Darkness, Darkness by Fred Andersen
Publisher: Uncial Press
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (23 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
A school custodian’s job is usually pretty unexciting. But one night when Frank is locking up, he spies two intruders carrying automatic pistols. He suspects they have come for the two young Mexican boys who are spending the night in Ms. Castellon’s room. The boys reveal that the men are narcotraficantes, determined to finish the job of eliminating their entire family. Despite his bum leg, Frank and Ms. Castellon manage to get the boys as far as the school gym, where their escape is cut off and all their lives are plunged into darkness.
Sometimes the only way to survive a dangerous situation is by making the right decision in a split second. How would you define courage? Is it something we’re born with or is it the culmination of a thousand choices made when you think no one is watching?
From the beginning of this tale I was intrigued by the idea of four unarmed, law-abiding individuals – two terrified children, a physically disabled man and a woman who is described as quite petite – attempting to outsmart armed criminals on a deadly mission. The plot moves so quickly that the reader isn’t provided with a great deal of background information about Frank, Ms. Castellon, Adam or Christiano but the glimpses we are given illuminate their courage and resourcefulness in even the stickiest situations. Frank knows the cartilage in his knee is damaged. It came as a surprise, then, that he was so easily able to run around in the dark and lift heavy objects throughout the course of the plot. Surely his knee would have slowed him down once the adrenaline wore off. I also questioned Frank’s career choice given his physical limitations. Custodians are on their feet doing physical labour during every shift. While some disabilities can be accommodated in this sort of occupation I don’t know how well someone with a bad knee would be able to function in this role. Wondering about this was a distraction as I attempted to figure out why we’d learn information about a character that later seemed to be forgotten or overlooked.
Still, the plot was intriguing, and the action intense. More, the final scene redeemed the story for me. While the ending was foreshadowed earlier on it was done so subtly that I didn’t notice what was happening on my first read through it. If you’re looking for a book that goes out with a bang give Darkness, Darkness a try.