I woke up. I realized that my digital clock-radio hadn't gone off, and it must be around 9 or 10 in the morning. I glanced over at the clock, but it seemed to be dead. I reached over and tried the radio on my end table, but nothing came through, not even static. I got up, looked for my analog watch, and the time said that it was 10:30. Since I was off today, it wasn't that big of a deal, but it was disconcerting to say the least.
I got dressed, went into the kitchen, and that was when I noticed that it was eerily quiet. I heard no buzzing of electricity, the refrigerator wasn't running, and my computer, which is usually on standby, was silent. Finding my cell phone, I realized that it too wasn't working, it was dead. I still had a land line, so I tried that; nothing but silence. Just to make sure I wasn't dreaming, I went to the sink and washed my face, at least the water was still working. I don't think the water pipes in my house are all that technologically advanced, but I don’t know that for sure. I began to wonder what the outside world looked like.
Stepping outside, the only noises I hear were from the various dogs barking, and the neighbors who are all outside, wondering what to do. It was then that I looked up at the sky.... it was a weird shade of reddish-blue. I thought I'd try to start my car, since it was at least 15 years old, and had only had a little bit of electronics in it. I slowly realized that the starter was probably an electronic piece, and the car probably wouldn't start. I tried it anyway, and didn’t even hear a clicking sound indicating something was wrong.
My next door neighbor, Dave, came over while I was mulling on what to do next. I asked him what he thought was going on, and he said, "I'm not sure. Somebody told me they saw a weird flash in the sky a little after 4 am, and then that's when everything electronic quit working. I have a 1964 Mustang, and it works fine, but my current car, that Dodge Challenger over there, won't start at all. Do you think NASA or the government has anything to do with this?"
"I haven't the slightest idea," I responded, "we're only about 20 miles from Lackland Air Force Base, maybe we should make our way there to find out what’s happening. Since I was in Afghanistan for four years, maybe they need more former soldiers to help out, if they need it."
"Sounds like a plan. We can take my car, but it has only half a tank of gas in it. As far as I know, there are no manual gas pumps in this city any longer, so we'll have to be careful on where we go." responded Dave.
We walked to his car, when I saw a few teenagers sitting on the sidewalk, acting like the world had come to an end. I guess in their view it would have, they couldn't play their video games, couldn't text message on their cells, couldn't listen to music on their music players, or do everything at once on their i-Pads. I guess some of them will just have to learn to talk to each other in person. We got into Dave's car, he started it up, and we were about to leave the driveway, when a few of the neighbors began approaching, looking like they were about to attack us. This prompted Dave to floor the accelerator, peeling out onto the street, and we drove off. I looked back, seeing really angry neighbors shouting and shaking their fists at us. I'm just glad Dave had the sense to get out of there quickly.
On our way to Lackland, we saw a few antique cars on the road, a few bicyclists, and some people just walking, all towards the military base. I wasn't sure what we would find, but I was thinking it may not be good. Did China attack us without warning? Did an EM weapon accidently explode and take out all the electronics? I wasn't sure, but we were about to find out. Fifteen minutes after we left our neighborhood, we arrived at the gates of Lackland Air Force Base. Something didn’t seem right, and I just couldn't figure out what it was. However, at the gate, an airman was trying to keep back about a dozen people, who were arguing with him.
I calmly went up to the airman, and asked, "What happened for our electronics to not be working?"
"Sir, as I've been trying to tell these people, I don't know, I know about as much as you. Nobody in command has seen fit to tell me, and with the radio not working, I can't get any information. You'll just have to wait here until an officer decides to come out here."
I was about to protest, but, an explosion rocked the base. A huge fireball appeared and seemed to come from the center of the base. I heard gunfire, apparently our weapons that had no electronics worked, and the gunfire sounded like it was coming closer. The other civilians around me started running away; the airman checked his rifle, making sure it was loaded. Dave and I decided to stay and find out what would happen next. More explosions rocked the base. I noticed that the other military installations around Lackland sounded as if a war was going on. Although it was in the background and some miles away, I could still hear it. I saw some Air Force personnel running our way; it appeared to me they were all geared up for a battle. An officer stopped to talk to the airman guard, and it sounded to me like he was telling the airman to fall back. I managed to get the officers' attention.
"Sir, what's happening here? Why did our electronics quit working?" I asked.
"A war is what is happening, and they," the officer pointed in the distance, "are the ones who made our electronics quit working. You need to go with us if you want to live."
I was going to question who "they" were, when something came screaming out of the sky, hit near us, and caused a massive explosion. Before I could run away, I felt something hit me, and the next thing I saw was blackness.
Cliff Ball has written and published more than ten novels, which are available in paperback and e-book, through sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Check out his website, http://cliffball.net to find out more information on his novels.
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The Day the Lights Went OutShort Story
Wrote this for college Creative Writing class. The instructor was snobby and dismissive; he preferred more literary works. I had six novels independently published at the time, while he had one published through the university press.