They said that from a thousand graves would come a thousand ghosts. Ghost high and low, in the shade of the tree standing in the moonlight, under the staircase of mansions old and new, and below the cobblestone bridges that carried over their arches many a scared child or a frightened granny. And ever so often, the child or granny would be scared to death, for having arrived at the intended destination, upon careful inquiry in the nature of a whisper, it would be said that he or she did indeed have an encounter with those long dead. Even with death itself! And no amount of bleeding, no vampire remedies, burning of books, or hanging of witches would bring the sweet pink colour back the pale cheeks of either orphan child or the old grand but grey granny.

It was thus in such and such a house, where the young child, Mordecai Mortimer by name and of no more than four years of age, was cared for by his grandmother on his father’s side. Like his departed mother and father, his grandmother sported narrow, dark, hateful and mischievous eyes, always wearing the same old clothes and jewellery and never leaving the house. Her yellow teeth had over time adopted the same brown shades of the weeds that cried against the cold and heartless winter rain outside the front door. The one glass of her spectacles had fallen out, or perhaps she smashed it out, as she repeated over and over again that she saw better that way. But her eyes were failing her as the years went on, and the more she struggled to see, the less she was inclined to ask for help. Forever remaining stubborn, she would lash out at the four-year-old Mordecai, telling him that his surname suited him well as ever it could be, Mortimer, raised either to join or to be the subject of a mortician. And when the lad Mordecai screamed at night, because of ghosts in the corner of his room, ghosts under the spare bed, or lurking in the cupboard, she would not so much as allow the boy to light a candle for some light. Creaking sounds and fearsome coldness would not convince the old woman of that which might truly haunt the boy.
Utterly neglected, young Mordecai started spending his days in a haze, almost sleepwalking from weariness, and not being able to get even a single decent night’s rest. The ghosts he saw did not remain in the corner, under the spare bed, or in the cupboard, but entered his dreams as vivid as vivid can be. Thus, he grew up, his existence a daze between nothingness and grey, and not at all able to distinguish between the living and the dead.
Years later, when our dear Mordecai reached the age where he entered grade eight, he had still not shaken the terrors that haunted him, by then not only by night but even during daytime walking from school to home. One morning during scripture reading, the Catholic Sister at school, standing in her attire of black and white, read words that remained with him throughout the day. “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” The words clung to him and would not let go. He shook his head, closed his eyes tight and pressed as hard as he can with his hands against his head, but those words remained with him and seemed to have a power of its own.
It was only when he reached home and saw in the dimly lit upper bedroom, his grandmother trembling for fear of spirits ominous and unrelenting, that he realized how great that darkness was. She begged for him to light a candle, even though there were six candles burning on the dressing table, supplemented by the daylight through the window. After years and years of bitterness, and having entertained a vindictive and evil spirit toward the young soul of Mordecai Mortimer, she herself fell victim to the fear and anguish of those very same ghosts. Her eyesight had failed her, but where she years ago refused to acknowledge the fears of the young lad, she now clear as ever saw the spirits haunting the house.
He sat by her bed, and for the first time, witnessed how awfully terrible the darkness within can be. Not the darkness of not being able to see, but the kind of darkness that has an eternity attached to it. She shivered and groaned and would, if she could, run as far as possible, from what seemed like a thousand ghosts, that came from a thousand graves.
He took her hand, as if, by any means, it would grant her some measure of comfort, but looking at her face, he marvelled, without so much as even a hint of a tear, at the words he heard that morning, ‘…how great is that darkness!’

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