the night the lights went out

I remember sitting in our living room, watching TV when it happened. The house went dark. We had power outages before, but this one was different. It was so quiet. No more roar from the electric heating system, or from the fridge, hell even the lights made some noise, but not anymore.

We hoped it was like before, half an hour without power and it would all be over. Our teenager complained because his X-Box stopped working. “I’m bored” he complained, but it was no use. “Get the generator going, I want to go back online with my friends” he said. The generator purred for a few hours, at which time we tried the radio, but that too was dead, no broadcasts from anywhere. I even pulled out my old two wave, set it to any country with a voice, but that too was silent. Of course the X-Box idea never worked, no internet.

The folks with cabins fared the best, as they had wood stoves to heat the place, and the owners were used to the silence. We weren’t so lucky. Our furnace burned oil, but the fan was powered by electricity. We almost froze the first night, mostly covered with blankets and huddled together.

That was five years ago. The kids didn’t last long, most took their own lives. Couldn’t live without their games and imaginary lives I guess. Our kid was no different. We found him one day, huddled up in his bedroom next to his game system, so depressed he just didn’t want to move on. It took his mom almost a year to get over it, but she knew if we were to survive, we would have to do like the others, and leave our old lives behind.

It wasn’t the same after that; she grew hard. No more sweet smiles in the morning from my lady, it was ‘get up and go’ all the time.

Packing wasn’t as hard as we thought it was. No picture albums, all our photos lost with the computers. We didn’t realize how dependent we were on those things. The hardest thing to give up must have been the phones. These damn things were our communication, our pastimes, our cameras, our compass, we were totally dependent on them, but not now, never again.

A few of the people we met seemed confident they could build machines, use generators, but whatever took out the electricity did something to the earth. Some believe the magnetism of the planet was upset. I don’t know, I am just a computer programmer in a world without computers… I felt useless.

 

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