Here is the freshly written foreword to my forthcoming novella, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, due for release on October 1. Enjoy.
I have a confession.
Before entering a room at night I used to snake my hand around the door, feel my way to the wall switch, and turn the lights on before I could enter.
That’s not the confession. The confession is that I still do this.
We don’t like the dark: things can hide in it. Imaginary things. Mostly. Of course, you never really know what might be hiding in those deep pools of shadow because you can’t see it. It’s hiding. Safe in the darkness. Would it be better if you could see it? Would it make the monsters any less scary, knowing you could scrutinise them in clear detail before they gobbled you up?
Undoubtedly not. Luckily, we typically don’t encounter monsters waiting to eat us in our front rooms. When we look into the darkness we look into the unknown. We stare at whatever our imaginations can show us. The light banishes the unknown and, sometimes, that aspect of our imagination. When you can see your living room clearly, the same room that you’ve seen every day for the past however many months or years, where’s the mystery? Where’s the fear? Where are the monsters?
So, try this thing. Wait until it’s dark. Wait until the house is empty, or until everyone’s asleep. Climb out of bed. Take your first few steps. Can you still see? Then close your eyes. Now keep going.
How far did you get?
This story is not about fear of the dark (except when it is). And it’s not about monsters lurking in the darkness (except for those bits where it’s totally about monsters lurking in the darkness). It’s about what happens when the light becomes scarier than the dark. It’s about facing our most primal fears and having to choose between whether we want to see or whether we want to live.
It’s about having to turn the lights out because the monsters are no longer in the darkness.
So, whatever you do: don’t hit that switch. Don’t put the lights back on. The monsters are waiting.