The idea for this story was birthed from a writing prompt in The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Dystopia http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/writing-challenge-dystopia/
Write a short story or piece of descriptive faux-journalism describing your personal idea of a dystopia — a dark future when everything you hold dear is on the chopping block.
The Good Shepherd
The power has been out for two days. I haven’t told Mother but I don’t think it’s coming back on. Somewhere inside I think she knows but she keeps encouraging herself with the thought of cooking in the microwave again once the lights return. Maybe she’s doing it to comfort Anna who has spent the last day skirting the edges of utter despair on the edge of her cot by the wood stove. The old lady hasn’t moved since we brought her in from the cold yesterday.
Sunday night was the last of our normal times, if I’m right. I was agitated because altar call went long. A new lady was weeping over a tough break up and kept our prayer counselors until almost ten thirty. Now I wish we had prayed all night.
I got to bed about midnight and when I awoke the alarm was black, the sun was bright and the house was cold. Mother had already been down to check the furnace to make sure it wasn’t out of water. She had to check it by candle light because the flash light batteries were dead. Go figure, an eighty year old lady crawling around in a dark dirty cellar by candle light. Thinking it was just a black out she had already started the wood stove to keep the living room warm.
“Coffee’s on the stove.” She chirped motioning to the kettle. She seemed almost happy. Troubles like this always bring out the best in her at least initially.
“Phone’s dead.” I replied pouring myself a cup from the pot while checking my cell. I added sugar and cream to the steaming liquid and went to the dining room where I’d left my computer bag. I knew something was up when all I got from the PC was a black screen.
None of the clocks worked but I am guessing it was about eleven when Anna showed up.
“Jerome can you be a good kid and give me a jump-start? The car battery’s dead.” Her voice always reminded me of something between a growl and a sour burp.
“Call me Jerry Anna please. Are you sure it’s the battery?”
“I’m 87 Jerome. Most days I’m not sure of my own name. All I know’s the key won’t start the *&*!^!* thing.” She said.
I ushered the old woman into the living room and gave her a seat by the fire which she seemed to appreciate though she would never admit it because that would ruin her reputation as the nightmare crab of the neighborhood. I left her slumped in the seat chatting with my mom about an old obituary she had found in a newspaper squirreled away in the drawer of her curio cabinet.
My car wouldn’t start either. When I knocked across the street at Nikki’s house he told me their three cars were also dead.
“Well I have got to get my milk!” Was all Anna could say when I told her that all the cars in the neighborhood were incapacitated. “It’s not like I can walk down street!”
Mother saved the day, “Jerry, dear, why don’t you walk down to the grocery for Anna and pick up the milk. We’ll stay here and enjoy another cup of coffee.”
As I left I heard her throw the dead bolt on the great oak front door. She hadn’t locked that door in over 25 years. She knew there was trouble. Down street was only a block away but as I came around the corner my whole world changed. Central street was a ghost town. Winter wind was the only sound on the deserted roadway. None of the stores including the grocery were opened. Duray’s tow truck was in the middle of the road, hood up with a green Subaru hanging off the back. The driver had long since given up on the machine and moved on.
I stopped at the police station to inquire about what was going on. Twenty other citizens had gathered there as well to hear the police chief read an official statement drafted by the town selectmen.
“At three fifteen A.M. this morning the power in Winchendon went out. Nothing either electric or battery powered operates within the borders of the town as far as we can tell. We don’t know if this phenomenon goes beyond our borders or not. The town council is sending a committee to neighboring towns to investigate. As we get more information we will make it available to the public. Don’t panic. Do your best to keep warm. Emergency shelter is available at the Whitcomb house where a wood furnace will be kept burning throughout the day.”
When he finished reading the notice, he tacked it to the front door and exited through to the security locked offices, his world of safety. I went home and shared the news with Mother and Anna.
I haven’t been able to reach any of my children or their mother since Sunday. The girls as far as I know are in Haverhill and my son is in Pennsylvania. Their mother I am hoping is safe in her home in Gardner. But the world has changed. Yesterday I had four ways of knowing where they all were in a moments notice. Today I am cut off from everyone. Yesterday I could have flown across the ocean to see my sister in eight hours. Today twelve miles might as well be Mars.
I keep reminding myself that no matter what God is with us. That’s His promise and that, at least, doesn’t rely on electricity. The church survived the Middle Ages. We will survive this, whatever this is. I just wonder how it fits into the prophetic world picture….Someone’s at the door.
Next week Pt. 2