There have been countless cycles since I’ve found myself in this void, and despite my progress the light above me has only grown by a sliver. The days have seemed to grow longer at the very least, hinting that these walls aren’t endless. It gives me hope that I can exit this void. I can barely remember being thrown into the pits of my own mind. If it were not for this experience I would’ve never known such darkness existed, let alone was stored. It has grown to manifest egos of its own; dark beings that mirror the discarded and suppressed emotions long forgotten. Such concentration amplifies them. The pure feelings these beings can dispense can rival even the most potent of drugs. Pride, honor, morality: these buckle on top of the weight that is the repressed human emotion. Their ego forms just sharpen an already deadly tool. I’ve come to know these forms well. I was not prepared when I first encountered them and they dissolved my ego, making me nothing more than another wave in its black ocean.
That time was such a blur, that I barely remember how I was able to find the pieces they ripped from my own ego. I only remember the voices of my muses, reminding me that my self still existed. The voids’ hold on me has weakened since the day I finally managed to grip the sides of this cavern. An achievement that I cannot fully claim as my own, I am eternally grateful to the muses that guided me. Even after being engulfed in such darkness, they offer respite in my climbs. The volatile darkness does not let go so easily. Even as my hands begin to callous over these rocky walls, they continue to attempt to reach me. It wishes only to drag me back down and assimilate me into their world.
A world knowing only misery and despair, a world my mind helped create. It is as much a part of me as the current form I managed to rescue. My muses have helped me stave them off, help me remember and define my ego. Without this distinction I will see no difference between me and that black abyss that constantly preys for me. I cannot afford to lose myself again.
I’ve managed to keep a steady pace since then, and the shadows power seems to be weakening. I’ve not had to fend them off for a few nights now. A fact that I take gingerly, as it has drained me of much needed energy. These quiet nights are bittersweet; I am fully aware why they wait. My last brief quarrel left me rather quaint lacerations to my back which does not allow me to recover my energy. I am only hoping to reach an alcove in these walls to take a rest and allow time to tend to these wounds. A hope that is fading as quickly as the light is in this void.
My right hand grasps tightly to the rock protruding above me. My left hand falls limp. This is as far as I can go. My legs feel weak beneath me, barely being able to stay strong atop their footholds. I can feel my energy drip down my back. I can equally feel the dark below feeding from this energy. I have no choice, I must rest here. I’ve run out of energy, I’ve run out of reason. I can feel the bottom beckoning me and it begins to drive me delirious. It approaches. I begin to accept the loss of my progress. The shadows are darting upwards. I start to think of the difficulty of what I must continue to endure. Their egos begin to take their own twisted shape. I can only think of taking a rest. The poison darts to my being.
My left hand forms a fist over a nail and drives the nail through my hand; impaling my hand and burying it deep into the rock. The pain I would feel is quickly washed over by a wave of emotion. I am no longer progressing towards my own exit; I am back at the bottom. The shadows have engulfed me. I am swimming alongside these torturous emotions. I would not fall back down to them so they brought themselves to me. As if with glee they ravage my ego. Self-consciousness, self-worth, these are not for me. They begin to strip me apart, revealing the self I have built since they last engulfed me.
They take to it with the ferocity of a storm on a leaf. I can feel them begin to play my emotions like strings. They begin attaching ivory keys to the end of these feelings of doubt, fear, hatred, jealousy, inadequacy, suspicion; making me nothing more than an instrument to my own scathing emotions. They begin to play the keys indiscriminately, later slowly joining together in the festivous tones of suffering. As they grow to form a dark entity they begin to play chords, harmonizing these piercing emotions. A symphony composed of emotional pain, mixing the tones of paranoia and rejection, flowing into self-hatred and creating progressions of guilt. Such orchestrations are what night terrors are filled with.
The shadow now becomes a silhouette, a dark mirrored image of me. I am losing myself again, harmonizing with the darkness. It begins to play its final ballad to bring me to its frequency. It seeks to become me. No longer satisfied with making me lost forever at the bottom of my own minds darkness, it wishes to live as darkness. To escape, taking my life and live it in desolation. We begin to share its destiny; I can feel it start playing on its own strings, on our own strings. It has become a copy of my self. And it suddenly reels in horror.
As it joins my mind it finally feels the pain. I have repaid the gratitude it showed me those nights ago. Without my being it cannot be wounded, living in an ethereal ‘mental’ state. Now it realizes the true nature of that sharp knife I am currently burying into the back of our right shoulder. The darkness surrounding us dissipates, and we are back in the cavern. His newly shelled body slowing losing its grasp to the wall, and I swallow the intense physical pain. With the last of my will I make a sharp twist in my shoulder and our right hand loses hold of the wall. I feel his essence withdrawal and fall back to the abyss he came from. The last thing I feel is the dull pain of my hand hanging on the nail skewered through it.
When I come to, dawn is finally greeting my surroundings. As I begin to see myself, I can feel the wounds in my back and shoulder cauterized. These wounds won’t ever truly heal until I reach the surface. Giving myself a moment, I look up hanging by one hand, and notice the top looking particularly brighter than usual.