The Eater of Light

πŸ“… Published on July 8, 2022

β€œThe Eater of Light”

Written by William Tudor
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.00/10. From 2 votes.
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Valan forest, Derbyshire 1984

I sat in the driver’s seat of my aging Ford Granada and listened to the rain pound relentlessly on the car’s metal roof, a sound I had always found strangely soothing. Once the torrent subsided, I looked outside to watch late afternoon mists coil and dance across the undulating surface of the lake; the rocky shore of which provided access to the cottage I would be renting for the next few weeks. Beyond the lake stood Valan forest, where towering fir trees loomed like foreboding sentinels that swayed hypnotically in the stiff October breeze.

The purpose of this solo trip was a matter of healing. I had recently finalized my divorce from my wife, Elizabeth. The separation was her idea, although there had been no great transgressions on my part. Whilst we had been steadily drifting apart for some time, the real catalyst had been the sudden death of our nine-month-old daughter, Charlotte, nearly two years previously. The reason given her death certificate was SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome; she had simply ceased breathing in her sleep. There were no warning signs to speak of and no illness to foreshadow her demise. I had awoken one night to Elizabeth screaming in Charlotte’s room. When I rushed to see what the commotion was about, my mind still hazy from bourbon and sleeping pills, I found Elizabeth hysterical and cradling Charlotte’s limp body in her arms. Her face was a bluish grey, her eyes barren, fingers ice cold when I held them to my cheek, devoid of the warmth normally bestowed by life.

The months that followed were a nightmare for us both. Mostly, I was on autopilot, unable to allow myself to grieve in a normal and healthy way. As a usually robust man of six feet and two hundred pounds, I quickly lost weight to the point of becoming skeletal. My complexion grew pallid whilst my black hair and beard succumbed to premature greyness. The toll of my grief visible for all to see, even if I couldn’t express it directly. Elizabeth was the direct opposite and yielded to her anguish so completely that it consumed her. In truth, I was jealous of her ability to feel whilst on some level. I must also admit that I resented what felt like gratuitous wallowing. I just felt a sickening emptiness every time I thought of that night and those cold, lifeless fingers against my cheek, her hand small and fragile yet heavy with the burden of loss. Elizabeth eventually returned to some semblance of normality, working through her grief to attain a point of reluctant acceptance.

I dragged myself out of the car and inhaled crisp autumn air into my lungs to clear my head. Many of the trees surrounding the lake were vibrant with rusted hues of red, brown and gold which stood in contrast to the evergreens of Valan forest itself. Even from this distance, I could hear the noise of the wind as it coursed through the twisted and gnarled limbs of the woodland’s inhabitants, the dense canopy shifting under strain, almost breathing as though the forest itself was a vast living entity. I turned to regard the cottage behind me; a small single-story house with weathered cream exterior walls and a dark slate roof that looked like it needed repairs in several places. I quickly locked the car, a habit of inner city living that had no meaning in a place like this, and made my way up the cottage’s gravel path.

I approached the front door with its cracked black paint and fumbled for the keys the agent had given me. They were as old and corroded as the cottage itself. A paper sticker bore my name, Sean McGuire, with the collection date in blue biro that was starting to streak in the rain. When I unlocked the door, it swung open lethargically on rusted hinges to reveal a dim and shadowed room beyond. The air smelt heavy and damp. I hadn’t expected luxury by any means, the pictures in the brochure had prepared me for a back-to-basics lifestyle, but I still felt a sense of unease that this would be home for a while. I dragged myself and my bags inside and searched for the light switch, the single bulb adorned by a dated beige lampshade casting a subdued light. The room itself was a simple affair; a taupe sofa and chair were arranged around an old-fashioned coffee table. The heavy chimney stack contained a large black iron grate in which logs had been arranged in a triangle. A pine TV stand was placed in the corner, upon which sat a large television with a huge bulbous back. None of the furniture matched. A narrow hallway led to the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. The bedroom and bathroom were generously sized, but the kitchen was small and awkward to maneuver around but was sufficient for one.

It was late afternoon by the time I had unpacked and got myself settled. I lit the log fire to take the chill off the air and warmed up some pre-prepared food in the small gas oven that had yellowed with age. I also put on the TV for sound; to create a vague sense of company for myself; with the fire glowing and a few candles lit, the cottage was almost starting to feel cozy.

After my meal, I stepped outside to get a feel for the surrounding area. It was dusk now, a dark purple sky tinged with wispy veins of yellow and amber. I walked down the path and made my way to the water’s edge. My feet crunched satisfyingly on the rocks that formed its shoreline, and I delighted at my breath being visible in the frigid dusk air. This had always been my favorite time of year when summer succumbed to the onset of autumn and altogether fresher conditions. The lake was vast, with still waters that reflected the hues of the sky above in a vivid and mesmerizing fashion. About the lake’s perimeter were lights from the windows of cottages and farmsteads sporadically scattered around its border. These were signs of life yet sufficiently distant to still give me that sense of isolation I craved. I will admit, however, that it was also comforting to know that I wasn’t completely alone out here; city people tend to romanticize rural solitude in a way that rarely accords with reality.

The first few days were spent lazily unpacking my belongings and acclimatizing to the solitude of this place with occasional walks by the lake during the day and reading in front of the roaring log fire in the evening. Eventually, I felt courageous enough to explore Valan Forest itself. On the day of my planned hike, I set my alarm for 5:30 AM so I would have plenty of time to explore the woodland before dusk set in. I ate breakfast with strong black coffee and prepared for my excursion. I pulled on my hiking gear, including my thick mustard jumper, olive walking trousers, and padded orange jacket and filled a small rucksack with supplies. I chose to head north, away from the more populated areas and soon came to a point where the lake narrowed into a ravine. A wooden bridge facilitated access to the other side and the sprawling forest beyond. The bridge itself was a modern affair of distinctly Nordic architecture.

Upon reaching the path on the other side, I paused to survey my surroundings and soak up the peculiar atmosphere of this place. I wanted to explore the depths of this majestic forest landscape. Still, trepidation had instantly seized me, encroaching anxiety that began in the pit of my stomach to seep outward towards my extremities, causing my fingers and lips to tremble discernibly. I cursed myself for my sudden infirmity; I was not inherently anxious, so why did I suddenly apprehend such a great fear of this place? Pushing my unease aside, I followed the path that led from the bridge and made a mental note of the general direction in which to return. The thick forest allowed for little light, and a tangible gloom seemed to hang in the very air of this place. The path that I followed appeared well trodden, and I assumed it to be a popular hiking route in the summer months. Occasionally the landscape would thin out and relinquish scenery of such outstanding beauty that I began to develop a real sense of awe for Valan forest. Β  I would often stop to marvel at some sight or sound; the churning of a stream as waterfowl glided across its surface or the sound of a distant heron or raven. I must have walked for around an hour before the forest dispersed into a large clearing. I intended to rest, but something strange caught my eye roughly ten meters from where I sat, and I edged forward cautiously to get a better look.

A small stone circle had been arranged on an even and slightly elevated patch of ground. About its perimeter were five severed fox heads, their glassy and lifeless eyes staring back at me as the breeze gently touched their matted fur. At the center of the circle were the ashen remnants of a fire. The closer I got, the more I could smell the burned incense of jasmine, frankincense and patchouli. It was as though this obscene display had been the focal point of some bizarre ritual, and I assumed it was meant to serve as an altar, but to what purpose?

Each of the heads had a substance smeared upon their brow, as if consecrated by a priest on Ash Wednesday. It was as though something sinister clung to the very air of this place; it was both invisible yet strangely tangible and seemed to permeate my being to the point that I immediately felt infected by it.

I quickly took a step back and tried to steady my breathing as my mind raced, desperately trying to rationalize the situation’s absurdity. It was then that I heard the sound of something familiar, and instantly, my stomach lurched with a new terror. From the area behind the trees directly in front of me, I heard her voice for the first time in years, the sound of my baby daughter’s cries. It was unmistakable, the sound particular to Charlotte, an urgent cry that usually meant that she needed to be fed or consoled. I had the sudden overwhelming urge to run towards the sound but remained rooted to the spot, completely transfixed. The sound came again, this time sharper and more abrupt, as though she had suddenly been afflicted with pain. Although I knew it could not possibly be her, I still raised to my feet slowly and moved towards the sound. When the scream of pain came again, my body was filled with a sudden impetus; not to run to the perceived source, to console my infant daughter but to turn and flee from whatever sinister being was mimicking her and cruelly mocking my grief.

I charged through the woods in the direction I had come, thankful that most of it were downhill, fear and adrenaline propelling me forward. Β  Relief finally came as I exited the forest to collapse, exhausted against the bridge rail, my heart pounding and my lungs on fire from the frenetic exertion. Before standing, I heard Charlotte’s cries again, from deep within the forest. Immediately I pulled myself to my feet and pushed onwards to the cottage.

Upon my return, I raced into the kitchen and tore off my clothes, throwing them into the washing machine before heading straight for the bathroom and plunging into the shower as though trying to remove the stain of that place. I spent the rest of the evening in a sullen state as I dwelled relentlessly upon the sound of Charlottes’ cries, old wounds afresh within my psyche. I tried everything to try and rationalize my experience. Could it have been a hallucination induced by the anxiety of that place? Was it a lack of sleep and food that led my mind to perceive things that were not really there? Could the cry have been the sound of an animal? There must be a rational explanation.

I had sought rural isolation to find a much-needed sense of peace and freedom, only to find myself drawn into a connection with forces beyond my comprehension. Either that or my mind had finally failed me to the extent that I was actually hearing my dead infant daughter cry out from the forest. Turning in for the night, I found sleep elusive but finally drifted into slumber sometime around midnight.

I jolted violently awake, sucking in air as though I had been struggling to breathe in my sleep. The bedside clock told me it was 3 AM Climbing from my bed, I walked from the bedroom to the living room and opened the front door, stepping outside to draw fresh air into my lungs. Above me churned a vast night sky in ominous hues of black whilst the wind coursed about me like a choir of unfettered whispers. I walked the short distance to the shore of the lake as I wanted to look at the forest again, where I had witnessed such strange events only hours earlier.

A sharp crescent moon cast a narrow, shimmering path of light that stretched from the opposing side of the lake to where I stood, silently observing as the light flitted across the water’s surface. I turned to survey my immediate surroundings; the veiled shadow meadows on either side of the cottage and the forest entrance further up the gravel path to the north. Then, something on the trail drew my attention, and I narrowed my eyes to try and see more clearly. A shadowy humanoid form stood near the base of a tree on the path I had used to return home. Whilst the form was nebulous and difficult to clearly discern, its outline was unmistakably that of a female. Was it a natural formation or an actual person? My heart leaped in a painful spasm that momentarily stole my breath as the figure moved to confirm my fear that I was not alone out here.

As she approached, I watched the figure gain clarity as though drawing power from the moon itself. From her featureless black face, two shining golden eyes appeared. Her body was solid yet enshrouded by a vaporous mist, like black liquid nitrogen that billowed down to her feet and then outwards to gradually dissipate in the ether. Her long, flowing garments belonged to another time. Then the sound of Charlotte’s cries came again as the apparition lowered her arms, hands disappearing into her vestments, to remove something pale and heavy. My stomach churned with disgust as the figure held the writhing body of my baby daughter aloft, suspended in the air by one hand that was clenched tightly around her throat, blood drawn and weeping where long fingernails had found vicious purchase. Β  Her naked body dangled and flailed against the assault as she screamed in pain, her eyes turning towards me pleadingly, her cries straining under the vice-like grip on her supple throat.

I turned and fled to the sanctuary of the cottage, slamming the door behind me and flicking on the light, shaking hands clumsily securing the bolts. My legs buckled beneath me as I turned and frantically clawed my way across the floor to prop myself upright against the front of the sofa, eyes never leaving the door as the room was suddenly plunged into momentary silence.

My respite was to be short-lived. Whilst the sound of Charlotte’s cries had slowly receded to nothingness. I suddenly became aware of the sound of scratching at the door. Then Charlotte’s cries started again as more voices came, a crescendo of layered whispers wherein individual voices were impossible to discern. Fingers began to tap on all of the windows at once, as though a group of people had surrounded the house.

Anger boiled in my blood, and I summoned the strength to pick up the coffee table and throw it at the door, quickly falling to my hands and knees again with the exertion.

“Leave me the fuck alone!” I bellowed the words, a struggle to form in my traumatized state.

Suddenly all the noises abated, and the silence was deafening, the atmosphere in the room suddenly thick with static and tension as the hairs on my body began to rise. From the corner came a new voice; one that was actually inside the house

“My boy, open the door,” it pleaded, “I need to see you, please, Sean.”

It is my mother’s voice with its unmistakable heavy Irish accent; my mother passed away over a decade ago. Her voice hits me like a truck, but I know it is not her. I fled to the bedroom, slamming the door behind me and hearing the sound of laughter behind me as I did so; the sound of my mother’s laughter yet somehow different, inhuman almost and tinged with cruelty and malice.

No more sounds came that night, and I eventually pushed the bed up against the door and collapsed on it to sleep for a few precious hours. I awoke exhausted to the morning light filtering through the garish golden curtains of the cottage bedroom window. Feeling nauseous from fatigue, I pushed myself off the bed and dragged it back across the room. I found the cottage to be just as I had left it the previous night. I quickly straightened up the place and opened the window to allow some fresh air in despite the cold, as though it would somehow help cleanse the room of last night’s events.

The rest of the day was spent in a state of gnawing anxiety as I tried to rationalize my experience. Could it have been the result of sleepwalking, a waking dream? Or could it be that in such a secluded and isolated location, without the distractions of city living, the true extent of my mental decline was becoming apparent? There was no denying that there was something strange about this area. Valan forest had a rich history of witchcraft and was the home to the most notorious witch in British history, an unashamed demon worshipper executed in the region for the most unbelievable crimes. Whilst I have never been a believer in such things, it cannot be denied that they can exert an enormous psychological effect on people, particularly those in a vulnerable state. I questioned whether this could have influenced the visions I had experienced. I abandoned all plans of exploration that day and instead hung around the cottage drinking coffee and trying to occupy my mind. I retired early to bed at 9 PM and quickly succumbed to sleep. My mind was assailed by vivid nightmares, crying infants and desolate places; dark foreboding landscapes wherein skinless beings lurked in shadow yet watched with glowing eyes; their chattering teeth like the stridulation of a cricket swarm.

I awoke suddenly with a violent spasm that snapped my mind into waking reality, yet I found that my body was frozen; my limbs were cold and heavy as though paralyzed whilst saliva seeped from the corner of my mouth. It was then that I saw a dark shadow in the corner of the bedroom, like a nebulous column of black smoke that caused the air around it to distort. A noise, like a low hum or vibration, radiated from that part of the room. Β  Her face appeared again from the black miasma, and my heart began to thunder at the sight of two radiant eye slits that opened to regard me with contempt, like a lion stalking its prey. Her form shambled forward awkwardly, as though in stop motion, as a multitude of voices came; of dying lambs and crying babies; of breaking bones and chattering teeth. I watched on helplessly as the figure loomed above me, her form slowly twisting into shape like a crooked and gnarled tree. A large hand with spindly fingers veiled my face, and I was instantly lost to the darkness; oblivion.

I awoke once more to the intrusion of dawn, and my entire body ached as I shifted myself into an upright position. No dreams lingered, no dark recollections of my time in the void, just the vague impression of a woman’s voice that echoed in my mind; I am Beslith, the eater of light.

My mind was firm; I must escape from this place. I quickly grabbed my belongings, shoved them into my suitcases, and threw everything haphazardly into the boot of my car. Crawling into the driver’s seat, I tried the ignition without even bothering to secure my seat belt; nothing. I tried again, dead. Exasperated, I slammed my fist on the steering wheel and climbed back out to look inside the engine bay. I know nothing about cars, but everything seemed to be in order, with no obvious burn marks or damage. Defeated and cursing, I slammed the hood and headed for the nearest town.

Wellsbrook is a typically English rural village wherein the locals are all intimately familiar with each other’s lives and possess a subtle hostility to outsiders. I located the local shop with its aged timber windows, crisp net curtains, and a chalkboard outside indicating that you could get fresh eggs, bread and milk daily.

Approaching the counter, I found a heavy-set ginger-haired gentleman with a full beard hunched over the counter, reading a newspaper that was set between two chunky and freckled forearms. He looked up suddenly when my presence snapped him out of his concentration. His eyes were a pale blue yet possessed a hardness not befitting a shopkeeper. His forearm tattoos confirm my suspicion; ex-military. The rural shop in such an isolated location was probably the result of his own yearning for a quieter, more subdued existence; I hoped he had more success than I was.

“Good morning,” I said, trying my best to sound friendly.

“Mornin,” came the gruff reply as he lumbered into an upright position. He was a lot taller than I had first reckoned and would not look out of place working the doors in a rough East London nightclub.

Feeling the need to purchase something, I picked up a bottle of water and a local newspaper from the stack, knowing I would never actually read it. “Just these, please,” I said awkwardly, placing it on the counter.

“That’ll be 40 pence”, I quickly handed over the money. “Staying local, are ya?”

“Yes, I’m renting a cottage near the lake about two miles up the road.”

“Oh, of course, yeah. The old Evan’s place!” his demeanor softening just a little, “saw you there yesterday mornin’ when I was out making deliveries. The Evans passed away a few years back, and the daughter now lets the place out to tourists. She didn’t want to live there, apparently. Getting a fancy job in the city is what I heard. Nice little place, though”. He paused briefly “listen, mate, just a word of advice but do be careful if you head into the woods by yourself. Valan forest is vast and can be a very disorientating place if you don’t know it well; the last thing we locals need is to send out another party of volunteers to search for hikers who have gone and got themselves lost!”

“Thanks, I’ll bear that in mind,” I replied. “Is there a mechanic in town? I’m having an issue with my car; it won’t start”

“Not here, mate, but there’s one in the next town over, but that’s nearly twenty miles away.”

“Oh, I see,” I sighed wearily. “Do you have a number for them at all”?

“Yeah, mate, just a second” he disappeared into the backroom for a few minutes before emerging with a number scrawled on a post-it notes

“Here ya go, there’s a payphone on the other side of the village. You give him a call. He’ll sort you out.”

“Anyway, what’s ya name?” he enquired


“I’m Frank. I’m open most days if you need anything and can deliver too if needs be. Just let me know!”.

I quickly said my goodbyes, located the overgrown payphone that looked as though it hadn’t been used in years and dialed the number on the ancient and corroded keypad.

“Hello”? A voice answered, its timbre thin and crackly

“Hi, is this the mechanic”?

“It is, mate. How can I help”?

“I am having issues with my car. The engine appears dead; it won’t turn over at all, and I am trying to get home. I’m staying in a small cottage near the lake just outside Wellsbrook, the old Evan’s place apparently, if that means anything to you”?

‘It does, mate. I can come tomorrow afternoon if that’s any use”?

“Can you not come sooner? I am actually rather keen to be on my way.”

“Nah, sorry mate, it’ll be tomorrow afternoon at the earliest; best I can do, sorry.”

Realizing I had little choice in the matter, I agreed to the time and made my way back to Frank’s shop, picking up a bottle of Jim Beam to help me get through the night to come. On the journey home, I pondered my predicament. Had the events of the last few years, which started with Charlotte’s death and culminated in my divorce from Elizabeth, really damaged my mind to such an extent? Was it possible that the degree of my mental decline had only really become apparent once I had isolated myself in a rural area such as this?

A more immediate concern was how I would survive the night to come. That thing was bound to return to torment me again. When I arrived back at the cottage, I quickly ate and then prepared the place to leave for good the following morning. This would be the last night I would ever spend in this place. I would be walking home if the car could not be fixed, whatever it took. I then sat and drank straight from the bottle; I had drained half of it before long. Even so, the gnawing anxiety remained, so I kept drinking until I succumbed to intoxication and exhaustion so completely that I staggered through to the bedroom and collapsed on the bed, the oblivion of sleep consuming me instantly; the sanctuary of nothingness.

I awoke once more gasping for air, initially unsure of my surroundings until the reality of the past few days swarmed my mind. It was dark outside and the hands on my watch, although difficult to discern in the gloom, told me it was 3 AM My mouth was bone dry, and nausea churned in my stomach. A subtle movement, like the flitting of a shadow, drew my attention to the foot of the bed where she stood, a tall black twisted form with a radiant yet penetrating gaze; a silent voyeur that had watched me sleep for a time undetermined. My senses swayed as she crept up my paralyzed body; Beslith, the eater of light.

She seized me with hands that were impossibly large for a woman and brutally strong, pushing my head down into the bed with horrifying force. Her mouth split open like a serrated laceration, a gaping maw of obsidian teeth. From her open mouth, a sound emerged, like the thunderous roar of a waterfall, and her body shook with the sheer violence of it. An icy cold seeped into my skull’s top as she poured her essence into me as though I were a vacant vessel to be filled. I lay motionless and powerless as her form began to fade, dissipating like cinders in the rain, until I found myself alone; the room plunged into a sudden stillness. Then the voices began to emanate from within me, and I knew that I had finally succumbed to this malevolent being that dwells in the absence of light.

It is dawn now, and the morning grows like an open wound in the veiled windows of the cottage. I resent its presence. It is intrusive, like the sordid scrutiny of a peeping tom and I find myself both fearing and dreading the light. I do not remember doing so, but I have positioned a chair in the center of the living room and clawed away the ceiling plaster to expose a heavy wooden beam; my hands still bleed profusely from the frantic efforts of this. The long wire from the ancient TV has been tied around the beam, and there is a wide open noose at the other end that sways hypnotically in slow circular motions as I continue to stare at it with an unwavering gaze from my position on the floor. Charlotte continues to cry for me, and many voices beckon me to the void. I am no longer afraid; soon, I will be joining them.

Rating: 9.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by William Tudor
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

πŸ”” More stories from author: William Tudor

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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