They expected the blackout.
The weather hadn't been kind in the past few days, rain was on and off, and apparently a storm is coming. Considering everything, a power outage is the least of their worries.
The clouds are grey overhead, and with it, everything looks dull and slow, devoid of life, yet the dark cloud stays as some sort of impending doom among the sky. That didn't stop Evan nor the majority of the city from going out for groceries and supplies. The grocery stores and supermaket around the area are all bustling with costumers, some are just casually shopping, some looking impatient by the long line in the checkout counters, while some are frantic, hoarding things in their shopping carts in ridiculous amounts. He thinks those people are paranoid. The storm isn't that strong and would last probably 3 days at most, and yet they are preparing as though it would last months.
He, himself, is preparing. Though, he lives alone now, he doesn't have to worry about having to buy food for more than one person. Holding the grocery basket in his hand, Evan continued his walk through the aisles of the supermarket but stopped when his eyes caught something. It was a plug-in nightlight, those kinds that parents would buy their children who are afraid to sleep in the dark and would refuse to unless a source of light is open. This one is a simple one the LED seems to be blue in colour as he could see in the packaging.
He wasn't afraid of the dark as a child, but he remember that his brother used to be. He would always cry and scream about some monster under his bed or closet or peeking through the gap in the doorway whenever their mother does as much as turn off the light.
Their parents always does their best to assure him that it's fine, and then Mother would plug in the nightlight. Their's used to look like an orange, because his brother's favourite fruit were oranges. And it emits an orange light that he used to think at the time was annoying to look at. But it always does the trick, and his brother would then quiet down while he was forced to endure trying to get some sleep despite the glaring orange light that he can still see through his closed eyelids. Young Evan would have to suffer through all of this until Mother would take his brother with her and he would be left with Father.
His Father was a good man, and an even better father, but probably not the best husband. But then again, neither had their mother been the best wife. There were too many arguments, too much disagreements between them that, at the end of the day, divorce was the best option to be had. Separating their children, horever, might not have been. But he and his brother never really got along well either.
Did he love his brother? Dearly. What else could be the reason that he endured those nights looking anywhere but the hideous orange nightlight plugged the foot side of his bed? And now, every time he sees anything orange, he remembers his brother.
He found his gaze shifting back to the nightlight and, after little hesitation, puts it in his basket.
Something tells him that he needs to buy a flashlight as well, just in case.
The skies were still dim by the time he got to his apartment. If anything, it looks just about worse than before. This time, the streets were damp, slippery, and muddy, and he caught his own reflection in one of the puddles on the sidewalk. It looks blurry. It's been a long exhausting day.
He walked in his apartment room and switched on the lights, the artificial lights did a sufficient job at lighting up the entire room. It looks brighter inside his apartment than it is outside, he mused.
He unpacked the groceries, which again, isn't a lot, and in doing so, came across the nightlight once again. To be quite honest, he wasn't sure why he bought the thing. It wasn't as if it's expensive, no. But he doesn't really have a use for it. He doesn't have trouble sleeping, if anything, he falls asleep quite easily.
Maybe it was just the part of him that misses his brother and the childhood they shared so much that he impulsively bought something as random as a nightlight.
He shrugged to himself and picked it up. He left the flashlight he bought in the table for now with the batteries next to it.
He plugged the nightlight in, only to discover it didn't just have a plain blue LED, but changes its colour every now and then. He blinked, and blinked again, then looked at the packaging, and back to the nightlight that is now in his wall. Then, for some reason, something urged him to turn off the lights.
Blue. Green. Yellow. Orange. Red. Pink. White. Blue. Green. And the cycle repeats again.
He could see why children would like these things. Just looking at it change colors causes a sense of nostalgia to course through him. It made him feel like a kid again, somehow. Playful, and yet somehow wanting to sleep. It's almost like hypnotising, watching the light change from one colour to another.
It got to about 10 cycles of colour until he started questioning about what he is doing with his life and went to stand to turn on the lights once again when the nightlight suddenly turned off. His initial thought was that it was defective and broke way too easily, but was proven wrong when he tried to switch on the light, only for absolutely nothing to happen.
It seems like there is a power outage.
He fished out his phone from his pocket immediately and used it as a flashlight, immediately came looking for the windows in hopes of finding any other light source. He drew his curtains open and was met with nothing.
Everything in the city is surrounded by darkness, but it's not like this is a surprise.
They expected the blackout, afterall.
Just now, he became aware of the sound of pouring rain from the outside. He must have tuned it out as a white noise when he was lost in a trance watching that godfarsaken nightlight. But, at the very least, he got his groceries sorted before the lights went off.
He drew the curtains close and went to bed.
He woke up to the feeling of being watched. The first thing he became aware to is the sound of shuffling in the darkness.
Distantly, he can hear horrified screams, pleads and yells of agony, but he couldn't quite take his eyes away from the two little floating balls of yellow light in front of him. It's hard to notice anything else when everything around him is pitch black, being swallowed by a void of nothingness, and there is no reflection, so vast yet oh-so-small, and it's suffocating. He felt uneasy, a trickle of sweat falling down the back of his neck.
It occasionally moves, he notices, bobbing up and down. And he thinks he knows why, but he couldn't bring himself to accept it. His mind conflicted with logic and the belief of things that shouldn't exist. Any other day, he might have found him talking himself out of thinking something so ridiculous , but right now, he's convinced, that it moves like that because it's breathing.
Those weren't just balls of strange light. Those were eyes. THOSE WERE EYES!
And they're staring at him right now, waiting. For what? He doesn't know. But he knew he didn't want to find out.
But he's frozen. In fear? Confusion? Maybe. The only thing he knows is that he can't bring himself to move and that he's terrified.
Just then, in the darkness, unable to breathe without worrying about the dangers lurking near and ready to pounce at him at any given moment, something his mind cannot comprehend, he wondered if this was how Ben had felt.
A sudden lightning flashes, illuminating his surroundings, just for a few couple of seconds.
There are a number of things they expected to see. Something akin to a beast, something that resembles a lion or a tiger or a bear with sharp teeth and claws that could tear him apart to pieces easily; a being seemingly made of shadows, something unwordly, something no one has ever seen before and could only imagine; or something resembling a human, so close, and yet so unsettlingly wrong.
What he didn't exepect to see was nothing.
And for a split second, he can see. For a split second he felt relief because he is wrong, his mind is wrong, and it's merely playing tricks with him, making him think of horrors in the darkness that wasn't there. For a split second, the flash of light that would have otherwise been the cause of shock gave him hope.
Oh how he wishes that was true, because as soon as the light came, it goes, and the eyes are there again. Then, It, whatever it is, let out a sound that is definitely not the loud thunder that followed it.
His heart leapt to his throat.
But his mind, finally working, came to a conclusion: The monster disappears in the light.
With a newfound speed he never knew he had before, he instinctively reach out for his bedside table and grabbed his phone, turning it one and letting the bluish light spread among his the foot side of his bed, just before the monster successfully catches it's prey.
For a split second, he could breathe again, before his survival senses kicked in, telling him to run as fast as he can. But he couldn't, because there was no light that can protect him. He had to do this carefully, or else he's dead.
The thing about phones is that the screen turns off after a certain number of time. He can't turn his phone's flashlight on, doing so would mean to have to turn the screen towards him.
He only has a limited number of time.
Slowly, so agonizingly slow, he gets off the bed, making sure to keep his screen towards where he thinks it is, backing away towards the direction where he remembers the door was.
On his way, he bumped into something, only to realize it was the table. Any other day, he would have cursed it for giving him a heart attack, but then he remembered something very important.
But it wasn't yet loaded with batteries, and he really doesn't have time to load it and keep the phone screen at it's direction. Instead, he used his free hand to feel around the table until his hand caught something that feels like a flashlight, and the packet next to it. Then, he continued walking, slowly but surely.
He reached the door, felt for the doorknob...
His phone turned off.
He made a run for it.
So many things happened in the span of a few hours but, strangely, he can't remember any of them in detail, as though the memory of what had just transpired has been taken out of his mind until nothing was left but a blurry, incomprehensible imitation of the events.
He found himself currently in some sort of evacuation area, where there are less people than there probably should be. He can't make himself to imagine what must have happened to the ones who weren't here.
He looked down at himself, at his hands, where there is his flashlight that us now with batteries. In his pocket is his phone. He's bare foot, he wears no shoes, just slippers that he usually wears inside. All he wears is a jumper and sweatpants that are now muddy at the bottom due to him running through the muddy road.
There was a point where his eyes began to adjust to the darkness, and he didn't know whether or not that was a good thing, whether or not he is prepared to see through the dark blanket of void around them, whether or not he wanted to witness whatever monstrosity hides in his blindness.
Others definitely are not. To his left, he sees Ernie Barton. He remembers him back from university, that one guy everyone somehow knows through parties he would always attend. Always drunk off his knockers, doing whatever seems to be the dumbest things to do at the moment. But now he is burning his retinas by staring straight into the one flashlight he managed to grab in a desperate attempt to have whatever semblance of light there is left. The people around him looks visibly disturbed, clearly wanting to berate him, shake him out of the space he had wandered off to, beg him to cling to the tiny part of his sanity he has left, but they let him be. No one knows how long they will last, it seems like they deemed interfering with a man's descent to insanity is not worth their precious seconds.
He turned to his right where there is a tiny opening where he can see the sky. However, there wasn't much to look at.
He wished there where still stars in the sky, wished he can still see the moon and their natural beauty. A beautiful natural light show in itself, a contrast among the dark of the night. He remembers wanting to become an astronaut as a child, just like he is sure almost every single kid had once. He ignored the bitter voice in the back of his mind saying there is no chance of that happening now. Instead, he chose to let himself be lost for a moment, just staring at the sky, forget the troubles that exists at the moment, and wish for the moon and the stars to be there, to shine down upon him and light the land in a way that the sun never have done.
The sun's light is temperamental, it comes and goes depending on the clouds that passes it by, it's strong and warm, and it makes the shadows dance and rejoice in it's wake. But at night, the Moon and the stars' light is gentle and soft as the shadows stands still as though they are as mesmerized as young Evan was.
He longs for the comfort of their familiarity . But right now, they are hidden behind the clouds, away from his sight, and there is no light to even peek through the crevices. No light at all.
He felt a chill go down his spine when a thought occured to him.
Was it only clouds that were hiding them? Or something more peculiar? More sinister?
Evan's grip on his flashlight became tighter.
He could only wish for day to come soon.
The people around him, though very few, are loud. They kept talking and talking and talking, desperate to simulate their sense of hearing to make up for the lack of another.
A girl next to him keeps trying to talk to him, but he couldn't find the energy to engage in a conversation when his mind is tired of trying to make sense of such a strange phenomenon, tired of coming up with ways that this could turn out, tired of hatching out escape plans, wanting to be a step ahead.
He wonders if this is happening only in their city. Are there any place suffering the same fate? Is it happening everywhere? Are his loved ones safe? Or has it gotten to them, tearing them apart from limb to limb, forcing screams out of their mouths until they can't produce any sound anymore, just like the victims he had come across?
An awful screeching noise of a baby reached his ears.
He can feel a headache coming.
He buried his face in his hands and sighed. The girl next to him suddenly grew quiet.
He closed his eyes for a moment.
When the last cobwebs of blur faded away from his consciousness, he suddenly became aware of the obnoxious exclamations from the people
They were saying something, and it took his exhausted mind embarrassingly slow to decipher what it is. It wasn't until his eyes were blasted by the sudden ray of light from the outside did he understand.
Is it morning already? Are they safe?
He doesn't think he'd ever wanted to see the sun this bad again, not since he had been a kid who came from being grounded.
The doors were already opened, as though waiting for him. And he never felt more like he was racing towards the light at the end of the tunnel than this moment.
He took a step outside and let's himself bask in the sunlight for the first time again since what felt like eternity, and he opened his eyes which he didn't realize was closed until now. He felt his stomach drop.
The sun looks wrong.
The sky looks wrong.
Everything looks wrong.
Nothing about this is familiar to him, and neither does it seem to everyone else. He looked around frantically. For what, he doesn't know. To ask a question he might never get the answer to?
Everyone looks as though they are in a trance, staring at the huge burning ball in the red sky, casting a glow that paints everything the light touches an eerie crimson color.
Red Red RedredredrEDREDREDREDRED
There was moment of silence, and any other day, it might have looked solemn. A moment where humanity have congregated to stand together to send a message, to fight for what's right.
And then there was chaos, and confusion, tears, hopelessness, and an overwhelming sense of grief.
Because this isn't any other day. Yesterday isn't any other day.
It was the day they expected the Blackout.
They didn't expect what comes after.