I can’t remember how it started. All I know is that I have to turn them on. All of them.
Something is in the darkness. I get a glimpse sometimes. When it gets close. When the lights flicker.
I can hear it breathing too. Whatever it is, it’s not a nightmarish collection of body parts barely clinging to life. It sounds fit, strong. It sounds like a hunter, biding its time.
There must be something wrong with the electrics in the house. Lights don’t stay on after I’ve left the room. And the lights that do stay on are either dim, or flicker. Especially the fluros. Oh how I wish we didn’t have the fluros.
So here I am, running from room to room, desperately hitting switches that I hit only minutes before. Desperate to stay in the light, but I have to keep moving.
If I’m there when the lights flicker, it gets close.
There are others here. I’m sure of it. They’re doing the same thing I am – switching on lights as fast as they can. But I never seem to run into them. I hear them though, and I call to them.
I think we’re starting to coordinate. More lights are on now. Not all, but more.
I’ve been doing this so long. How long can someone stay in a panicked state? How long can someone run through the same rooms, over and over again.
How long can someone stare at a lightbulb and pray to a god they don’t believe in that the light holds, just a little longer?
I’ve been doing this so long that the mundane, held back by adrenaline and sweat, starts to reassert itself. I almost laugh – I really need to pee.
It’s close. The light is on in this room, but the next room stutters with the flash of an unstable flourescent tube. I think that’s the kitchen – I can’t remember. I can feel it there, waiting near the door. Waiting for my light to start flickering too.
But I know it’s losing. More and more lights are on. I’m sure I saw one of the others leave just as I entered this room. We’re winning. We’re going to be ok.
I just need to keep this light on. Just need it to stay stable. Just need….
The light in the next room suddenly stops flickering. It’s on. Strong. Stable.
They’re all on. The lights are on. It can’t be in here any more.
We’ve won. I’m safe.
I still can’t see anyone else, but it doesn’t matter any more. It’s gone. And I still need to pee.
I head into the bathroom. Strong, stable light. Our power bill is going to be higher than normal, but that’s ok.
I close the door. Scrabble at my pants. I must have been running for hours – need to go so bad! Without even thinking, habit in full force, my stupid traitor hand moves over to the switch to flip it on.
Except it’s already on. All I manage to do is to turn it off.
A hot gust of breath on my neck.
At least I no longer need to pee.