The Boy Who Loved the Dark by Chris Godber
This is a story of the boy who loved the dark,
and in turn how the dark loved him.
It was 12am, Chris looked above at the star in the distance, contemplating the enormity of it,
that squid oil swirling in a vortex of nothingness, the womb from which he was born, eternity.
He was alone, stuck to the ground like a magic spell had wrapped itself around his feet,
curling into his very being, as he was overcome with something between emotion and
absolute detachment, an ecstasy of morbidity, a melancholy of the moment.
‘Drowning, drowning in these waters again’, a dreamer without woes or worry, save for the
idleness of the infinite, the ticking of the clock tick tock – ‘ha’ chris sniggered to himself, think
I had a bit too much of the old ‘spice’ tonight, better hit the hay. And with that he collapsed
like a forleign dying star onto his sofa, melting into the eternal and one deep slumber. The
passing of dark to light, of dreams to reality, and reality to dreams.
Chris awoke to the sound of morning birds coming through his window as he slowly opened
his eyes letting the light in, shining through his thin curtain windows. Yawning he slumped
out of bed, still a little baked from the night before and proceeded to his work chamber –
assignment no.287 – The Maelstrom project.
A shifting red light moved slowly across a neon green screen, as Chris darted his eyes
around the screen directing energy beams of data from one spatial node to the next, linking
concepts and visual maps into a sense the machine would be able to digest. Assignment
no.287 was all very important and hush hush of course, though Chris would have a hard
time describing what it all meant ultimately and aspects of the code were kept locked out
from even him. Protected data silos. Linking the real and the unreal as well as making a
And it was a mess that appeared before his eyes. A true maelstrom if ever he had seen one.
He was looking at his own code, and it was then he discovered that maybe coding till 12am
at night so high that you thought the sun was talking to you isn’t the best idea when you
have a mounting list of features, bugs and the sheer random chaos of code to contend with.
Escapism – the moral enemy of every programmer. The poison we dare not taste, for we
know how sweet it can feel, and how it can rot at our mechanical hearts. He examined the
code he has managed to produce last night in (*he thought) a flurry of creative energy and
problem solving. There were moments of good engineering in there – some of the code
structure certainly made sense. But it was the dodgy looking sharp edges that bothered him,
half completed functions hung dormant like half finished love affairs, or a half eaten bacon
sandwich – pure violence.
His code was punching him in his face, beating his confidence to a pulp as the inevitable
intake of breath every programmer knows. This was crunch time, and Maelstrom had to be
delivered next week, so there was no choice.
Besides who has ever committed suicide from looking at their own bad code? How bad
could it be and how bad could it get? He knew the solution would be caffeine, that much was
inevitable, you had to know your uppers and downers to be a good programmer, at least in
the world he resided in anyway – the spectres of information in a dark net dystopia.
He dived into the chaos of his programmatic rosetta stone and sighed, he had the overall
structure there – the foundations as it were – but there was bad workmanship on view from
many angles – half finished functions that returned unreliable data, sharp edges which could
bleed were one to fall on them, and the scaffolding was in a phrase – a pile of concrete shit.
Hours passed in his chamber of work as he scribbled on the metaphorical walls of the cave
before him for the answers to present themselves, fixing bits here and there was slowly
leading to a structure of sorts, but he had to admit defeat – he was struggling, his eyes slowly
drifting back into his head as the inevitable fatigue began to hit. It was 11’o clock at night
already, the sun had receded far away to be replaced by the glimmering lights outside, and
the urban foxes wandering endlessly.
His mind wondered, he could leave it of course but there were a few functions almost
mocking him – gauding him with their untapped secrets, ‘so close yet so far’ he thought to
himself teetering on an anxious edge.
Then his mind wandered to that new substance his dealer had given him a few months back,
left untouched in his storage box – an old copy of Neuromancer by William Gibson with a
secret storage box. It was called Sorcerers Stone the dealer had told him – much stronger
than his usual dirt weed, this the dealer promised would really take him on a ride down a
spiral of meaningful insanity, well in fact he actually described it more like “This is some good
Would he repeat the same mistake again? It was a foregone conclusion by now.
Chris lifted the strange substance out of his tatty copy of neuromancer – it was clumpy green
but glowed with an unnerving ambient pulsing glow the likes of which he had never seen
before – an almost hypnotic glare that pierced into his soul. He lifted it out carefully and
reached for his wooden pipe on his shelf, carefully loading it up and grabbing his lighter, he
took a deep breath and inhaled.
He felt nothing, returning to his computer screen he scanned the screen looking for areas of
improvement, suddenly feeling more alert, more awake somehow and councious in a more
cerebral manner than before, the sorcerer’s stone was obviously starting to have an effect as
he began to type frantically, his fingers themselves blurring as he stared downwards his
fingers began to take on a mind of themselves as he disconnected from his body – streching
outwards and inwards he felt the feeling of disconnection as the stone took control of his
fingers – furiously slamming down on the keyboard as he drowned in static light – the whizz
and buzz of the machine embroiling him in a vortex of cascading zeros and ones as he
became beyond binary – the pulse of the machine.
He was high as fuck.
Stunning bright light shone in through the curtains piercing Christopher’s eyes as he blinked
once and twice, his head had fallen like a rock on the keyboard of his computer, he glared at
the sun and the dawning of the light, awakening slowly to a new day.
He looked up at this code to inspect what he had done the previous night, a night where it
felt as if some force external had guided him through a maze of spectral green neon lit
abstraction, he hoped to treasure.
He ran the Maelstrom program and smiled – the interface booted up with a magical whirr and
the data visualisation from the government database looked perfect – its three dimensional
graphical forms appearing – platonic forms in the digital nexus. It was beautiful and Chris
took a moment to feel proud.
Then the assignment 287 source code was shipped to the Cathedral’s databank – whizzing
across cyberspace to be applied on some distant colony.
Assignment 288 landed on his desk, Chris looked at the sun and grimaced, his melancholic
state returning as he accepted the reality of his existence, a hamster on a wheel, a boy who
loved the dark