Light’s Out, by Michael Bilderback

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“I think the red of the sunset is what makes that demon summoning circle so creepy”, said James Wong.

James was a short, balding Asian man of indeterminate middle age with plain features. Despite being excommunicated, he still wore the black slacks and black Oxford shirt of a priest. The collar simply hung open, showing off a colorful tattoo around his throat that mimicked a torc of Celtic tradition.

“Sunset? Really?”, said Greg. “I would have thought the fact that it had drained a major city entirely of electricity which has the entire police force tied up in other concerns.”

Greg was the opposite from his friend as they crouched on a hilltop overlooking the park. Powerfully built, Greg stood impressively tall and vital. He wore loose black clothing as well, but of a military cut. The only thing that linked the two was that Greg had a nearly identical tattoo on his throat as well. The city around them darkened rapidly in the twilight gloom. The city had been without power for hours now. The park on the outskirts of town in the best circumstances now housed a circle of enormous size in lieu of its normal soccer field. 4 couples laid within the rings of the circle, giving life energy to the construct with depraved sexual acts.

“Mmmmm, point. So who’s it calling anyway? I’ve never read about one this huge.”

“4 rings, 8 summoners, 200 ft across. This has got to be a Demon Prince. No one has ever tried to get one of them before.”

“A Prince! Lord preserve us! Is that why there is a second set of runes are hanging in the air like that?”

“Yes, and the circle I think. Steel cabling shaped into runes and held by steel plates. These guys are serious. It must have taken trucks to get those plates here. Serious time to make them and muscle to set them up. Look at how the existing cables were guided into place once they severed the overhead lines.”

“And then they left? Abandoning their friends?”

“These people are sacrificing themselves. Princes aren’t like normal Demons. They only have physical form when they arrive on our plane. After that, they assume the form of the energy that summoned them. So they need material to manifest into when they do. Those people are dying gloriously for their cause.”

“Damn Demon Fundamentalists! Alright, so if we take the life from the circle, it stops summoning. You got a rifle in that truck of yours like a good American?”

James started to crawl back down the hill, staying on his belly.

“We’re not going to do it that way”, said Greg

James stopped and looked at Greg in horror.

“You cannot be serious.”

“When will we get another chance at this?”

James hurried back to Greg’s side.

“Hopefully never, you idiot! You can’t hope to contain energy like that! Do you any idea what devouring a part of that being will do to you? This isn’t some incubus or Legion Demon. This is a Prince!”

“I know, James. I’m sorry. I have to try.”

“You’re sorry?! For…”

Greg’s form blurred in motion, his arm moving with inhuman grace and speed. His open hand hit James on the temple. James’s head rebounded off the ground and his eyes rolled back into unconsciousness.

“Gods protect you, old friend”, said Greg and he waited for the Demon Prince to take shape.

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Picking Up Milk

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Emily was in the back when the store went the power went out. The lights in the dairy section lingered for a brief moment before they died and the store fell into complete darkness.

She stared in confusion, momentarily unable to comprehend this sudden loss of sight. As she head the cries of panic and confusion from other shoppers, her mind clicked into place again.

“Just when I thought this day couldn’t get any better!

She stood there, half-gallon of milk in one hand, waiting to see if this was just a hiccup in the power grid. When the cold seeped through the plastic and started making her hand numb, she fumbled the milk back onto its shelf. She’d have to call Aaron and tell him she’d have to try another store.

She reached into her pocket and swore. She checked her other pockets to no avail. Her phone was in her purse, which she’d left behind when she stormed out.

Her eyes had adjusted to the dark by this point, but the simple truth was that hardly any light to see with. The rows of shelves were vaguely defined shadows. The aisles themselves impenetrable darkness.

Using the cereal shelf as a guide rail, she started moving. She knocked over a box or two on the way, but soon she made her way to the front of the store where a large crowd had formed.

Something seemed off as she looked out the large windows, but she couldn’t place her finger on it. The sky outside was a dark blue as the sun set behind the store. She could already see a few stars above. Headlights stood out sharply in the dimly lit parking lot as half the cars tried to leave at the same time.

“No, we don’t have any power here, either,” a woman said, half her face lit up by her cell phone. At least a dozen more people were also on phones.

Realization dawned on her and she looked out the windows again. The streetlights in the parking lot should have been on. The shops across the street were dark, too. The only light she could see was the endless line of headlights.

 

Aaron pulled her into a hug the moment she’d stepped out of her car.

“Your phone’s on the table,” he told her.

“Yeah. Sorry about that. What’s going on here?” At least a dozen people had gathered outside the apartment complex. Tables and chairs had been set up, with candles burning on cheerfully on them. A man stood over the communal grill while another held a lantern for him.

“Impromptu potluck. Maria even gave me the milk to finish the salmon.”

“Who’s Maria?”

“Our neighbor two doors over.”

“We have neighbors?”

He laughed. “Apparently for three years now. Funny how a massive power outage can shake things up a bit. Come on, let me introduce you.”

Prompt: Lights Out

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Inspired by recent events, this week’s prompt is to write about a power outage on a large scale.

Good luck and good writing!