The Redemption in Darkness

David YangNovember 8, 2023Now and ThenFiction

Artwork by Arina Stetsiuk, age 14, Ukraine


“We live on the planet, and everywhere its surface is covered with water. Rather than ‘live on,’ it’s more accurate to say that we ‘live in’ the planet.”

Buzzing. That was the monotonous sound of the fluorescent light. And the rustle of chalk broke the normalcy now and then.

“Look at this chart and you can understand it clearer. We live in the rock layer under the bottom of the ocean. Above us is 1,666 meters of water on average and the thick atmosphere, which mainly consists of water vapor.”

A flash of light appeared and then vanished, while the buzz of the fluorescent light disappeared. It was like a television was suddenly shut in the deep night.

“Or my pardon would be down. Then I will look up. Is the sun there in the sweet heaven just as I imagined?” The other voice interrupted the lecture abruptly, while the monologue continued.

“Our planet goes in an elliptical orbit around our sun. You can imagine the sun as a huge fireball lit by numerous chemical fuels. When we are close to the sun in our orbit, lots of water evaporates from the ocean and floats in the sky. But when we go further in the orbit, the temperature decreases greatly, and that water is frozen swiftly and becomes hail. It was this destructive hail that made craters on the sea bottom. So we hide under the ocean to survive.”

“To live in peace and normalcy or to die for passion and dreams. Go for the sun! We will reach it!”

“We will never see the sun in our whole lives. Water is what protects us and restrains us. On this planet, the closest thing to the sun is never an organism, but the giant tourbillon formed by the attractive force of the sun. We, like fish that live in the sea, will never know the world in the sky.”

“Whether rotting safely in the norm, or burning out fabulously as a firework. To die, to sleep,” it roared.

“Here on the graph is our sun.”

It’s a purple-gold ring. Like an eye in the darkness, it burns motionless in silence. Again it fades behind layers upon layers of water, as quickly as it appeared.

Chapter 1

Squeak! Squeak!

That was a sharp sound in the dark, out of silence.

Squeak! Squeak!


It was a match, the only light in the empty room. Like a sun in the universe, it gave hope. Then a candle was lit, and the match quickly faded. The light cast on the face of a man. Wrinkles were around his eyes, while the reflection of fire flickered in his pupils, making them sparkling but darker.

“There’s light only occasionally, and the dark dominates,” he quietly said to himself, as if he were confessing to a pastor. “Yet light is what animals living in the dark long for. It is like our hope, and hope only glitters now and then.”

He gently picked up an eye patch and put it on his right eye, covering the reflection of fire.

He reached for something in his pocket and brought it near his ear.

“It’s me. The operation has begun. It's the final stage. After so many challenges, we eventually have reached the gate of the end. Today is the day of redemption. Today is the day for us to get free.”

The man’s gaunt shadow quivered on the wall, like a disturbed signal. The wall was jammed with pencil-drawn blueprints, all for submarines.

At an unknown moment, the candle extinguished.

“They are here for me!”

The man rushed to the wall. Matches were lit one after another, and those elaborate blueprints turned to fire. They burnt freely and splendidly, like thousands of fireflies.

Something crashed on the door heavily. The man jumped out of the open window. His faint figure melted in the night outside. The door swung open, like something or nothing came in.

Chapter 2

It was dawn, the darkest time. Lamps along the road were dead. No light was still lingering in this world, except some from the held flashlight. It sometimes went off but still brokenly lit the way, like entities occasionally had rushed through the front of it and blocked the beam. However, it was insistent, as the only light.

Lonely, the man trotted along something, but that doesn’t matter. In the absolute darkness, the only direction for things still living with hope is the light, but the light was in his hand.

“Birds,” he murmured. “I saw birds flying.”

Why birds? There should be no birds flying in this world. Under the ocean, inside cold stone.

“Yeah, no birds. But I saw one. Not only one, they flew across the sky now and then.”

The flashlight shook once.

“When I first entered the lab, there were birds flying across the sky. They were so free, and I guess they had seen what the sun was like. You fly through the stone, do you?”

Like he was praying and embracing, he raised his hands to the faint sky.

“But I am still here, like a slave, like a prisoner. Why am I away from the sun? What I have done that was so guilty I was punished with the fate of rotting in the deep, damp, dark underground world? I’m doomed to have a life like a plant, normal and awfully peaceful.”

He then burst into a wild and free laughter. The flashlight’s beam quivered fiercely across the sky, as if an earthquake was caused.

“But I am here today going to my dream! I am the one who has beaten my fate! I paid a lot, and I sacrificed! But no matter what it cost, I succeeded IN THE END!”

After all of this the man calmed down and hurried his steps. Still, birds were in his head. In some fragments of thoughts, he was standing on the hill, watching them flying and feeling the warmth of the sunlight.

“It’s me. I’m on my way. Prepare for my drive to the surface. Check if there is anything wrong. I wouldn’t want my submarine to burst when getting into the tornado.”

He started walking on a grassland. Still the dark dawn, no light. Grasses wiped his hip in pure silence. There were no crickets, and there was only the wind wriggling through the roots of plants.

He saw, at the very right of his vision, that there were people lining up. They were in such a long line, from far away behind him to the farthest place in the dark he could see. They moved in a predictable, repeating, and heavily ordered way, but all wore smiles of contentment. They went opposite to the man, and some of them greeted him, like they were his acquaintances.

The man pretended to ignore them. They stumbled close to him, closer and closer. Opening their arms, they watched the man with honest smiles.

“Don’t come close! Stay away!”

But the man’s eye popped out, and his teeth clenched.

“There’s no need for you to strive any more. Have a rest, we don’t expect you to be special. Be an ordinary man with us,” they mumbled.

The man held a pistol in his hands, shaking. He shouted and fired. The sound of shots quickly faded in the field.

Like nothing had happened, the grassland became brighter, and a small factory appeared not far away. Th grass was gilded, as was the horizon. The man hurried up, like the situation was becoming more and more urgent. He brought out a key, and opened a gate. His flashlight was finally broken. Its light faded, and pure darkness devoured him. But he had no hesitation and advanced with big steps. He entered, climbed up some stairs, and stopped on the platform.

“Cheers! My partners and colleagues! The glory is with us!” he exclaimed, with arms raised.

His passion and madness echoed in the factory. In silence, it seemed that the light was opened, and on the right of him, lines of researchers and engineers applauded without sound. Their eyes were blazing with happiness.

“Now! We have our last but hardest step to our sun! I will be our driver and go to the surface, get in the tourbillon, and then take back videos and photos of the sun! Prepare for launching!”

Silent cheers burst in the factory.

The man sat on the seat of the submarine. He fastened the seat belt and manipulated deftly.

Again he reached for his pocket. His hand was shivering and he almost dropped it. But he still said with a calm and passionate voice: “It’s been a long way. We’ve overcome so many challenges, we’ve never surrendered to darkness, we’ve sacrificed anything needed, and we have striven to the last! Salute to all comrades whose lives are taken! Salute to all the memories we have lost! Eventually, here comes the world we long for. Never again will our fates be judged, and we can be the ones to determine what we are!”

Slowly he put it down.

“I’m sorry.”

Chapter 3

Following the silent thruster sound, the submarine was launched. It slipped through the rock, into the ocean, and went so fast to the sea’s surface. Hail grazed it, like trillions of cannons shooting toward it, but the man dodged them and went crazily toward the giant tourbillon. Lightning lit the sky now and then, and lit the smile on his face.

The submarine went straight into the tourbillon. A ferocious wind was stripping down layers of it, and even waterdrops were like bullets at such a great speed.

But all of a sudden, they stopped.

The man saw the very peaceful sea. He hardly looked up, and found himself at the eye of the tourbillon. Water and wind was surrounding him, forming a tremendous circular whirlpool, like he was at the peaceful bottom of the deepest well. But he saw it, very far away, through the sky in the tourbillon’s eye.

It was a purple-gold ring. Like an eye in the darkness, it was burning motionless in silence. It was too beautiful to be true.

The man, lastly, took it from his pocket, near to his ear. “I saw it. It’s warm, and I can feel its warmth.”

The small wood block slipped down from his hand to the ground.

“But I’m cold, very cold,” he eventually said to his sun.

The warmth of the sun devoured him until there was nothing left but ashes.


Two police officers were in the remains of a factory. It was in a big refuse dump. All sorts of metallic waste was piled here on the ground, gilded by the setting sun.

The sun was orange, warm and normal.

“It’s me, Officer Bond. I’m here at the scene with my partner Officer Smith. It’s a damn disaster here. Everything was burnt.”

“This is Officer Smith. We found a burnt body. That’s probably the arsonist.”

Officer Bond squatted at the side of the burnt body. It was hard to imagine it used to carry a soul.

“Put 15 barrels of gasoline here and lit them. Hell knows where he got so much.” Smith looked up. The beam of sunlight went across the gloomy sky. “Can't imagine why he did that.”

“Perhaps he was fascinated by fire,” Bond said disdainfully. “Always seeking something to stimulate their bored souls, these people. Why not just have an ordinary and peaceful life and enjoy it, like I do?”

"Guess they want to be the fireworks and light our nights.”

“Hell knows it. That’s not my business. Hurry up and finish this. I promised my wife I would come back early tonight. You understand.” Bond winked at Smith.

They continued to focus on working, like normal police officers.

The End

From Beijing, China, David Yang is an ordinary but not-so-ordinary student who is fond of neuroscience, psychology, and literature. David is not completely academic, and loves coming up with heart-moving themes, mixing them in some of his bizarre ideas and creating a crazy story which belongs to him and the ones who understand.