The Day Everything Goes Down

Author: David Henson

I wake up sweating, check the alarm clock. Three fifty-nine? Too light. I fumble for my watch. Almost 10.

“What’s wrong with the a/c, Daniel?” Jean says sleepily.

***

I come back from Kyle and Lisa’s across the street. “They don’t have power either. And there’s no Sunday paper. Must be out across town.”

“I tried to call Lorraine, but there’s no service,” Jean says.

“I guess everything’s gone down.”

I find an old transistor radio and change batteries. It hisses across the dial. How widespread is this?

“Let’s drive around and see what’s going on,” Jean says.

I shove up the garage door, get in the car and turn the key. Nothing. Jean tries her car. More nothing. We go outside and stare into the sky.

“Our cars won’t start,” Kyle yells.

***

Jean holds her phone in one hand, the hissing radio in the other. “I’m so worried about Lorraine. Why would this happen now when she’s due any day?”

“Randolph will look after her. They probably don’t even have an outage in Ridgefield,” I say, trying to ignore the radio.

“Maybe we could ride our bikes there.”

“A hundred miles? We’d never make it in this heat.”

Her face glistening, Jean goes to the kitchen sink, holds a dishcloth under the faucet and lets the water run. The flow quickly trickles to a stop.

“Guess the water company’s lost power, too,” I say, wondering why its standby generators aren’t working.

We sweat out the day, constantly trying the phone, the cars, and the radio. We finally give up around midnight.

Around 3:30 a.m., I slip out of bed, towel off sweat, and go to the picture window in the living room. There’s an eerie red glow in the sky. I notice movement across the street. Kyle and Lisa? Someone —something — else? I need to keep my imagination in check. I lean closer to the window, hear a noise behind me, and whirl around.

“Too hot to sleep.” Jean goes to the window. “I see Kyle and Lisa can’t either. Daniel … this couldn’t be some sort of … invasion? That’s crazy, right?”

I hear shouting outside. Sounds like Kyle and Lisa arguing. “More likely the heat wave caused it. Or hackers. Probably hackers.”

“But the cars. How could hackers do that?”

“Well, most are connected to the internet nowadays. Not older models though.” I realize that’s a clue. “When it’s light, I’ll bike to the overpass. Bet I see a few cars.” I take my wife’s hand. “Let’s try to get a couple hours sleep.”

***

I lie awake in pools of sweat. At 3:59, the alarm clock glows red. “Jean,” I whisper with relief. She doesn’t respond so I slip quietly out of the bedroom and turn on a 24-hour news channel. A woman talks only, and cheerfully, about the heat wave. Not a word about the outage. I tune a local station on the radio. More happy talk about the heat. Drenched with sweat, I go outside hoping for a breeze, but it’s dead calm and already a scorcher. I make out Lisa in the predawn glow. She seems to be digging. “Beautiful day,” she says.

I stagger back inside. Warm air pours from the vents.

Jean’s at the thermostat. “Won’t this go any higher?”

“Why in the world would you … Have you checked on Lorraine?”

“You should forget about your daughter,” Jean says. She looks at her watch. “And Randolph, too.” She comes toward me. There’s not a drop of sweat on her.

8 Comments

  1. SimonJM

    And now would be a really good time to start screaming! 😉

    • xdhz8

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. 27beestroke6

    Never trust the news media! Right? 🙂

    This could be the next chapter of “Arrival”. Not the recent meh one, the old fun one from 1996 where aliens are heating up the planet before they move in.

    • xdhz8

      Thanks for commenting

  3. Hari Navarro

    David that was some whirlwind. Enrtiging writing structure from beginning to end.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Day Everything Goes Down – Words Music - […] https://365tomorrows.com/2018/08/18/the-day-everything-goes-down/#comment-7314 […]

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Random Story :

The Past

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Flash Fiction

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries
Founding Member

Submissions

We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.

Voices of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.

If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact ssmith@365tomorrows.com