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Blackout

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The story goes a little bit like this. I live in São Paulo, Brazil, one of the biggest cities in the world. Back in the day, I use to be a Geography major in one of the most respected schools in Brazil. One day, I was walking to a class with a couple of friends, Marcelo and Luiza, when we saw on the bulletin board on the hallway something about a speleology course, sort of thing. Being geography majors that we were, we couldn't pass an opportunity like that. So we did it and learnt the basics. Time went by and we were planning a trip to the countryside to put our new knowledge to use. It wasn't until the end of the semester that, after some looking around, we found a cave not far from the city.

We had it all planned, we would go there, spend the day looking around, smoking weed and all the fun stuff that you can do in a cave. There's one thing we didn't know about the cave that would be our "demise". When it rained and the tide of the river that passed through it was right, there was no way out. And that's exactly what happened to us.

We were there, doing our thing, when we noticed that the river flow was fast and that it was raining outside, we didn't know about the little detail about the cave so we shrugged it off and decided to wait for the rain to stop. We ended up staying there for about three days.

I thank God to this day for Luiza having thought about turning the speleology trip into a camping trip, which made her bring extra food and stuff. For some reason, we weren't that scared of being trapped inside of an unknown cave. I come to think of it now, we shouldn't be. Even though the cave is called The Devil's Cave, the outside is what was grimy.

It wasn't much of a hike from the entrance of the cave to where we left Marcelo's parent's car. It took a long time because we were all having this feeling that something was definitely wrong. It's not like the forest wasn't alive or that we could only hear the sound of our steps, kind of the opposite, the forest was alive like it's supposed to. It was early in the morning, so the birds we're singing and all that.

But there was still something wrong. We managed to get to the car and once we took the main road, the first thing we saw was some cows wandering on the road. Brazil may be sort of a third world country, but we're not India, cattle just don't walk around on roads. We avoided hitting them and went on our way. The road was suspiciously quiet. No buses, no trucks, no cars. Just us. We still thought it was maybe the time. How foolish of us.

We rode about 1,5 miles when we saw a first car. It was just parked in the middle of the road. Doing nothing. We passed by it and we saw that there was a family inside of it. Husband, wife, two kids. What was weird was that they were still like statues. Marcelo decided to stop the car to investigate further. When we got to the family's car, it was just like that.

They looked like wax sculptures. They looked like they were caught in the middle of the trip. They all looked calm, the husband looked like he was focused on the road, the wife looked like she was watching the side of the road and the kids were fast asleep. We all yelled and screamed and did everything to make them wake up from that trance, or whatever that was. Nothing worked, we even honked the family's car horn. Nothing. Luiza started to get scare, we tried to comfort her but we weren't really positive of what was happening.

As we went further from the park where the cave was, and closer to the city, more and more cars like family's were showing up. There were people inside, alright, but they all were like wax sculptures. No movement, no breathing, nothing. It was all very eerie and weird. We didn't really know what to do, but we still went to the city. We went downtown to see if there was anybody.

Nothing. It was then that it got to Marcelo that we all should look for our families then meet up at the uni. I was avoiding the thought. Just thinking about my family there, all still. I couldn't do it. Anyway, I "borrowed" a bike and went to my place. Went I got there, it hit me. I was alone. Just me, Marcelo and Luiza. All alone. It couldn't be true. It was like a sick joke. But it was happening. I could touch them.

My parents were sleeping when whatever that happened, happened. So was my sister. The only live presence in the whole house was my dog Bob and a neighbor’s cat. I was happy that Bob was around. I then got my father's car and went back to the Uni, where I would meet the other two. It was already dark then, and for some reason I didn't bother turning on the headlights. That's when I saw her for the first time. I was a few blocks from the Uni when I hit something.

I turned the headlights on to see what I've hit. It was a crackhead that was probably crossing the street when whatever happened. What was weird was that when I hit him, he went limp, like a proper corpse. It made me think that the wax people were alive somehow. I was thinking about that when I saw someone behind my car. I couldn't make out that shape really, but I could see it was a human, and that it wasn't one of us. I ran towards her and when I got there, she wasn't there anymore.

I went to the Uni and met Marcelo and Luiza. They were both very shaken, especially Luiza. It was really weird to see her like that, she was always very strong and up to anything. We didn't know what to do. Period. The world was ours and we were free in any way possible. We didn't know what to do. At this point, we were walking towards where Marcelo had parked the car he got. I could see he was angry, I knew him enough to know he was furious. Suddenly, when we saw one of the waxes, he started yelling at him.

"Stop the show! I don't wanna play anymore! Talk to me motherfucker!"

He then kicked the "wax" man, which made him fall. Marcelo then proceeded to punch and kick and bite and try to hurt the man to see if anything happened. We tried to stop him but he was too frantic. He then grabbed a fire extinguisher and smashed the man's face. It was when he did that the man left his pose, and went limp, like the crackhead I hit. Luiza totally panicked. She started crying and going on about how evil he was that he killed an innocent man. I wasn't paying attention to that.

What was in my mind was the cackle. I knew I heard it. It was like an old woman's. I turned my flashlight towards the direction where I heard it and there she was. She looked like a very old woman. As if the insides of her body shrunk and the skin remained the same size. He was all wrinkly and her skin had a weird tone, like it was rubber or something. I turned to tell the other guys about her but when we turned back. She wasn't there anymore.

Both Luiza and Marcelo thought I was seeing things. Getting crazy. It couldn't be, as far as we’ve seen, we were the only "alive" human beings. No one else was doing anything. They were just there, motionless, like statues. We decided to set camp at a very fine hotel downtown. Its generator's power was still working so we had lights and air-conditioning and comforts in general. We were there for a few hours when Marcelo said he had to go somewhere. We asked where and he would not tell us.

Luiza was very scared and asked me to hold her. As I was holding her, she ended up sleeping. I was still alert, but I thought it was nice that she managed to sleep. I was almost sleeping myself when I heard gunfire. Luiza woke up startled and I jumped and ran towards the balcony. Down at the street in front of the hotel was Marcelo. He was clearly drunk and had guns with him.

We went downstairs to talk to him. "Let's get the party started!" He screamed. He showed us what he got; several bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue, Old Parr and other whiskeys. A lot of marijuana and guns that he told us that, he got from a local police department.

Luiza and I gave into the mood and started drinking and smoking as well. Marcelo started showing us the grenades he got. Accidentally he threw one too close to a parked car not far from where we were. We all saw her this time. And she talked to us.

"You". Then she vanished. That's was all she said. If she said it in English, we could've confused with a breath or something like that. She said it in Portuguese, and you can't mix up "vocês" with anything else. Anyway, I don't think I've ever been this scared in my entire life. Marcelo threw up. Luiza was shaking so much I thought she was going to collapse. I was just too shocked to do anything. I looked around and all I felt was fear. I was afraid of the wax people. I was afraid of the old woman.

I was afraid for my friends. I looked at the car that exploded and I saw that there was a couple inside of it. Both of them dead. The left half of the man's body was disfigured by the bomb. The top of the girl's had been blown away exposing her brain. I know this sounds weird. But I think the guy was getting a blowjob when it happened. Not the grenade, whatever turned them in what they were. I couldn't take it anymore. I needed to be alone. I went back into the hotel and went into a random room.

When I went into the room I saw what I thought was an angel. The most beautiful girl I've ever seen. Jet-black hair, the fairest skin I've seen. She was there, sleeping. I felt like crying. It was like peace in front of me. To counterbalance all turmoil I was feeling inside of me. I wanted to feel her. Touch her. I lied down next to her and smelled her.

It was like nothing in the world existed aside from me and her. I then saw something that didn't occur to me until now. There was this alarm clock next to her bed. And it showed it was 1:11 am. I knew it wasn't 1:11 am because my watch was working properly and it showed it was 12:27 am. I thought that I maybe should wait until the next 1:11 am. I wrapped my arms around my angel and waited until time came. When it was about 1:05, I heard screaming and yelling and gunfire. Shit hit the fan, I thought. The elevator was taking too long to come so I took the stairs, as I went down the stairs, I heard the old woman cackling and I felt she was close to me.

When I got down there, Marcelo went totally berserk, he was shooting randomly and screaming insanities and slurring. It was like he was possessed or something. Luiza was laying in fetal position behind a car sobbing hysterically. I asked her what happened.

"He's hearing her; she's trying to talk to him."

"Who?" I asked.

"Death, Nunzio, Death!" Then it hit me.

The old lady was Death. And she only showed up when we killed one of the "sculptures". Marcelo was trying to kill all the sculptures so Death would take him as well. She took him eventually. And now it's only me, Luiza and Marcelo's kid. Yes, Marcelo's kid. Luiza only went to the cave with us because she was planning to tell him she was pregnant. Now it's just us.

Having small glimpses of Death whenever we are not cautious enough or when the buildings deteriorate so much they collapse. When that happens, she's just there, standing and laughing. And she looks at us and knows. She knows that sooner or later, we'll join her.

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