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When Darkness Falls

Posted 8 April 2005, 3.17 pm by Green Mamba

Its late afternoon and the yellow sun start to climb the bricks on the East side of the building, setting them ablaze in a haze of dark burgundy. The shadows are growing longer and the wind picks up, as it does every day at this time while the street fill with people deep in their daily business.
Emma sits on the window sill of their first floor apartment, mesmerised by the strange mix of characters in the street below while her feet dangle dangerously over the edge. She likes watching people, listening to the passing conversations from simple greetings between friends to shopping lists swapped by couples or business deals by the occasional person of importance. Listening gives her a better understanding of how the world works, of how people think and of what she could be when she grows up one day. At least, that’s what she thinks.

She notices a strange boy in the alley across the street, hiding in the shadows,. She has never seen him before, which is unusual because she sits here every afternoon after school and knows everyone in the area. She squints to try and get a better view but his features remain obscured by darkness. The boy looks up at her as if he is aware of being watched and then he shuffles deeper into the alley until he disappears from her sight. She shrugs, thinking that her imagination is playing tricks on her mind. Besides, she is old enough already to know that there is no such thing as monsters. That is just fairy tales from a very long time ago.
From all the way down the crossing at Mahogany Lane, she watches little Gary Hallows running along the gutters. A real little monster that one, she thinks. He takes an apple from Mr Dickson’s cart, almost tripping over a stray cat as he makes his getaway with Mr Dickson shouting behind him in mock anger.
Jane Hallows, Gary’s mother, will come by later and offer him something for the apple and Mr Dickson will decline. I remember when we were his age, he will say; do you remember how bad I was? And they will recount their childhood memories yet again, which would eventually turn into an invitation for dinner. Fred Hallows died a few years ago in a dockyard accident and Mr Dickson has taken to looking out for them. Or maybe his teenage crush on her never went away. Either way, he’s a good man and would make a great husband and a much needed father for Gary.

Emma watches as Gary as he comes up the lane, skipping past the dark alley with his face buried deep in the side of the apple. Suddenly and without any apparent reason, he stops and slowly retraces his steps. For a long moment he stands there, unmoving at the gaping mouth of the dark alley. Emma sees the shadows shift inside the alley and leans forward, her eyes straining into the darkness. A small light comes to life from within the darkness, like a shiny metal object making lens flare halos in the sun. Gary takes a step towards it. Emma looks up and down the street but not one person notices what is happening. Fuelled by curiosity, Gary starts towards the light, crossing over into the darkness. Emma gasps in silent fear and watches helplessly as Gary Hallows disappears into the darkness.

“Hello, little boy” says the voice in the shadows.
“Hi. Who are you?” asks little Hallows
“Oh, I’m the Devil.” answers the darkness.
“What’s a devil?” asks Gary
“It’s a whole lotta fun” says the voice.
“Cool,” says Gary Hallows.
Wanna see?” asks the voice.
“Uh yeah, ok.” Answer Gary, his voice slightly unsure.

Frankie the Bum lives in an old wooden freight container, in the back of a small, dark alley. He was born slow and lost his parents early on, or maybe they lost him. Either way he was alone in the world before he was fifteen. Now he lives in a wooden crate behind Basil’s Restaurant. Basil found him picking through the garbage one night and instead of chasing him away gave him a meal, a blanket and a place to sleep. The crate originally contained a new gamma stove that was shipped in from Halo 17. After the stove was installed, the crate got left behind and has been sitting there ever since. Now the crate contains a mattress with scratchy blankets, a small electric light, a FM radio, an old electric kettle, a folding chair and a pile of books. The same extension cord that powers the humble kettle also gives life to an FM radio, and a small electric light that hangs dangerously from the ceiling. Every night he gets a hot meal from Basil and the extension cord that powers Frankie’s home is plugged into a socket in the kitchen with a label on it that reads, “DO NOT TOUCH,” in big, threatening letters. Once a new apprentice chef switched it off by accident and Basil had him scrubbing dishes for a week.
So all in all, aside from living in a wooden box in a dark alley, Frankie has a good life. So maybe he’s not the sharpest crayon in the box and the kids laugh at him when they see him searching for a book in the children section at the library, but he’s happy. As long as he has a roof over his heads, one hot meal a day and book to read by free electric light, the world is all right by him.

Gary Hallows makes his way through the alley of shadows, towards a big wooden crate in the back. There is a man inside. Old Frankie the Freak, who likes to read children’s books and combs his greasy hair with a parting right down the middle and flat against his head. He’s fast asleep. Right there in his reading chair with a book still in his hands. Gary moves closer to the sleeping body, keeping to the shadows while he tries to read the title of the book. It’s obscured by Frankie’s big hands slumping heavily over the cover and he can only make out the beginning and the end. “Pigl... ...ture,” or something like that.

“This will be a whole lot of fun, you’ll see” says the darkness.
“It doesn’t feel right” protests the boy.
“But it will, believe me it will” says the darkness.

Frankie’s wooden box doesn’t have an actual door. The front just lifts up, which he then holds up with an old broomstick to keep it from falling back down. Gary Hallows sneaks right up to Frankie’s front door, so to speak, smiles at the sleeping owner and then, in one swift swoop, kicks the broomstick-doorstop from underneath the door. It comes crashing down with a loud bang. Inside the wooden box, Frankie throws the book in the air and jumps to his feet. He forgets that his home can’t contain his full length and hits his head against the roof before sagging back down into his chair holding his head. Outside, Gary Hallows secures the door by slipping a nail through the iron latch that came with original wooden crate. By the time Frankie gathers what little wits he has, it’s too late. He starts to bang against the door, pleading to be released. Gary Hallows laughs at his plight, the darkness spurring him on every step of the way.

Little Gary Hallows has a box of matches and a small tin of lighter fluid. Later that night, his elders will question him about where he got it and he will simply say, “The devil gave it to me”. They will look at each other with raised eyebrows and for days thereafter discuss the tragedy of Frankie the Bum’s untimely death. Such a horrible end to such a sad life. No one deserves to be burned alive, least of all intentionally ... by an eight year old boy.
Garry Hallows will be confined to a room in his parents house, where he will sit for the duration of the elder’s discussions. By the time his parents return to open the door, their son will be gone, replaced by fearful madness, foaming at the mouth and eyes bloodshot with murder and rage.

[Written by Rudi du Plooy. Edited by Ben Wright]

on 9 April 2005, 6.26 am
Is that a short story in its own right, or is it a part of a longer work?

Green Mamba
on 11 April 2005, 7.23 am
Hi Kat

It's part of a much bigger story that I'll probably never get around to finishing.

on 12 April 2005, 4.19 am
Well, I liked it. You best finish it now so I can read the whole thing.

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Doggybag/baggy_dog is an artist living and working in Barga, Italy. Click here to read about this piece in his own words.

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Props to Green Mamba for bringing the weirdness


80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!


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