Stranded in the middle of that colorless gray period that one gets in the deepest throes of winter, cabin fever was starting to set in. The only signs of life on the outside were the headlights of the drivers brave enough to take on the dangerous, otherwise dead, roads.
Natures makeshift bridges, made up mostly of broken tree limbs, fallen trees, and downed power lines were everywhere and posed a great threat to those stupid drivers who wanted to go Dog-knows where. Even more dangerous was all the black ice. By day it was present yet avoidable. By night it was deadly and it blended in perfectly with it's environment. Black on black on black. Like some cold, heartless chameleon out to and hell-bent on showing people their maker, or lack thereof.
Life on the inside wasn't much better. Here the only signs of life were the dancing candle flames and out own slowly beating hearts. It was as if we were all living in the colonial era, surviving by the light that emanated from the candle that cast an eerie glow. There was nothing but such to keep us company. We were all in the darkest shadows cast by a town-wide blackout and it had been like that for days. Perhaps as many as two weeks had gone by since the last pulse of electricity had faded.
For me, Spencer Princeton, the small town of North Brookfield seemed unreachable from the threshold of my front door. The ethereal blackness that covered the whole town was so alien. There was a mysterious, omnipresent hostility to it. I said goodbye to my family who, understandably so, had left me in charge of looking over the house while they looked for a shelter that wasn't filled to capacity. As soon as they faded into the night I knew I was alone.
Cut off from the rest of the world there was nothing to do but write and and read. In the deepest pits of the realm of horror I could only lay still and have fantasies of my darkest dreams, bursting through some psychic wall into reality. Whispers within the crackles of fire. Demons within the shadows. Dancing. Enticing me.
That night I had the most horrible nightmare as sleep dominated over my physical and mental will. In my dream I saw nothing other than the decay and rot brought on by some worldwide disaster. Some unknown, apocalyptic cataclysm. From within the deepest dungeons inside my mind, I envisioned myself walking the dark streets of my town, which sat dormant and days dead, past all the blackened houses, all the store fronts that were left only to the stray cats to rule, and past the rotting corpses that littered the street.
In my most natural calm I side-stepped and stepped over the bodies of people I once knew. In this alien world it was only me and the dead to keep me morbid company. In a blinding flash of light and a deafening burst of sound the dream world is brought back to light. Brought back to life. I watched in awe as the dead stood up in a flurry of stiff, cracking, primitive movement like a butterfly flapping its wings in front of a stop-motion camera. Completely unaware of me they all began to partake in an orgy of life of sorts. They lived through death in the most macabre way. The walking dead mobbed the streets and marched, en masse, into oblivion and into the darkness beyond.
I wake up and feel even more dead than the walking corpses. Plunged into a darkness deeper than my dream, a sudden, inexplicable fear washed over me. Paralyzed with fear I sat, unwillingly, and let my eyes adjust to the darkness. I looked over and felt so stupid as the realization hits me that the candles went out while I was asleep. I got up to find the matches and a new terror crawled up the nape of my neck.
Not able to shake the feeling of being watched I made haste to get into the kitchen. Checking over my shoulders as I went, I expected to be confronted by some unspeakable terror stalking me from behind. The shadows played with my psyche and horrifying demons formed out of the anonymous shadows that mercilessly enveloped the house. The shadows reached out to me. The spoke to me. They beckoned to me.
I found the matches that would deliver me from the darkness and keep me safe. Keep me alive. As I walked alone in my house I saw from the corners of my eyes the shadows retreating to the corners and creases created by the walls. Always surrounded, my heart rate accelerated as I turned to keep the demons at bay, in turn making myself vulnerable. With my flame dancing wildly I could think of nothing other than how, with every more I made, I'd run the risk of the flame blowing out. Then I'd be really fucked.
Laying on the couch in a fetal position and sometimes twitching as the whispers whispers grew louder and louder, I gave up on resiting the beckoning calls of the living blackness within the shadows. Still continuing to increase in volume the voices rose to a grand crescendo, nearly screaming into my ears. My head was in a vise of noise and the clamp was pressing against my temple, ready to crush my skull at the slightest change in decibel level. Then, as suddenly as the nose started it stopped.
Intrigued and relieved at the sudden peace that befell the house, I propped my head up with a couple of pillows. With my head up and my ears perked an incessant ringing in my ears developed. The noise came at one second intervals. Once Mississippi ring two Mississippi ring three Mississippi ring. Jesus Christ it was the phone. The power grid must have gone back online while I was in the grip of... some mental breakdown. Slowly making my way up the stairs the phone's ring grew louder ever so gradually. Walking down the hall the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as if acting as the sentries against some unknown adversary.
I passed by rooms filled only by dusty furniture, the darkness, and the unspeakable evils that had been plaguing me. The demons were in my house and there was no denying it. The thought of sharing my home with these beasts, only to be tormented day after day, deeply disturbed me. Despite my state of shear terror I casually walked down the hallway at a slow pace so as to keep my calm and not attract attention to myself. In front of the home library I stood at the threshold debating whether or not to answer the phone.
Taking the step in I could almost feel the shadows caressing me. A sense of weightlessness came over me as if I was suspended in some ethereal dream... again. I walked toward the desk on which the phone sat and, with my hand mere inches over the receiver I stood still as if waiting for something to happen. I picked up the receiver.
“Hello?” I asked.
Nothing. The only sound that came out was the subliminal humming of dead air.
“Hello?!” I demanded as I became more and more irate.
Nothing. Then... in an explosion of sound that almost made me drop the phone, the sound of static and unintelligible rambling deafened and dazed me temporarily. The static died down to a low rumble almost instantly but the phantom caller speaking in strange tongues still “spoke” as loud as “he” did just seconds ago. From under the noises I could hear “You and me” being repeated over and over again. “You and me”... just “You and me”.
The ultimate realization hit me like a cement truck. The power wasn't back on. When I walked down the hall and through the house not a single light flashed. Random times did not blink on and off the the faces of the electronic clocks. I wanted to throw up. It felt like I'd just been jumped by a brick wall. The phone rang again. I feared picking it up. I did so nonetheless. Nothing. Static. Tongues. “You and me”.
I didn't bother putting the receiver back on the hook. I turned to walk out of the room and admit defeat. No dice. The door to the library slammed shut in my face. With a surreal calm, depressed, stoicism I tried the door know. To my surprise it opened without any problems. I did not want to exit the room though. I waited for someone to come up the stairs and face me. I waited to see someone at the end of the hall suddenly materialize. I waited to feel the icy hand of death come up from behind and wrap themselves around my throat. No such thing happened.
In front of me the hall stretched in length as if I'd been walking for miles on end and suddenly stopped. It stretched and at the end a black void materialized from the collective shadows congealing into one mass like a blood clot obstructing an artery. In an instant everything snapped back to where it had once been. Then the doors, that were just seconds before ajar, started violently slamming open and closed by themselves.
It was as loud and violent as any twenty-one-gun-salute. From the darkness of the threshold of the doors I could see faces, blacker still, peeking out whenever the doors opened. Open, face, slam shut, and repeat. The whole ordeal was like some fucked up, sadistic, psychotic, demonic whack-a-mole game that lasted for what seemed like hours. After an unbearably long diminuendo the entire situation halted, as if someone stopped time itself in its tracks.
My heart was pounding in my and my blood was pumping as fast as possible. I jumped up to the door and quickly closed it behind me. I was not going out into that hallway even if my life depended on it. The adrenaline was coursing my veins and I hardly let out a pep as a figure suddenly materialized outside of the second story window. Staring through me with eyes that were almost invisible to my naked eye, I watched as the being, darker than the night itself, back up and repeatedly rammed into the window pane trying to break through. I guess I would leave the library after all.
Running through the hallway, constantly looking over my shoulder to see if anything was giving me chase, I quickly turned a sharp right and descended down the stairs carefully placing my steps as to not fall down. It wasn't so hard. Anyone so uncoordinated as to fall down a flight of stairs surely deserves to die. At the bottom of the staircase I was face to face with another horrifying entity.
Its face and palms were pressed up against the glass which made it look like a bloated, boorish, beast. Anything other than its face and hands were invisible when put against the night outside. Its eyes were as black and soulless as its skin was pale. A disturbingly wide grin revealed teeth that were a disgustingly rotted mix of greens, yellows, and blacks. Its short, quick and shallow breath instantly appeared on the cold glass and almost as rapidly disappeared.
I speedily turned on my right heel and sprinted down the first floor hallway past windows which were occupied by similarly terrifying monsters. I stop as I almost run into a wall. Feeling all of their eyes on my I slowly turn to face the beasts. Every single one of them looks at me with a primal, greedy, ravenous hunger that chilled me down to the marrow. Everywhere I moved their eyes and their eyes only would follow.
I screamed and they found sadistic delight in my suffering. Their breath fogged up the glass as the demons breathed more and more rapidly. Their fists and palms hammered against the glass as they drool and rave and chant as they awaited their preys surrender.
The Nightmare Ends
Drowning in noise and shear terror I closed my eyes and block my ears and scream. Above my shrill cries I hear a humming. A brilliant radiance burns through my tightly closed eyelids. I opened my eyes to see nothing but pure whiteness and, as my sight adjusted, nothing beyond the windows. The power is back on. The lights are all on and for the first time in days the clocks tell the time. I sighed a long breath of relief. I relished in the light. Then with the return of electric life the return of my family followed in close suit.
Not telling anyone of my ordeal I walked into the living room and shut off the lights happily anticipating the comfortable flow of the television. As the light goes out my jaw dropped as all the demonic horrors congregated around the living room windows. I was pale and frozen by fear. My parents looked at me and then outside the window and asked...
“What do you see? There's nothing out there.”