When Asher was a child he was afraid of the dark. Not so much the dark as the sense that it seethed with intelligence, and that intelligence seemed to want him dead. It would linger a while even if one suddenly threw light upon it, as if to say “I am only blind, not toothless”. “In the dark”, thought Asher, “it can see me”.
When he was older, Asher realized that he too could be formidable in the dark. Here the enemy was on equal footing. He could see in it, if he let his eyes adjust, had taught himself to walk without sound, and could restrain his breathing. And he could hide not from but hide in wait for his enemy. “It too can be prey,” he thought.
Asher feels now most comfortable after dark, though he prefers to light lamps in order to read or write. He is at home in the night; it is his world. And whenever he feels a slight chill at the neck, he pulls his muffler a little tighter, holds his breath, and slips into the black… waiting.
Sometimes if he seems short of breath, he has probably forgotten to resume normal breathing.