The Books of Darkness
by Robert N. Stephenson
|Table of Contents|
Diana Arlyn is an author of gothic fiction best-sellers. A hard drinker with bipolar disorder, she falls in love with a mysterious woman, and the turbulent relationship draws Diana unwillingly into a legend.
Diana is haunted by questions: why did the woman pick her, of all people, and how can the Ta’ibah, the hunter of darkness, know so much about her? She is also haunted by the ghost of a dead author. She must find out what he wants, recover a lost book that belongs to someone who wants to kill her, and ultimately survive the darkness.
I watched as he moved about the room, candles fluttering with the motion. He hated candles, hated the light, why were they here?
I stood by the door, its peeling paint adding to how I felt about the last few years in Australia. I’d followed her as instructed. Found her; watched and planned. The fact he made a point of taking human form meant he had concerns that ran deeper than I understood.
“Are you sure she still has it?” His lack of light swallowed a bank of candles as he spoke. Part of the room became him.
“It was with her in Spain, as I said; I followed its essence here. You must have felt it.”
“Uttukes can mask well. I must be sure; it is vital we get it.”
The darkness increased, the candles above an empty fireplace dulled. He picked up one of the candles, its light absorbed into his form. He could snuff out the flame as easily as water, but he didn’t. He stared into the flicker of yellow. Thinking. It was dangerous when he paused for thought.
“I have a drifter. A connection made through Uri.”
“Has it found the book?”
“No.” I didn’t tell him I’d taken his light before questioning him. “The link is fragile.”
“Maybe, you need better skills to manipulate a spirit.”
“I have skill enough.” I accepted his rebuke. “He was close to the book, time will bring it to me.”
I collapsed against the wall. His black rush crushing me, pressing me into the old brick. He knew of my mistake. I should have told him. He pressed, invaded, pressed again. Then release, welcoming release.
“Get it. Caste again if you must, but get that book.” The tone was final
I eased from the floor and sat on a chair by the wall, the paper, floral, old, the chair creaked. My legs felt weak, it would take a moment’s recovery before I could stand. This house, which had sat in ruin for many years, its darkness resolute and firm, welcomed us. Darkness always knows who we are, for we are the darkness. The last of the candles went out.
“I will bring it back. I will bring both items back.” It was time to leave, time to feed. I needed some light, life energy so I could continue my watching during the day.
“Make sure you do. A human cannot know what it is.”
“One cannot know the existence of my book,” I said, equally definite.
“More is at stake, Ta’ibah.”
He dissolved into the air, while I sat staring into the ruins. I knew there was something at stake, he just wouldn’t tell me what it was. If I had to I would caste again, an old trick, but one I could call on if need be.
Copyright © 2009 by Robert N. Stephenson