I am the voice in the dark, calling out for your help.
I am the quiet voice that you hope will not turn to silence, the voice you want to keep hearing cos it means someone is still alive. I am the voice calling for you to come and dig me out. I am the voice in the dark, asking you to unbury me, to bring me from the grave out into the light, like a zombi.
I am a killer and I have been killed, too, over and over; I am constantly being born. I have lost more things than I have found; I have destroyed more things than I have built. I have seen babies abandoned in the trash and I have seen the dead come back to life.
I first shot a man when I was twelve years old.
I have no name. There are no names in the darkness cos there is no one else, only me, and I already know who I am (I am the voice in the dark, calling out for your help), and I have no questions for myself and no need to call upon myself for anything, except to remember.
I am alone.
I am dying.
In darkness, I count my blessings like Manman taught me.
One: I am alive.
Two: there is no two.
I see nothing and I hear nothing. This darkness, it's like something solid. It's like it's inside me.
I used to shout for help, but then after a while I couldn't tell if I was speaking through my mouth or just in my head, and that scared me. Anyway, shouting makes me thirsty.
So I don't shout anymore. I only touch and smell. This is how I know what is in here with me, in the darkness.
There is a light, except it doesn't work. But I can tell it's a light cos I feel the smooth glass of the lamp, and I remember how it used to sit on the little table by my bed. That is another thing - there is a bed in here. It was my bed before the walls fell down. I can feel its soft mattress and its broken slats.
I smell blood. There is anpil blood in this place, on me and all around me. I can tell it's blood cos it smells of iron and death. And cos I've smelled blood before. I grew up in the bidonville - it's a smell you get used to.
Not all of the blood is mine, but some of it is.
I used to touch the bodies, but I don't do that anymore.
They smell, too.
I don't know what happened. I was in bed minding my own zafè, then everything shook and I fell and the darkness started. Or maybe everything else fell.
I'm in Canapé-Vert Hospital, this I know. It's a private hospital, so I figure the blancs must be paying for it. I don't know why they brought me here after they killed Biggie and put this bullet in my arm. Maybe they felt bad about it.
Yesterday - or possibly it was longer ago than that - Tintin came to see me. It was before the world fell down. Tintin must have used his pass - the one that Stéphanie got him - to get out of Site Solèy through the checkpoints. I wonder how Stéphanie is feeling now that Biggie is dead, cos she's UN and she shouldn't have been sleeping with a gangster. She must have really loved him.
Tintin signed my bandage. I told him it's only plaster casts that people sign, not bandages, but he didn't know the difference. Tintin doesn't know much about anyen.
Example: you're thinking that he signed his name on my bandage, but he didn't. He signed Route 9, like he writes everywhere. Tintin doesn't just tag. He likes to shout, Route 9, when we're rolling in the streets, too - Route 9 till I die, dumb stuff like that. I would look at the people we were driving past and say to him:
- You don't know who these people are. They might be from Boston. They might cap you.
- That's the point, he would say. I'm not afraid of them. I'm Route 9.
I thought Tintin was a cretin, but I didn't say so. Old people like my manman say Route 9 and Boston used to mean something back in the day. Like, Route 9 was for Aristide and Boston was for the rebels. Now they don't mean anything at all. I was in Route 9 with Tintin, but I didn't write it anywhere and I didn't shout it out, either. If anyone was going to kill me, I wanted it to be for a good reason. Not cos I said the wrong name.
Excerpted from In Darkness by Nick Lake. Copyright © 2012 by Nick Lake. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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