Exclusive Excerpt from Darkness Dawns
by Zakarrie Clarke
“I’m sorry, you okay?” Leo groaned. Quite how he was supposed to extract himself, in the four feet of available space between the bath and sink unit, he knew not, but didn’t really care overmuch.
“Yeah. You could’ve just asked…unless I’ve unleashed a demon and you intend to grab me by the hair and throw me to the floor on a regular basis. Can’t say as I’d be too dis-chuffed, but…”
When Leo spluttered a most indecorous snort, they both burst out laughing; entwined in a heap of body parts, dripping wet hair and damp, crumpled towels. A sodden scenario that did bugger all to dent the dark need crouched deep in the pit of Leo’s belly, raking his skin like claws. The mirth died in his throat, and he snapped his head up, fringe straggling over his face as he crawled onto his hands and knees. He would probably be glowering at Ben from beneath his eyebrows, if only he could see. If only. Fuck if only. He was so weary of those words that a bloody lobotomy had long felt preferable.
‘To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable.
Leo knew damn well that he’d dismissed Milton’s words to dwell in a dismal world of ‘if onlys’. A horrifying number of which had focused on things he’d never considered gifts or privileges Before.
The sense of the space around himself.
The very place in which he stood. If he couldn’t reach out and touch something, Leo might be anywhere—from standing in the middle of an airport—to the mortuary. So why bother leaving the house? Let alone drag himself up a bloody mountain to fling his arms to the wind? He might as well just stand in front of a big fan in an empty room. That would suffice. Doing fuck all sufficed just fine, thank you very much, if it ensured he didn’t fall flat on his face and heap further humiliation on his own head.
Something Leo had missed very much, was the changing of the seasons. Not having ventured out a great deal, the only discernible difference between June and January had been having to switch on the heaters. So, why go out? To never see the trees explode in a riot of golds when Autumn weaved its wonderment? To never again be seized by the urge to run through a crisp blanket of untouched snow? To never, ever, be ‘blinded’ by the glint of sunlight off water?
A world of nevers forever scored across Leo’s retinas.
Ever to be trudging alone along a pot-holed, mud-drenched path in an eternal February fog. No day. No night. No twilight to welcome as the dawn of darkness. The passing of time seemed irrelevant, Leo felt as shut off from its significance, as he did from the sighted world.
The depression had always been there—even Before—hovering in a malevolent cloud, eager to engulf him. It had pounced on the blindness like a pack of fucking vultures, pecking at his bones, and Leo hadn’t so much as wafted a hand of dismissal their way.
Being blind had seemed reason enough to wallow in a misery of such magnificence that it had merited a monument in its honour. It was the brick tossed into the murky water from which the rest of his life radiated, like ripples in a pond he would never see again. Ever expanding concentric circles of loss. An abyss of nothingness. He’d been so dead set on obliterating everything that meant something; Leo hadn’t even noticed that he missed things…mattering. No longer.
When he felt Ben brush away the fringe falling over his eyes, Leo shot out a hand to trap his wrist like a manacle. Lifting it to his lips, he swept his tongue along its tender inner skin. Ben’s pulse pounded, strong, true, beneath his fingertips. When he pressed Ben’s arm towards the floor and attempted to straddle his body, Leo’s knee collided with a hip—but the instant, all too familiar rush of frustration was halted by a subtle shift beneath him—as a swift tug on his thigh slid the leg into place. Ben’s wrist was still enclosed in Leo’s right fist, the other palm was planted on the floor, propping him up. He fumbled for—found—Ben’s right shoulder, then followed the length of his arm until he could thread their fingers together. Bending low until his lips touched skin, Leo brushed them across Ben’s cheek until they alighted on a berry ripe bottom lip and trapped it between his teeth. Leo could taste himself, a fact that dragged a godawful groan from his throat as he crushed his mouth down; as demanding as the tongue he darted between Ben’s teeth.
More…Leo suspected that might’ve made a bid for freedom, as he dragged himself out of the kiss. He began to back up, trickling his fingertips down Ben’s torso until they reached the curving ridge of a hip bone. Panic clutched Leo’s throat, as reflexive as his earlier frustration. Was he really about to attempt this? Yes. Yes, he was…