The most common question asked around a campfire was, “What were you doing when the lights went out forever?” It was the easiest way to make friends and the most inviting way to talk about memories forgotten.
Everybody had their own ideas as to why power stopped everywhere, but no one really knew. Nothing worked – no phones, no television, no cars… no internet. It wasn’t long after that the screaming started. The distrust became normal, paranoia was rampant, and everyone blamed everyone for everything.
I saw my first dead body when I was ten.
He seemed to stare at me with dry eyes. He was my neighbor. The police didn’t come and he was the first of many others. I saw people stabbed, shot, and beaten. I saw the dead piled in the backyards of my friends’ homes. Everyone kept to themselves and stayed in their homes at night.
I remember when the storms started. It wasn’t long after the lights went out but it was the day that no one speaks of. The heat, the humidity, and the gray skies provided the backdrop just before the first rain drop and the first rumble of thunder.
My father was gathering tools from the shed when the rain started… he was gone less than a minute later. My mother screamed out the window as lightning struck everywhere. Cars exploded, homes caught fire, trees shattered, and my ears bled. There were just SO many lightning bolts in the sky… they – they looked like the fingers of God playing a song on a piano with my town being the piano keys.
I remember praying. I remember asking God if he was mad. I remember talking to God to try to clear things up. I remember arguing with God because the lightning strikes would not cease, they were so loud. I remember begging to God when my mother didn’t return from the rain after going after my father.
I remember giving up on God when I realized I was alone.
I hated being alone.
Rayn is alone and she needs me.
“W-K P… BO..!”
“WAK… UP… BO..!!”
“WAKE UP, BOY!!”
“Ugh, wh – who are you?”
“Shhh… you the only one in this house? Open your eyes… wake up!! You the only one in this house?”
“Ugh… cough-cough… no… uhh, can’t breathe. Yea. Yea, I’m the only one here.”
“Look like you killed your share of these here wetcats boy! What do they call you?”
It took a moment to regain his senses as the fifteen year old leaned against the tub filled with dead feral cats and the edge of a broken toilet. He attempted to peer at the person helping him to his feet but was stopped by the pounding headache making his poor health well known.
“I gotcha, kid. Here lean on me. What’s ya name?” The vague image asked again.
The youth vomited in a collected puddle of water and forced his way into the hallway to search downstairs with his poor vision. His strength gave out as he collapsed gasping.
Grabbing the boot of the man standing beside him, he mustered up a whispered answer to the man’s question.