Are you afraid of the dark? Why or why not?
Ha! Not any more!
I tell you what, I used to have difficulty with it, not because of the dark itself but because of what happens in it. You hear stories of people getting murderised and beaten up all the time. It tends to happen after dark. It tends be when the safety of the day is gone, leaving you with moon and stars (if you’re lucky, living in the city) and very few people around to hear you screaming if you do happen to get in trouble.
The dark and blackness and darkness is associated with bad things. The monster under the bed hides in the dark. Evil things are described as ‘black’ and ‘dark,’ a convention that I myself am guilty of when writing. In fact there are loads of people out there who believe that The Lord Of The Rings is just one massive racial slam at everybody who isn’t ‘fair’ and ‘golden haired’ and ‘beautiful.’ The tower of the evil Saruman was ‘dark and black’ and the orcs, uruks and goblins were all black too. -_- I don’t have time for that sort of assessment and I am of the belief that Tolkien had more than enough on his mind without shoving racial undertones into his book. Whether they are there or not. I still enjoy the book, I don’t give a crap.
There’s a song brought to mind when I think of this:
Isn’t that just the line? ‘In the dark of the night evil will find her!‘ And that’s how people feel. ‘In the dark of the night evil will brew.‘ I, just like everyone else, became afraid and worried about what might happen and all the terrible things out there that I can’t see. Isn’t that something to be afraid of?
But then… well then I went LARPing.
Seriously, this beautifully fun and action packed hobby changed how I feel about the dark forever. My first LARP was October 2009. I went with a friend of mine who knew from the off that I would love it and I adapted one of my characters from The Ice Wolf Tavern to play there. Her name is Trya Fenwyn. She’s an elf.
Bare in mind that Herofest, which is the LARP system I play is in Wales and is a two (normally three) night stay at the Candlestone Castle campsite. Its fantasy based, so there are no phones, no TVs, no electricity at all in fact, once you are in character. You camp out (or get a yurt if you’re lucky) and sleep under the stars. Out there, the dark creeps in slowly, but in October, just like everywhere else in this hemisphere of the world, it was dark at about 4pm. And when I say dark, I mean dark! No street lamps. No car headlamps. No glowing TV screens. Just dark. You had to depend on moon and star and whatever light you might have been able to incorporate into your character (or,sometimes, just for the sake of safety, a torch if really, really needed).
Now put all that together and plant it on the plate of a woman – me – who grew up in London and then moved to Leicester. Big cities where light was never, ever something I needed to worry about. Hell, even seeing stars might have been a real treat (that I had to go on holiday for) because light pollution is so much that everything that high is lost in the glare of the city.
Imagine me, in borrowed costume, with a borrowed sword, tramping across a wide stretch of sand dunes with an utterly clear and open sky, revealing a blanket of stars in the darkness like silver glitter scattered on a velvet sheet. Beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it and I still have trouble finding the words for it. I’m sure there are far more beautiful sights out there, but give this cityslicker time to find them, eh?
Well, imagine all that and then imagine from somewhere behind you a massive scream and someone shouting ‘INCOMING’ at the top of their lungs….
Alarmed, you turn about.
Your hand goes to your sword hilt, pulling it free of the scabbard at your hip with a light tug and spinning the mighty weapon up into a two handed grip. At your side, your allies do the same and down the line of warriors there is the loud shuffle of drawn weapons and rustling armour. Then, from the bottom of the hill, a single shape appears.
It is red; a hideous face of melted, twisted features and two large horns pushing upwards from a bulbous protruding forehead. Another creature steps up to join it. And another, and another. Within moments, five of the creatures stand at the bottom of the hill and advance with slow, measured steps.
At your side, fellow elves spread their feet in the sand, settling into fighting stances until a cry is raised, hard and clear on the night air. ‘ATTACK!’
You rush forward, keeping the line, bringing your sword forward across your body in a powerful downward stroke to hew at the chest of the first of those strange red creatures. All around you the two opposing lines crash together with a roar as of mighty sea waves breaking over a shingle shore.
Yeah… so do all of that and then try to find time to be afraid of the dark!
Believe me, there’s no space for it.
There’s no time to worry about the horror stories of murder and theft as you’re walking along the woodland path at 11.30pm, knowing full well that a cluster of goblins or hoardlings may well be lying in wait around the next blind bend. As the moon dips behind a cloud and the stars are the only thing left to light the way, you merely draw your sword, open your eyes wide and step firmly and silently through the darkness because, frankly put, you are what the people should be scared of.
Yep. Silly as it sounds; that is why I’m no longer scared of the dark and when I go back to Herofest in July, I’ll be looking forward to dashing headlong across the moonlit sands screaming ‘SUMMER STARS’ at the top of my lungs.
My 80 Post Challenge is brought to you with help from Tom Slatin’s 80 Journal Writing Prompts.