Derrion Parsing is a high school senior and the son of an ex-Army Ranger. Unlike his classmates, he has access to information from the time before the Invisible War, when the government shut down the Internet, reformatting into a propaganda tool. When Derrion attempts to use this information as part of a school project, he awakens to his worst nightmare.
K. M. Douglas grew up in Northeast Ohio and studied creative writing at The Ohio State University. He lives in Rainier, Washington with his wife, cat and two dogs.
In the Place Where There is No Darkness is his first novel.
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Mr. Bertrand was standing in his living room, his hands clasped behind his back, staring at the photograph of his wife hanging over the fireplace, hypnotized by her image. The picture was from their senior yearbook; her head tilted slightly to the side, the brightest, most genuine smile lighting up her face. Around her neck, the gold locket that he had given her just weeks before the picture was taken. The locket lay below her picture on the mantel, a silent reminder of his resignation to loneliness. He wore it each year on her birthday, tucked carefully under a collared shirt so that no one would ask him what it was.
He imagined climbing through the picture frame as if it were a window to the past, seeing her again on that day, touching her face. He unclasped his hands and wiped away a tear running down his cheek, realizing only then where he was and what he was doing. As he brought his hand down from his face, he rolled his fingers into a fist, not wanting to let the tear escape. He looked down and saw that in his opposite hand he held a book.
He drew the book up to his chest and hugged it, turning away from the photograph and scuttling to the easy chair beside the front window, its blinds drawn down as they always were, blocking the headlights of the passing cars and the searchlights of patrolling helicopters, instilling in him that all-too-common partial feeling of privacy. His legs felt unsure below him. His head pulsed, his face warm, his mouth dry.
He sat down in the chair and at once the floor lamp illuminated his chest and lap. For a moment, he felt like a stranger in his own home. Everything around him seemed so distant and unfamiliar. He flipped through the book, scanning the pages without actually reading any of the words, briefly wishing he could read it in the time it would take to watch the movie, immediately ashamed at having had such a thought. He cautiously remembered the time, many years ago, when reading was his only retreat, wondering why the watching had come to replace it. He wiped his nose on his sleeve.
These days all he read were his students’ essays—and worse, he had to read them through the glass surface of the glowing tablet screen. He couldn’t believe that it had come to this. His life had turned into science fiction. With that thought he closed the book and set it on his lap.
He looked down, and from his shirt pocket he removed the piece of paper that Derrion had dropped on the classroom floor, unfolding it with deliberate, almost forced patience. It bore no title, no name, typed single-spaced on an old-fashioned, manual typewriter. Mr. Bertrand could see the indentations on the paper where the hammers had pounded the ink onto the page. He smiled, shook his head, and began reading.