The Night Of The Blackout

Written in response to: Set your story during a complete city or nation-wide blackout.... view prompt

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Horror Transgender

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

It started with the lights. 

Circuit by circuit, grid by grid, everything flickered, then the light fell out of its place like it was never there to begin with. Lyka didn’t know what it meant, no one did, not until a while later, when the first things began emerging. But as it stood, the tech generation was on a warpath. 

The grids erupted in groans, frustrated noises and the sounds of people banging on whatever device, the clicking of generators and breakers being turned off and on again. Then they took to the streets. 

Lyka was one of them, of course she was, she was young and unafraid. Foolish, people would later say, but Lyka would tell you otherwise. No one knew what would happen that night, what would keep happening for years. How could they? The sounds of stomping filled the cities and suburbs as people rallied together, paraded through the streets encouraged by their neighbors outside windows. It was shaping up to be a night of camaraderie, a night of unity. 

Lyka themself had been on a call with a friend. Angie had been laughing about something lost to time ages ago in Lyka’s memory when everything sputtered then died. They panicked at first, worrying their lovely homemade PC was shorted by the sudden outage. They took 10 minutes checking over what they could before resigning themself to just restarting the breaker. 

They stepped outside their family home (the home they used to share with people they loved, people they lost) when they noticed the streetlights were out. The neighbor across the street from them creaked open their door, flashlight in hand, and soon enough most of their neighbors were outside. Confused chatter and shouted questions were all that filled the air, until a dull stomp stomp stomp came. A crowd came down the street, loud enough to wake the dead, cheering and hooting and hollering like they were something wild. And it was infectious. So quickly, Lyka was swept into the energy, running back inside to grab their shoes and tying them as quick as possible, smiling as they rushed out onto the street. It was something to do, it was a story to tell, and most importantly, it was fun.

They ended up cheering next to a girl wrapped up in warm pajamas covered in bunny patterns. Lyka couldn't tell anyone why that was what they remembered, but it was. Rabbit, the name Lyka gave to her, seemed tired but excited, her voice still crackling with sleep as she shouted. Lyka’s heart swelled like light itself, in wonder. They wanted to know who sparked this, who caused this, but was content for now to holler. The others would howl, and then more would howl back, like wolves. Their voracity was unmatched, yelling to yell and screaming to get more to join the crowd. They swallowed the energy, each person being sustained by the excitement of the crowd that was palpable in the air. 

Rabbit was one of the first to notice, same as Lyka, that something was wrong. Electricity began crackling in the air, giving any point of contact a shock. No one else noticed at first, too excited and preoccupied by their messing about. On long nights with nothing but the dark for company, Lyka wonders if the rest of the crowd just thought it was the adrenaline, the rush, that made the buzzing in the air. Rabbit’s eyes widened as she looked just behind Lyka, terrified. When Lyka turned, they saw it too.

Apparating out of the ground or falling like thick, sticky ink from power lines, crawling out of tvs and monitors that briefly flickered on. Some slithered down streetlights like snakes, some came from plugs on the exterior of houses, more crawled from the windows of dark houses. Lyka had spent years after that day seeing them, and yet they still couldnt describe them. The things were like ink or a school of fish, pulsing and ever changing and moving. But that wasn't the worst part. The veins were. When the skin of a person begins to become transparent and you can see their veins under their skin, it was like that. Pulsing veins of gold yellow or blue white crisscrossing like some sick slow heart. 

At first, some people didn’t notice. Then, the screams started.

Not the same way they had been, no, these were blood curdling, lung piercing screams. They were fearful. 

Lyka grabbed Rabbit’s arm and ran with her on first instinct, terrified to look back, and was dragged down by Rabbit when she did look back and tripped over her own feet. Lyka got up quickly and while holding out a hand for Rabbit, they saw them. The smell of burning hair and ozone, and the sound of crackling and popping and sizzling were the only things in the night. A body dropped and Lyka watched as one of the things pulled away from it, leaving it bloody and burned and still convulsing. They couldn’t stop though, and the moment they reached the park, Lyka pushed Rabbit behind a bush. The pair caught their breath in their small hideout, heart pitter-pattering like a small animal. 

“What are those things?” Rabbit choked out, voice shaky and unsteady as her legs. She was shaking and she looked like she had been crying for a day and a half. 

“I don’t” Lyka swallowed “I don’t know. But I think we need to figure something out.” They spoke softly and slowly, eyes fixated on the thing as it set upon a man too slow to outrun it. 

A soft sob caught Lyka’s attention as Rabbit began to cry again, as quiet as she could. “I don’t wanna die” Rabbit begged, as if Lyka could make a difference. Maybe they could.

They shushed Rabbit and continued to watch, trying to find any weakness. It took time and an iron stomach, but soon enough Lyka saw it. A flashlight fell from a corpses hand, still on, and as the beam struck one of the things, it recoiled and crackled like a hiss. “I have an idea” Lyka said, “We need to get flashlights.” Then, Lyka prepared, going into a sprinters position.

“What the hell are you doing?” Rabbit hissed in a yell of a whisper, but before Lyka responded they had already ran out of the bush. They ran and felt the energy shift its attention toward them, but they were singleminded on that flashlight. When they grabbed it, they held it up in victory. Then they heard Rabbit scream, and before they could put their plan in action, they realized why. One of the things had swallowed their leg. 

It was pain, yes, but that wasnt all. It was the horrible sensation of muscle strands treated like power chords and feeling the energy pop under your skin, making your skin and muscles convulse and pulse in an entirely inhuman way. It was losing feeling and having entirely too much feeling at the same time, and it was knowing you were coming away with scars. Time paused, and Lyka can’t say how long it took to aim the flashlight and wrench their leg free. By the time they had, Rabbit had already fled. 

Lyka spent the rest of the night running, trying to tell as many people as possible. Collecting more scars, limping place to place. They knew their home was a lost cause, and even if it wasn’t, it was too dangerous. 

By the time morning had found them, Lyka was huddling where they and Rabbit had hidden before, stood awake the entire night. When day shone, the things stumbled and flickered. It took a bit of time for Lyka to figure out how much weaker they were in sunlight. They could barely sense anything, seemingly overwhelmed by the energy and light. They were still dangerous, but less so.

The things had different names depending on who you asked. The Lightless, Angels, Inks, Neons, Fireflies, even Zombies, despite how little the two things had in common. Lyka took to calling them Flickers. 

Lyka often wondered what happened to Rabbit. They never learned her name, they just called her Rabbit for the one thing they ever learned about her. Lyka carries the names of the dead or lost with them in a pocket book, and Rabbit was the first they ever wrote. Probably dead, Lyka knew, but they couldn't help wondering. If she was alive, what kind of life did she lead now? Did she have family? Or does she live a shadow of a life like Lyka, built on survival and not truly living. 

Rabbit was the first one they met in the new world, and the first one they lost. Rabbit was a symbol, one Lyka would not forget.

February 10, 2023 20:17

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