Hiding in the Dark
By. S. F. Wheeler
What if you woke up one day and there was no more light in the world. Only endless darkness. Lance was born into a world without light, a world so dark you couldn’t see, and he remained in that world for eighteen years of his life.
He didn’t know about the outside world but he adjusted to his way of living. He learned to see without light so he was able to function in his little room. It only had a bed and a table where his food was somehow delivered without him ever seeing another human being. There were no windows in his room and the metal door had never been opened before, nor was he able to open it.
Other than his own breathing the only noise he heard came from the loud speakers in his room where he was taught English. Today was the first time he had heard a sound other then that. He didn’t know what it was, but to him it sounded like great pops and a stampede of footsteps over his head. He wanted to know what it was.
When the metal door swung open, a blinding… thing was pointed at him. Something new he had never seen before. Lance fell back covering his burning eyes.
“Sorry.” Someone said. “The light must hurt your eyes.” this was the first person Lance had ever encountered. “My name is Daniel Levy. I’m with the FBI. We came to help. Are you alight?”
Lance knew English and he understood what this person was saying, but he had never needed to speak before so he didn’t know how.
The other person, this Daniel Levy, turned the ‘light’ toward his own self. Lance could now open his eyes and was amazed by the light. He had never seen anything that wasn’t covered in shadow. The way the light changed the look of Daniel’s face was astonishing to Lance. He couldn’t help but steer.
“We’re going to get you out of here, okay.” Daniel said reaching his hand out to Lance. Lance wasn’t familiar with this gesture but he stood up and followed Daniel into a dimly lit room. The presence of any light at all hurt Lance’s eyes but he wanted to steer at them anyway.
Daniel reached for another door and the second it opened the light sent Lance stumbling backward until he fell to the floor. Daniel quickly closed the door and pulled something out of his pocket. He put the strange dark glasses over Lance’s eyes and they turned the dark room even darker.
The door was opened again, much slower this time, and though the light was still painful it was much more bearable. The outside world started out as a blank white light which was soon engulfed in strange colours. Lance didn’t know what colour was, all he’d ever seen were shades of grey, so the outside world was completely new to him. He so desperately wanted to know what everything was and why it wasn’t grey.
Daniel ushered Lance to a big metal box on wheels which he called an ambulance. Some people rushed over to him and placed all kinds of cold metal on him. When his checkup was over the people sent him into a big crowd of confused looking people. Apparently they were all kids like him. Taken at birth and thrown into an experiment of some sort.
After someone explained to the confused kids that they were free and would be brought to a safe place, Lance wandered threw the crowd and began to notice something strange. There seemed to be two types of people. One like him and another one.
“They’re different genders.” Someone said to him. “Boys like you and girls like me. We’re all still human we just have a few different parts.”
Lance pointed to his flat chest and then to her not so flat chest.
“Exactly.” she said. “So you can’t talk?”
Lance moved his mouth to speak like he seen everyone else do but he couldn’t get any words to come out.
“That’s alright.” she said. “I can understand by the way you move and act.”
Lance tilted his head confused.
“I know it’s confusing but that’s what my experiment did to me.” she said. “I can almost read minds. I just look at people and know what they’re thinking. So what experiment are you?”
He wanted to explain to her how he was left in the dark his whole life but he wasn’t sure how. He covered his eyes to see if she would understand.
“You couldn’t see?” she questioned.
Lance bit his lip in frustration then noticed the shadow cast by the ambulance. He stood in the shadow and covered his eyes again.
“Oh you were left in the dark room. So you have night vision then.” she said.
“That’s pretty cool.” she said with a smile.
“This colour is red.” Lance’s teacher said as she pointed to a coloured block on the table between them. Lance pointed to the card reading RED in bold letters.
“That’s right.” his teacher said. “Now this says blue.”
Lance pointed to the blue coloured block.
“You’re doing great.” she said. “Now can you say blue. Blluue.” Lance hated it when she did that. It made him feel like a child. He knew how to say blue in his head. He just couldn’t get the words to come out of his mouth.
All the experiment kids were moved to a privet school where they could learn the things they were deprived of. But no matter how hard they tried, no one could teach Lance how to speak. He tried. He tried all the time, but words never came out.
Later that day, after classes were over and everyone was expected to be in their rooms for curfew, Lance went out to sit on the hillside he liked so much. He loved how the blue water was turned grey by the night and how calming the sound of crashing waves was. For some reason the school didn’t let the experiment kids go out into the town. Lance felt like they were hiding them but he couldn’t understand why.
“Hey.” came an unknown voice. Lance turned to see a young man much like himself walking his way. Since he couldn’t say ‘hey’ back, Lance settled for waving to the boy.
“I see you up here a lot.” the boy said.
Lance nodded and gestured to the ocean.
“It’s nice isn’t it. I love watching the waves but if you want to see something truly beautiful just wait until the sun come up.” he said standing beside Lance who was desperate to respond.
“Can i join you?” the boy asked.
“I’m Luke.” the boy said extending his hand in what Lance now knew was a greeting. He shook Luke’s hand and drew his own name in the dirt by his feet.
“Lance.” Luke read. “So you don’t speak huh.”
Lance shook his head and tried to speak but nothing came out.
“That’s alright you don’t need to speak to watch a sunrise.” Luke said with a friendly smile. The moonlight cast an eery shadow over Luke’s prominent cheek bones and made his hair shine a brilliant gold. Lance loved to see how light changed the way things looked. How a small light could change your view entirely. He didn’t think people understood that very well.
After the experiment kids were freed they were given new clothes and hair cuts. Lance’s hair was the darkest shade of black imaginable. Seeing his reflection for the first time was really something. The only thing he found strange was that there was a certain variety of eye colours and his eyes were none of those colours. They were almost a perfect white. He still had black pupils and that faint black line identifying his iris from the rest of his eye but it was strange.
“Look the sun’s about to rise.” Luke said breaking threw Lance’s thoughts.
When a small stream of light rose above the ocean line Lance was forced to flinch away.
“The light hurts your eyes does it?” Luke said.
Lance pulled out his sunglasses and smiled as he put them on.
“So you can’t talk but you can understand me right?” Luke said.
“I have an idea then.” Luke said reaching into his backpack and pulling out a rectangular sheet of white plastic and a marker. “It’s a white board. You can write down what you want to say.”
Lance took the board and marker and wrote ‘I’m one of the experiment kids’ on it then showed Luke. ‘I can see in the dark but the light hurts’ he wrote next.
“Like a cat? You have night vision.”Luke said.
Lance nodded happily.
“Is that why you only come out here at night?” Luke asked.
‘Yes but also I’m not allowed out.’ he wrote.
“So you sneak out here huh.” Luke said smiling. “Well the sun will be up fully soon. If you have to go.”
Lance took another look at the slow rising ball of fire and cleared the white board.
‘I’ll be in trouble if they find me out here.’ he wrote.
“Then you should get back.” Luke said. “Besides if they catch me this close to the experiment school I’ll be in trouble too.”
So the experiment kids weren’t allowed out with regular people and the regular people weren’t allowed near the experiment kids. Why was that? Lance wondered. It’s not like they chose to be experiment kids.
Both boys were about to leave when Luke said “Hey. Can we met again tomorrow. In secret of course.”
Most of the people in town were afraid of the experiment kids or they hated them. All because they were different. Lance was irritated with that reasoning. He didn’t ask to be like he was. It wasn’t his fault. He was still human. The only normal human that accepted him was his new friend Luke. Ever since that night, Lance took the white board everywhere with him. His friends and teachers were glad they didn’t have to play charades just to understand him but that raised the question as to where the white board had come form. Lance would never say though. He liked having a secrete friend.
As soon as curfew began the next night Lance ran to his room and changed into all black clothing. It wasn’t that hard to sneak out but Lance liked the feeling of being a spy that came with the black ensemble. He quietly went out the window of his bedroom and ran across the vast field of dry grass. Luke was already on the cliff side, steering off into the grey ocean. Lance crept up behind him and wanted to yell ‘boo’ but instead he settled for grabbing Luke’s shoulders.
Luke, started, spun around and pinned Lance, not realizing who he was until they were on the ground.
“Lance.” Luke said lying on top of him with his arm to Lance’s throat. The horrified and surprised look on Luke’s face made Lance smile and somehow made his shoulders shake. Suddenly a strange but happy noise escaped and startled both of them. Lance slapped a hand to his mouth with wide eyes.
“No that’s good.” Luke said rolling off of Lance and into the grass beside him. “You’re laughing. Step one in learning to talk.”
Lance sat up and took out his white board. ‘I’ve never laughed before’ he wrote then held it out for Lance to read. Swiftly, Luke propped himself up on one elbow and said astonished “You’ve never laughed before. We definitely need to change that.”
Every night after that, Lance and Luke met up on the cliff side and would wander further and further from the school each night. It was surprising to Lance that no one had caught them yet. Finally he was confronted about how tired he was every morning.
“Don’t you sleep at night?” Lillian asked him. He didn’t answer. “So what do you do?”
‘It’s a secret’ he wrote on his white board.
“Well i can keep a secret.” she said sitting beside him on his bed.
‘I go out to meet a friend.’ he wrote, quickly erasing it once Lillian had read it.
“Oh how cute. Are you guys a thing?” she asked oddly excited.
‘Thing?’ Lance questioned.
“You know, are you going out?” she asked.
‘We go out every night. I don’t think we’ve ever gone in.’ he wrote.
“No no no. Are you in love?” she asked, drawing out the word love way to much.
‘I didn’t ask’ he wrote.
“You don’t- you. Ugh.” she sighed then tried again “Do you make each other laugh and smile? Do you like spending time with each other and miss each other when you’re apart? Does each touch send sparks threw your body? Oh wow I think I’ve been reading too many romance novels.”
Lance held up his white board with one word written on it and Lillian did a small jump of joy. “How cute.” she said. “Who is she?”
‘He lives in the town. His name is Luke.’ Lance wrote.
“Oh no on no.” Lillian said quickly. “Your a guy you can’t like another guy. You have to like a girl.”
‘Why?’ Lance asked.
“That’s just how it is.” Lillian said leaving the room and a very confused Lance.
Lance didn’t understand this new concept but he thought Lillian of all people would understand. After all it was the same as the regular people hating the experiment kids just because they were different. She was mad at him because he didn’t like girls when all the other boys did; because he wasn’t normal like everyone else people didn’t like him. Why was that?
That night, dressed in all black, Lance climbed out his window and ran into the field only to run right into Lillian.
“I’m sorry about earlier.” she said. “I shouldn’t judge you for something like that. If I did then I wouldn’t be any better than them.” whoever ‘them’ was must not be very good people because Lillian said the word venomously. “Look, i found out today that the town decided we were too dangerous to keep around. They don’t like how different we are so they’re going to get rid of us. So run away with your friend. Go somewhere safe. And take this.” she handed him a bag of his things.
Lance pulled out his white board and wrote ‘Why?’
“They don’t like us. They don’t like how we’re different.” she said. “So get out while you can.”
‘And everyone else?’ he wrote.
“I’ll get as many as i can out of here.” she said.
‘Can I help?’ he asked.
“No.” She said turning on her heal and striding back into the school.
“How could they do that?” Luke asked after Lance had written everything Lillian had said. “They’re innocent people. It doesn’t make sense.”
‘They’re afraid?’ Lance wrote. He didn’t understand either.
“Even so it’s not an excuse.” Luke said. “So you should come home with me. We’ll find a way to help them.”
Luke lived alone in a small house. There wasn’t much furniture so it wasn’t cluttered but Lance had never been in a real house so he didn’t notice.
“You can take the spare room on the right.” Luke said. “I have some clothes that should fit you too. And there’s food in the fridge if you’re hungry.”
Lance wrote ‘Thank you’ on the white board and held it to his chest with a smile.
“It’s really not a problem you know.” Luke said.
‘The other normal people hate us. Why don’t you?’ Lance wrote.
“Normal people.” Luke said with disgust. “There is no normal okay. You can look like whatever you want. Like whatever you want. Be whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. You’re allowed to be you and anyone who says different… well they’re stupid.”
Lance didn’t like to see his friend upset and he was sure stupid wasn’t the word Luke was thinking of. So he took his white board and drew a picture then held it out with a big smile.
Luke laughed and showed Lance to his new room.
Lance threw his bag onto his bed and heard the clink of metal. He unzipped it and found the two silver cuff bracelets that were left with him ever since he was born. He assumed they were from his parents but there was no way to know for sure unless he found them and asked. The bracelets had some strange writing on them as well. Lance could read fine but these words made no sense. He began to spin the bracelets around when Luke came into his room.
“What are they?” he asked Lance from the doorway.
Lance shrugged his shoulders and held one out for Luke to see.
“They’re matching bands.” Luke said.
Lance pointed to the strange writing.
“Oh it’s in Latin. A different language.” Luke said. “Do you want to know what they say?”
Luke took a moment to inspect the words then he read “’With you my loyalty lies’. They both say it. One person wears one and a person they are loyal to wears the other.”
Lance shook his head uncomprehending.
“Well I guess you wear one and whoever you trust most, someone you know will be there for you and support you, wears the other one.” Luke said.
Lance put one of the bracelets on his wrist then took the other one and clipped it to Luke’s wrist. For a moment Luke just sat there and fondled the bracelet. Then he said “I’ll do everything i can to help you and your friends okay. Whatever you need I’ll get it and whenever you need me I’ll be there.”
Lance smiled and tried to speak again. Nothing.
“You don’t have to say anything.” Luke said kindly “But I’ll get you to talk one day. I promise.”
Progress… was nonexistent. They hadn’t found a way to get all of the kids out of the school and Lance still couldn’t speak. He made a squeak once and Luke was constantly making him laugh so there was a good possibility he could talk he just couldn’t figure out how. Lance went back to the school to meet Lillian who had overheard that they were going to kill all the experiment kids on Halloween. Which meant they only had two months to figure out a plan.
One month later Luke spontaneously jumped from the dinner table yelling that he had a plan.
“Look it’s Halloween. We can dress up with masks and everything then toilet paper the school before they wake up. You’re always saying how the head of the school is a stickler for a clean building. It’ll distract him and delay whatever kind of murder he’s planning. While he’s distracted we can get Lillian to pull the fire alarm and get everyone out of the building. Then…”
‘They can run?’ Lance suggested.
“I guess they’d have to.” Luke said sitting back to the table. “But where would they go?”
‘They must have homes.’ Lance wrote.
“Then so do you.” Luke said. “Somewhere out there you have parents and a real home.”
Lance shook his head. He didn’t want to show up on a stranger’s step a full grown man claiming he’s their son.
“You don’t want to see them?” Luke said confused.
‘I couldn’t.’ Lance wrote.
“Well you can always stay here.” Luke said. “As long as you want.”
“What do you think?” Luke asked holding up his ninja costume. “Think it’ll be good for tomorrow?”
Lance nodded and held up his costume.
“A super hero.” Luke noted. “Super strength or super speed?”
Lance put up two fingers indicating the second answer.
“Well i guess all that’s left to do is wait till early morning.” Luke said dropping down onto Lance’s bed.
Lance pulled out his white board and wrote ‘Do you think we’ll all be okay?’ Luke sat up and looked at him with a serious expression.
“I don’t know.” he said quietly. “We’re running in to stop a mass murder. They could all die if we fail and we could die if we go.”
‘We wont though, will we?’ Lance asked, the worry clear on his face.
“In my experience you have to fight for what you want. If you want to help them then we fight or we die trying. It’s no use worrying about the future. You have to live in the present. I cannot tell the future and I would not wish to.”
‘Why not?’ Lance wrote, holding his white board out to Luke who threw it aside.
“If I knew everything that would come then nothing would be surprising or spontaneous. And where’s the fun in that?” he asked.
Over the two and a half months that Lance had been here, the two boys had shared everything and were almost always glued together. So Luke had been in Lance’s room many times before. This time though, Lance noticed something new. Luke’s hand slid ever so slightly toward his own.
When their pinkies touched, Lance could swear he felt that spark Lillian had mentioned before. He didn’t move his hand like he would if someone else had touched him. He simply waited to see what would happen.
“You told me about your past, and all about the thing’s you like.” Luke said placing his hand completely over Lance’s now. “But there’s still one thing I want to know.”
Lance looked up at him.
“Your future. Where do you want to be?” Luke asked.
Lance had thought about this many times before. Without a proper education he would have little luck in the real world. But he didn’t like the real world anyway. They only ever judged him so why should he want to be a part of that. There was only one place he wanted to be. In fact he quite enjoyed it there. Lance was about to answer when he realized Luke had thrown his white board somewhere in the room. He didn’t want to move to find it so he tried to speak his answer instead. He was determined in fact, to say aloud what he wanted.
Luke smiled as he watched how hard Lance was trying. He was about to get the white board for him when suddenly he heard, “Here.”
“You- You did it!” Luke said surprised. “You spoke.”
“Here.” Lance said again, enjoying the sound of his voice. “I want to be here.”
“Then here you’ll be.” Luke said overjoyed.
Luke caught Lance’s shoulders with both hands as he congratulated him. “I knew you could do it eventually.” Luke said proudly.
“I did it. Thanks to you.” Lance said smiling. They both stood there steering at one another for some time before Luke pulled Lance closer and kissed him. Lance was surprised by this action but when Luke pulled away Lance pulled him back and kissed him again. He could feel both of their hearts beating faster.
“We should get some sleep before morning comes.” Luke said pulling away.
“Or not.” Lance said.
“I was hoping you’d say that.” Luke said with a playful smile.
When the alarm buzzed the next morning Lance was tangled up with Luke and the bed sheets.
“Time to go.” Luke said. “We have people to save.”
Lance nodded and went searching for his clothes. Even though he could talk now he didn’t really want to. It felt strange after being silent for so long to finally speak. He was glad that he could speak but he was fine just being his silent self.
When they got to the school Lillian was already waiting outside for them. It was still dark but the sun was about to come up.
“There you are.” Lillian said, her eyes darting to their clasped hands. She decided not to point it out.
“We’re ready.” Lance said.
“Good.” Lillian said, then she stopped and looked to Luke, “Did you say that?”
“No.” Luke said.
“I did.” Lance said with a smile.
“You can talk!” she said a little to loudly.
“Never mind that right now.” Luke interrupted. “We have a job to do.”
The three of them toilet papered every inch of the school that they could reach. Trees included. They had to run at the last second so they wouldn’t get caught. The head master yelled after them but with their costumes he would have no idea who they were.
“You better go pull the alarm, Lillian.” Luke said.
“Right.” she said running off.
Teachers were out cleaning the school grounds now and there was no sign of the alarm.
“Where is she?” Lance asked
“I don’t know.” Luke said. “She should have been out by now. What should we do?”
“I’ll go.” Lance said.
“You mean we’ll go.” Luke said. “You’re not going in there alone.”
Lance smiled and nodded before running to the building.
There didn’t seem to be any fire alarm in any of the main halls. Maybe that’s why Lillian hadn’t pulled one yet.
“What are you doing here?” A teacher asked as she stopped them. “Lance?”
“Ms. Winters.” Lance said in surprise.
“Oh Lance you can talk.” she said. “But where-”
“There’s a fire.” Luke interrupted. “We couldn’t find an alarm.”
“Oh gosh. It should go off on it’s own.” Ms Winters said in a panic. “Where is it?”
“The lunch room.” Lance said, knowing it was far from where they were now.
The teacher ran one way as Luke and Lance ran the other. Lillian must have thought of the same thing when she found out there had to be fire to set the alarm off.
“Lillian.” Lance said sliding to a stop outside of one of the bedrooms.
“This is Vincent.” Lillian said. “He’s going to make a fire for us.”
“Just a small one.” Vincent said nervously. “Stand back.”
“What’s he doing?” Luke asked as Vincent began quickly rubbing his hands together. They suddenly glowed red hot and a flame burst from them. Somehow it didn’t burn him.
When the alarm began whaling everyone ran for the exits. The headmaster was yelling at everyone to go back inside but no one was listening. Lillian began telling everyone to run as far from here as possible and never come back. When the headmaster noticed the kids leaving he yelled into his phone ordering someone to “Shoot them down”.
The first bullet that rang out reminded Lance of the first outside noise he had ever herd. It was gunshots. A group of kids fell and Lance panicked. This wasn’t supposed to happen. They were supposed to be hero’s and save everyone.
“We have to run.” Luke shouted over the commotion as he pulled Lance along after him.
They were at the top of the hill when Luke stumbled and fell, taking Lance with him. “Come on.” Lance said reaching to help him up. Luke rolled onto his back and looked up at Lance with doe eyes. Lance dropped to his knees at the site of Luke’s blood.
A strange feeling overwhelmed Lance, it jerked his shoulders uncontrollably and made whimper sounds. He didn’t like it.
“Go. Before they shoot you too.” Luke said.
Lance shook his head, feeling cold slid down his cheeks. He touched them and realized they were wet.
“You’re crying.” Luke said. “You’re upset.”
Lance wasn’t just upset. He was furious. All these innocent kids were being killed for things that weren’t in their control. None of them tried to be the way that they were. It wasn’t their fault. And it sure as hell wasn’t a reason to kill them. A powerful anger raced threw Lance as he stood up admits the chaos.
Luke watched a black fog cloud Lance’s eyes. Then all the lights went out. Every house light, every car light, and every street light all went out. Despite the impossibility and causing everyone to stop and steer, the sun was drown out by darkness.
A lot of the experiment kids could navigate threw the dark and those who couldn’t were helped along while the people with guns stumbled threw the dark.
Lance picked Luke up in his arms and ran threw the dark toward the hospital. Finally his night vision was useful.
“They can’t help without power.” Luke reminded him as they ran up to the stalled hospital doors. Lance took a deep breath and the lights in the hospital flickered back on yet the outside world remained hidden. Luke was whisked off by doctors while Lance was left to wait. It felt like forever and the longer he waited the more worried he became. Finally a nurse approached him and said “Your friend asked for you. Follow me.”
“You didn’t leave.” Luke said leaning against a mountain of pillows.
Lance shook his head, more tears sliding down his cheeks.
“It’s alright now. I’m okay. You’re okay. It’s fine.” Luke said as Lance hugged him. “You can bring back the light now.”
Lance went to the window and steered out at the darkness. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. When he opened them again the light was back. He could see the school from here and he learned something interesting while being there: The real world seen in only black and white while he could see in grey. He didn’t care what people were ‘supposed’ to do or how they were ‘meant’ to act.
“There.” Luke said as Lance returned to his bedside. “We did something good today. We saved innocent people from those judgmental idiots. Everything is going to be fine now. We don’t have to hide in the dark anymore.”
I would rather live my life accepting who I am than live my life pretending to be someone I am not.