Dark Light

This morning, I was entirely weirded out when the lights in the hallway of our block of flats appeared to follow me.

The light outside the front door was on, and as I walked towards the lift they switched on and off in sequence, a controlled pool of light that followed my every move.

The lights in the lift weren’t working properly either, and only the one near the door has ever worked properly, so I wasn’t that suspicious until I got to the lobby of the building, and once again was followed out by this flowing pool of illumination, silence save for the “click” as the light behind me switched off, and the light ahead of me switched on.

Outside was darkness, strange despite the bleak midwinter cold for my phone claimed 8am, and I double checked my possessions – Glasses, Phone, Keys, Wallet – as I buzzed myself out of the building.

I was distinctly unprepared for the spotlight.

The darkness above me was absolute; none of sun, moon or stars to indicate the presence of the sky, a few street lamps bathing the world around them a distinctly sodium orange glow; but around me and cast very obviously from above me was an oval of white light that pointed in front of me. As I stepped forward it followed me exactly, and I looked up to see what cast it.

There was nothing there at all. No bright point of light to blind me, just a deep velvet darkness that swallowed the universe, and no visible source for the spotlight that followed my every move. I stepped backwards, forwards, ran sideways, dodged left and right. It followed exactly. I lay down on the path and it grew larger to encompass me, I walked under a bus shelter and it vanished; only to reappear as I passed the shelter by.

The streets were empty, although I could see the spotlights of others far ahead of me. The occasional car passed in the darkness. I walked on.

* * *

A few other people were in the office working, though almost anyone who had seen the news had taken its advice and stayed home. We sat, glued to our chosen information channels. The darkness, apparently, was absolute. Nobody knew where the spotlights were coming from, who controlled them, or why. Reports from confused satellites reported the absence of stars, although whether that was due to their absence or a dust cloud or something nobody seemed quite sure.

The sun still appeared to exist, international temperatures were as normal, plants would grow. Animals across the planet – all in their own tiny spotlights, none as bright as those I had seen – were panicking. The spotlights themselves appeared to indicate something, some peoples’ being dimmer or brighter according to no known measure. The advice was to keep calm and wait for the smart people to work out what was going on.

Nobody ever did, and so we sit in the darkness so many months later, watching out over the field behind our flat, the occasional light flitting across the field as a rabbit runs for its life, the light suddenly going out as it escapes down the rabbit hole.

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