|Image source: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Night-Sky-168834734|
Night had fallen by the time I returned home. With the power out I was reminded how much street and porch lights drove back the darkness. A primal fear gripped me as I stepped out of the car, feet making crunching sounds on the gravel of the driveway. I chided myself for not having gotten it paved the summer before as I had said. Anything to try and keep my mind off the mounting terror of what lay in the darkness.
My home was a mile off the nearest secondary road, but I had had solar lamps put up every five hundred feet to light the long private road to my home. Whatever had happened to the power had not been limited to the grid, those lights had been out too, as was the solar on my home, and the other on the barn. Only the stars lit the sky, the moon was new, and unable to lend its silvery gleam to the world. I closed the car door, and stood alone in the silence.
Silence. The night should have been alive with the sounds of insects and animals, instead it was like the morning after a fresh snow, when the whole world is wrapped in a layer of soundproofing. I swallowed hard and moved toward the house, gripping my keys tightly; I did not want to drop them, not tonight.
The steps and porch groaned under me as I moved to the door, unnerving me further, and making my mind go to places best left alone. My key resisted the lock, making me push it harder; it let go and slipped in, causing me to bang my knuckles. The door squeaked open on its hinges; when had it started doing that? Inside there was barely any light, the stars lent far too little through the windows. I stumbled, and bumped may way to the mantle, looking for matches and a candle. The cough of sulfur created a tiny mote of light in the darkness. I breathed a sigh of relief as I searched in vain for a candle, finally cursing as it burnt my fingers and winked out plunging me into a renewed darkness that my eyes were no longer ready for.
It was too much. I reached up and pushed the VR rig aside, breathing heavily, feeling the artificial world slip away to be replaced by the real. The psychiatrist was jotting down notes. "You did very well," he said. I wanted to argue but I could only grab his trashcan and throw up into it.