A Day Of Darkness by Todd Woodstock

The news was everywhere about the strange, luminous phenomenon that had filled the night skies for the past couple of nights. Different colored rays streaked a rainbow show for the townspeople to view. It kept many folk up late, wondering what marvelous creations of light had invaded their tiny community.

 

Dave Madison owned the local diner and had heard many conversing over the bizarre events over fried eggs and toast in his establishment. This talk was different from discussions about Fred Miller’s corn crops and how he had won several awards for its astounding sweet taste or how Bessy May was elected to the P.T.A. No, this was different from the regular gossip that occurred at the D.M. Diner. Many were curious to find out more about this amazing spectacle, which had the entire town in a state of perplexity.

“So whatcha think ’bout what’s causing dem lights to going on, Dave?” Bill Markem questioned with his lack of schooling background.

Not many were educated in the town of Willowby, but Bill was probably one of the least educated in the town. His parents started raising pigs long before Bill was born and he quit school at an extremely early age (10 to be exact) to utilize his years of swine knowledge to assist with the family farm. His kindness certainly overshadowed his lack of intelligence, but his stink was a hindrance from others noticing his gentle demeanor.

This didn’t keep Dave Madison from Bill’s warm personality and inept conversations. As a matter of fact, Dave enjoyed Bill’s company and hospitable attitude, even if Bill was often teased for his absence of a bath and his sloppy appearance from the kids of the town. It made Dave feel compassion for Bill’s livelihood and made him realize how lucky he was to have gone to fine schools in a generous city. It was the kind of person Dave was, a good man who left his diner doors open to anyone, only noticing the inside of every individual and not the outside cover. This is what brought Dave and his family to Willowby nearly five years ago when he was searching for a quaint, little town to open a small diner. Many came from miles around to taste his menu. He felt the city had offered too much hostility and self-indulgence.

“I really don’t know, but I’ve been watching the television lately and we aren’t the only ones experiencing this kind of phenomenon. I saw on the news that sightings have been occurring in different parts of the world,” Dave said.

“Yeah, I’ve noticed it, too,” interrupted Max Warecore, another local from Willowby and a regular at the D.M. Diner. “I saw the same type of lights over there in Canada and Nova…something or other from the T.V.”

“Nova Scotia. It’s an island off the coast of Canada. Do you want some more coffee, Max?” Dave asked.

“Yeah, I’ll have some more. Thanks.”

Dave grabbed a glass pot that was half empty and poured some black water into a white cup that sat in front of Max. “Have either one of you noticed different attitudes since the lights have appeared?”

“Whatcha mean, Dave?” Bill inquired.

“Well, it’s hard to explain, but doesn’t it seem like the town folk are beginning to get a little edgy? Like they are impatient or easily irritable?”

Max shook his head. “No not really. Oh, now what a minute, now that you mention it, yeah, I do think there is. I was walking through town and remembered I had to get something at Joe Billing’s Pharmacy, a prescription, so I turned quick and bumped into Fred Miller. Well, Fred didn’t appreciate me bumpin’ into him, if ya know what I mean. He called me every name in the book. I mean words I never heard Fred say.” Max lowered his voice and leaned forward. “He even called me a filthy, diseased cunt.”

“Fred said that?” Dave’s eyes blew open.

“Sure enough did; couldn’t believe my ears.”

“Damn, Fred’s da most Christian man I do know,” Bill moved his head back and forth. “I can’t believe he’d say somedin’ like dat.”

“That is amazing. It’s got me worried,” Dave looked at both of them. “There has to be some type of connection between the lights and what you just explained about what Fred did, but what?”

All three men continued to ponder about Mr. Miller’s reactions and the strange lights that entered the night skies above the small town of Willowby.

As the days continued, so did the uncharacteristic dispositions. Simple conversation turned to arguments and half the time conflict would occur right on the streets of the normally sweet, little town. Churches began to feel the effects of the personality changes from the town folk. Just as the churches were nearly empty at Sunday Mass, the streets were becoming nearly just as vacant, for so many had slept in from observing the extravaganza of bright colors that scattered the night. This was needed as time had passed, due to the intense animosity that plagued the community. The more individuals were inebriated with the nighttime fireworks, the stronger the compulsion to view grew larger. Daytime became sleep periods to many. The night was activity, but with apathy toward one another, and at times, increased tension with loved ones. The urge to continue with the happy lifestyle that once thrived had created a downward spiral of hate toward the majority of the town. Each and every soul was beginning to turn inside and out.

Bill strolled into D.M. Diner with his head down as he approached his normal counter seat. A familiar, but disgusting scent filled the counter area as he sat down. Bill’s flannel shirt appeared wet.

“Bill, you need some coffee?” Dave asked and then had a sour look on his face within seconds.

“Damn, kids. I’m really, really gettin’ sick of da game playin’ they do on me.” Bill looked extremely upset.

“Holy heck! What did happen to you, Bill? You smell like piss,” Max blurted from two seats away and holding his laughter in.

“It is piss,” Bill said. “They trew it at me.”

“Who threw what at you?” questioned Dave.

“Piss, they trew piss at me. Those damn kids trew piss at me. I didn’t believe ’em at first, but then I did smell it comin’ off strong.”

“Who threw the urine at you, do you know, Bill? Because we can definitely get the sheriff involved.” Dave had a concerned look in his eyes, as he began to walk toward the phone.

“Naw, I have saw ’em before, but I doenst know who they be. I haven’t got any names to think of either. I just doenst understand why they do such a thing.”

Max stopped jiggling from holding in his laughter. He saw the pain in Bill’s eyes. He listened to what Dave was saying.

“See, this is what we talked about yesterday. It’s gotten worse. Those kids would have never done such a horrible act, if something strange wasn’t going on.”

“I know, I haven’t been witnessing those crazy lights for the past month, because they start a glowin’ so late at night, but I did get a little, might curious last night and I took me a peek,” Max said.

“And what did you see? Because personally I haven’t seen them yet, except what I’ve viewed on the television for the same reason.”

“It’s kinda eerie-like. Like some kinda weird travel away from here. It don’t even seem like you’re in Willowby no more. The lights is beautiful and I guess that’s why folks is makin’ such a fuss over ’em, ’cause they are so beautiful. It keeps you wanting to keep viewin’, like something is pullin’ ya to keep viewing. I never felt nothing like it. It was like some kinda magnetinetic pull or something or other.”

“Magnetic pull. It has the individual allured to the peculiar colored lights.”

“Sounds like some kinda trance or somedin’ like dat,” Bill blurted.

Suddenly, tornado sirens began blaring throughout the streets of the small community and interrupted the conversation. There were only a couple more patrons in the D.M. Diner, but all were alarmed by the signals. Within minutes a red pickup with “Willowby Fire Department” printed on the doors slowly migrated down the center of town.

“Please head to your homes, this is not a drill. The mayor has issued a twenty-four hour curfew for all residents of Willowby. Please go to your homes. This is not a drill,” announced an attached loud speaker from the truck. It continued to announce the regulation, as it moved out of sight.

“Well, don’t that just beat all,” Max stated. “I had some serious work to get done at the Mullford Farm.”

Dave turned the television on, which was placed in the corner of the restaurant to see what was on the news. There was a picture of the strange lights that absorbed the screen. He turned up the volume. “…This is the scene from the night skies over Paris, France. These strange lights have continued to mystify the scientific community and all that have witnessed the bizarre events. There have been many that have claimed to notice the phenomenon for over a month now in certain parts of the U.S. and other portions of the world. We’ve received reports in the past few minutes that an eclipse is to take place within the hour, and it will be viewed from all over the world. The public is to be aware that the eclipse is not to be watched with the naked eye. The intense rays may blind within seconds of witnessing. It is important that all individuals remain indoors. Although scientists and physicians have not confirmed this to be true at this point, they have stated it is possible and to remain indoors…” The anchorman said.

“I guess I’m headin’ home then.” Max had a look of disgust on his face. He got up from his seat. “I’ll see ya later. Hopefully this won’t last long, I got a lotta work to get done at the Mullford Farm. Oh, and a Bill, take a bath will ya.”

“Tanks a lot,” Bill smiled, as Max left through the front door.

“Yeah, I’ll see ya, Max. Okay folks, I’m closin’ up the shop. You heard the newscaster and the fire department; it’s time for everyone to go home.” Dave flipped the “Open” sign. “That means you too Bill, time to head home.”

“I know, I know. How long do you think dis will last, Dave?”

“I don’t know, but from what I’ve seen on normal eclipses, about a few minutes, but this isn’t anything normal. So there is no tellin’. As you heard, they want everyone off the street for twenty-four hours. I’m not sayin’ it’s gonna last that long, but it sure as hell is gonna be longer than a few minutes.”

Bill got up with the stains of urine streaked across his flannel shirt. The odor was extremely pungent as he stood up. “Well, then I’m outta here. I’ll see ya tamarra. Bye, Dave.”

“Bye, Bill.” Bill opened the front door and began exiting. Dave stopped him.

“Oh, and Bill, don’t bother washing the shirt, just throw it out, okay,” Dave smiled and winked at him.

Bill smiled back. “Oh, all right den.”

Dave entered his house and his wife and two children were crowded around the television. This time there was a night sky view from Bangladesh. The cameras had panned down toward the people running in the streets. They were screaming in fear. Dave drew closer to the set.

“Oh, honey, I’m so glad your home. It’s just horrible,” said his wife.

“Hi baby, I saw some of it at the diner.”

“Dad, there’s people going nuts over there. I watched some guy use a knife and slit his own throat on T.V.” His son pointed to the screen.

“What?” Dave grabbed his wife’s hand. “Melissa, is this true?”

“Yes, John and Sara were screaming at the T.V. when I was in the kitchen. That’s when I ran out and saw what they were watching. I couldn’t believe it. It looked like people were tryin’ to kill themselves or something. It’s horrible.”

Just as he did at the diner, Dave increased the volume. A man with a microphone was standing in the middle of a crowded street. “…As you can see there is pandemonium running through the streets in Dhaka, the capital. People don’t know what’s going on. The skies are lit up from these luminous streaks that are overpowering the surrounding areas. Chaos is what I call it, a total loss of control. One man attempted to gouge his eyes out with his own fingers, apparently to avoid looking at the strange glowing colors from above. A woman had tossed her child into a burning blaze for no reason and then began screaming. She then threw her body onto a metal fence. Jim, there have been scenes of violence in every part of the city here. It is totally inexplicable; rape and murder happening…I mean, it is just a difficult thing to see.”

The lead anchorman questioned the field journalist, “Steve is there any police on the streets trying to quiet the happenings down a bit or…”

“No, nothing Jim, it’s as if no one cares. The only thing we have witnessed from some type of law and order has come from some members of the local churches, who have tried, but failed. It really is horrendous, Jim.”

Again, the camera panned to see a group of people surrounding a female. They began tearing clothes from her as she tried to scream. Men and women grabbed whatever extremities they could from her and began pulling. One of her arms was torn away and thrown into a mob of another group of raging people. They looked like starving animals, as the crowd sank their teeth into her. Blood sprayed from her neck and other parts of her body.

“Oh my dear God, Jim, can you see this?” His voice was shaken.

“Yes, yes we can, Steve.” Just then, the news crew from Bangladesh was cut off. “These were disturbing images from Dhaka, and I’m sure these had been difficult for anyone to view. This is happening in many parts of the world and to let us possibly understand a little better on what is occurring, is our news analyst, Robert Henry.

“Mr. Henry, can you give us an insight of what is going on, and is there some type of connection to these strange lights?”

“Well, I have done research in the field of paranormal and there really is no conclusion for what is happening; only speculation. It is possible the energy being transferred back and forth from the strange lighting may be interfering with rational decision making of some sort. As I said, I have no solid answers…”

Melissa turned to her husband. “Dave, I’m scared. What if these strange lights start affecting us here, what will we do?”

“I really don’t know,” Dave was in disarray. “I really don’t.”

The news was right and soon the sky began to get darker from the eclipse. Soon, Dave and Melissa turned lights on in the house, because it had gotten so dark outside. Both John and Sara ran to the windows.

“No, both of you away from the windows,” Dave demanded.

“Didn’t you see what was happening on the news? They let us know not to look at the eclipse, so both of you get away from the windows!” Melissa said firmly.

“But Mom, only for a second,” Sara pleaded.

“Are you nuts? Get away from the windows!” Melissa pointed to the carpet.

Both of them returned to the center of the living room. Suddenly, the lights and television went out. The whole room was dark. The kids screamed.

“Oh, great, just great,” Dave complained. “Okay, everyone remain calm. We need to try to find the flashlights or…”

“I know where the candles are,” Sara was proud to announce.

“Please go and get ’em, okay sweetie,” Melissa said. “The matches are in the second drawer in the kitchen.”

Sara hurried to the kitchen with caution, as not to trip in the dark. She returned back with the candles and matches. She had an alarmed look on her face when she returned. “Dad, I heard some noises coming from outside the kitchen door. They sounded close, like a banging.”

Melissa glanced at Dave with concern. They both had an uneasy feeling about the noises Sara had told them about, but Dave knew after watching the news he had to investigate.

“I’ll check it out. Please just wait here,” Dave said.

Dave approached the kitchen with his heart pushing through his chest. Sara was right about the noises. They sounded right outside the kitchen door. A fierce scratching penetrated Dave’s ears and accelerated the closer he got to the door.

“Dave, what is it?” Melissa quietly asked from the next room. All three of them waited anxiously to find out from Dave.

“I still don’t know yet. But it’s weird; it sounds like growling sounds, too.”

Dave was at the door now and grabbed the handle slowly. The clawing grew magnificent, as Dave rotated the knob. He looked up at the chain to ensure it was fastened, before fully turning the handle. Suddenly, the door blew open, but was halted by the metal links. Dave jolted backward and could hear the children scream from the action.

“Dave, Dave! Are you all right! Answer me!” Melissa cried out.

Snarling filled the room, as the door vibrated uncontrollably. Dave threw his body against the thrusting door. He could feel his blood racing throughout his veins. Melissa and the children were becoming more terrified from each sudden blow from the unknown.

“Daddy, please stop it!” cried Sara.

“I’m tryin’! I don’t know if I can hold it. Melissa, grab something,” Dave demanded. Dave tried to glimpse through the window on the door, but continued to be bumped from his positioning.

“What?” Melissa searched, but was almost in tears.

The jolting almost forced Dave off the door, because he knew if he was shoved back again, definitely the chain lock would give and whatever thing was on the other side had a pathway to his family and him.

“Anything!” Dave shouted.

Then the disturbance halted. The strange sounds from the opposite side also stopped. It was an eerie silence, but now Dave had an opportunity to satisfy his curiosity by peering through the window on the kitchen door. He was extremely vigilant in his efforts, because he remembered that not only did he need to fear what might still be lurking on the other side of the door, but also he couldn’t view the eclipse.

Slowly, he raised his head enough to look outside. He began to feel a burning in his eyes and he stopped searching the backyard.

“Is it still out there?” Melissa was shaken.

“I didn’t see anything…”

Immediately, an object pressed upon the window of the door. It was a face with a ball cap smashed against the glass. The action startled everyone in the house.

“Pleeaasee…help meeee, pleaseee,” said the stranger.

The face looked familiar to Dave. It was Max Warecore.

“Oh, my God,” Dave said. He unlatched the door and Max practically fell in the kitchen.

“Oh, thank you. Thank you,” Max was almost out of breath. “Dave it’s horrible, just horrible. The town folk…oh, my sweet Lord, the town folk.”

“Max, slow down. Now what’s going on? What about the town folk?”

“They’re losin’ it. Gone nutso. All tearin’ up the streets and stuff. They all crazy. Remember, I complained about not bein’ able to make it to the Mullford Farm.”

“Yes.”

“Well, I went anyway.”

“What?”

“I know, I know. I know it weren’t right, but I just had to stop by for a few. You know to let ’em know about what I seen on the T.V. and to see if they done heard anything themselves. Well, when I knocked on their door, they weren’t answerin’. So, I knocked for a spell and then took it upon myself to enter their home. Now, again Dave, I known it weren’t right, but my curious instints took over. I done couldn’t believe what I done saw…” then Max noticed Dave’s family listening to his story. “Oh, I’m sorry Ma’am . . . children.”

Dave looked behind him. “Melissa, this is Max Warecore. Max, this is Sara, my daughter and John, my boy.”

“Pleased to meet you.”

Everyone nodded his or her heads from the other room.

“Anyway, Max, please finish. What about the Mullford’s?”

“Oh, yes. Sorry. Well, when I entered the home I could see the parlor was empty, so I headed toward the kitchen area. There was a might strong odor brewin’ in the air and I believed it was coming from there. The closer I drew, the might stronger the smell. Finally, I reached the kitchen and that’s when I saw Mrs. Mullford over a pot of stew or what I thought was stew. I tried to get her attention by sayin’ ‘Hello’, but I felt she was far into her cookin’. The smell was somein’ I reckon I ain’t never smelled before. So, I looked and I seen Mr. Mullford’s face done staring at me from the boilin’ pot.”

Melissa and the children cringed.

“She was cooking her husband?” Dave asked.

“Sure enough was. It was the craziest thing I ever did see, but it was weird. You know how all those meals you cooked for us, Dave? How you opened your doors wide for all of us with your hospitality? Whatever you done did was mighty fine in your cookin’. Well, I guess I was wonderin’, or should I say we were wonderin’, Bill Markem, Fred Miller, and the rest of the community,” and then Max opened the kitchen door to reveal a large portion of D.M. Diner patrons in Dave’s backyard. “What a sweet family like yours would taste like?”

The eyes of the townspeople were glowing bright red, as they salivated at the thought of tearing into such tender hearts. A meal they had dreamed of since watching the luminous lights appearing in their night skies.

Then the town of Willowby feasted on the warm insides of Dave and his family. Dave, again, was successful in fulfilling all of the town folk’s luscious appetites. He remains, as does the rest of the Madisons and Mr. Mullford as the only Willowby folk to never witness the magnificent colored lights above the quaint, little town.

*

BIO:

Todd is an aspiring writer in the horror genre, who will soon receive his MBA in Information Systems. My dream is to write all the time (horror genre) and travel with my wife all over the world.

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