Darker Than Dark
Mark Joseph Kevlock
You can't hardly hear anything from
inside here. I try anyway because there's really nothing else to do. I hear
sort of a muffled sound like I had a pillow over my head. It's Momma's voice. I
know it is because the muffle sounds so angry. Papa didn't get angry when he
was alive. Momma didn't either until he died. I still can't understand how it
was my fault. Momma says everything is my fault. My elbow gets a little
cramped, but there's no room to stretch it out. The dark doesn't bother me,
really. I like dark. But I wish I had a little more room. I guess I'm supposed
to die. I wonder how long it will take. Momma will probably change her mind.
She usually does. I used to have a watch that had a button you pressed and it
would light up and show you the time. I wish I had it now. The TV is playing,
loud. Game show songs. You can hear them through anything. Momma puts the game
shows on every day. Then she calls the contestants stupid, even though she
doesn't know the answers herself. I try to sit down, but there really isn't
enough room. My knees bump one way and my butt gets stuck the other. Something
smells not too good. I don't think about it, for now. It's a school day. I
should be in school. Momma keeps me home from school when she needs someone to
watch the baby. She has a lot of doctor's appointments. Like today. Except she
didn't go to the doctor's. She went somewhere else. I'm starting to get cold
and sweating at the same time. I hate to sweat under my arms. It's so
unladylike. Momma says I have to be a lady to get the hell out of this town.
She says she won't support me when I turn sixteen. Maybe she'll change her mind
about that, too. I shouldn't have followed her, I know. I got curious, I guess.
No, not that. I sort of knew what I'd see. I guess it was just time to see it.
I went too far and I got punished. I try to remember that. I try to remember
that I deserved it. I'm pretty sure my shoe is untied. There's that smell
again. I think it's a rotten egg. If I start to panic, I'm going to pee my
pants. But I'm getting too scared not to. It's the loudest game show in the
world if I can hear it in here. Momma doesn't care how loud she plays the TV.
She doesn't care about a lot of things. My nose is crying now and getting my
lip all wet. I might have a tissue in my pants pocket. Why did I follow Momma
like that? I knew she wasn't going to the doctor's. That man was ugly, like a
weasel. I wouldn't let a weasel on top of me. And if I did, I wouldn't want
anyone to see. That's really why she got mad. Because I watched for so long.
Then I laughed, at the end, when they made those noises. Her and the weasel.
Momma smacked me all the way home. I've been in here before. When Papa died in
that cave-in. Momma dragged me out of school to tell me that it was my fault
that the mine collapsed. I need that tissue pretty bad. I try to reach down,
but my pants are all soaked. I did pee myself. This is awful. I need to get
out. I don't hear the TV anymore. If Momma left, how can she let me out? I
don't wanna die. There's still a shelf above me that she didn't tear out with
the others. I can't even stand up straight. I might spill something. What's
that noise? Someone's pounding at the kitchen door. I really can't breathe now.
I don't blame Momma. She's had a hard life. I make it worse. No one's answering
the pounding. Maybe I'll scream. I don't think I can. My whole body feels like
ants. Maybe I am screaming. There's a loud crash from over by the door. I think
someone broke in. I wish my pee could leak out to show them. But the seals are
airtight. Spill-proof. I guess I'll pound, just in case somebody cares. I hear voices,
but they're men. I knock my knees and elbows against the front and back. It's
getting darker than dark. I don't think my eyes are open. I love you, Momma,
even though I'm a burden. They're shouting now, just on the other side. I think
Momma used a two-by-four, like she does, to wedge the doors shut. So far, I
didn't even try to open it. My pants sure smell bad. Why does Momma like
weasels? Am I supposed to like them, too? Everything's shaking like a washing
machine. There's no air left. I didn't need it anyway. I'm afraid to die. I'm
afraid. Help me. Please help me. God oh God oh God. Something cracks and the
door flies open. All the light in the world blinds me and I fall forward out of
the refrigerator. The men catch me, I think. They curse a lot like they're sad.
I guess they're policemen. Policemen are always sad. Somebody drags Momma down
from upstairs. She doesn't look at me as they take her away. I don't expect she
would. I'm a pretty big disappointment.
Kevlock (used to spell it: Kiewlak) has been a published author since 1990. In
the past couple of decades, his work has appeared in Black Petals, Hardboiled, A Twist
of Noir, Plots with
Guns, Thug Lit, The Bitter Oleander, Mysterical-E,
and Shotgun Honey. Recently, he has
had stories accepted in Havok, Surprising
Stories, and Youth imagination. He has also written
for DC Comics (FLASH 80-PAGE GIANT #2).
Noelle Richardson comes from a relatively large family and has been illustrating
and painting for about twelve years. She writes a little on the side, plays a
couple of instruments and dabbles in tattoo design.