Urban Volcano

Fiction by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

Short stories

The Darkness

The darkness — Illustration by Yana Volkovich
Illustration by Yana Volkovich

“Did you know that things exist that one sees better in darkness than in daylight?” you asked as we walked together in the darkness along the unlit gravel road that ran the length of the fjord in western Iceland.

“No,” I replied. “Like what?”

“Like ghosts, demons, gnomes, elves, and things like that,” you continued. “Anything that cannot tolerate the light of day.”

“But ghosts do not exist in reality,” I claimed, although against my own conviction. I bit my lower lip and felt a shiver run down my spine.

You did not reply but giggled.

We had been at a bonfire party but were now on our way to the farmhouse we used as our vacation home. Mom and dad had decided to stay longer at the party and have fun with the other adults. Mom had asked you to take me home. You were three years older than I, and it was thus your responsibility to bring the two of us home.

The night was pitch-black. Behind us was a faint glow of the cooling bonfire. On the other side of the fjord we could see the lights of distant farms. The lights of the farms on our side of the fjord were hidden beyond the dense birch woods that separated the farms and the road. We could see neither the moon nor the stars since the sky was completely covered by clouds. We could not see where we were going and had to put all our faith in the fact that we had walked this road so often before that we could find our way blindfolded. And so we did, quite literally, blindfolded by the darkness.

The night was silent. We were silent. We heard little other than the crunch of gravel from under our feet as we walked. Occasionally we could hear a faint sound of laughter coming from the party. Otherwise, it was completely silent. Completely silent and completely dark.

All of a sudden an opening appeared in the cloud cover. The curtains of the sky opened and nature put on a show for us. The moon stepped onto the the stage and lit up our surroundings. Shadows ran along the road. A gust of wind blew down along the fjord. The