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It’s Safer To Be Afraid Of The Light

It's safer to be afraid of the light


Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

Richard removed the lightswitch to the basement stairwell.

It wasn’t that he simply disabled it, no. He removed the entire thing. Plastic covering, screws, the switch box—all of it. Though, he had shut off the power to the basement for good measure, too.

Every once in a while when a worried family member or friend or even his colleagues from work would stop by. Sometimes they just wanted to say hello. Sometimes they wanted to bring him food, worried about how much weight he’d lost. Other times they would come by with the name of a counselor they hoped would be a good fit for him. He didn’t mind those visits. He enjoyed the company, even if it was his loved ones telling him that he had completely and totally lost it. They were pleasant visits.

No, the visits that he couldn’t stand were the ones when they came over offering to replace his basement lightswitch. When they said that they would pay for it, and that it wasn’t a burden. When they came in and told him that it would be so easy for them to fix and they could just do it anytime he wanted. When they mentioned that switch boxes were only a few dollars at the Home Depot or Lowe’s. Those were the visits that drove him mad. Those were the visits that made him scream. That made him shout. Made him cry, waving his arms around like a madman, threatening the life of his friends if they ever brought up such a horrid thing like that again. He would yell at them, telling them if they dared to bring up replacing that switch that he would shove them down the stairs into that basement they wanted the switch to so badly.

One time, in fact, his mother and father came by for one of these “visits.” His mother brought him into the kitchen, trying to convince him to go and see a counselor as she fixed him a meal.

“We’re worried about you, Richard. You need to see someone about this. I mean, look at you! You haven’t eaten in weeks, you’re skin and bone! Here, I brought over some stuff to make you a smoothie. Would that taste good? Would that take your mind off of whatever this is long enough for you to eat?”

Oh, she was a smart little witch, his mother. He almost couldn’t hear his father reinstalling a lightswitch over the sound of the blender going. But luckily, his clumsy father tripped and shouted an obscenity about the switch, and so Richard did hear. He heard him and instantly the blood rushed to his face. Instantly he could hardly breathe. He had jumped up and ran to the front entryway to see his father using a screwdriver to fit in a new switch box.

“Stop!” Richard had shouted. “Stop it! Now!”

He caused his mother to cry and his father to swear when he began beating him over the head, his strength defying the starved state of his body.

“Richard, this is for your own good! This thing called ‘exposure therapy!’ This will help you!”

He ran them out of the house, screaming and locking the door behind them.

“Get out! I hate you! Stay out of here!”

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After that encounter he ripped open the drywall along the basement stairs, and took a pair of wire cutters to the entire circuitry inside the walls. Now long strips of copper lay strewn about up and down the stairs. Now nothing in the basement could function. It was unfortunate, yes, but taking such a precaution to make sure the lights stayed turned off was worth it. He had to. He had to keep the lights off.

More friends came and went, each one more worried than the last. Once his old best friend from high school brought a therapist with him, just to chat. It was a wonderful visit. It was good to see Stan again, to catch up. And the therapist was a very nice man as well. They talked about skiing, fishing, camping, the sorts of things Richard loved. He thought maybe this therapist could become a new friend, even if he didn’t need a therapist. But it all turned sour when he brought up the lightswitch and the copper wire that was torn out of the walls. In an instant, Richard realized he could never like this man. Screaming and shouting, he showed Stan and this therapist to the door.

They were fools. Absolute fools. Didn’t they notice that the rest of his house was in decent order? DIdn’t they notice he was still working remotely, being a productive member of society? Those things may not have changed their minds about anything, but surely if they had realized that there was no smell of rancid meat coming from the basement, they would have realized how completely rational Richard was being. His freezer had been out for weeks by that point, and there was no smell. One who was unaware of everything might think it was strange, but Richard knew it made sense. Perfect sense.

He just didn’t understand why everyone kept coming back to that lightswitch. What was the big deal? It was his house, afterall. It didn’t affect them. It didn’t affect anyone but him. Why did everyone want that lightswitch back on so badly? They kept saying that “it was for his own good,” but it wasn’t! Having that lightswitch up wasn’t for his own good! What fools! What darn fools! Why did they even think they needed the light there? What was everyone’s obsession with the light? Why do people need light so badly? How come everyone in the entire history of the world has always been looking for light?

He knew the answer to those last questions, of course. It was simply human nature to crave light. Light was safe. Light was comforting. Light was life. Throughout human history, people have wanted light. Light repels the darkness—the unknown. People are afraid of what they don’t know, and that is precisely what the dark is: the unknown. Always, always, always people wanted to have the light over the dark!

Well, people are fools. People are foolish beyond anything imaginable. Light isn’t safe. Light isn’t comforting. Light isn’t life. No! The darkness is safe. The darkness is comforting. The darkness is life. That was the truth. That was the way it was. That was just simply fact.

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Richard heard another knock at the door.

“Rich? It’s Susan. I’m just coming to check on you. I’ve brought someone you might like. His name is Simon.”

Richard could tell instantly by the tone of her voice that Simon was another therapist. He raised his arms in the air defeatedly, letting out a sob as he laid back down onto the floor.

If only they could see. If only they could go down to the basement and see. Then they would stop bothering him. Then… then they would finally realize that being afraid of the dark is the most irrational thing man has ever done. If they could go down and see… then they would realize… then they would realize that it’s much safer to be afraid of the light.

Credit: The Quiet One

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