Key Eighteen: Blackout:
England experienced a blackout that Christmas. It would last for about five days. The electric company worked to get it back up again. How could this have happened? They are wondering the same thing.
It didn’t help that it was raining outside too.
At night, the children wail. Some people are used to it. Others aren’t. A person in a plague doctor outfit walked around the empty streets. They held up a thin metal rod in the air. The smell of flowers led them further down the path. On a normal day, they would stand out in a crowd. But there no people around. The plague doctor’s eyes shifted left and right. They weren’t alone, they could tell.
“Hello?” they asked. No answer.
“I know you are there. Come out and so yourself.” No answer.
“This is not a game.” No answer. The plague doctor frowned. They could’ve sworn they were being followed. They held their breath. The pin still held up high in the arm. Nothing so far. Everything was still around them. Too still…
The plague doctor knew that the calm before the storm was always the worst part. They began counting down in their head as they kept walking. They held their breath and kept walking. They have always hated the quiet. It would only be a matter of time…
A group of angels floated in the sky. They were whispering to each other as they looked at the absence of people below. Where did the people go? They were inside celebrating Christmas. But something wasn’t right. What could it be?
One angel turned to her companions. The others look at her. They all have the same thought in mind.
“What should we do?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” one of the men asked. She held out her arms.
“What do we do with all of this?” the angel asked. “There has been a spike in murders lately. The smell of blood is everywhere. Not even the smell of flowers can hide that. Plus, that child is about to be born. We can’t let the world fall into further ruin! Look at what happened to Japan. Do you want that for the rest of the world?” The other angels were silent.
“It is not our place to act,” he said. “We are only to observe.” She sat back with her cheeks puffed up.
“It doesn’t seem right,” she muttered to herself.
“Have you come to love this world?” another angel asked. She looked up at him with her hand to her chest. He shook his head.
“You can’t get attached to these humans,” he said. “They are all going to die.”
“I know!” she shouted. She dropped her fists by her sides. “I just can’t help it!” The other angels said nothing. She sat in people with their judgmental looks directed at her. If they weren’t going to do anything, she would.
The plague doctor walked up to a café. They pressed their face to the big window. Nobody inside. Of course not, it’s Christmas after all. Plus, there are no lights on in town. It’s still too quiet. They quickly turned around. Nothing. No one in sight. They frowned.
The plague doctor touched the glass. The hand went through like it was nothing. Good. They could begin. Hands, arms, body, and head. They looked around. The rod started to vibrate. A low hum filled the room. It’s here.
The plague doctor took a look around. They trained their ear in for a listen. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
There! The plague doctor turned around. Nothing was there but they weren’t fooled. They held out the rod.
“I know you are there,” they said. “Come and show yourself.” Silence and no one in sight. The plague doctor clicked their tongue. They reached for their knife under their cloak. A clown-like face popped up in front of theirs. The plague doctor jumped back. Laughing came from the clown’s open mouth. The plague doctor narrowed their eyes.
“Who are you?” they asked. “Did you do this?” The clown didn’t answer. The plague doctor froze.
“What is that smell?” they asked. Their head began to swim. What… What is this?
Everything went dark.
Garlic and flowers. The plague doctor’s nose twitched.
“Hm?” they asked. They sat up but found themselves with limited movement.
“What the…?” they asked. A hand rested on their head. The plague doctor turned their head.
“Shhh,” a man’s voice hissed. “Shhh.”
“Who are you?” the plague doctor asked. Their eyes adjusted to the dark. The room looked like an empty basement. They found themselves strapped down to an old-fashioned wheelchair. Sheets and tarp-covered the windows. A pair of hands grabbed onto their shoulders.
“You shouldn’t be out here,” a voice hissed in their ears.
“Huh?” the plague doctor asked.
“What were you doing looking around the city?”
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that.”
“Wrong answer.” A vice-like grip grabbed onto their shoulders. The plague doctor let out a loud gasp.
“What are you doing here?”
The plague doctor shook their head. “I can’t tell you that.” The grip tightened on the shoulders. They bit down on their lower lip.
“Why are you here?”
“I can’t say!” The grip grew tighter on their shoulders. They could feel the blood leaking out. But they still wouldn’t talk.
“Last chance! Why are you here?”
“I can’t tell you!” By now, the nails dug deep into the skin. The plague screamed as tears filled their eyes.
“That’s enough!” someone yelled. The pain suddenly stopped. The plague doctor took a heavy breath.
“This is not the one.”
“This is not the one!”
A sigh came from behind the plague doctor’s head.
Sharp knives cut away the plague doctor’s bindings. They stood up to see a figure in black cloaks and a deer mask in front of them.
“I’m so sorry for this.”
A finger touched the plague doctor on the forehead, and they disappeared into thin air.
One. Drip. Drip. The plague doctor opened their eyes and found themselves in an abandoned alley. The smell of rotting fish made their eyes water.
Two. They looked around, holding their breath. They had lost the metal rod when they were held again their will. Now what? The streets were still empty, but they weren’t so convinced of that facade anymore. What were they going to do? The plague doctor still had to make their report. A job still needed to be done around here. They pulled out their small wireless radio.
What is that sound? The plague doctor quickly turned their head. Again, no one was in sight. They weren’t going to fall for that one again. They may have escaped once but they doubted that they were going to be so lucky the next time. The plague doctor cranked on their radio.
“Luna 1-1! Can you read me? Luna 1-1! Luna 1-1! Can you read me?” they asked. The radio crackled to life.
“Luna 1-1?” the plague doctor asked. “What’s your twenty?” They started to walk out of the alley for better reception over the radio. The whole time, they listened for any hint of movement that could jump out and attack them at any time. They weren’t going to fall for that one again. Especially if there were going to be some creepy-ass clowns involved.
Three days later, the power came back on.