Even though it seemed safe at the moment, Sarah knew things were not right. She felt it in her gut, or maybe it was the way her skin tingled when she was outside. Either way, her instinct told her to stay out of the light emanating from the sky. As she began drawing the curtains closed throughout the house, she could not help but wonder if something was still reaching inside, penetrating through the vinyl siding and insulation, like a scanner’s X-ray searching for cancer.
Sarah went back upstairs with Jibber still at her heels. The television had spurts of static but was viewable. Doing what she does when there could be a tornado; she changed into sneakers and tied them securely. The shoes would stay on the feet if she ever needed to run.
Spreading out the top blanket so as not to get her shoes on the sheets, she climbed back into her favorite spot. She turned up the volume on the television as Jibber jumped on the bed, curling herself on Sarah’s lap as if she was hiding from loud cracks of thunder.
“You’re too big for a lap dog,” Sarah said, stroking the trembling dog to keep her calm. Jibber kept trying to nuzzle under Sarah’s arm as if it were burrowing into the shelter of a rabbit hole.
Programming was once again interrupted with the same newscaster, but this time, he was not smiling. “We are interrupting this program to bring you this breaking news. Reports are coming in from around the world about the strange lights in the sky. It seems that both hemispheres are being affected,” he paused, and then looked to the side. “We have this report from Adam Smith in Australia.”
The pixelated screen flickered, making the reporter’s limbs appear as if they were disconnecting from his body. “As you can see, it’s daylight here in Australia, underneath the red sky,” the reporter said, turning slightly. “If you look behind me on this city block of Melbourne, you’ll notice people wandering around as if confused. Not everyone is behaving this way, but many are. This all began when the sky turned a bloody red.”
“Adam, we’ve had a spectacular Northern Lights display here in the US. Do they know what’s causing this to happen in Australia?”
As Adam began to answer, a staggering man in a business suit who looked like he had a few too many malted barleys at the local pub bumped him temporarily off camera. Adam pushed his bangs away from his forehead and stood back in front of the camera. “Scientists here are baffled, they initially thought it was coming from the sun, but that appears to not be the case. It’s a mystery.”
“Adam, we’re going to leave you while we bring our local meteorologist back on the air. You be careful down there in Australia.”
The static on the small color TV set was getting worse. Sarah could barely hear the Australian reporter say, thank you. She turned the volume up even louder as she tried to make out what the meteorologist was saying. Through the video squiggles and the audio crackles she could only make out the words “exposed to something” and “Channel 3.”
“What? Exposed to something? Exposed to what? I can barely make out anything they’re saying, and I manage to pick out only part of a sentence and the station identifier. Isn’t that just my luck, Jibber?” Sarah said, reaching for her beer.
The television was now all static and unwatchable. She turned the volume down and took a cell phone from her purse. Even though it was approaching midnight and the kids would likely be sleeping, she was not going to let that stop her from calling them.
“Damn,” Sarah said, hitting the redial button. “Come on, connect this time.”
Her fourteen-year-old son’s phone rang unanswered. “Georgie, answer your phone.”
She then tried her older son, Willis. “The number you called is not a working number. Please check the number and dial again,” the recorded message said.
Sarah hated calling the regular house phone because both Larry and his new wife Bertha were nasty and obnoxious. Larry would always lecture her with his demeaning tone. He was a debaser while Bertha was always falsely accusing Sarah of one thing or another. Both Larry and Bertha had no problem with slander and perjury.
She dialed the house phone. Just before the answering machine came on, Sarah heard Larry’s nail scratching voice, “Hello.”
“I need to talk to Willis and Georgie.” Sarah wanted to get straight to the point so that she did not have to deal with Larry any longer than necessary.
He replied in his usual condescending tone. “Sarah, they’re sleeping. You can’t talk to them.”
“It’s important; I really need to speak with them.”
“No, you’re not. We have things to do early in the morning and I’m not waking them up.”
Sarah did not want to beg. “It’s important, something has happened.”
“Like what?” He always gave her a hard time.
“Have you looked outside or listened to the news?”
Sarah could hear Bertha in the background. “Who is that? Is that Sarah?”
Larry replied with a disgusted, “Yes.”
“Hang up on the bitch; there’s no reason for her to call in the middle of the night.”
The line went dead.
“I hate your guts!” Sarah said, pushing down hard on her Droid’s red button. She would have slammed the handset of a regular phone into its base if she had one. She felt like crying.
“Okay, Jibber, what do I do now? I want to go get them, but I know he won’t let me take them, he won’t even let me talk to them.”
Sarah turned the volume up on the television to see if there was any better reception. She flipped through the channels, unable to make anything out. Apparently, the satellites are being affected, she thought.
I better call Lilly and make sure she is okay, Sarah thought. She and Lilly hit it off right away when Sarah first moved to the area. They had a lot in common. Not only were their kids the same ages and in the same school, but they liked to go out occasionally to watch a local rock band and have a few too many drinks.
A sleepy Lilly answered the phone, “Hello.”
“I’m sorry to wake you up, but there’s something weird going on outside.”
“What’s going on?” Lilly asked, yawning.
“Look out your window and you’ll see.”
“Okay, hold on.” Sarah could hear Lilly get out of bed and walk to the window. “What the hell is that? What’s going on?”
“I don’t know for sure, apparently it’s not the Northern Lights like they first thought,” Sarah said. “Turn your TV on before it goes out and see if there’s any more news.”
“I can’t believe this, it’s really strange,” Lilly said, walking back across the room.
Sarah could hear the static of Lilly’s television and then the phone lost connection. She looked at her TV screen; it was almost impossible to make anything out. Just before it went black and the electricity went out, Sarah could hear a voice in the static say, “Stay inside. For God’s sake do not go outside!”