Darian’s eyes snapped open. He felt numb all over, as if he had been recently struck by something large, yet hadn’t started to feel the pain from the blow yet. He attempted to move, first wiggling his toes, then bending his ankle back and forth. He seemed to be lying face down on the ground. A quick exhale from his nose pushed away the few strands of grass that tickled it. After a few more seconds of moving his ankles, he started to gain feeling again. Slowly, he pushed himself off the ground to his knees, giving a start as to where he was.
He sat at the edge of a valley, or at least it resembled one. The place looked washed out, the greens not quite vibrant enough, a gray overcast over everything. He looked up, shivering at the sight of a gray sky. The sky wasn’t overcast, cloudy, or approaching darkness. The sky was simply the color of gray rather than blue. The sun was strangely larger than it should have been. It was tinted red, standing high at noon.
He glanced around, seeing a strange group of ruins scattered across the valley. They seemed made from obsidian, a dark shiny black that stood out of the ground, resonating a sort of presence. As Darian rose to his feet, he uncomfortably scratched the back of his neck. The feeling of eyes watching him was making him a bit uncomfortable. He glanced across the ruins but could see no people, yet the feeling as if he was being watched would not subside.
Darian began to walk. Although the numbness did not fade, he still could feel the presence of his legs. He managed to find balance as he continued onward, unconsciously avoiding a stone notched out of the ground where a road might have once been. He seemed drawn, although he could not have said where. Some place within the ruins it seemed, which became more ominous and threatening as he continued to walk deeper within.
As the ruins began to surround him, Darian began to feel of sense of familiarity. He had been here before.
“In a dream, perhaps?” his mind wondered, “Is this a dream?”
He shook his head, as if to shake away the confusing thoughts. When he glanced back up, he stood in front of a large oak doorway. Was that doorway there before? He couldn’t remember. However, now there stood a small building in front of him, made of the same dark obsidian that carpeted the rest of this valley. Darian was surprised by how clean the obsidian looked, now that he was up close. By the way this area resembled a ruin he would have expected them to be covered in dust, dirt, and age. Despite this, the obsidian looked bright, smooth, and well polished.
Darian returned his attention to the door. The thick oak door contrasted strangely against the rest of the ruins. It looked heavy. Darian went to open it, bracing himself against the rust, weight, and time that almost assuredly kept the door sealed. To his surprise, it came open quickly and easily. Darian took a single step back, finding himself quickly balanced. The sudden jolt should have caused him to stumble back and fall. The fact that he had maintained his balance so fluidly was a bit unnerving.
He peered within the door. It was a stairway. The stairway itself was very dark, stretching up at least two stories. The building outside did not look to be that tall, but this was only a distant thought. At the top, a faint light rose, suggesting someone or something was up there. Darian only hesitated a second before taking a step. The darkness seemed to caress him like a coat, and the unseen eyes seemed to lesson a bit to his comfort. He continued up, growing more confident with each step.
The light grew brighter. A strange sort of numbness began to overtake him. It felt like his arms and legs were becoming jelly. Each step became harder and harder to take, as if he was being pushed backwards. Then the voice began to speak.
“The darkness. The darkness comes,” the deep voice resonated across the corridors.
The light grew brighter. He began to pant. His hands went down to support his body, but he continued to crawl up the stairway, the light seeming so distant.
“Only light keeps away the darkness,” The voice continued.
The voice did not seem to be talking directly to Darian, at least he felt like it was not. It was hard. Thinking was hard.
“The balance of the universe is broken. The light prevailed, so the darkness rises to compensate. Restore the balance.”
Exhaustion seemed to overtake him. This was the hardest thing he had ever done… but if he didn’t reach that light, he knew there would be nothing but darkness left in his wake. He had to… he had to what? Restore the balance? What balance? The thoughts fell out of his head like water through fingers.
“A champion is needed. Change is needed.”
The light grew brighter. His eyes burned with unshed tears but he could not look away. The light burned into his vision and he could not see anything around him. Even the stairway in front of him looked like a dark blur. His hands moved from step to step as he continued to crawl forward, feeling his way more than anything.
“A champion has been selected. A champion of light, a champion of darkness, a champion of balance.
The light grew brighter. He had to reach it, was he moving towards it? He didn’t know, but the world depended on that light being reached, if he could just touch it. He kept moving; it felt like an eternity. Ever second could have lasted days. Time was meaningless, only the light mattered. He reached out his hand, stretching towards the light, and then his finger brushed something.
The world fell away and he began to tumble. He couldn’t tell where up and down was, his body flaying in every direction as he tried to gain a grasp on the situation. The tumbling didn’t stop, his head hurt, and he could see nothing but the darkness. He had touched the light, hadn’t he?
He hit the bottom. There was no concrete feeling of hitting anything. He simply was spinning uncontrollably one minute, and now he was not. There was no pain, but the suddenness caused his mind to lurch, the world seeming to continue to spin for several moments afterward. He tried moving again, and found that the earlier weakness was gone. What weakness? He shook his head; it was so hard to think.
He looked around to find himself in the same ruins once again, but everything was different. The grass was gone and the barren ground was dry and cracked. The sky above overcast an eerie red color, the sun seeming bigger than before. The ruins looked very decayed and crumbled. What once were grand monuments of obsidian appeared as broken gray rocks, falling over from an unknown constant pressure.
The eyes were gone. There was nothing living left. He had failed them all. Failed who? He shook his head once again.
“It’s not too late,” a voice whispered from behind him.
Darian spun around, but saw nothing. It was a different voice than the one before. What voice before? He could still hear something though. It sounded like whispering, just at the edge of his hearing. He began to walk towards the voices. The whispering sounded louder, but still unintelligible. His pace continued to increase until he was jogging. Where were they? He could almost understand them.
“Hello?” He shouted.
The voices stopped. He looked around. He was in front of some kind of doorway. It looked to be completely unattached to anything else. Through the doorway, Darian only saw blackness. He walked around it twice and on the other side was a stone wall blocking entrance to the door. The door wasn’t large, just big enough for Darian to walk through.
He took a big breath before continuing forward. He had to keep moving forward. As his body touched the darkened doorway a bright light seemed to flash in his eyes. He blinked several times as purple blotches clouded his vision. As his sight returned, he realized he was standing amongst darkness. Nothing around him was visible past his own arms and legs. He wasn’t even sure what he was standing on.
Darian turned two complete circles in complete darkness before he saw another person standing nearby. Had the person suddenly appeared, or had he always been there? The person seemed to emit a glow of their own, allowing them to be seen, yet their face and features seemed indistinct surrounded by the darkness. Darian tentatively began to take steps towards the other person.
As the figure got closer, Darian gasped. He recognized the other man’s face. It was his own face. The man had a dark cast to his eyes. Darian didn’t think that his own eyes held such a malevolent cast; it was gleeful yet sadistic. The man had a calm, confident, reassuring smile. It didn’t match the darkness in those eyes.
“Darkness becomes you,” The other Darian said, his dark eyes never seeming to blink.
“Who…who are you?” Darian asked.
“Isn’t it obvious?” the man laughed as he lounged forward.
Darian screamed as the dagger he never saw coming plunged towards his heart.
Darian woke with a gasp. His heart seemed to hurt. He was pretty sure he woke before the dagger struck home, but it was so close. What was so close? The dream was already fading from his mind. He tried to think about it, to drag the memories into conscious thought, but they were already slipping away. All he could remember now was that it was an uncomfortable dream.
He rubbed his chest; it felt tight. Glancing over at the alarm clock he saw that it was 3:00 in the morning. He groaned. This was going to be a rough night. He had started having nightmares ever since his accident. Many of his nights ended up being quite restless. He was never entirely sure why he had them, but he never could remember what they were. Evil eyes? He shook his head, the thought was fleeting.
The room was dark and cluttered. He feared stumbling on something before making it to the light, but he decided he had no choice. Fortunately, after stepping over two piles of clothes he managed to reach the light switch without stepping on anything particularly hard or uncomfortable. He had three or four blankets of various colors thrown on the bed, but only one pillow. He always felt he only needed one pillow.
He realized he would need to the laundry again upon kicking a third pile of laundry out of his way to open the door to his bathroom. The bathroom itself was meticulously clean. No piles of anything in here. The bathroom was a place to get clean. It would certainly be counterproductive to dirty up a room that is designed to get clean in.
Darian splashed some water on his face, took a deep sigh, and examined himself in the mirror. He had seen better days, although fortunately, he hadn’t been as reckless as many of his peers had been. He never drank to excess, always wore sunscreen, and had been pretty careful crossing the street ever since his mishap. If he managed to get better sleep in the upcoming future, the dark spots under his eyes might go away and he might look halfway presentable.
He glanced back up at the mirror and started. For a second, it looked as if his eyes looked darker than they should be. He shuddered at the thought. He had to get some more sleep. He must have been more tired than he had thought.
He jumped back into his bed. Just as his head hit the pillow he realized he had left the light on again. Grumbling he shoved his head in the pillow, willing the light to be off so that he wouldn’t need to go turn it out. Releasing a quick grunt, he stood and put the light out before jumping back into bed a second time.
A week of dreamless sleep? He could definitely use it. These dreams were always a part of him, unsettling as they were. He went back to sleep. The only thing he dreamed about for the rest of the night was how his life would start changing for the better.