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Ch. 2: Blind as Bats

"If this is the trial run, I'm not sure I want to do the real thing."

This entry is part 3 of 15 in the series The Key to Markree Castle

Too dark to think.

It’s actually hard for people to hear nothing, to see nothing. Our eyes and ears don’t quite know what to do with complete silence or utter darkness.

Our young heroes sank into the darkness as if they were being lowered into a vat of ice-cold water. Their bodies quickly acclimatized to the silence and darkness, but it was almost painful. They heard ringing in their ears and saw light formations beyond their eyelids. The boys experimented with opening and closing their eyes, but it was so dark they couldn’t distinguish whether or not they had their eyes open or closed. They played with that for a while, which was entertaining, but soon the fun stopped and the time seemed to drag.

Key to Markree Castle

Key to Markree Castle

It had only been about 42 seconds when Dec had an itch on his head and raised up his hand to reach his scalp when he thought he felt some pressure holding his arm down. He tried again and this time his arm cooperated, but thought that that first time it took a little more effort, as if someone was holding onto his sleeve. He opened his eyes to look at his arm, but could see nothing of course. He put his fingers in front of his face, but couldn’t tell if they were really there. As his fingers crossed in front of his eyes, he thought he saw some light beyond them, but when he moved his hand out of the way, he again saw blackness. He brought his fingers up and twirled and twisted them and it was as if the movement of his fingers was causing static electricity that he could see, but the light was further behind his fingers, maybe on the other side of the room. As soon as it had started, it stopped and he put his hand down and and tried to remain still, say nothing, and not think about how long it was since they had dinner.

Li blinked his eyes slowly and deeply, but he could only feel the sensation of his eyes closing; there was no difference in the amount of light that came through the lids. He could even hear his eyelids closing. He squeezed them tight and saw nothing, only felt his skin crumple in. He felt himself swaying and didn’t want to fall over so he moved his left foot slightly to the left, but it was hard to move. Maybe there was something next to his foot. He didn’t want to make any noise so he lifted his foot slightly and moved it only a smidgen to the left. Now he was more stable. His head felt like it was swaying back and forth so much that he brought his hands up to hold onto the sides of his head. As he brought his hands up it felt as if he were underwater and there was some pressure that made the movement slower, a little harder. He held the sides of his head to keep his head still but it felt like it was still swaying. Maybe it was his whole body.

Dan stayed focused and still, silent but also curious. He opened his eyes and closed them, trying to see something, anything. But it was all of no use. It was pitch black like he had never experienced before. His imagination ran so fast through his head about what might be beyond the doors that he couldn’t keep up with it himself. Scenes ran through his mind like previews to movies. In the pure blackness, he smiled to himself at the adventure of it all as he watched the previews with anticipation.

Lu initially was nervous and worried that he might not make it. His heart beat was increasing and he hoped his breathing wasn’t too quick and loud. He held his breath and couldn’t hear the breath of the others. His thoughts flittered through his head and ranged from spiders that might be descending onto his head to how they could make a soccer field out in front of the castle to wondering if they had any vanilla yogurt in the kitchen.

There have been studies where the scientist puts 40 metronomes together on a table and then manually ticks each one to get it started. Tick tock, tick tock, back and forth. He does it with no method or plan, just knocking each one so it gets started. As to be expected, they are ticking and tocking separately, all at different rates and times as each one was started separately and individually. Very slowly, and without any outside intervention, some of them will start ticking and tocking in sync. Soon, several of them are aligned and beating at exactly the same moment and rate. They soon all fall in line. Each metronome, which is its own individual device, not connected in any way to the others, will bounce left and right like a trained olympian on a synchronized swim team. There will always be a few slowpokes in the group, but give them time and they’ll fall in order as well—whether they want to or not. Of course, we’re talking about mechanical metronomes, not young boys. They don’t have a will of their own, so they all fall in line according to the laws of, well, the laws of what? What makes that happen? Why do they all eventually beat as one?

The boys didn’t know it, but the time was closing in on two minutes and all thoughts of yogurt and soccer, balance and external forces were thought of and dismissed. Boredom even came and went and they fell into something of a trance. Each boy, without exception, wanted to shout out, let loose a ripping fart or at least sniff or smack a lip. Each was silently surprised that they were surprisingly silent.

The boys focused on the only action in the room: breathing. Each was quite sure sure he could hear his own breath, but then held his breath and noticed that he could still it. It was in some sort of extremely well set up 7.1 surround sound. Immediately after they held their breath and then continued, they were in sync wth the breath of the other boys.

Although they didn’t realize it, they were silently syncing themselves up with each other. Each boy was aligning thoughts and dreams with each other boy in the room. They didn’t know it, even Alastar didn’t know it, but molecules in their bodies were being exchanged. Tiny particles that would forever be a part of their collective selves.

Each boy, at the same time, had the same thought: who is breathing? Me or the others? Are we breathing at the same time? It’s so dark and so quiet, I’m not even sure if I’m breathing. Around the same time, they all closed their eyes.

It wasn’t a voice, but more of a thought, but it came to each one of them separately. Still, it was clear enough to realize that it was a command, or at least a suggestion. Each boy raised his right arm from his side and brought it up directly in front of him. Then he felt that he was supposed to point his pinky finger in a certain direction to the right or the left. There was no further instruction, just the arm up and out then left or right or stay straight and point. It wasn’t a question of which boy was where and by now they had all forgotten who was standing where anyway. They held their arms out, their pinky fingers pointing in some direction.

At that moment, the light from the ceiling came on with the slightest and softest of flicks as if a firefly had been born in the center of the ceiling. But it was so unbelievably dark in the room that just this pinhead of light was enough to see what was going on in the room.


Below is the original “written with my eyes closed” version.

Here’s the screenshot just for old time’s sake: Writing Blind.

It’s so dark the writer can’t even see …

NOTE: I was just at the doctor and they dilated my eyes, so I can’t see very well. It’s very appropriate because the boys are currently literally in the dark in the castle. To join the in their darkness, I’m even goiclosing my eyes right now and I’ll write as much as I can of this chapter with my eyes closed. I’ll come back later when my eyes are back in focus to clean up my typos. I’d also like to take this moment to thank my 7th grade typing teacher, Mrs. Knowles. I can still hear her southern drawl relating (and repeating and repeating) “Now, here we go again from the left. eyes on me, ASDF, space, JKL;. Again, ASDF, space, JKL;.

Follow-up note: I finished what’s below but I still can’t see very well. I’m going to just put it in here and edit it tomorrow when hopefully I can see again. There are typos GALORE, I’m sure, I FELT them. 😉 If you want to do yourself a favor, read this tomorrow. 😉 I have an entirely new sympathy for people who wear glasses and even more for blind people. Whoa.

Did yo know that it’s actually hard for us to hear nothing? To see nothing? Our eyes and ears aren’t quite such was to do with complete silence or utter darkness. Our young heroes sink into the darkness as if they were being lowered into a vat of ice-cold water. Their bodies quickly acclimatized to the silence and darkness, but it was almost painful. They heard ringing in their ears and saw light formations beyond their eyelids. The boys experimented with closing their eyes, but it was so dark they couldn’t distinguish whether or not they had their eyes open or closed. They placed with that for a while, which was entertaining, but soothe fun stopped and the time seemed to drag. It had only been about 42 seconds when Dec had an itch on his head and raised up his hand to reach his scalp when he thought he felt some pressure holding his arm down. He tried again and this time his arm cooperated, but rethought that that first time it took a little more effort, as if someone was holding onto his sleeve. He opens his eyes to lok at his arm, but could see nothing. He put his fingers in front os his face, but couldn’t tell if they were really there. As his fingers crossed in front of his eyes, he thought he saw some light beyond the, but when he moved his hand out of th away, he saw again blackness. He brought his fingers up and twrrield and twist them and it was as if the movement of his fingers was causing static electricity that he could see, but the light was further behind his fingers, maybe on the other side of the room. as soon as it hard started, it stopped and he put his hand down and and tried to remain still, say nothing, and not think about how long it was since they had dinner.

Li blinked his eyes slowly and deeply, but he couldn’t only feel the sensation, there was no difference in the amount of light that came through the lids. He squeezed them right and nothing, only his skin was crumpled in. He felt himself swaying and didn’t want to fall over so he moved his left foot slightly to the left, but it was also hard to move. Maybe there was something next to his foot. He didn’t want to make any noise so he lifted his foot slightly and moved it only a smidgen to the left. Now he was more stable. His head fell like it was swaying back and forth so much so that he brought his hands up to hold onto the sides of his head. As he brought his hands up it felt as if he were underwater and there was some pressure that made the movement slower, a little harder. He held the sides of his head to keep his head still but it felt like it was still swaying. Maybe it was his whole body .

Dan stayed focused and still, silent abut also curious. He opened his eyes and closed the, tying to see something, anything. But it was all of no use. It was pitch black like he had never experienced before. His imagination ran so fast through his head about what might be beyond the doors that he couldn’t keep up with it himself. In the pure blackness, he smiled too himself at the adventure of it all.

Lu initially was nervous and worried that he might not make it. His heart beat was increasing and he hoped his breathing wasn’t too quick and loud. He held his breath and couldn’t head the breath of the others. His thoughts flittered through his head and ranged from spiders that might be descending onto his head to how they could’ make a soccer field out in front of the castle to wondering if they had any vanilla yogurt in the kitchen.

The boys thoughts were as different from each other as could be. blinking over here, balancing there, yogurt and playing with the laws of physics all within just a few feet from each other. There have been studies where the scientist puts 40 metronomes together on a table and then manually ticks each one to get it started. He does it with no method or plan, just knocking each one so it gets started. As to be expected, they are ticking and ticking all separately, all at different rates and times. Very slowly, and without any outside intervention, some of them will start their fathom closer together. Soon, several of them are aligned and eating at exactly the same moment and rate. If you keep watching, they soon all fall in line and each metronome, which is its own individual device, not connected in any way to the others, will bounced left and right like an olympic synchronized swim team .There will always be a few slowpokes in the group, but give them time and they’ll fall in order as well—whether they want to or not. Of course, we’re talking about mechncaical metronomes, not young boys, they don’t have a will of their own, so they all fall in line according to the laws of, well, the laws of what? What makes that hpanne? Why do they all eventually beat as one?

The boys didn’t know it, but the tie was closing in on two minutes and all thoughts of yogurt and soccer, balance and external forces were thought of and dismissed. Boredom even came and went and now they were in something of a trance. Each boy, without exception, wanted to shout out, make a deadly fart noise or at least sniff of smack a pip. each one was silently surprised that they didn’t do it, but equally surprised that the others hadn’t either.

As if the silence weren’t sure enough, the boys focused on the only action in the room: their breathing. Each was quite sure sure he could hear his own breath, but then held his breath and noticed that he could stiller it. It was in some sort of extremely well set up 7.1 surround sound .Immediately after they held their breath and then continued, they were in sync wth the breath of the other boys.

Each boy, at the same time, had the same thought: who is breathing? Me or the others? Are we breathing at the same time? It’s so dark and so quiet, I’m not even sure if I’m breathing. Around the same time, they all closed their eyes.

It wasn’t a voice, but more of a thought, but it came to each one of he separately. Still, it was clear enough realize that it was a command, or at least a suggestion. Each boy raised his right arm from his side and brought it up directly in front of him. Then he felt that he was supposed to let the arm go and point his pinky finger at a certain angle to the right or the left. There was no further instruction, just that arm up and out then left or right or stay straight and point. It wasn’t a question of which boy was where and by now they had all forgotten who was standing where anyway. They held their arms out, their pinky fingers pointing in some direction and at that moment, the light from the ceiling came on with the slightest and softest of flickers that it was if a firefly was born in the ceiling. But it was so unbelievably dark in the room that just this pinhead of light was enough to see what was going on in the room.

Series Navigation<< Ch. 1: (Not) Chapter One of The Key to Markree Castle: It’s not a secret if you know what it is.Ch. 3: Wait, what? >>
By | 2017-07-06T14:23:06+00:00 November 2nd, 2015|Writing|2 Comments

About the Author:

Bradley Charbonneau was sitting with his 8-year old reading a bad children’s book when he said to his son, “We can do better than this … and you’re going to help me.” Then they did it. He hasn’t stopped since.

2 Comments

  1. Writing Every Day Beyond 1,000 Posts November 2, 2015 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    […] Ch. 2: Blind as Bats (Nov 2) […]

  2. John Muldoon November 2, 2015 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    For a quick second I thought you’d gone all “Molly Bloom’s soliloquy” on us, and I thought, “whoa, he’s such a badass for going for James Joyce’s style like that. And in a children’s book no less!!” 😉

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