Originally posted to Medium on September 10, 2020
This was written at a time before we really understood what we were, before we pieced together a lot of our traumas, etc. It's still rather important to us, despite the things we would change if we wrote this today.
The Sky Cat: Seconds ago little creatures are coming and they are asking if I am God, and I am asking what God is and they are telling me, and I am not this God, and this God is nowhere.
Mae: Well that’s where faith comes in, I guess.
The Sky Cat: Little creatures are explaining faith and moments ago it is the Beginning, and I am here then and I am here now, and there is nowhere for God to be hiding.
Mae: So what am I doing here?!
The Sky Cat: Monstrous Existence.
— Night in the Woods
I must describe to you what existing is like.
You’re never really ever… here. Even if you feel here, even if you’re doing some activity in what could be feasibly be called the present, you’re not, really. There are ‘two’ of you: what I call your physical form, or corpus, and your astral self, your shade. These two are only the same in that your shade is attached to your corpus, somewhat like your conscious and subconscious but not quite as metaphysical (I know it sounds metaphysical, but bear with me here, this is schizophrenia we’re talking about here).
So while I’m here, typing this out, I don’t really feel like I am. Every once in a while, I’ll get a flash where I see myself typing this from another angle, and sometimes even waving at myself, trying to get my own attention, seeing myself from the viewpoint of my shade. Because of this sort of split consciousness, existing in the present is nearly impossible, being “in the moment” a farcical concept since time itself doesn’t really feel like it exists most of the time. I will be having a conversation with people and occasionally “blip out”, where I will be attentive but completely unaware a few minutes later of anything anyone said. I exist in a permanent state of dissociation that I refer to as ‘haze’. The haze is always there. It’s what permanently separates me from the ‘material’. Some days it’s at 25%, where it’s bad and functioning is very difficult, but I’m still somewhat aware of my surroundings. Somewhat.
When it’s above 50%, that’s when we encounter the crushing totality of emptiness. See, when the haze is particularly bad, the ‘material’ becomes overtaken by the ‘astral’. The haze becomes a creature unto its own, especially in the dark. Intense hallucinations in the dark is one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had, seeing moving shapes and faces in the corners of my eyes, and hearing sounds that aren’t there. It’s like the darkness itself has become an animal, the void monster. It’s more like…beings who were trapped in this darkness, and now can only exist and be heard in it.
It is from the perspective of being in this state that the rest of this writing will be conducted.
Anything might stand beside us, watch us, keep us company until dawn, and we would never perceive it. We can only pray that the house will not let such things carry on as we sleep.
I’ve been scared of the dark ever since I was a little kid. What kid isn’t, at first? But even when I was little, the dark felt different. It felt…alive, like I could see arms from the darkness reaching out for me. I started having nightmares about dark creatures abducting me and killing me, in extremely graphic and terrifying ways; not devils or goblins, but beings literally from the void itself. The dark was a malevolent entity that could, would, and did hurt me if I let it.
I’ve been watching a lot of Jacob Geller’s stuff on YouTube recently and in particular I will be citing two videos here: his video on haunted houses and his video on caves. The way he describes the psychological horror game Anatomy — that it’s like when you were a kid and you were the last person awake so it was your responsibility to turn out all the lights in the house, and your burden to bear to spend agonizing seconds in darkness — is why that game was so terrifying for me to play. The darkness itself is not the antagonist in Anatomy, but for my 5 to 11 year old self, however, the darkness was very much my greatest antagonist.
This did not go away with age. In some instances, it worsened. Inexplicably, I felt myself drawn to the Weird US book series, and devoured all sorts of ‘firsthand’ accounts, some legit, some not, all spooky as hell, of haunted and abandoned places. The fear of darkness intensified in nature, where the darkness expanded in all directions, beyond just the confines my bedroom and the hallway. I would hear and see all manner of noises and shapes on camping trips.
I remember on a family trip to South Dakota we visited the Wind Cave, and I remember the first time that I felt claustrophobic. The darkness manifested itself and started to suffocate me, slowly at first, and I didn’t notice it until later.
After running away from home at age 21, there were several instances where I would have to live alone; my housemate or the people hosting me would be gone for a couple of days and I would have to live in the house alone. I had to do this a couple of times when I lived with my parents, and if I thought it was bad then, this was so much worse, especially when I was living out in the woods in the late fall/early winter of 2017, and when I was living in an old, creaky place in Olympia’s Upper Eastside. I would end up spending the entire time hiding in my room, blinds shut tight, terrified to leave, fearing every tiny noise I heard outside my door.
In late winter of 2018 I moved into an apartment with a roommate, who was an artist who spent lots of time away on business trips. At this time school was literally killing me, resulting in my having a psychotic break that lasted six weeks and basically caused me to disappear off the face of the planet. My classmates thought I was dead. Instead of fearing the dark, I had embraced it, spending long amounts of nighttime out on the deck, freezing myself, having conversations that I would never remember with people long not in my life anymore.
Fast forwarding to this year, when I moved in to Canada. The two times I had previously visited I had had a massive dissociative episode when left in the living room alone with my thoughts, and I started to hear things and see shadows at night again. Living with them now, things have not improved much in my relationship with the void creature. The game Night in the Woods, which is arguably more about mental illness and being LGBT+ in a rural community than the anti-capitalist messages that people seem to primarily get from it, is what made me first realize that these episodes I was having weren’t just ‘anxiety’ like people were telling me, but something far more serious. In particular, the Sky Cat and cultists were the most affecting. The Sky Cat segment described for me the sheer, absolute terror of seeing shapes and hearing noises that I couldn’t describe made out of pure shadow, and the cultists the blind devotion to a chthonic creature of darkness that even they didn’t know, for me my void creature that has followed me ever since I was very young.
We are going to tell you what lies underground, why you should not disturb this place, and what may happen if you do.
— English-language inscription outside the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, New Mexico
So why did I just divulge large sections of my deepest personal lore? For context reasons. I can’t properly describe what a sentient void is without it.
I rather like the distinction made by the SCP Foundation wikis between ‘sentient’ and ‘sapient’. Darkness is not sapient. It is sentient. I’ve seen darkness move, form, grow, or at least it’s done so in my reality. It hasn’t said anything to me, and yet it’s sent a message very clearly from when I was first able to sleep alone: you are not welcome here.
Being in the dark sometimes feels like I’m intruding on the void’s space, and terrorizing my dreams is how it establishes its turf. It’s not like physical arms manifest out of the air, but there’s no other way to describe how it strangles me in my bed, making me have nightmares so bad I wake up in a puddle of sweat, having barely slept four hours but there’s no way in hell I’m going back to bed. Which puts me in the awful situation of having to physically interfere in the affairs of the darkness now that I’m awake. Sometimes I feel like I’m only safe in my bedroom, but at the same time the bedroom is the least safe place to be when your enemy is the literal void. It’s…a conundrum.
Being in the dark with someone else makes a situation far less terrifying. It’s like the darkness fears the buddy system. Walking alone at night is scary because it feels like the night is going to consume me, but having someone by my side is like sleeping with a nightlight or snuggle plushie (or a wife!) of some variety.
I don’t really know why I wrote this. I just…really felt like I needed to. This has been eating at me for most of the day. I don’t know.