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Alone In The Dark

Posted: October 19, 2015 in Alone in the Dark

dawn escape

Alone In The Dark


C. A. Hoaks

Being alone with her younger sister wasn’t so bad.  At least as far as Ellie was concerned.  Her stepfather was a drunk, while her mother spent most of her time stoned and barely able to walk across the room much less cook a meal.

Ellie wished she and her sister could live with their grandma in the country, but her mother got more welfare with them around so they had to stay.  Plain and simple, they were her mother’s meal ticket.

Ellie had picked up Sissy from the sitter and been home for about an hour when the lights went out.  Ellie figured everything would be back on by the time her mother got home.  Meanwhile, she and her blonde, blue eyed miniature settled on the couch together to read.  Ten-year-old Sissy was a big fan of the vampire series that Ellie had given up when she turned fifteen last year.  They could ride bikes but if they weren’t home when their mother came home she’d be mad.

When the lights were still out at dusk Ellie started looking for a flashlight.  Of course, the batteries in the only flashlight she could find were dead.  At least, she could use the stove.  It was gas, even if the burner wouldn’t light on its own.  They had matches and a few candles.  With all the cigarettes her mother smoked, there were plenty of matches lying around.

Ellie peeked out the window at the sound of neighbors milling around outside bitching and carping about the blackout.  Sissy wanted to go play with Debbie Jackson, but Ellie didn’t want anyone to know they were alone.  Sissy stomped her foot and complained, but finally relented.  Together, they watched the street.

Mr. Goodman was really mad.  He carried a bottle of beer and pointed it at people as he moved through the crowd demanding answers.  The unemployed loafers down the street in the Bradley house spent the night drinking and yelling at anyone naive enough to wonder near the house.

By the fourth night the men from the Bradley house were pounding on doors demanding food and booze.  If anyone didn’t pony up, they got beat up by the men.  They started breaking into houses that afternoon.

They came to her house, but she hurried Sissy upstairs to hide.  Just in case, they came in.  She figured that would happen soon enough.  She began to think it was time to leave.  But where would she go?  To a neighbor?

They all seemed to be in as much trouble as they were.  She heard the neighbors behind the fence start talking about EMPs.  It was some kind of device that took out the power grid.  Gun fire began on the fifth day and that afternoon the military rolled up and down major streets announcing martial law over a loud speaker.

She decided they were all screwed.  Even if her mother came back, she would be no help.  It was time to leave.  It was a hundred miles, but she knew how to get there.

“We’re gonna blow this popsicle stand.”  Ellie told Sissy.

Sissy looked up from her cracker smeared with peanut butter. “What do you mean?”

“We’re going to grandma’s house.”  Ellie handed her bottle of water to Sissy.

Ellie sighed.  “Mom’s not coming back.  Even if she does, she’s gonna be no help.”

Sissy sighed.  “We don’t have a car.”

“We have bikes.”  Ellie answered.  “We’ll ride along the bayou until we get to the highway.  We’ll leave first thing in the morning.”

Ellie and Sissy quietly gather the few supplies they had left and moved their bikes to the back of the house behind the overgrown Mexican petunias.

The Bradley bunch began drinking early that afternoon.  Ellie and Sissy watched as they kicked in the doors of the houses on either side of theirs.  Neither house had shown signs of having occupants in the week since the EMP attack.

Jimmy and Logan Bradley came out carrying arm loads of food, water and booze.  When Mr. Jackson walked up to confront them with gun in hand, Jimmy pulled his own gun from his waist and aimed it at the man.  Three more men walked out of the Bradley house to join the fray.

A young woman ran out of  the Jackson house to pull at the man’s arm.  More words were exchanged then pandemonium erupted.  Mr. Jackson pointed his gun.

Someone fired a gun and the Bradley’s and their friends fell upon the man.  The girl was knocked to the ground.  Jimmy grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet and pushed her toward the rent house.  Logan and his friend pounded on the man lying in the street until he lay perfectly still and unmoving.  After a few final kicks to the groan, head and stomach, they picked up the spoils and returned back to the rent house.

Logan held up the man’s gun.  “Anyone else have anything to say?”  He screamed at the top of his voice.  “I didn’t think so.”

Sissy stepped back from the curtain.  “That was Debbie’s father and older sister.”

Ellie nodded.  “I know.  Nothing we can do.  We have to rest if we’re going to leave early in the morning.”

“I’m scared.  We’ll have to ride past that house.”

“I know.  That’s why we have to wait until morning.  They never get up before the middle of the afternoon.  We’ll be going past when they’re all asleep.”

Shouts outside drew them back to the window.  Jimmy, Logan and their friends were rounding people up in the middle of the street.  They had guns pointed at the gathering as they moved from house to house.  Women clutched at their children crying.  The few old men left in the neighborhood were powerless.  Any who moved out of line was slammed with a bat or butt of a gun.  Door after door fell and the occupants pulled from their homes.  No house was spared.

Ellie grabbed Sissy’s hand and drug her to the garage.  She pulled the string on the attic ladder and the door slid down.  She folded the steps down, then ushered Sissy up the stairs.

“Hurry, Ellie.  You have to hurry.  I hear them.  They’re getting close!”  Sissy whispered.

Ellie grabbed a length of twine from the wall and tied one end at the bottom step.  She hurried up the steps then leaned over the opening and pulled at the string.  The bottom half of the steps tilted up and fell against the top half.  The stairs hung half open with no way for Ellie to reach the ladder and pull the door closed.

“Shit!”  Ellie hissed.

“Hold my pants.”  Sissy ordered and she slithered across the decking to reach down.  She scooted lower and lower, until the only thing stopping her from nose diving into concrete below was Ellie clutching at her ankles.

Sissy reached down and her fingers grasped the bottom of the ladder as the sound of the front door splintering filled the garage.  The ladder rose with a jolt and slammed shut.  Ellie pulled Sissy from the opening and untied the length of string.  Together the girls crossed the decking to the open rafters beyond and squatted down in the darkest corner behind the air-conditioning unit.

Voices from below shouted.  “We know you’re here!”

“Come out…come out…wherever you are!”  A second voice called out.

“Dumbass.  They’re long gone.  There ain’t no food.”  A third voice answered.

“Look at the pictures.  I would do them….either one.”

“I’m looking around anyway.”  The first voice answered.

From the attic, the girls heard doors slammed and angry curses called out.  Finally the trio made their way to the garage.

The attic door opened and the girls could hear heavy footsteps climb the ladder as a voice called out.  “You two little pieces of tail up here?”  The speaker laughed.

“Come on ass-hole.  No one’s here.  Let’s see if there’s any booze.”

Steps descended the ladder.  The ladder slammed closed.