Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
I think it was several weeks ago when it started. The electronics in my house started flickering on and off. At first, it was just a minor annoyance. I’d be on the internet, and my computer would shut down. Or I’d be cooking something in the oven, and it’d turn off halfway through. I called an electrician, who said that the wiring in my house was in tip-top shape. Not believing him, I called several more electricians, all of whom said the same thing. I tried using less electricity in the house, thinking I was overloading it. Eventually, I learned to live with it.
What sparked my attention was when my co-workers began to complain of the same thing. The woman in the cubicle over from mine confided in me that her iPod had died, with a full battery, then resumed working minutes later. Soon, we were hearing bits and pieces about it on the news. They told us that the problem would be fixed soon, and nothing more. I soon found out that it wasn’t just our area afflicted. Many areas across the country- and, later on I’d find out, across the world- were being affected.
Things began to get worse. By now, many were used to just one or two of their electronic devices not working at once. But when they began to all shut off at once, and then not work for hours on end, the panic grew. There was no explanation. The media couldn’t tell us why, the electricians couldn’t tell us why. Then the generators started failing. Most schools and office buildings, and even some private homes, have generators for when the electricity goes out. The generators were working just fine, and then, like their electronic relatives, they began to not work. Children had to go to school in complete darkness on some days. I even remember having to navigate my way through my office building with a flashlight; before the flashlight stopped working, of course.
When the lights stopped turning back on, people began to panic. No matter what was done, some homes were completely left in the dark. Panic set in. Without any media access, people were quite literally in the dark about things. Then the madness started. People screaming that they were hearing or seeing things. The woman in the cubicle over from mine had a manic episode. I assume that it was fairly bad, because she stapled her own eyelids. Or so I heard, since by then our building had completely lost power.
Society began to break. Electronics keep our species in touch, in the light, and entertained. Without these things we weren’t seeing what was happening in the world. I stopped going to work. No one was really going anywhere anymore; people were staying at home, stockpiling food and survival necessities, and taking care of their loved ones who were suffering from delusions. During the day- the only time where there was light, now- I saw a man collapse on my lawn. I rushed out to help him, but as soon as I got near him, he started screaming and clawing at the air.
“Oh god, the lights! We need the lights! Turn them back on, please!”
I was afraid to approach him. I took a few steps closer, until what he said stunned me.
“They’ll come if we don’t have the lights! Come for us all! Man, woman, child!”
I felt my hair stand up on end. I’m a rational, church going man, but the way this man was screaming, the way his eyes looked, I felt that he may not be just suffering from a delusion.
I would have asked the man more, but he collapsed, his heart giving out to another attack. He lay on his face in the light of my lawn. I didn’t want to leave him there, but I couldn’t call the police, and I’d never seen his face in this neighborhood. I ended up dragging him to the police station across town, even though I knew the cops wouldn’t be there. By the time I made my way back, the sun was setting, its yellow and orange penumbra stretching over the horizon as night approached. I felt my hair stand on end again as I rushed to my house, slamming the door shut behind me.
An hour later, I was almost drifting off to sleep- I didn’t do much else, these days- when a godless shriek of pure agony ripped the air like a cleaver through steam. A bloodcurdling scream, coming from a few houses over. I shot up in bed, and bolted to the house. A few others joined me as we waited to see what was wrong. However, no one came to the door, no one cried for help. One of the men who had come to help decided to check it out. He busted down the door, and disappeared into the darkness inside. A few moments later, we heard his scream, too. But, as we were closer this time, we also heard brand new noises.
The sickening suction and then tearing sound of flesh being torn from bone, of two-toned inhuman laughter, of blood splattering the walls like the canvas of a modern artist.
My next memory is arriving back home. If I think deeply on it, I remember seeing one of them, through one of the house’s windows. Just it’s bright golden eyes, of course. The being itself was black, matching the darkness it lives in. Of course, it did have those teeth. Oh God, those teeth. When it smiled at me through that window, I saw them. Shiny and white and sharp, the entrails of innards of its victims hanging from them like streamers.
And now here I am. I’ve locked myself in my room, only the moonlight from my yellowed circular window to guide my pen as I write this.The panic outside is audible; they’re trying to fight whatever that monster was, but failing. I hear more and more screams as those who were too brave or too stupid (One part brave, two parts fool) to run attack the beast. I’m almost certain that if I looked I would dry heave, the scent of blood was almost pungent in the air, even at this height. Could they really take pleasure in killing these humans? What kind of monster would enjoy that? More crunching of bones, more blood staining the streets. It’s all I’ve had the pleasure of listening to for the past few hours. I’m surprised I haven’t completely lost my goat, yet.
I’ve had time to think, too. This is why we’re afraid of the dark. These things ARE the dark, the worst of it. They’re the reason that children have to sleep with a nightlight on. Light kills them. That’s why they don’t attack during the daylight. Or whenever there’s even the smallest amount of light, even coming from a computer screen. They’re careful about appearing to humans- When it’s not mealtime, of course- but now I know why everyone’s afraid of the dark when they’re a kid. I remember, now, seeing one of them out of the corner of my eye when I was five years old. My mother told me I was just seeing things, that it wasn’t real, that it didn’t exist.
If I can hold out for a few more hours, daylight will come. Maybe help will come. But they won’t be able to attack me. I’ll be safe. But that probably won’t happen, since I can hear them downstairs, now. I can hear them as they run through the rooms searching for their next game. Next kill. Next feast. They’re knocking over tables and chairs, tearing up the walls. They’re coming for me, and that deadbolt locked door isn’t going to hold them off. I’m going to suffer the same fate as those people in the streets.
The quiet thud of my pen dropping onto my bed jolts me upright. I toss the padded paper aside, grabbing onto the Chefs knife that I had taken upstairs with me I wait.
I can hear their claws scraping at the door, tapping the knob and receiving a pleasant clinging noise. Like when you hit a spoon and a pan together. I hear another two toned giggle, one tone as pleasant and innocent as that of a child, the other as dark and as sinister as the devil himself.
I grip the knife that I had stolen from the kitchen on my way up, clutching it with a sense of false courage. I know that this won’t do anything more than the guns did in the street. Absolutely nothing.
My knuckles are white, and I know I should be focused on survival, but all I can think about is why? Why did this have to happen? What turned the lights out? Was it just our time as humans to go? Was it just time for our species to end?
My thoughts were traveling at a speed I could barely comprehend, and then they all stopped as the horrific creaking noise of my door opening slowly tears through my pseudo confidence, my eyes meeting one of theirs. I drop the knife, fingers losing their ability to hold on any longer.
They’re approaching me, moving slowly, their teeth curled in hideous grins. I fumble for the knife, swinging it wildly as they approach. It moves through their bodies like air.
It’s funny, the last thing I remember is my mother telling me that they aren’t real. That they don’t exist.
And you can’t kill what doesn’t exist.