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[ONC 2019 SHORTLISTED] July 13, 1977. The night New York City went dark. In a sweltering heatwave, the entire city was plunged into darkness. “What do you want?" Brandi cried, wriggling under his grip. "I don't have anything." This was what she got for stepping into Bed-Stuy. This was what she got for venturing into a hood that she didn't live in. She got a gun to the head.

Thriller / Action
5.0 10 reviews
Age Rating:

July 13th, 1977 | 9:57 pm

| 9:57 pm |
21 minutes after the lights went out

Brandi just wanted to get home.

As flames danced along the inky black sky, a fresh flood of panic pushed her down the sidewalk. Only guided by the gleam of that blazing inferno, she cursed under her breath.

They were setting everything on fire.

Something vicious had been unleashed as soon as the power went out. Without light, there was only darkness.

Without certainty, there was only fear.

An instant paranoia had enveloped her. As the lights flickered, her heart had sputtered into the pit of her stomach, just in time for the darkness to swallow her. Maybe Son of Sam was coming, maybe it was the end of the world. Maybe they were all going to die.

Brandi fumbled — skidding to a stop as the sound of glass shattering reached her ears. It wasn’t the first wave, but it made her wince nonetheless.

Piercing her eardrums, it cascaded into a full symphony of hollering and crying. They all clashed together with a sudden smash that had Brandi renewing her swift steps forward.

“Fuck,” she cursed, louder this time.

She just had to get out of here.

A humidity had blanketed the city for too long, leaving everyone in some drunken misery at the height of the summer season. She could taste it. All the tension that had been broiling for the past few weeks had finally come to a head.

A riot.

Suddenly, her vision skewed with sharp, blinding headlights. Cutting though the hazy heat, they sliced through her with an intensity that had her flinching back. Though as a car came speeding down the street, she was paralyzed.

For one long second, Brandi devoured the sight in front of her — the absolute chaos unraveling along the entire stretch of Broadway.

A herd of looters dashed out of the way with their hands full, crying and screaming as the car flew across the glittering pavement towards her.

Brandi flinched at the onslaught, an overwhelming glare that splashed across the apocalyptic scene. Dazed, her lips parted in a silent gasp.

Just as the sound melted into the destruction around her, the car swerved abruptly and those lights danced away from her to reveal a graffiti-laden metal gate. ”Ay!" Someone shouted from the car, the call lost beneath the screeching of tires.

Brandi scrambled away from the car shakily. A new sense of panic embraced her and she turned her back just in time to hear another shout, ”Ay, hitch it up!"

Hitch it up?

What was going on? Everything had spiraled out of control too fast for her to escape. Paired with the suffocating heat, Brandi felt as if she could pass out in the midst of the destruction.

Maybe if she was lucky, she’d wake up tomorrow morning and it would all be over.

But as it looked now, an inescapable worry squeezed at her heart. She wasn’t going to get out of this unscathed.

Something had erupted when the lights went out — when the city went dark. Brandi couldn’t place it and she wasn’t sure she wanted to.

A swift wind in front of her interrupted her thought and then someone clipped her shoulder from behind. Brandi went whirling around, staggering in the blind darkness as she grappled for anything to hold her.

Finally catching fabric, she stabilized herself, mumbling an apology. Whoever it was wrenched out of her grasp too quickly, sending her reeling forward again.

Both knees collided with harsh pavement and she barely heard her own cry amidst the continuous terror.

Glass shattering, people yelling.

Tires screeching.

Another blinding flash of light washed over her.

As it veered to the side of the street, the front bumper crashed against a pole, but then a silhouetted man stuck his head out of the window. ”Yeah, yeah, hitch it up!"

A horn followed.

All too quickly, the sounds meshed together with a new one. A screeching of metal against metal. Metal being pried away.

They were clawing the gates away from the stores.

Oh, fuck.

A sharp pain shot through her entire hand as someone trampled over her fingers. Brandi cried out again before forcing herself to her feet. Her entire arm throbbed with the impact of the fall, but she could barely focus on the pain when survival seemed to kick in.

Only tainted by that hellish glow and a faint flicker of blurring headlights, all of Broadway seemed to have plummeted into an abyss. Fucking madness.

And she had to get the fuck out of here.

Two silhouettes skidded across her vision in a mess of deep grunts and curses. Her head spun while everything blurred beneath the fiery haze of heat.

It was suffocating. All too quickly, her limbs went numb with another bout of panic. No, no, no. She had to get out of here before she plummeted into an abyss.

“Ay yo, man, what the fuck?"

“You think you can come in here without us knowin’?” Someone hissed viciously.

An arm wrapped around her waist from behind and suddenly, Brandi was sure she was about to die. “Hey, let go of me!”

But instead she was lifted off of her feet, swiveled to the side and shoved against a metal gate like a rag doll. Brandi coughed as the impact knocked the breath out of her lungs and she tried to blink back the pain. In some disoriented haze, she found herself mumbling, “What? What the-”

Her sweaty hair swung around to whip her in the face as she was yanked away from the wall. “What you got?”

A heavy breath fanned along her cheeks. As lights danced around her, she could only catch the fringe of an orange glow across his dark skin. “I said, what you got?"

“I... I don’t have... no, I don’t-”

What was he doing? She didn’t understand.

“I know you got something, darlin’,” he drawled in a softer voice. “So give me what you got before this gets ugly.”

What did she have? Was he mugging her?

Hastily, Brandi reached for her pockets to find them empty. Her eyes widened in realization. “I don’t have-”

A puff of exhaustion filled the small gap between them. Just as she thought it couldn’t get worse, he pressed something hard against her cheek. Something that glinted in the darkness.

A gun.

“Sorry, darlin’.”

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