Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

Free copy left
You can read our best books
Kyra Dune would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Lights Out

By Kyra Dune All Rights Reserved ©


(Short Story)

I was working in the garden, surrounded by pink tulips and yellow daffodils, when everything went dark. I froze in the action of pulling some weeds, my heart hammering in my chest. I thought I had been suddenly struck blind, that I was having a stroke or a heart attack or something. But I felt no pain, only fear.

I slowly got to my feet and tilted my head back toward a sky I couldn't see. I pulled off my gardening gloves and touched my eyes one at a time. First the left, then the right. How could this be? I wondered. How could a relatively healthy man in his early sixties be suddenly struck blind?

I turned my head this way and that, listening. No birdsong. Only a few moments before, I was trading tunes with a mockingbird while a chorus of cardinals played backup. Now, only silence. Was I deaf as well?

"Hello?" I whispered, then sighed with the relief at the sound of my own tremulous voice. Not deaf then, but still blind.

Knowing the layout of my garden as well as I did, I had no trouble negotiating my way back to the house. I always left the back door open when I was working outside because I could never remember the code and I didn't like to take my tablet out where it might get dirt in the fans. The damn things were so sensitive and I'd already broken three this cycle. If something happened to this one I wouldn't get a replacement until the start of the next cycle.

As soon as I stepped through the door into the kitchen, I knew something was seriously wrong. No humming. My appliances always hummed. They were never whisper quiet like they were supposed to be. I moved carefully forward, trailing my hand along the counter until I came to the refrigerator. I touched the door. The surface was cool, but the familiar tremble of the motor was missing.

Cold terror clutched at my guts. It was worse than I thought. I wasn't blind, the power was out. I pulled my trembling hand away from the refrigerator. The emergency generators should have kicked no more than two seconds after a power failure.

On a normal day, the emptiness of the house didn't bother me. Madge had been dead going on six years and I'd grown accustomed to be being alone. Now the emptiness was like a living thing lurking in the darkness, waiting to devour me.

"Don't panic," I whispered. The sound of my own voice was eerie in the stillness. "It's only this sector. Has to be. I just need to get to where I can call J-Block and everything will be fine."

J-Block was two sectors north of where I lived. Surely neither of those sectors would be dark. And even if they were, J-Block wouldn't be.

I made it through the house without running into or tripping over anything. Under a little table by the front door, a battery operated lantern waited for me. One good thing about living alone was that everything was always exactly where you left it.

I lifted the lantern and turned it on, casting the room in deep blue light. Madge had picked this particular lantern because of the color of its light. Cerulean, like the sky, she'd said. So much nicer than yellow or red.

Opening the front door was out of the question, but when I had the house built for us thirty-five cycles ago I had a failsafe put in. Madge laughed at me then, saying I was being silly to think we'd ever need it, and it was a running joke between us during the course of our marriage. Now it would seem it wasn't such a fool thing after all.

After setting the lamp on the floor, I pushed my recliner against the wall, revealing a trapdoor. I spent a moment studying it. The door hadn't been opened since the tunnel was installed. It was meant to be only used once, in the case of dire emergency. This certainly qualified.  

I bent over and slipped my hand through the narrow opening where a button waited. I pushed it and a spring activated latch popped open. It wasn't hard to lift the door and once up it stayed open exactly as it was supposed to. Three steps led down into the tunnel.

With the lantern in hand, I descended into the confined space. The tunnel was made of steel and was just tall enough so I didn't have to crawl or even stoop. Blue light reflecting from the walls made the tunnel seem to glow all on its own.

The tunnel was short. It ended at a second set of three steps and another trapdoor. This one also lifted easily, tearing a small hole my front yard. I climbed out, then stood a moment, shining the light around. I saw no sign of anyone else. But I did notice the air had cooled considerably in the short time since darkness descended.

I walked slowly down the street, silence my only companion. The air tasted metallic. Then I heard the sound of pounding followed by muffled screams. My heart raced. I turned slowly toward the sound, wishing I'd thought to grab something to use as a weapon before leaving the house.  

The light of my lamp played out across the front of one of my neighbor's homes. Mary Watten's panic stricken face was pressed to the glass of the window beside her front door.

"Help," she cried, her voice small and distant behind the glass. "Please," tears rolled down her face, "we can't get out. The's so cold. So thin. Please."  

I stared helplessly back at her. She couldn't get out; I couldn't get in. Unlike me, most people kept their houses sealed up tight and rarely ventured outside even though the temperature was carefully modulated. The Council discouraged people from leaving the safety of their homes more than was necessary. They didn't want people wandering around getting into mischief. In fact, this was the first time since Madge's death that I had even seen another person face to face, instead of through a video screen.

The only way I could help Mary was to get word of our troubles to J-Block. Turning my back on that terrified woman was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my entire life. I gazed north, expecting to see lights glowing in the distance. Nothing. J-Block was dead. Dead. The word echoed down the corridors of my mind.   

I drew in a breath, my lungs struggling to cope with the rapidly thinning air, and when I breathed out a crystalline fog spread before my lips. With a tremble in my step and the cerulean glow of the lantern to lead me, I continued on into the silent darkness.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Kyra Dune
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

gunter1987: I just want to say here that this is my first review, but I really wanted to review this story. I apologize if I don't write English to well, I am French.Reading through the many science fiction stories posted here and other places in the world, I started to see a few linking themes: heavy-hande...

CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...

Meri Amber: The plot is creative, fun and addictive! The writing is superb and the characters are really well put together. Definitely highly recommeded!

Truemy Brewer: Great first chapter! You tell the story dramatically, but not overly and with just the right amount of words.. There is no cut in the action. I do wonder at the ladies male friend from the village, and what happened to him, but I suppose that will be revealed later. This seems like an epic in the...

Ben Gauger: Kudos go to wordworrywill, author of Kings and Things, an otherwise imaginative tale set against the trappings of the royal set, but then again I don't imagine there'd be many authors who invoked the names of Oprah Winfrey, Vladimir Putin, Jeff Bezos, Beyonce and Steven Spielberg, As for the plot...

AlexaDria: Well I'll be darned! I don't remember the last time I enjoyed a story/novel/book/thing that much! I enjoyed it so much that I finished it in a little over 10 hours... oops! I honestly can't wait to find and read the next one! I want more!!!

PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...

Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...

Raymond Keith Moon: Great story arc. Nice command of the balance of overview and detail. Feels a bit like a multi-player computer game, but provides satisfying explanations for all the apparent magic. Please keep writing!

More Recommendations

John Smith: This is what Sci Fi is all about. Reads like early Heinlein. In the style of Space Cadets. No esoteric problems..but good ol blaster and space action with a host of relatable characters

internathunal: I was held captive by your sense of style. I would love to see more from you. I enjoyed this immensely.

thePeeJ: aced it boiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral stories!

FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral story!

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."