“Frozen In Darkness” by Lee Kendrick
Suddenly the lights went out, and I was in complete darkness. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t in the middle of winter, but temperatures were now below zero in London. I had just been watching an episode of my favourite old tv series, “Interpol Calling.”Very annoying when I was enjoying it, too. It must have been about 6.15 when this power cut occurred. In London in winter, It gets dark around five o’clock. So the power outage indeed came at not a good time.
I looked out of my flat window, and it was pitch black. It was very eerie to see. Or, in this case, not see anything.
Coincidently, I have been learning on YouTube how to prep for such events. I have been preparing for such things for months by regularly stocking up on dog food and all the essentials I need for the next few months. Fortunately for me, I won’t be alone in the dark. I have my two Bichon mix dogs, Bow and Lilly, to keep me company; both seemed apprehensive as they started to bark. I calmed them down with some doggie treats and a cuddle, stroking them to let them know things are okay.
I had been looking on YouTube recently, and there had been many warnings of pending disasters. Now call me gullible, if you like, but If one of the following should occur, such as what the bible says, there will be three days of darkness, or a meteor will hit the Earth, and there will be an alien invasion! And if one of these occurred and I survived, I’d like to be as comfortable as possible until rescue came.
But creepily, all these things were to take place this very week! So to me, it seemed to make it more plausible that the chances of an apocalyptic event taking place were relatively high. But, of course, only last week I had mentioned all this to my brothers and sisters, and all I got was funny looks and, “ you don’t believe in that rubbish, do you? It’s all conspiracy theories?” But, being the eldest son and eldest in the family, I felt it kind of my duty to at least try to warn them of the impending danger. I just hope nothing does happen for their sake.
Because there is no electricity, many people are going to find it challenging to cope. Fortunately, I recently purchased a little camping stove that uses alcohol burners to boil water to make tea, soups, etc.
Without the central heating on now, I have noticed my feet feeling icy, and the poor dogs must be feeling cold too. So I pulled out my Buddy heater, which runs on propane gas. Luckily, I had recently bought this for such an emergency. Then I covered the dogs on the sofa with a warm blanket. And then, I placed a couple of hot water bottles around the blankets for extra warmth. So together, the dogs and I, with our body heat, are toasty. I plan just to use the Living room to stay in until this power cut ends.
As I lie on the sofa with the dogs, I entertain myself by watching some comedy videos I had saved on YouTube.
But, unfortunately, after a few hours, at eleven o’clock, there was still no electricity. So, with still an hour charge left on all my devices, I saved them until the next day.
At twelve, I decided to go to bed, thinking this isn’t just a local outage but is something else! Maybe tomorrow I will know more. So I put out the candles and put the two sofas together so the dogs and I can sleep snuggly. With thick blankets now covering us, we are warm and comfortable.
At around 2 a.m, I woke up to go to the bathroom. Then I heard a helicopter buzzing outside. So my suspicious mind is aroused “it’s probably a police helicopter or Black Oops!” I think. Then, finally, I went back to bed, hoping the electricity would be back on by morning.
When morning came, there was still no electricity. So as soon as I could, I took the dogs out. There were a few people about, and I managed to ask a man if he had heard any news about the power cut; he said he was as much in the dark as I was about it. Then, realizing what he had just said, we both laughed.
After getting back home, the dogs and I had some breakfast. And I had some hot porridge and a cup of tea to warm me up. But, unfortunately, the temperature felt like it had dropped a few more degrees. I knew this must be the case because my feet always feel icy first when it gets colder.
As I looked out the living room window, I could see It was starting to snow. Firstly small flakes, then gradually getting bigger, and within minutes, a blanket of snow soon covered the kid’s play area and the surrounding greenery in the estate.
Still, without electricity, my mind started to think maybe this apocalyptic thing may happen after all. But I soon shrugged it off, as whenever something like this has happened before, with a power outage; fortunately, nothing has ever happened; So why should I worry?
It is like my brothers and sisters say,” it’s all nonsense and
Just crackpot conspiracy theories!”
It soon becomes dark outside again as it reaches 5 p.m.
I light the candles to bring enough light into the flat; then, I prepare a meal for the dogs and myself.
After enjoying a big bowl of tomato soup with crackers and a cup of tea, I thought I’d pass the time away by reading some short stories on my kindle.
After an hour or so, I just sat on the sofa and rested with my dogs. Then a train of thought raced through my mind, “indeed, if it were an ordinary power cut, we would have had it sorted by now, wouldn’t we?”
The temperatures seem to be getting colder now. So I switched the portable heater back on. Soon the dogs and I are feeling toasty in no time. Finally, It’s nearly time for bed again; I put the candles out and snuggle up in bed with my dogs.
As usual, I got up to go to the bathroom and noticed the time said 2.15 a.m. on my mobile. As I washed my hands, I could hear not one but several helicopters in the background. I was sure they were Chinooks. “So what were they doing at this early hour, I wondered?”
"Chinooks are troop carriers; could they be carrying special forces - SAS soldiers, and if so, why?" I thought. My mind was racing, thinking of all kinds of scenarios. But I was too tired and cold to stay any longer in the bathroom. So I went back to bed, snuggling up to the dogs to get warmer.
As I lay in bed, I hoped the power would be back on In the morning; soon, I fell back to sleep.
When I woke up, the first thing I did was cross my fingers and pray the electricity was back on.”Here goes,” I thought as I pressed the light switch to the living room. “Nothing!” I felt despondent as if there was no hope.
Things were now getting me down! Doom and gloom filled my mind, and I just couldn’t shrug it off! So I sat down and started slowly to put things into perspective. Alright, there’s no electricity, and, It’s cold. So, right, let’s now look on the positive side: I have daylight for a few hours, until about 5 p.m. Then, when it’s dark, the candles take over for a few hours to give me light; I can have a hot meal and a hot drink, tea, or coffee. I have some heating too, and I am also well-stocked up with food and other essentials. But, "come on, man!” I shouted to myself. It shouldn’t be too long before the power is back on again!
I have had mood swings before this power cut, and whenever things look hopeless, I would psych myself out of them. The trick is not to let moods get entrenched.
There’s a great song from the Monty Python film,” The Life Of Brian” - “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.” It’s a great ‘pep-you-up’ when you sing or whistle it a few times.
Just then, I started to think about my brothers and sisters and their children and how they may be coping. But unfortunately, they had no preparation for this power outage as I did. I just wish they had listened to me rather than be Ignorant and stubborn. I just hope they are alright!
After breakfast, I took my dogs out for an extra-long walk to help de-stress them and rid them of pent-up energy in the local park. Just then, it started to snow.
On the way back home, suddenly I could hear a loudhailer, and someone was giving out a message. Then turning into the street where I live, I spotted a police car moving very slowly, shouting out an important message from their loudhailer: “Everyone, please stay indoors for your safety, and do not go out until further notice!” They repeated this over and over again.
When the dogs and I got back home, I sat down, drinking a cup of tea, and wondered why the police wanted everyone to stay at home? This message was a real puzzle to me!
An hour had passed when I noticed through the window a heavy snow shower. It was so thick I couldn’t discern any snowflakes. I had never seen snow like it before! At this point, I noticed my feet felt like ice blocks. The temperature must be something like minus ten degrees out there now and just above freezing in here. I quickly put on the heater in the living room, put on some foot warmers. Then I noticed the dogs were shivering violently, so I covered them with extra warm blankets. Finally, we all settled down and lay huddled together, keeping each other warm on the sofa.
After a few hours, I noticed it was growing dark, so I lit all the candles in the flat. By now I was feeling colder; so I prepared a hot meal of vegetable soup and some bread.,and fed the dogs. As every hour passed, it seemed to get colder. I switched the Buddy on to warm up the room and looked out the window; I saw a lady and child walking towards the opposite block to mine and a man walking his dog. People seemed to ignore the police message of staying indoors! After an hour, it was impossible to see anything outside.
After a few hours, I had used up all my devices’ power after reading some short stories and watched some more comedy sketches on YouTube.
After a while, I peeped out the window and saw it was pitch black. Then I looked on my patio; with my torch and saw it covered in snow two feet deep.
Later the dogs and I lay on the sofa, now finding it more challenging to keep warm as we were before. The temperature must have plummeted outside, and the wind had picked up, getting much more robust.
So I went and got another cover from the bedroom. I noticed there was a build-up of sheets of ice on the window. The wind was now howling like a wolf, and then there was a rushing sound, reminiscent of a thundering steam train. Just then, my dogs started howling.
Something was wrong; I could sense a foreboding. Just then, my legs started to stiffen up. “What’s going on?” I murmured. Then as I painfully, slowly walked towards my dogs in the living room, I saw Ice emanate from my breath.
Each breath produced ice crystals, forming like a quartz structure. My heart was now pounding, and I was fearful for the dogs. First, they were barking; then, their barks decreased into a whimper. Finally, I realised what was precisely happening; I knew now my dogs were dying! There was only one chance, maybe to save them and myself. But my life force was ebbing fast. Somehow, I had to turn round and get back to my bedroom. Struggling for breath and walking like a sloth, I inched my way in pain towards my bedroom. Then, as I entered the bedroom, I caught sight of ice literally growing steadily across the window, like watching a time-lapse video; Gradually thickening. Giving off a strange crack-like sound as it developed. I quickly grabbed the mattress and closed the door. Slowly dragging it across the floor. I felt like I was an antarctic explorer as I struggled in a blizzard to get to my tent to safety. As I gradually slid the mattress towards the living room, I became aware that the dogs were now silent. I feared the worst.
Finally, and In much pain and hardly being able to breathe, I managed to get into the living room. I could see both dogs looking lifeless on the sofa as I lifted the mattress to the window. The window started to rattle and crack as I just managed to cover it with the mattress. I went over to my dogs, covered them tent-like with another blanket, and cuddled up to them, hoping to use my body heat to revive them. By now, the wind was deafening, and the temperature must have been so low, ice formed in the air.
The wind was so loud now that It was hurting my ears. I could also hear the window cracking more and more, and any moment now, the window would cave in! I prepared for the worst! Finally, drained of energy, I drifted off to sleep, knowing my time’s up. “At least I can be with my beloved dogs when I die!” were my last thoughts.
“But wait!”, what must have been hours gone by, the wind had stopped, and I felt warmth course through my veins, bringing me to life again. And my breathing became easier now. Just then, my dogs revived and started to lick my face like mad as I cuddled and stroked them, as I had never done so before! I looked back at the window and saw it was free of ice and never caved in. I checked outside, and although the snow must’ve been a few feet deep, everything seemed okay and still again.
Except! The council must have put some statues around the estate grounds. Some were by the kid’s play park; others were standing in front of some of the block entrances. “Why on Earth would they put statues in the estate?”I thought, “How ridiculous!”Maybe they are prominent figures from history to remind us of our heroes?”
Anyway, after a good hearty breakfast, I went downstairs to take my dogs for a walk. As I buzzed to open the entrance door, the dogs started to bark madly. Standing at the entrance was Mr. Raja Singh, a friendly neighbour since I moved here eighteen years ago. I greeted him with a “hello,” I said, but he didn’t respond. It was unusual as he always greeted me with his jovial self. But, looking closer, I could see Raja’s terrified, frozen face and his rigid arm extended, with his hand holding his fob key, just inches away from the intercom, frantically trying in vain to get in!
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Hi, thanks for sharing the story! I thought the pacing in the narrative was a little off. The plot is very linear, with the protagonist eating breakfast a lot and walking the dogs, which would be totally understandable if these events were interspersed with moments of suspense and tension, thus building up to an inevitable finale. I think perhaps the wind could start picking up sooner, making the protagonist somewhat anxious? I hope this makes sense!
Thank you for your constructive comments. I have taken on board what you have said, and with some time still remaining before the contest ends, I have made a few adjustments. Before this, I was going to work more on the bedroom window incident, and there was a niggle at the back of my mind to make the story flow better. So I hope I managed to at least improve the story a little! Thanks again, Nina. Best of luck in your writing