Sonic Sunday: “By nightlights, the children pray…”

In 2016, I was confined to bed for medical reasons, forced to be still. Having no distractions, nothing else to do, I slid down a rabbit hole of true crime. It was easy to digest while prone in bed and weary. If my vision blurred, as it sometimes did, I could just listen to the narration for a few moments, letting the story unfold. Forensic Files became a strange source of bedtime tales.

One of my finds was The Jinx: The Life & Deaths of Robert Durst. And while the story of the docuseries and its ending (which I will not spoil for you) is worthy of its own blog in another sphere, I raise it here because its theme song burrowed inside my brain. The brooding melody and ominous lyrics of Eels’ “Fresh Blood” became a swift add to my collection. It tugged at an unconscious part of me, one already whispering of a story without structure.

I’ve spoken in the past of my need to construct a soundtrack for the tales I tell. My ideas form cinematically: rapid-fire films playing in my mind that I desperately dash onto an electronic page. Whether setting a scene or capturing a character’s mood, each track is as essential to the plot as the stroke of a painter’s brush.

In setting out to build the world of Another Light Missing, one of the challenges was giving a voice to the killer among those trying to survive and stop them. They are not seen for much of the story. This isn’t a slasher tale of murder and aftermath. It is about the experience of being under siege, and wrestling with fear, anger and grief. But that whisper of what lurks in the shadows is an undercurrent in every scene. It’s what our core characters hear at night on the city streets. I needed to hear it.

In music, I found it: the feeling of unease, of being watched. The urge to harm, again and again.

Close your eyes. Imagine yourself on a busy intersection in a large city. There are bars, small clubs, fast food joints. People chatter, laugh, bustle by you. Neon lights gleam from windows. It is one in the morning. Imagine now that although this is your community, your home, you know that something is wrong. A prickling on the back of your neck. At first, you suspect it may be a breeze, the chill of a late night, but the air is still. It’s uncomfortably thick, and heavy.

The chatter is quieter now, as people head home. You have three blocks to walk down a darkened residential street to safety. You take a step, two, ten. Footsteps fall behind you. Steady, unhesitating, keeping pace.

Do you turn around?

“Sun down on the sorry day
By nightlights, the children pray
I know you’re probably gettin’ ready for bed
Beautiful woman, get out of my head

I’m so tired of the same old crud
Sweet baby, I need fresh blood…”

“Fresh Blood” – Eels (Hombre Lobo)

More Sonic Sunday reflections on Another Light Missing:

Published by A.C. Dillon

A.C. Dillon is an insomnia-driven Canadian author, who enjoys parlaying personal sleeplessness into keeping readers from their own slumber. When not sending a laptop into steaming fits of overworked rage, A.C. can be found listening to an obsessive music collection or watching Empire Records for the 338th time.

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