Rated: ASR · Short Story · Dark · #2292920
A power outage plummets an author into a few minutes of terror.
|My fingers fly across the keyboard, clicking and clacking like popcorn in the microwave. Lightning lights the sky in jagged streaks outside. Immediate cracks of thunder shake the walls and hum in my bones.|
I barely am aware of the steady stream of rain obscuring the streetlight and flooding the gutters. My eyes are glued to the bright blue glow of my computer screen, my story pouring forth like the torrential downpour outside.
My demon stirs in the tale, coming to life in the ninety words per minute I can type out. Before my character can finish summoning him, my screen disappears with a line of light into blackness.
I gasp, feeling as if someone just stole the air from my lungs. The glowing power button on my computer tower no longer oozes blue light.
“Great,” I said, slamming my forehead into my hands.
A bright flash of lightning bathes my now dark office in brief brilliance. I realize in the sudden absence of light how dark the entire street is. Even though I know from the lack of illumination what will occur, I still push my power button a couple of times.
Nothing, predictably, happens.
Disappointment floods in. I’ve got this story burning inside me, raging to get out like a monster tearing at my brain. The power outage couldn’t have happened at a more inopportune time.
Another blinding streak fills the sky followed immediately by a solid air shattering boom of thunder. My walls vibrate and the car alarms blare in protest. In the deafening silence that follows the hairs rise on my neck.
Something else is in the house with me.
I’ve never liked the dark. Most others see the dark as an inanimate substance, something lifeless and empty. As a writer with an overactive imagination, the dark has always been something more. I believe the darkness can transform the recognizable, bring to life creatures who are better kept in the mind. As such, I’ve always been uncomfortable walking into a dark room.
That’s why during power outages, I can usually be found huddled in my husband’s arms, but not this time. He’s at work and I’m on my own. Trying to control my breathing rate, I stand up and look once more out at the storm. Only moments before beautiful and inspiring, it’s now ominous and threatening.
The hallway is a yawning gateway of inky blackness, hiding everything familiar from view. My heart clenches at the sight. Somewhere in its hungry depths is my bookshelf, with a candle and a lighter. I just have to get to it.
Lightning splashes the hallway long enough for me to view my goal. And, a shadow dive behind my husband’s recliner chair.
A shriek chokes in my throat, I can’t even make a squeak. Tears prick my eyes and my panicked breathing is too shallow, too loud. I snag a pair of sharp craft scissors from my desk.
I strain to hear anything, but just at that moment, another solid snap of thunder bellows its fury. Torn with indecision, I don’t move. The scissors are gripped so tightly my fingertips are tingling.
My cell phone is in my bedroom. I can’t get to it without first passing through the shadowed hallway and past the intruder. I need that candle.
With the decision made,I creep down the hallway, my eyes struggling to spot any movement in the bottomless darkness. My free hand trails along the wall, searching for my bookshelf. A sour odor pervades the air, pungent like bad eggs. My eyes water and the urge to gag clenches my gut.
Before I can question it too much, my hand thwacks into the shelf and my fingers trip over the candle. I almost cry out in relief. One prize found!
Afraid to put the scissors down, I stick the handles in my mouth and clamp my teeth. My paws pat around on the shelves until I find the lighter and quickly set the candle ablaze. The scissors are jabbed back into weapon formation.
The steady hammer of rain beats on the roof but nothing in the living room makes a sound. I raise the candle high. A shadow swells and absorbs the glow.
Right before something close blows out the wick’s flame!
The scream finally breaks through. Lightless again and terrified I’m about to die, I chuck the candle blindly and bolt down the hall. My shoulder smashes into a corner. Brief pain flares up but it doesn’t slow me down as I dive into my room. I slam the door shut behind me, locking it. My hands grope the air, trying to find my bed so I can find my phone. I’m in the process of shuffling around the edge of it when the power blazes back on.
My side lamp, always on when my husband works, comes on so suddenly I cry out. With a silent prayer of thanks, I grab my phone and creep back to my door. I dial 9-1-1 and hit send. Thanks to the ongoing storm, the call cancels out.
“Please,” I whisper, punching in the send button again.
My curiosity has always been, and is still, stronger than my fear. I open my door and poke my head out. The hall light shows no one waiting for me, nothing dives out of sight. I step out, expecting it to change in a heartbeat. The craft scissors are tight at my side, ready to be jammed into anything that charges me.
When no one rushes me, I slink to the living room. My candle lies broken on its side, the glass container scattered about it, but there is no one hiding. I’m beginning to feel a bit silly when I hear a familiar sound in my office.
Swift clicking and clacking.
My grip tenses on the scissors and I spin to face my intruder. I don’t give them any time to escape, they’ve been caught red handed. My office is lit up as usual, but the strange smell of bad eggs has moved in. As the offending scent washes over me, my lip curls in disgust.
And then it’s gone. I’m facing down the unoccupied room with the scissors over my head, ready to attack. I blink several times, trying to understand what I’m seeing. I swivel the empty computer chair so I can view the glowing computer screen clearly.
Written on my current project in all caps, is three simple words: “FINISH THE STORY”.