Saturday 24 June 2023

'Blackout' by T. A. Benefield

The lights had simply faded away.

One minute Nina had been watching the television, and the next she'd found herself in the dark. Looking out of the window she'd expected to see that the other houses had also been plunged into darkness. Instead, she saw a reality show on the television at Number Two (did they never close their curtains?), the hallway light at Number Four, and her next-door neighbour's porch light shining on the snow in the front garden.

Unreliable wiring was probably the reason why the Professor had let her have the place for such a low rent. At least the battery backup on the smoke detector was working, as she'd seen the green light reflecting on the ceiling. She'd have some warning if the house suddenly went up in flames.

For the next two hours, she checked all the switches and sockets and went to each of her neighbours, hoping that one of them could tell her why she had no power, but none of them would answer the frantic knocking on their doors. Not even the people at Number Two, whose television had changed to a different channel. All around her the darkness was growing and the temperature had plummeted; she could barely see the fog of her breath in the light from her phone.

She was cold, terrified of being alone in the dark, and exhausted. It was so dark that even the shadows had gone into hiding. As her eyes began to close, the light on the smoke detector winked at her. She never saw the small red light that flashed in the opposite corner of the ceiling before she gave in to her tiredness.

In an upstairs room at Number Two, a voice announced “Study complete.”

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