A power outage wakes Alison but something in the darkness chases her out of the house.
|The heavy silence woke Alison from her sleep. Her eyes strained into the darkness, trying to understand what was missing. Realization sunk in. The walls didn’t vibrate with the air conditioner and her fan didn’t squeak. The dim glow from her chargers didn’t light up the room.|
“The power’s off,” she said out loud.
A thin layer of sweat already clung to her skin. Swearing in the language of sleepy grumbles, she stood up. It was too dang hot for this.
Her watch lit up with the time: 3:22. Of course. Nothing good ever happened between two to four in the morning. She was convinced it was the witching time or something.
With her hands extended in front of her, she shuffled from her bed to the hallway. Her migraines caused her to be super sensitive to natural light, so she buried the house in blackout curtains. This made a beautifully dark cave during the day. But during a power outage, it made her rooms unfamiliar, dangerous, full of sharp corners and vicious furniture.
Her fingertips grazed the wall at the end of the hall, warning her now she needed to maneuver around the new couch and the bookshelves. No problem. Or something like that.
The quiet seemed oppressive, smothering. She didn’t like it and wished the soft hum of electricity would spark up again. Her shin knocked against the ottoman.
“Sonofa…” She swallowed the rest of the swear and clutched her throbbing leg. At least she knew the front door would be her next barrier.
When she opened it, she couldn’t decide if she were glad or disappointed. The darkness clung to everything, no streetlights, no other soft bedroom glows. The only illumination came from the random car driving on the main streets. At least it’s not just me. They’ll have to fix it soon.
Several front doors opened and a couple of neighbors strode out. They called out to each other, probing for information and trying to decide if it was hotter inside or outside.
Alison didn’t socialize with any of her neighbors so she had no interest in wandering out, but she wanted to know what was going on. She leaned against the security door, trying to hear any updates.
The hairs on the back of her neck prickled. The darkness behind her grew into a disguise hiding something hungry. She froze.
Cracks and pops echoed through the house, not unusual for its age. In the otherwise quiet of the home though, they seemed too loud, as if something shifted within the walls, pushing for more space. She tried to swallow but it stuck in her throat, locking her ability to cry out.
It was behind her. She could feel it, getting closer and closer, hot moist breath ruffling her hair.
Her fingers fumbled with the security door lock, a scream clenched behind her teeth. She was going to die and no one would know it though they stood only a couple houses away.
The door swung open and she tumbled onto her front porch, scraping her knees on the sidewalk. Her neighbors turned their heads toward her sudden exit. Though she couldn’t see their expressions, their judging stares burned across her skin.
Feeling like a dunce, she rose, dusting off the crumbled pieces of leaves clinging to her pajama shorts. She waved a hand at them, forcing a smile as if they could somehow see it in the night.
She spun to go back in the house but couldn’t do it. The blackness of her house reached for her, tendrils of hunger coiling from in the depths. The ceiling snapped near the door. Her bare feet touched the spiky grass when she stepped back.
She stopped but couldn’t move forward. It just wasn’t going to happen.
A sharp shriek echoed off the neighborhood houses. Everyone startled, the sound deafening after the electronic deprived quiet. Alison tried to figure out which house the awful screaming originated from.
The neighbor obsessed with his lawn burst out of his front door. Dark spatters adorned his white t-shirt and boxers.
He shouted, “Help me! There’s something-”
Something yanked him back into his dark living room. The shrill cries forced Alison’s hands over her ears, desperate to block out the pain of the man’s last moments.
One of the heavyset fellows from the house near the end of the street jogged over, huffing and sweaty in the heat. He stopped at the end of the sidewalk.
Ms. Jefferson, the old lady who let her cats pee on everyone’s porches, said, “Well, go on. Check on him. He sounded like he needed help.”
The man shook his glistening, bald head. “Nuh uh. There’s something in there.”
“Of course there is,” she said. “We heard him screaming. Go help.”
The man’s voice rose. “No! Something ain’t right. I don’t know how to explain it but it’s wrong. I ain’t going in there.”
Alison’s attention turned back to the darkness looming in her doorway. Something watched her though she couldn’t see it. She took another step back into the grass, panic rising in her chest.
Another pained shriek ripped from somewhere around the corner. Without thinking, she bolted to the middle of the street, spinning to face her door again. She wasn’t willing to have her back turned to it for long.
“You okay, dear?” Ms. Jefferson asked.
“There’s something in my house too.” Alison pointed a shaking finger at her doorway. “I don’t know what it is but it’s hungry.”
Another scream rang from a different darkened house. The neighbors on the street all took steps towards each other. Two houses down, the back window slid open and the two young children were shoved out. Their mother got a leg out of the window when something yanked her back in.
The two children squealed, crying for their momma. Alison leapt into action, bolting over to pull them away from the opening. The oversized guy also ran over. Each of them took one of the younglings and jerked them away from the imposing entry.
The darkness chewed and crunched their mother, her cries muting into whimpers and then silence. They all backed up, their arms wrapped around the children.
“What is going on?” he asked.
“A power outage,” Alison whispered.
He said, “This ain’t like no power outage I’ve ever seen.”
In the near distance they heard sirens approaching. Alison reclaimed her spot in the middle of the street, the little girl clinging to her and sobbing hysterically. The darkness would never be the same again, no matter what it held.