Rated R. Dark as an oubliette.
The fifth of our Halloween features, continuing through October 31.
Colin and Ishmael in the Dark
by William Shunn
In the total darkness, the incessant drip! drip! of limewater on stone was the only sound to be heard. Steady as the beating of a heart, ceaseless as the motion of the stars, that sound filled the darkness, fed the darkness, became the darkness. It stitched the seconds together loosely into minutes, the minutes into long ragged hours, and the hours into great tattered sheets that flapped like ghosts in an unseen wind, leaving behind only gray threads of time to mark their passage as they unraveled. In all of creation there was only dripping water, and beyond the reach of its echoes the world no longer existed.
This changed only twice a day, when metal ground harshly against metal and the bolt sprang back from the rusted lock with the sound of a crossbow quarrel being loosed. This particular
day began like every other–the resonant creak of the hinges, the crushing reverberation as the door slammed shut, the tread of steel-toed boots crossing the damp stone floor and then pausing. “Breakfast, Ishmael,” said a voice worn into a sing-song by the repetitiveness its daily routine.
“Just put it there on the settee, will you?” This dry voice spoke wryly and precisely.