ambulance by. To her horror, it pulled into Bethany’s driveway less than thirty feet away. She could see the panicked looks on the paramedics’ faces as they hurried out and into the home. Her heart jumped to action as a trained nurse, but a cold fear settled on her neck like a mother.
Victoria threw away the shock of the apparent medical emergency and pulled the black curtain of Obscura around her. She could smell the brake dust from the frantic ambulance stop as she drew her energy closer to the home through the rolling fog. It had been many years since she had entered this alternate dimension.
edA quick knock on the front door, and Victoria followed by sound alone. The doors bang against the entrance, the cries, the screams, the sound of urgency. mans
She sensed Bethany, and she heard the torment in her sobs. The energy of other children in the home as they panicked, the scent of the paramedics sweat as their adrenaline put them to work. She saw nothing but darkness, still pulled to where the situation was.
She felt the essence of the monster near her, following and watching her. He would strip her being away if she attempted to use Obscura. She knew this from years of balancing the black curtain dimension with the real world. It would emit itself from the dark corners of the room to persuade her to enter, but she knew the use always had a payment required. The last time she forced Obscura, it was an attempt to save her father. She was only five, and she had already known Obscura better than her own barbie house. She had known the tunnels and pathways to find others and the walls to push to manipulate them.
Young Victoria also quickly learned that the black wave would take her and leave her hyperventilating and crying afterward. Sucking the bravery from the little girl fast. She still recalled the last time, that last day when It pulled her in and threw her at her father. He was lying on the forest floor, damp leaves stuck to bleeding wounds. His arm bent unnaturally, his chest too slow for proper breathes and the grizzly bear still too close.
She had used her young strength, thrown it into the darkness of Obscura to pull everything she could to save him. But she wasn’t allowed to bring him in, and her only chance was to get rid of the bear. Her eyes had teared up. Even with the devastation of her father’s torn open chest and blood-spitting lips, she still cried when she forced Obscura to crush the bear’s heart.
She was too young to kill, and it stung deeply. Victoria had inhaled what courage she had left and turned to her father, and there was no saving him. The blood-stained the permafrost forest floor, his eyes heavy, and the breathing was slower. Victoria had sniffled and forced Obscura to allow her hand to touch his cheek before he passed.
She had lost a lot that day, her father and her courage. Panic attacks plagued her through elementary, middle and high school. College was private, and Victoria had to be heavily medicated to prevent her muscle shattering panic attacks. She never lost the image of her father bleeding to death in the woods, and the rescuers never made it to him on time. Victoria also learnt quickly why she should not tell anyone about Obscura since the investigation showed her handprint on her father’s cheek, and she had no reason to say why she knew where he was. Evelyn had known Victoria was in the house all day with her mother while her father was out hunting. It had been impossible.
Ever since she had refused to use the alternate dimension. That easy way out was never an easy way in. The penance to pay when manipulating Obscura stripped a piece of Victoria away she never got back. It had filled in the energy in the dark space and made him a monster. A real tangible being, a creature stuck in a dark dimension but close to her ever since.
When Abram was born, she promised herself never again, and she would never enter Obscura again. No matter what. She couldn’t risk losing more of herself to the monster in the dark place. Victoria loved her son so much she hid from the darkness that would creep up in the corners of her bedroom. She kept her eyes turned away from the black of the nightfall called for her to enter Obscura. The monster stalked her anyway. He was silently watching, waiting. He haunted her sleep and played tricks on her during the day, dwindling her mind, making her doubt even her thoughts. The night sweats began to come during the day, the fear so thick it choked her even in the safest of settings.
Victoria stepped carefully now. To affect anything could be disastrous, but with not knowing who she was being pulled toward, it was blind footing indeed.
The darkness gave no clue, no optical image, but a desperate sound crept its way above all the others—an animalistic cry of death. A resounding soul-wrenching agony shriek only a mother would understand. The pain seeped into Victoria, burdened her, and instantly she wished to leave Obscura, but the monster forced her closer. He was feeding on her friend’s sobs. Bethany was wailing anguish, and the black veil surrounded Victoria to peel back. The monster absorbed the horror, and Victoria was forced to witness it.
It caused the intangible hair on her arms to raise. The non-existent blood from her heart drained to her feet and out into the blackness of the fog. The scream hurt her soul, made her want to turn to leave. The sorrow was so thick, and she couldn’t dredge through the fog any longer. She couldn’t turn from the scene that lay in front of her.
Bethany sat crumpled on the floor. A new baby of only several weeks of age lay in the crib just inches from her. The small tuff of charcoal hair highlighted her eyebrows’ newness, the softness of her lamb-like skin. Her face so delicate, it appeared as though to touch her cheek, it would brush off and float away. Her sleeping eyes held no life. Her still lips, no breath and the satin pink of her flesh faded to an ominous blue of a thunderous storm. The midnight black lashes did not flutter with baby dreams, and her chest remained still. Face toward heaven, as she waited for the angels to take her away.
The mother of the baby could be heard at the front of the house, and the paramedics worked on the tiny baby as Bethany sobbed.
Not a word came from around them, only a breath on Victoria’s shoulder, the energy of the monster grew stronger as if fed on her sorrow for her friend. Her grief for the deceased, so much emotion around. Victoria pulled on the strength of it, offering up her emotional world to the monster in exchange for the dark dimension to put life back into the baby.
“Please,” Victoria mouthed the word, and the monster obliged, showed her the power to pull.
Victoria refused to allow it to end this quickly, and she balled up everything she had. The love for her son, the passion for her husband. The knowledge she had for her career, the empathy she had for the clients in the home, and everything that made her. The blackness surrounded her and hid in every corner of the world. She pulled in the energy of the trees, the power of rain clouds, the warmth of the sun, everything. The dark matter made Obscura allowed her to hold the energy and funnel it into the baby girl. She forced the death out of her tiny body. Victoria pushed life she had collected into her. She didn’t cringe as her love poured into the girl.
Victoria pushed harder as the Obscura monster grew. His form stirred and stood tall. Fed on the love, affection and sympathy bleed from her soul, and he was more powerful. He grinned a twisted dark smile and pushed her backwards, out of Obscura.
The paramedics stepped back from the baby, and her tiny chest shuddered with life-giving oxygen, a quiver from her now peach lips and the dark place was filled with a new cry. The infant’s wale notified everyone in the room of her life. Bethany jumped to her feet, and tears streamed faster than before as she cuddled the baby, whisking it away and to the mother at the front of her house. Victoria allowed herself to be thrown from Obscura, her task complete.
The death of an infant wouldn’t be on Victoria’s friend’s shoulders today.
A real breath of oxygen-filled her as she found herself sitting back in her car. Exhaustion washed over her, turning her head to a concrete brick. It pounded with the pain of a hundred migraines and sand-filled her arms, and her chest weighted her body into the driver’s seat.
Victoria lifted her eyes, and she saw the mother doubled over Bethany’s house’s front doorstep. The paramedics stood around her, shaking their heads in disbelief. The mother’s face was swollen and red with tears, but the baby’s face was fresh pink and healthy. Bethany sat behind her, her head in her hands as her chest sobbed out of relief.
She looked to the rear-view mirror, and Abram looked back to her, but tears still welled in her eyes. A deep depression filled the emotional void she was left with, “let’s just go home.” She whimpered and turned the car around.