Observations In A Blackout


Well-Known Member
A short piece I just finished hammering out (after a blackout ;)) Anyways, I'm posting it splintery rough, no editing or anything. I will post a polished verison later, but I want to get my original thoughts out there right now, just to get some feedback and because I have a tendency to sterilize my language in editing. Definitley needs a lot of work, I can say that even right now, need to tone down the melodrama a bit, but I'm still gonna post it as is. Suggestions, POV'S, etc. welcome.


Though the events from which these observations were drawn were by no means scientific experiments, the author has had enough experience to conclude that on some level at least, all three of these statements of peoples behavior in a blackout are universally true. They are, as follows :

1. People get angry with each other when they can't escape reality in the current.
2. People lose their energy quickly when they don't have the electricity to keep them going.
3. People are very much afraid of the dark because it has a life of its own.

It was that mythical winter dark outside. An auroral darkness where the white reflects back to infinity the meager offerings of light fed to it, makes the swirling fluff phantasmic, lends credence to the notion that the stuff of dreams is real.

Absalon sat in the most comfortable chair in the backroom, an old overstuffed armchair of faded black plush and brass. He had pulled it up to the large bay window so he could sit and watch the snowstorm dance for him. Every once and again there had been a greenish flash echoing across the sky (he suspected them to be transformers blowing) but they had ceased a while ago and now there was only the ghostly orange of the storm.

He had been enjoying himself, in the dark. He had sat reading a book, Poe no less, by candlelight, straining his eyes in the flickering light and feeling very Victorian in his setting. After a time though it had lost its allure and he had sat the book aside and simply sat with the candle until that too became boring and he snuffed it out. Now he just sat listening. Listening to the wind, and to the clatter from the rooms behind him.

"I can't see to put the batteries in." The gruff old voice of Grandpa, struggling with Mom to get a boom box working.

"No, they go in the other way."

"Hold the damn flashlight still so I can see!"

"The phones are out." The sad whine of Corey, oh what is he to do without speaking to his lover in over ten minutes.

"Every time, every damn time there's a storm the power in this neighborhood goes! They've got it the next block over! It's just us! There needs to be a petition, a serious complaint brought to the electrical works. We shouldn't have to suffer just because they don't want to replace our transformers!" Grandma, dear old dear Grandmama. Forever on the offensive with word processed weapons.

"I wonder when they'll get it fixed? I heard on the news earlier it might not be until Monday if some area's lost power."

"I wonder when they'll get the phones fixed. In this weather, I get worried."

"I'm sure she's fine."


The shout is thunderous in dim chambers. No chatter, no chatter to blunt harsh sounds, not the whir of motors nor the squawks and static of television and radio. Just the naked harshness of voice.

"Don't yell at me, I'm trying to hold it!"

"We'll your not--"

"Hey everybody, I think we just need to calm down."

"Oh, shut up and go try the phone again. Bad enough I'm missing my programs right now--"

"Programs, those damn detective stories you've seen a thousand times? Recite them for us why don't you? It'll be entertaining if--"

"I haven't seen them--"

"I wander if they've got the plows out yet?"

"Probably not, damn lazy slobs, no--"

They are all silenced by the splitting squish of transistors flooding with current, foaming static and the faint traces of the AM band. Music somewhere, gospel and jazz mixed to one. Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land. It's as if it never happened, or at least they don't have to acknowledge it. They lose their reality as soon as their is electricity, a Bifrost to reality all our own. Absalon hears the sound of the dial twisting, twisting the band in pain, producing new sounds and stories until at last they settle on a talk show, laced with the continuous ghosts of "American Pie". It's still not enough to drown out the wind.

The reverie doesn't last long, the juice is not enough to sustain them. One by one, he can hear their nodding heads and breaths that gradually become regular. Grandma actually manages to make it to her bed. The rest though, the rest sit with their meager light against the world crooning them to sleep and Absalon sits with the wind. He tries to put his thoughts in order, but when you've nothing more on your mind than the swirling eddies of snow, order is moot. The thoughts are not positive or negative, they just are.

He smells the faint acridity of the dead candle. Did its kind fear the coming of the light bulb, or did they know they would always have a role to play when man's might fails before the power of nature or his own stupidity? He imagines men going blind by their light and in the glowing tundra he is sure he sees the ghost of Milton raving madly to Joyce. Spreading stains, just spreading stains of ink, the marks and flaws of footprints upon pristine white surfaces that quickly disappear into the night dreamscape like--

There is a scratching at the door.

It is not loud, it shouldn't be loud, but in the scream of the wind in that dead house it is the knocking of old Scratch himself. They all awake with a start, snapping the radio off, leaving themselves bare fore that inquiring tap.

"What is that?"

"Someone trying to get in?!"

"Oh God, oh God and we can't call the police, the phones are--"

"Quick, grab that poker, we can--"

It comes again. A tiny little tap against the door. Doom, Doom, Doom. Polished claws against oak.

"We need to do something! Get help! Quick, go make sure Grandma's ok, they might try and get in the window or--"

Doom, Doom, Doom.

"Oh my God, oh my God!"

Doom, Doom, Doom.

"Get something, get anything, we need weapons, we need--"

Doom, Doom, Doom.


Absalon rises from the chair as if from the grave and behold! the miracle of miracles, the lights switch on, the power, the glory and what was once a dreamscape is shattered in a silent flash. Glory Hallelujah as the saving Lazarus brings with him the glory of the coming of the Lord and reaches out a cold hand to grasp the doorknob. Grasp the doorknob and turn. Turn and pull--

"Oh no Absalon, don't!--"

A shivering cat comes leaping in, shaking off snow and rubbing itself gratefully against his jeans. He looks at it for a long time and then back up at them. Their faces, he cannot describe them. So he speaks.

"The powers back on."

He leaves them looking at each other in the light, in that fresh and glowing new light and goes back to watching the storm.
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1. People get angry with each other when they can't escape reality in the current.
2. People lose their energy quickly when they don't have the electricity to keep them going.
3. People are very much afraid of the dark because it has a life of its own.

That's why I live on the egde of reality. No blackouts. But on weekends the centaurs get drunk and start a muck...but anyway, nice job Entropy! :D

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