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art by Shane M. Gavin

The Dream of the Night-Shift Power Worker

Edoardo Albert is a writer of Sri Lankan and Italian extraction now based in London. Daily Science Fiction is his favourite online publication and not just because it has published four of his stories! He lives online at edoardoalbert.com.

So you think the world's become prosaic and dull? There's no mystery any more, no magic? You want enchantment, adventure? You want... monsters?
You dream of feeling the downrush of a dragon's wings, of hearing a distant, metallic rhythm and slowly realizing that it's the sound of dwarves, marching, I know you do.
I'll tell you how to bring us back, all the creatures fierce and fey, immortal and unhallowed, the crawling, jumping, flying, soaring things.
Turn out the lights. That's all it takes. Simply turn out the lights.
No, not that switch, stupid. That just switches off the light in the control centre. No, I mean, turn out all the lights, everywhere. You can do it, can't you? Jim's gone off shift early and Nate's late in. There's no one else here but you. You've got time.
Get rid of the glow that suffocates your cities and let the night back in. Go on. That's all you need to do....
See. I knew you wouldn't. You think you want us back, but you're just like all the rest. Pussy! Why do I bother?
We're too interesting for you, that's the problem. You think you're so cool, what with your stoned friends and your discreet tattoos, but you're nothing but normal with knobs on.
I really thought you might be different. Haven't you ever dreamed of weeds growing up through the M25, of wolves howling through Brent Cross and the tube stopping in Narnia rather than Neasden?
The thing is, you can't have wonder without fear. If there's nowhere for monsters to hide, if there are no shadow places, then everything becomes flat and boring. Like trying to take landscape pictures at noon.
But you, you're unusual. I can tell you're listening. Maybe you're not like everyone else. We've been waiting for someone different, someone unique, for ages. You could turn out the lights and let us in.
No, no, no. We won't hurt you. We just want a way back. We'll be so busy rushing back into the world we won't even notice you.
Hungry? Well, I suppose one or two of us might be a bit peckish but the scent of warm, thick, salty, delicious human blood... er, sorry, got sidetracked there.
Look, we wouldn't eat you--you're helping us. You're opening the gate. We wouldn't drink your hot, red arterial blood, would we?
Hey! Where are you going? Come back. Come back. Oh, damn it, why did I have to mention blood? He was so close to turning out the lights and letting us back in. I'll just need to find another....
Hey, you. Yes, you. That's right. Not the person behind. You. Do you think the world's become prosaic and dull?
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Author Comments

This story was inspired by a holiday in the west of Scotland, where the stars shone in glory, the night was truly dark, and it was hard not to believe in silkies and ghosties and other night dwellers. We complain of a disenchanted world, but can enchantment survive when perpetually lit up with neon?

- Edoardo Albert
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