4:06 A.M., On A Bench

Looking for the rising sun, you can’t see anything yet. The oppressive night would be over if you could only see the rising of the first light, something to expel the demons that hound your thoughts in darkness and obfuscation, something to end the times when everything seems out of arms reach, and you are only your arms, twirling in empty air. After you’ve been bitten, consumed by the Charybdis of despair, there feels like there is nothing to do but die, to swim in the great nether pool, embracing the outstretched arms of the void.

The party was a den for the Trickster. All the smiling faces fell away the closer you got, for there was no home there, and you were nowhere you thought you were. All of the humorous stories, the quirky anecdotes, the videos shoved near your face are a Babel of nonreason. Only old words get close to this dead realm—but even these just escape the groping of your mind.

You try to chant the names of things familiar to drive away the hellhounds—your earbuds play music, your phone lights up a group of people posting in their own private cones of electric light. But even the substances used to drive out these fell images have turned, and the dancing of fire is now the roasting of the inferno. To turn back and face them is too much. You’ve no talisman, no key, no magic wand to stand against the coming dark. So you look, and out over the water, somewhere distant, the dark is becoming blue. Like in the old stories, only the light—the real, physical light—can expel the gloom of this long night. But what comes next, what battlements you rear in the safety of the day, is the part no gods will help with.