Last night, for the first time in my life I understood the phrase ‘perfect darkness’. We kept a fire going for a few hours to dry my clothes and ease the damp from my bones. Instead of cheering me, it depressed me. The firewood we scrounged outside burned grudgingly, the flames low, the reflections drab. The warmth was more like a stale breath from a dying beast than heat from a fire. We didn’t talk much. We simply sat around the fire and watched the flames struggle.
Shortly after the fire died away, I slept for a few hours. When I awoke I needed to relieve myself urgently. Don’t know why. I didn’t drink that much last night. I figure it was probably nervous tension that caused it. When I fumbled my way to the cave mouth, I saw absolutely nothing, not even a glimmer of a star or a moonlit reflection anywhere.
Blind. That’s what it felt like. Yes. And in a deeper way than any physical sense. It was easy to imagine there was another world out there, a busy, active world that was far beyond any human sight or sense. A world closed off to me. Something happened here. Something terrible, and a part of it was still playing out in the darkness.
In a brutal, terrifying way, that darkness was almost beautiful. I don’t believe I was ever as afraid of the dark as I was in those few minutes I stood at the cave mouth. I relieved myself at the back of the cave. Armbranch mumbled something, but I think he was asleep. He didn’t comment when he saw the pool of urine this morning. I’m sure he understood.
We ventured into the jungle early. Yet, no matter how high the sun rose above the canopy, this place stayed as dark as night. Ever tree, plant, leaf, and stem, is stained black. Either that or its their natural colour because they’re not dead and preserved that way. On the few occasions I dared break a branch a tar like sap oozed out and stuck so hard to my fingers I had to scrape it off with a knife.
It stinks in here, too, stinks of compost and damp earth. In and oddly comforting sort of way I welcome the stink because it’s natural and identifiable.
Shortly after three it got so dark we were forced to stop and make camp in a cluster of trees about thirty yards off the main trail. There’ll be no fire tonight. No. We’ll have nothing but darkness and imagination for company.
I asked O’Heir to contact the medium, a Mrs Daidogan. She’s coming to Singleton Cottage the day after tomorrow. I spent a while trying to explain the concept of a medium to Armbranch. He seemed bemused at first, like I was telling him about something he took for granted in this world. After a while I felt foolish talking about séances and the paranormal. Contact with spirits? Ha. I guess he’s been making contact with spirits all through our journey –especially with the ‘wind above the trees’.
He’s asleep now, and I’m taking first watch. I can’t see him in the dark. I hear him. He’s making a snoring sound I’ve never heard before.
I wonder if he’s dreaming. If so, I hope it’s a pleasant one.