The Longest Night - prologue

She was born in August of nineteen-eighty-nine. We weren’t back in Trinidad at the time - we were in Vancouver for a wedding, one of Allie’s nephews, never worked out in the end, but I still remember one of her brothers-in-law brought this really good white rum and almost everyone got smashed - anyway, we had to deliver her in the hotel room.

It was a curious thing. It was a full moon out, the night sky devoid of cloud except for this small creeping one that seemed to know how best to cloak the moonlight, like the most perfect nightdress. The doctor came over and dealt with Allie proper, and the moment the baby started crowning, it was as if our faith in this whole thing, this whole life of ours, was renewed.

Suddenly, lightning flashed outside the hotel window. I swear it was the brightest I’ve ever seen it, as if it struck right outside the hotel, but it was a long way off, at least - the night sky was still clear.

I turned to see it, and of course, it was gone before I could catch it. But I had turned back to see Allie and there she was, the girl, our daughter, in her arms already.

And I turned back to the window, almost instinctively, waiting for the next flash of light, and it never came. All I saw was this weird cloud hovering low beside the moon, less like a real cloud and more like a sheet of crystal, and it seemed like it was dancing in this invisible rain-shower of light and colour, like a rainbow was trapped in it. And it glittered silver confetti and the soft light strings of orange and violet and red and indigo, and I thought, clouds don’t do that, do they?

But I knew better, I guess.

We named her Lucille. Lucille Deepika Maharaj. Lucille. Lucy. Luz. As she grew older, she grew infatuated with the idea - the idea of being named after light itself. She internalized it all sorts of poetic ways - to be ever-present, to be a beacon, to be a lantern. Whenever she was at school and something happened, she’d always end by saying that she did the right thing because it was what she was made to do.

“I did it because no one else would, Daddy,” she’d say, tugging at my trousers. “I did it because I’m Light, Daddy! Because I’m Light!”

And I would smile. She was learning so much about The Torch already, and she didn’t even know it existed.

And soon enough she would know. Not because we told her. Because she was skilled at seeing things that other people covered up - like light, obviously. Allie and I were doing a mighty fine job of making sure our section of the secret world remained secret, but around her, it was like our plans were made of glass. She saw right through it, straight to the intentions.

One afternoon, after she had just graduated from secondary school, she came knocking on my office door. “Hey, Daddy?”

I looked up at my little girl and smiled. “Yes, Lucy? What’s up?”

She looked at me with the fiercest determination in her eyes. It was like I stopped being her father, and started being a stranger, someone with vital information she needed to know, someone she wouldn’t hesitate to hurt to get that information. “What’s The Torch?”

“What do you mean, what’s a torch? Isn’t that a primary school question?” I was hoping playing dumb would buy me at least another few days, enough time to ask Allie if it was alright for Lucy to know, enough time to tighten the bolts on our secrecy, enough time to convince the administrators that our ship of lies wasn’t leaking. I wanted to tell her, really really badly - being a member of The Torch was the third proudest moment of my existence, right behind The Torch leading me to the two loveliest women I’d ever be privileged to know - but the younger of those two women looked at me so questioningly, almost with judgment. I still didn’t know if she was ready to know.

“No. The Torch. Like, is it a club or something?”

I was stuck between confusion and rage. I feared it would not end well if I told her, and I wanted to prolong that for as long as possible. But here she was, demanding an answer with the tone of her voice. I had to tell her.

It was the Light thing to do.

I knew what would happen next. And I was proud, I guess - to see her train for the inevitable battles that would take place beneath the noses of John Public. The magic battles, the gunfights in the catacombs and the hallways of museums over priceless artifacts, the hunt for truth. And she was a prodigy among The Torch’s trainees - magic proficiency with distinction in three weeks. It takes years for ordinary fledglings to get magic down. Even Allie and I didn’t get past it in three weeks - and we were Torch prodigies when we did the test.

And I’m kind of happy, I guess. That she knows the way, that she gets to fight for it.

But I know that when it comes to the secret world, the people walking in the shadows of normal existence, the symbols and the codes being spoken when you’re out of earshot - there are always a couple more secrets out there than even you know. And every now and again, you stumble upon another, something you didn’t know before, and it tries to kill you.

And I swear upon the Fire itself that if those grey-suit demon-double-crossing bastards on the one side and those holier-than-thou black-and-white sons of bitches on the other side as much as put a sniper scope on my lovely little Light’s head, I will rip each of their limbs off with my bare hands.

Abhiram Maharaj
statement declared June 20th 2010