In The Darkness

What she would find that day would change the world she lived in. Ancient pages would show her things that no one would ever believe and lead her to a land beyond her home town of Lockley.
Louisa McCain discovers an old diary in her basement, that tells her of a fantasy land that she could only dream of. She slowly gets entranced by the idea of the beyond, the potential that it holds. She becomes obsessed with finding this place called Philia, frantically scrambling to put together the clues and find the portal.
If she does, will it all be what she imagined or will she be plunged into a world that she wishes she'd never found?

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1. One

THUMP. I dropped yet another heavy cardboard box onto the floor, its contents causing the taped lid to bulge and strain.

“Is that the last of them, Mum?” I yelled up the stairs.

“I think so sweetie!” she shouted back, “They just need taking down to the basement now.”

Mum came down the stairs, straightening her purple jumper and shooting me a smile.

“I appreciate your help, Louisa. Most kids your age wouldn’t even lift a finger to help their parents nowadays, never mind move a tonne of stuff into the basement!”

“It’s OK, Mum. It’s no problem at all. I just feel like I should help you. You have so little time on your hands already with everything else!”

Mum walked over to me, enveloping me in a hug that felt like home. It filled me with warmth as she whispered into my chocolate hair, “I love you Louisa, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me; you know that?”

“I sure do, Mum.” I said into her shoulder, “You tell me pretty much every day, how could I not know?” 

She chuckled lightly, squeezing me once more before releasing me from her arms.

I stared into her warm, brown eyes that reminded me of my own; seeing the love that she had for me.

“I’ll go take them boxes down into the basement then.” I sighed turning to go to the mountain of boxes.

My Mum said a final “thanks Lou,” before rushing off to do another one of her many chores. 

I blew out a breath, puffing out my cheeks, then deflating them again, before heading off to pick up a few of the boxes. Grunting, I heaved two of the smaller items into my arms, then heading off towards the mahogany door that led to the basement.

It had been years since I had last been down there. It used to be my special room where I could escape when I was small. Until that fateful day where it changed and instead of holding beautiful memories of time with my imaginary friends; held horrors and frights that had haunted me for months after.

Time seemed to slow as I approached the door, taking slow steady steps but wishing for the hands on the kitchen clock to tick faster.

My eyes took in the final signs of light as I twisted the golden handle upon the right of the wood. An almost inaudible click signified the opening of the door and, along with it, my nightmares. Images of the scenes that I had seen flickered before my eyes, just like they had done back then. Fighting, strange creatures and blurred images fuelled my racing heart that pounded an uneven drumbeat.

I shook my head, dispelling the images from my vision. "They weren’t real then and they aren’t real now." I told myself, plucking up the remainders of my courage and picking up the pieces of my reality.

“Here we go, Louisa. You can do this.” I muttered to myself, taking the first weighted step through the doorway. My foot falling echoed down the midnight staircase of stone, rebounding all over the place, sounding like someone was running.

That was exactly what I wanted to do; run away from this underground hole and out of the shadows, but I had to face my fear. I took another step, arranging the tatters of my confidence with each step I took.

I descended the first step, breathing hard and oppressing the fear that was mounting in my throat.

I took more steps, seeming to take them with ease. It wasn’t easy though. It was exactly the opposite of that.

The final rays of light dissipated into nothingness, shadows and dark. All I could see now was the ebony darkness. It was like I was completely blind, yet I knew in my head that if I turned around towards the door I would see flickers of comforting white light. My heart, though, was consumed by a gut-wrenching fear, spasming and seizing with every step I took and twisting painfully in the left side of my chest with a stab of panic.

The boxes in my hands jumped a little under my quivering hands, creating a scuffing sound that could be easily mistaken for the shuffling of feet below.

I hit a flat surface. The stairs had finished.

The boxes fell out of my hands as I frantically searched the wall for a light switch but all I could feel was the tiny crevices in the blocks that made up my personal hell. My hand hit something. I froze, my brain exploding with the blood curdling scream that I wanted to release but dared not.

I swallowed, proceeding to move away from whatever I had touched, not wanting to find out what it was.

Bingo. I found the light switch a few seconds later, a serendipity that was a blessing I needed, hastily fumbling to flick it on and be bathed in light once again.

It flickered and sputtered to life, bathing the room in a golden glow and emitting a harsh white glow from the centre.

My lungs sunk in my chest, returning from their tensed position. I could finally breathe properly again, after  a minute of harsh, raspy breaths.

The basement was empty of life, only all the clutter that had accumulated in here over the years remained. Towering wooden shelves held numerous boxes and materials but they held no memories. They were not here when I was younger so held no sentimental value for me. The contents of the shelves were nothing special either; my mother’s old books and my dad’s tools and materials but nothing of mine.

I headed over to a gap in the cluttered room, placing my boxes carefully down onto the solid, concrete surface.

I turned to leave and collect some more of the boxes from upstairs but tripped over something behind me. I lay sprawled on the floor in shock, not realising where that thing had come from behind me.

swivelled to lie on my back and see what had caused me to fall over.

A small box was tipped on its side, its taped lid now undone and the books, that it once contained, now making a staircase up to the rim of the box, like dominoes that had just fallen over.

I shuffled onto my backside, then leaned forward and gathered the books together, ready to store back in the box I had upset. Out of curiosity, I peered at the leather-bound item that was on the peak of the pile. It had no title or no sign of what it was about. It appeared worn and well loved, the tan leather tarnished and scuffed in places.

I picked it up and stacked the rest of the books back in their home. The old sofa in the corner seemed the ideal place to have a look at this book, so I took myself over to it and flopped into its exploding cushions.

I peeled back the cover, taking great care to not tear any of the fragile pages inside. On the first page the words ‘This diary belongs to Othello McCain and is a documentation of the happenings in Lockley in 17..’ The remaining numbers were smeared and unreadable, clearly from some kind of water damage that had occurred years earlier.

I knew, though, at least two things already: this diary belonged to one of my ancestors who also lived in Lockley and it was written several centuries ago.

I flipped the first filmy page, slowly, carefully, not wanting to cause further damage to this antique.

I read the words on the page; the first diary entry.

 

Dear whomever has discovered this diary,

 

I am Othello McCain, a citizen of Lockley, England. This diary is in existence because I wanted to observe the village; figure out its inner workings and secrets.

I first began to spot some odd occurrences in the village’s forest a few moons ago, just minor things, you see. I began to spot little things like people swimming in the lake in the dead of night and wolves running through the trees, sometimes, even people.Not your average occurrences.

The only issue I have been facing thus far, has been that these creatures leave no sign of being there at sunrise. The village is left completely unscathed by their midnight frolicking, which leads me to this point in time; the reason I am writing at this very moment in time.

Throughout this diary, I am going to keep a detailed account on these beings of the midnight hours and try to discover where they have come from. Whether they are from this world or the next, I cannot say yet but that is the information I am hoping to obtain and record in these upcoming months, possibly years if necessary.

Again, to whomever discovers this diary, in the near or far future, I have a single message to depict to you: beware, Lockley is not all that it seems. There are secrets hidden within the very material of this village that Mother Nature and God himself have intertwined with our reality. The reason for that is yet another mystery I am hoping to uncover on my journey to one thing: the truth.

All I ask of you is to read on, as if I do not survive my investigation, I would not be able to rest in peace knowing that my work was unfinished. Continue to read whatever it is I have discovered and, if necessary, complete my research and show it to the world; let them know about the secrets and lies that Lockley village beholds.

Othello McCain

27th September 1786

 

I was in shock. What was this that I had come across?

I rifled through some more of the pages, reading snippets of each article. Words leapt out of the page, screaming at me to read them. The phrases ‘supernatural beings’ and ‘foreign creatures’ were scrawled across multiple pages in this man's articulate hand.

Letters flew by as the pages rustled, a blur of black and blue ink. The book fell from my hands, the information being thrown on me too much to deal with.

A browning page stared up at me, one of the final filled pages it seemed. The man’s hand had become more rushed and urgent, now almost indecipherable with the clear speed he had had to write these final accounts. A few words were clearer than the others, obviously important. They were written in bold capitals and made no sense, and were not in any language I had ever heard of.

I bent down and lifted the book closer to my eyes, scanning the page for any indication as to what these foreign words meant. Nothing. My index finger scraped over a few more pages, until it was on the page that would tell me what I needed to know.

PHILIA was the word that covered the page with its black capitals, printed like a curse in harsh text. At the bottom of the page, a short sentence was written. It read ‘the place of all your dreams... and all your nightmares too’.

After taking in a deep breath, I got up from the sofa, the diary now closed in my shaking hands.

The diary contained so much fact, but appeared so fictional. The poor man was probably going mad or something, I assured myself as I ascended the cold, unyielding stairs, back up to familiarity; reality.

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