Inspired by a chance remark made by nodbear
during my Advent series of postings.This is my body, lying in the darkness and the darkness of the seizure snatches it, taking over my physical shell, sending my soul elsewhere while it shakes and twists me.
“And the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.”
Memories of Advent back home, the church, greenery, candles, swelling grandeur of the organ, that’s what this verse always aroused in Archie. Hearing it now, with the ship listing slightly as she ran the waves, bright sun shining over the Spanish coast even though it was December, seemed incongruous.
He and Horatio had argued last night, about the translation of “comprehended” in this verse. Understood, overcome, defeated, observed – they’d traded synonyms and meanings until the rest of the snotties had been up in arms and threatened to throw the pair of them overboard.
“Katalambano.” Horatio whispered the word, in case Pellew caught him speaking during Service.
“What?” Archie hissed back.
“It’s the original Greek for I comprehend.”
Archie turned slightly, to see the smugly satisfied look on his friend’s face. “We’ll talk later.” He resumed his look of studied innocence, perfected for wearing on solemn occasions such as Service, the reading of the articles or gulling Horatio. Whatever it was would have to wait.
“Katalambano.” Horatio nodded, enthusiastically. “I remembered it from school. It’s the word they used in the early Greek versions of John’s gospel.”
“And this takes the argument further forward? The unpronounceable in pursuit of the untranslatable?” It was Sunday afternoon, the crew were making and mending, singing shanties, there was no running out of the great guns to practice nor any likelihood of beating to quarters. He and Horatio sat over a chess board in a shaded part of the deck.
“It aids the translation. In my favour.” Horatio’s stern expression changed into a glorious smile. “I’ve remembered all my teacher told me. Apparently it’s the same word as is used when they talk about someone being possessed.” He stopped. “Dear God, I’m sorry. It’s been so long since they bothered you…”
“No need to apologise. Please, carry on.” Archie could feel brave here, the Channel’s breadth – he hoped – from Simpson and the cause of the fits. “Tell me all the meanings you remember.”
Horatio took a deep breath, seemed as if he was on the point of arguing, then continued. “To grasp eagerly or tightly, like the men on the ropes. Snatching, like you when there’s soft tack on the table.” He was clearly trying to compensate for his error with a show of levity. “Taking over, maybe like seizing a prize in action.”
“What about having a fit?”
“Perhaps…” Horatio was tentative, eager not to reopen old wounds.
“Well, yes or no? Could the word be used to mean the something which possesses me?”
“Used to possess you. It’s been a long time…”
A long time since the last fit, but was that what Archie had in mind? It had been a long time since the other possession, too, the occupation of his body by another evil being, only this one had been flesh and blood, not just a spiritual demon.This is my body, crouching in the darkness and the darkness of his lust snatches it, taking over my physical shell, stealing control of my will while he uses me. He wants to comprehend my mind, snatch my soul. I will not let him.
“Archie?” Horatio’s voice was all concern.
“Sorry, I was miles away.”
“I shouldn’t have brought it up. Please don't think I'm implying you become possessed by a demon.”
“No, no it isn’t that. No demon as you mean it, anyway. I’ll tell you one day, but not now, not here.” Archie smiled, displaying a bravery and lightness of spirit he didn’t feel. “Come on, slowcoach. Your move.”This is my body, crouching in the darkness when the long night of captivity takes me, binding me. It wants to overcome and break me. But here I will find the light shining in the darkness and at last nothing will overcome it.