The Books of Darkness
by Robert N. Stephenson
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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.
The woman left the house with a young man. I followed, the meeting set, my problem half-solved. I watched them walk to the end of the street, take a side street. Tonight the moon hung full, the sky clear. I’d sat beneath such moons in another time, as another being. Something would come and it would bring me closer, I could feel it.
The Dark One would be easier to deal with with the book back in my possession. The woman I knew; the boy posed a problem. I considered approaching them before they entered the park. It would give me away. I didn’t like to reveal myself unless necessary. It would take but a moment to shift through space, to be somewhere else. I shifted.
He would be pleased, of that I was sure; I was not. He took the boy, questioned the woman. She lied. He knew. He toyed with me, stepped between me and the two goals. Why? What could be gained by this? People gathered around the bridge. I left. I would wait for Sarina, follow her home. Wait and watch.
I shifted back into the shadows, away from street lights. The cold of the night allowed me to create a light mist through the trees, a sprinkling of cover for those who prowled in the darkness. In the end I’d take them as well, take their darkness and make it my own. Humans could enact darkness, become one with it, and when absorbed by their desires of sexual need, I show them the truth of the dark. Introduce them to the pit. His pit. Then they are no more, cast into the abad.
I waited as I have always done.
I didn’t see Sarina leave. No one left as sirens rang through the night. Did they know what had happened on the river? Sarina would have thought the woman was meeting me as I had arranged through the ghost. Her actions would now be unpredictable. He had brought this on, moved on the woman. She would now tell Sarina we searched for the book. Did he intend for a closer involvement between the two be created? I saw no reason why it mattered.
A police car pulled up out front of the house. The woman inside. The house stood empty. Sarina had fled. I shifted.
No lights shone from the window. A black rectangle in the wall. Sarina wasn’t there. What had The Dark One done? And just what was I to do now?
Copyright © 2009 by Robert N. Stephenson