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art by Ron Sanders

Darkness Becomes You

In every instance that Peter A Schaefer has a bio published for himself, it is new and original. Observant or clever readers might find the secret messages he hides, maybe just for fun, maybe to practice his improv. Each story also plays a role in his secret mission, to understand Earth culture for his masters from a distant star. Or, very likely, they are both, for he has grown fond of this green and blue orb. If anyone wants to read more of his perhaps-steganographic stories, they are available at catachresis.shoelesspete.com without omission.
He climbed into bed and turned out the lights, then said, "Darkness becomes you."
"That's either really rude, or terribly metaphorical."
"Uh, what if it's portentously supernatural, and you're about to learn something about the world you never thought was true?"
"Well if that's true, you're going to be in trouble for not cluing me in years ago."
"Unless I'm, like, a ghost possessing this body to give you crucial information."
"And it's only now the stars have aligned to free you and give you this chance to communicate."
"Oh, or instead of being a ghost, I'm part of a secret society, and it's only now you've proved trustworthy enough for me to give you this secret information."
"In which case you're in trouble again."
"Not if it wasn't my decision! My shadowy masters deemed you worthy after my years of pleading and released me from the magical compulsion that prevented me from telling you."
"Okay, I guess you're off the hook. So, what's this secret?"
"Well, if the clue is that darkness becomes you--and it's obviously not an insult, because you look great--it's either a personal, prophetic warning, or a philosophical statement. Like, a great evil will take your shape or possess you and do terrible things."
"What's the point in telling me, then? You really ought to just kill me and deny me to the enemy."
"Uh, maybe we can't break the prophecy?"
"Nah, prophecies are dumb. How 'bout the other option?"
"Then it means something like, our consciousnesses are generated from the stuff of the void, so in a literal sense darkness becomes us. And then telling you would unlock some power in you, as contemplating this truth changes your perception of the world."
"Neat."
"Thanks," he said.
"It's actually kinda close to the truth. I mean, light years away, still, but close enough that you could figure something out, given time."
"What?"
"Unfortunately, I can't let you try."
"Wait--"
"I'm sorry, but it's a magical compulsion. You understand."
"What're you talking--"
"Goodbye."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, April 30th, 2014


This story is a sort I love to write, where natural dialogue simply flows between two people. To me, it feels very like some of the conversations I have with my loved ones, who are frequent catalysts for inspiring fiction. There's no one weirder than your family, really. This one, I believe, stemmed from a midnight conversation starting with the very same words as the story.

- Peter A Schaefer

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