In The Dark

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write a story about someone feeling powerless.... view prompt


Historical Fiction Drama

I never liked the dark. It scares me. I can’t see anything. I feel powerless. Things I know are right here in the room with me are gone. Well, not gone, but invisible. I can’t see them. But I can trip over them. I should know where everything is, but for some reason, they jump out at me. And I hate when I kick that table leg. Every time it gets me. I stub my toe and it gives me a second or two before it hurts. It gives me time to think about how much it’s going to smart. Ouch.

Even back in caveman days they could light a fire to see. Ancient Rome, Medieval times, they had light. Simple enough, light a fire. Or a lamp. Angry villagers chasing monsters had torches to go along with their pitchforks.

But I can’t have any light. They won’t let me. It isn’t fair, but I’ll be in trouble with them if I turn on a light. Any light. It’s the law. No light. Period.

I don’t see why I have to be punished. I didn’t do anything wrong. But they won’t let me have any light.

It’s like they shut the power off. They didn’t, but they will if they have to. It’s voluntary for now, but if there are any violations, the juice goes off.

Throwing their weight around like that. Who the hell put them in charge? Who appointed them? Why are they in control? It isn’t fair to be bossed around by them. I didn’t do anything wrong.

They said I can go outside. But without any lights. I can’t even take a flashlight with me. Or a cigarette lighter. Nothing. Completely dark. Or else.

Why go outside? Too many obstacles to trip over. Why fall down a flight of stairs if I can’t see? Trip off a curb and fall into the street? Walk right into a telephone pole? Or a street sign? No, more dangerous out there than it is in here. At least I have an idea where things are, ever though I keep stubbing my toe on that table leg. I stubbed my toe so many times, it hurts even if I kick that leg with my shoes on. Damn thing, I’ll have to move it in the morning when I can see again.

The rising sun is such a blessing. Being in complete darkness is so depressing. At least they can’t take daylight away from me. Everyone taking advantage of the daytime, running their errands and going to work. If they have to work after the sun goes down, they are in trouble. They can’t drive home in the dark, they have to use headlights which aren’t allowed. They’re stranded wherever they are when the sun goes down.

At least I’m in my house. And I can go out on my porch. I don’t want to chance going any farther than that. I can find my front door and the chairs on the porch, so I can do that at least. If I want to take a drink with me, I’ll have to root around in the dark refrigerator. I can’t even have a light bulb in there. Nothing else is shaped like a Coke bottle so I can at least find one of those.

We have power, but just can’t use it for lights. The fridge has power. That’s a good thing. I can turn on the fan in my room if I want to. They keep threatening to shut off the electricity if people don’t follow the rules, but so far, they haven’t. People must be taking this seriously.

Still, I don’t like being told I can’t do things like turn on a light so I can read a book or switch on the TV.

I used to like to go out at night. I like going to the movies. Or going out to eat, or having a few drinks at the American Legion. They all need lights. I’m a war veteran and I can’t go have a drink at my Legion Post.

It does save me money, though. No lights equals smaller electric bills. Not going out saves me money too. I can get back and forth from work during daylight, so I can save my paychecks and not spend it all on things I really don’t need. A blessing in disguise, maybe, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Seeing the incredible night sky, so many stars out there you don’t see when so many lights are normally on. This is what people in the old days were treated to. No lights? Go outside and be wowed by the sky at night.

So here it is, another dreary night in the dark. I know they are out there, bossing us around, making sure we are all complying. Here and there I hear a whistle, like a policeman uses. That tells me someone has a light on and they had better shut it off. I hope that guy does, or else we’ll all be paying for it when they shut the power off.

It is so quiet I can hear my neighbor in his house. Walking around, whistling, singing. Sometimes I hear him going for a walk, no matter what time of the day or night, tapping along with his walking stick. Always seems so happy. People used to pity him, but not anymore. This is just another night for him. He is totally blind.

Then I hear it. Several whistles being blown at once. Rapidly. No, it isn’t for someone with a light on. This is the signal we don’t want to hear. The ones we were warned about. Why we needed to be in the dark in the first place.

I always thought living along the oceanfront would be such a great thing to do. It usually was. Walk right across the street and the boardwalk to the ocean. Beautiful summers, and even in the cold winter months, just for the view. Watching the sunrise was always such a treat, if I get up early enough, that is.

But things changed abruptly. Living at the oceanfront turned into a major problem.

I hear the whistles again. An emergency. This is what we’ve been warned about, over and over.

Offshore, if they can’t see us, they won’t be sure of where they are and we will be safe.

Those damn German subs have been spotted again. Why don’t they leave us alone?

September 05, 2020 18:15

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Katina Foster
15:55 Sep 12, 2020

Very interesting take on the prompt! I like that you leave the reveal for the very end. It had me guessing the whole time. Is it monsters? Aliens? Oh, it's just humans... of course! The scariest of the bunch. :) I love the little details like seeing the night sky. I often wish we could have a worldwide lights off night every once in a while to get a taste of what our ancestors saw in the night sky. And stubbing your toe - who can't relate to that? Excellent work! Looking forward to reading more of your stuff!


Gary Crawford
14:20 Sep 15, 2020

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


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