House of Light - Book 1 - See the Light
House of Light - Book 1 - See the Light
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"My wife, Onnie, and I are on the run for weeks now. The city we once called home descended into chaos after the fall. We've had no choice but to flee with our son, Sirus, and hope to find refuge elsewhere.
As we journey through abandoned towns and desolate landscapes, our hope begins to dwindle. But then, a miracle. We stumble upon a beautiful farm house sitting in the middle of a field, seemingly untouched by the chaos of the outside world. That's when we noticed the lights. It's strange, to say the least.
We're soaked to the bone and desperate for shelter, so we take our chances and rush inside, grateful for shelter from the sudden storm that seems to have come out of nowhere.
As we explore the house, the mystery surrounding the lights only grows. They seem to be on all the time, even though there's no power source we can see. But we're too tired to think about it too much, and we're just grateful for a roof over our heads. The only problem is, the lights are a beacon and they never turn off..."
Sample - See the Light
Sample - See the Light
“Monty, I’m tired. I’m tired. I can’t take another step.” The words tumbled out of Onnie Newton’s dry mouth in a rush as she gazed down at her tennis shoes. The tongues lolled out in crumpled angles and the laces were gone, along with a few of the silver rivets. The shoes were once white but were now a shade of smudged dove grey. All of this she barely viewed from the edge of her swelling stomach. She knew there were holes along the edges of her insole, but the frayed ends were behind the toes, and she had not seen them for at least a month from a standing position. She wore a wispy cotton floral navy dress they’d found somewhere in the last town. Pants were no longer efficient; the bands rubbed too much along the line of her belly, creating itchy wide red marks by the end of their daily travels. They walked all day, all week, all month and into a few years since the catastrophe, never staying too long in one place or the next. But they would have to stay somewhere soon…at least for a little while, until the baby came, and that wasn’t far off. She wasn’t sure of the exact date the big event would take place but by the looks of things, in the next few months.
“It’s all right, baby. We need to take a break. Thank you for not pushing yourself this time.” Monty ran a hand over his nearly bald head. Sweat glistened against the dark curly strands. This was his figuring it out motion, a motion Onnie became used to long ago. She watched him scan the horizon, where old houses sprouted like dry wheat. Some held a promise. But promises were often a ploy to get you murdered, a hard lesson they’d so far evaded.
“It’s midday and the sun is blinding,” Monty said. Then he glanced back and said, “Sirus, catch up, son. You know we don’t like you straggling that far back. It’s not safe.”
“Dad…you’re standing still. We’re not in a hurry. No one’s around. And it’s hot. Can we at least find shade?”
“Don’t. Yell.” Monty’s voice barely contained his ire.
Onnie took a step toward her husband. Her hand reached for his. “He’s just a boy, Monty. He’s doing the best he can for a five-year-old.”
His fingers weaved between hers on contact. He took in a breath and let it out, nodding as he closed his eyes for a moment.
That’s when she kept hers open and scanned the horizon for any unusual movement. When Monty was off, she was on. They no longer needed to say the words, with a habit established long ago.
When Sirus met up with them he leaned his head into her side, his slim arm coming up around her belly.
Both her men at her side, she watched the amber grass waving in the dry wind. With the palm of her right hand, she shielded Sirus’ head from the sun’s harsh rays and beads of sweat formed almost immediately. She said absently, “You need your hat on your head.”
Then, without a response, a moment later she said, “Monty, there’s a house over there in that field by an old barn. There might be a chicken or two strayin’.”
He lifted his head and pulled away, swiping a spray of sweat to the dirt road.
She pointed her arm in the direction of the two-story home engulfed in an overgrown corn field.
His eyes lingered there a moment, then he looked around again at the other options and without a word he adjusted the pack on his back and picked her bag up from the dusty road. “Good a choice as any, I suppose. Come on, Sirus. Help your mom across the field.”
“Is it going to rain?” Sirus said, as he took hold of her sweaty hand.
Onnie looked again at the sky. “I sure wish it would. Even warm rain would cool things off a bit.”
“There’s a cloud over there.” Sirus pointed. “Right over that house we’re headed for.”
“I see that. I didn’t notice it before,” Onnie said, as she began to cross the ditch leading to the field. Monty held out his hand and eased her balance while she traversed the ravine.
“There’s a deer trail through the field but watch your hands along those sharp, dry stalks. They’ll cut you up if you’re not careful.”
She’d heard this same warning nearly every single time they crossed a field and apparently so had her son, because when his eyes met hers, they rolled slightly. Who taught him to do that, she wondered? They rarely met other children his age and yet this reflex still existed. She couldn’t help but smile.
“Take it easy here, Onnie. The ground’s uneven,” Monty said, and when she looked up, she saw that he’d stopped in his tracks and then, so did she, halting her son’s next step.
“What is it?” Sirus’ words came in a whisper, sensing something was wrong.
But she didn’t answer as she felt her son’s eyes first linger on her face for an answer, and then he looked to his father, farther down the trail.
She barely moved but her eyes darted from one direction to the other. Should she run, dragging her son with her? And if so, which direction? All she needed was a signal. A signal from her husband. But Monty stood silently twenty feet ahead with his back to her as he stared at something on the ground.
With a hush that dragged on, a dry breeze seethed and clattered thirsty cornstalks together like rushing bees in a funnel. The sound was so eerie that every whisp of hair along her arms stood in silent salute. Her grip on her son’s hand tightened and yet Monty still gave no signal. Ready to bolt, she lifted a handful of her thin cotton dress as a torrent of rain dumped from the sky. And in the sudden darkness, that’s when she noticed the lights brightening the windows of the house beyond the field.
Onnie’s mouth hung open. Wet drops pelted her head, clung to her eyelashes, and yet she could not tear her eyes away from the steady golden beams shining through the squares. There were no flickers from a fire flame. There were only steady lights, firm in their existence. An existence that neither she nor Monty had seen in years.
“What does it mean?” Her voice was full of surprise.
She found Monty watching her, having lost interest in whatever transfixed him before. His face was dark and vacant, heedless of the rain drenching him.
“Come on.” Monty’s voice raised over the din, then he nodded in the direction of the house.
Onnie, shook her head. “No,” she began to say but Monty came to her in a rush and grabbed her arm, urging her and Sirus down the path.
“We need to get out of the rain.”
“But Monty, we haven’t…” she began and as he tugged her farther, her steps fell onto something firm—not the earth, but something hard and rigid. She looked down but Monty kept her moving and in another two steps she again felt the familiar sponge of weeds beneath her feet and then a sharp sting along her arm where a razor-edged stalk caught her flesh.
“Mom…what’s that light?” Sirus said.
But there was no time to explain as Monty hauled them both up and onto the steps of a wooden porch as if there was an enemy rushing behind them. Only there was no refuge from the rain there. Stinging darts came in sideways and pelted them from every corner, as if the sudden storm was trying to blind them and shove them through the folds of a knot.
That’s when Monty’s hand landed on the door’s knob. That’s when terror struck through her like a bolt of lightning. Don’t! Don’t open that door!
On the other side, Monty struggled to close the gap against the storm. Leaning all his weight, he dropped her bag to the tiled ground and shoved hard against the load as the entrance threatened to defy his effort.
In an instant, Onnie pushed her son away as she leaned her weight too against the burden. And then she watched as Sirus added his own effort, with both palms pressed against the wood between his parents. The lock finally hit purchase, and everything stopped.
With the storm finally trapped on the other side, Onnie shut her eyes, shut her mind. Because what they’d just done was unthinkable.
“Hello?” Sirus said.
Onnie’s eyes flashed open. “What are you doing? There might be someone here.”
“That’s what I’m trying to find out.”
Monty pulled away and then pulled Onnie by outstretched arms until she stood straight and steady.
“What happened out there, Dad?”
Monty shook his head. “I can’t say, son.”
But Onnie wasn’t sure what exactly that meant and remembered the hard thing she’d trodden over to get to the house. “What was…”
“Hello? Is there anyone here?” Monty took another step into the foyer on the puddled tile floor.
“It’s cold in here. What are those lights from?” Sirus said, pointing and following his father’s steps.
“No. Don’t.” Onnie reached for her son and pulled him back until his head touched her belly. “It is cold. Is that air conditioning?”
Monty’s hand reached out to still them in place. “I’m going to look around. You stay here.”
Shaking her head, “No. That’s not a good idea. Don’t leave us here.” Panic rose in her voice like a hawk riding the wind.
“It’s just a house, and there’s got to be a generator keeping those lights on.”
“I don’t hear a generator, Monty. There’s no sound. I mean, like no sound. Not an engine. No one’s answering. And the lights? This isn’t right…”
Then he did something she never expected. He turned to her, and he smiled. “Pretty cool though, huh?”
In a whisper, she asked, “Monty…what’s keeping the lights on?”
He looked up at the foyer’s chandelier. “I imagine,” he said as he noticed a lamp shining brightly on a table below a gilded mirror, “it’s some sort of generator. We just haven’t found the source yet.”
“Are we going to stay here, Mom?” Sirus whined.
“No baby. We are definitely not staying here,” she murmured back as Monty attempted to turn off the lamp’s switch.
With a click, he glanced under the shade, the light blinding him.
“Maybe you have to do it twice. I remember sometimes, we had to turn the knob more than once.” She held her fingers in the air as her thumb enclosed an imaginary handle as she turned her wrist.
“I know how to turn on a light, Onnie.”
“Can I try?” Sirus asked.
Onnie pulled him back by the end of his shirt. “No. You will not be touching that light. Sit right here by the door with me.”
By the time Onnie asked, “Are we sure there’s no one in the house?” Monty had rotated through twelve more clicks and still the light refused to even dim.
He stopped and looked at her. “I’m sure they would have introduced themselves by now.” He sat the lamp back down. “Well, I don’t know.”
“Maybe unplug it.”
Monty nodded. “Should have thought of that. Wait, there’s no cord attached to this thing. Why isn’t there a cord?” He looked at his wife as if she might have the answer. “Babe, just turn off the switch to that one,” he said, pointing to the overhead sconce above their heads.
She turned to the wall, ran her hands behind the entrance’s wispy curtain and pulled the fabric away from the wall, revealing no control switch for the light. “I would if I could find the switch plate. Monty, this is just too weird. I don’t like this place. The storm sounds like it’s over. I think we should leave.”
Monty looked at his family and nodded. “Okay. I guess you’re right. I liked the idea of sleeping indoors tonight. Sirus, pick up your mom’s bag. Maybe we can stay in the barn. It’s probably dry there, at least for the night.”
“I’d rather find another farmhouse,” she said as she tried the door handle. But as soon as she twisted the knob, the abated storm revived once again.
Monty slapped his hands against the door above her head, sealing it to the jamb. “No way. I’m not taking you out in that.”
“I couldn’t hear it a second ago.”
“Probably good insulation. This place doesn’t look old. At least we can stay one night, Onnie. If there was someone here, they would have torn down those steps by now.”
“These lights didn’t turn on by themselves, Monty. Someone lives here and they’re going to be pretty upset when they find us in their house. Maybe they’re out scavenging.”
“You think maybe they’re away? And they just left their lights on in midday, when no one’s seen electric lights without a generator in over a decade?” Monty asked.
“I don’t know what’s going on, babe.”
“What I know is that we’re not going out there until that storm passes. Not in your condition. Let’s look at the rest of the house and make sure it’s empty and then we’ll camp out near the door if that makes you more comfortable.”
“Turning off these lights would make me more comfortable,” Onnie mumbled under her breath as she followed Monty and her son down the long, narrow hallway where another wedge of light beamed an angle across the hardwood floor. With her heart drumming above the child she carried, Onnie willed calm from her nerves by taking long, slow breaths and distracting herself from her rising fear by studying the oil paintings lining the walls. One was a long rectangle still life of creamy gold dahlias above a striped bowl of rusty grapes. Another was of cows lolling in a tawny field before a dilapidated barn. When she stopped, her family did as well. She braced the heels of her hands gently on either side of the cow painting while running her slender fingers behind the frame. She gave it a little lift and pulled the painting from the wall. Turning it over, she found an ordinary sawtooth hanger and on the wall, ordinary zinc nails.
“What are you looking for, Momma?” Sirus said and Monty’s expression seemed to ask the same question.
She shook her head a little as she returned the art piece to its home. “I’m not sure. This place is strange. I almost expected it to be stuck to the wall.”
Monty patiently waited, as one does when humoring a loved one.
On the left, a wide arched entrance gave way to a living room holding a large crushed red velvet couch on mahogany claw feet.
“What is it, Momma?”
She took a few slow steps into the room, nearing the sofa. “Son, it’s not as if you haven’t seen the inside of a house before. It’s a couch.”
“It’s just, there’s no dust. No spiders spinning webs or trash lying around. Someone cleaned in here?”
“The boy’s right. No dust anywhere.” She turned to Monty then. “You sure there’s no one here? This house…”
“I’m not sure. Look…you stay here, and I’ll do a quick search. Sirus, stay close to your mother.”
And before she could object, say that they should stay together…he was gone. His boots quickly thudded up the small wooden staircase to the floor above.
“Come stand by your mother.” Onnie reached for her son and knelt, finding herself suddenly sitting on the very edge of the velvet sofa with her son leaning into her embrace.
Monty’s steps pulled her attention to the ceiling, where the bulbs of a wide mini-chandelier softly beamed above their heads. The steps’ cadence deepened then retreated into the distance, and then a door slammed hard against a jamb.
Sirus jerked in her arms. “Momma?”
She pulled her son away and scanned the ceiling.
Lifting from the seat, she called, “Monty?” Her voice was a near-scream. Her grip tightened on her son’s thin wrist. Should she take him and flee into the storm? There was an unsteady feeling in her legs. She knew if something had her husband, it was unlikely they’d make it to the door in time. In her right hand she unknowingly squeezed the hilt of the knife handle she kept in her pocket. The sharp blade sprang out.
This can’t be happening. “Mon-ty!”
A thunder of tumbled steps. “What? What is it? Why are you screaming?” He stood there staring at her with wide eyes, scanning the room, his pistol in his hand.
Their son sobbed, his eyes covered, his fists full of her navy dress.
She was crying, too. “You didn’t answer!”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you.” He neared them and circled his arms around them both, with the weapon pointed to the ground.
She felt the racing thrum of his heart through his damp shirt.
He kissed and soothed the top of her head. “Everything’s okay. Just like the storm outside, I think the upstairs is just as insulated. I just didn’t hear you.”
Her emotions barely contained, shoved down again into the silent box, but not trusting herself yet, she still managed to say, “It’s okay.”
He pulled away and replaced the unknowing expression with a smile. “There are clean and made beds upstairs, blankets and all. And there’s a small basement off the kitchen but nothing in it. Not even a utility room.”
“Lights?” Her eyebrows scrunched together like furry caterpillars greeting one another.
“All on. No cords. No light switches. I don’t know what to make of it.”
“Right this way, madam,” Monty said, his arm outstretched, and lifted his son up with a murmur. “It’s okay, buddy.”
Monty’s hand swayed against their son’s back as the light from the small kitchen beckoned her like a dream of memories past. She was suddenly a little girl, remembering her mother standing by the stove in their Upper West Side condo. Gingersnaps with a warm chai latte in the winter. Lemony salmon orzo salad and iced tea in the summer. Of course, it wasn’t her mother’s modern city kitchen. All stainless appliances back then. Sleek and simple. This one was a soft ochre yellow and though the stove looked old fashioned, it also looked unused – as in never used. Not once. She glanced a question at her husband as she placed her hand on the refrigerator. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Don’t start crying again.”
“Does it work? Did you check?”
He shook his head no.
“Open it, Mom.”
She pulled the handle away from the seal.
“Is there anything in there?”
She opened the door wider for her family to see the gleaming cavern. The glass shelves were sparkling and empty. The crisper drawer, void. But she smiled as a cool cloud lifted to her face, chilling her arms. The bulb in the back was bright and glowing.
Her husband, curious, sat his son down and angled his head around to the back of the adjoining cupboard where the appliance met the wall, and then slowly pulled away.
“No outlet, huh? Not one of those big ones?”
He shook his head. “Not even one of those.”
“I don’t hear a hum, either. Do you?”
“Why would it hum?” Sirus asked.
She didn’t answer.
Monty began flinging open cupboards.
Sirus said, “Is there food? I’m hungry.”
“No food. But there’re plates and silverware, pots, and pans. All looks brand new to me. Like they’ve never been used. And the stove’s electric and not gas. I’m sensing a pattern here.”
“Maybe there’s a logical explanation for all of this but at the moment my bladder will not hold much longer.”
Monty pointed to a small room across the hall. “You can’t miss it. The one with the light on.” Her husband, who never cracked jokes, was suddenly funny.
“Don’t go anywhere,” she warned them with a raised eyebrow. Across the hall, she met herself in a well-lit mirror. The image staring back at her was her mother’s, not her own. And she needed to redo the worn halo braid since it now appeared more like a crown of thorns. I’ll deal with you later.
It was hard not to stare right at the bulbs in the fixture above the sink. She turned to the wall behind her, looking for the switch, but found none. I bet there’s no plumbing. She lifted the lid to the toilet. A sight she had not witnessed in over a decade stared back at her. Ripples of clean water in a sparkling white ceramic commode. Not a smudge, not a hair, in sight. She couldn’t tear her eyes away. “Monty you’ve got to see this....”
“There’s one just like it upstairs.”
So that’s what took you so long. “It’s mesmerizing.”
“Will you just go and get back in here? I want us in the same room.”
“It actually works?”
He gave a cough and said, “Yes. I was going to tell you but the screaming sort of ruined the surprise.”
Sirus gave a laugh. A sound she longed to hear more of.
Hating to admit it...she watched as the funnel pulled the waste down the drain, unsure of where it was going but happy it disappeared so easily. Life after the apocalypse came with new rules about daily habits that man had long ago lost but learned again.
“There’s even fresh toilet paper on the roll and more under the sink. I did notice pipes…so there must be a water supply and maybe a septic tank?”
“That was my guess as well but I’m still at a loss as to where the power’s coming from. There’s got to be a logical explanation. I looked in the hall closet to see if there was a utility panel but nothing. There’s no garage or any dials of any sort on the walls. Only plumbing.”
“Has the storm settled down? Maybe we can take a look around the house.”
“That’s what I want to do but I’m not leaving you guys in here alone. Looks like it’s down to a trickle. We can handle that. There must be a generator or utility lines somewhere, right? Maybe underground.”
She raised her shoulders and reached for her son’s hand. “Should we leave the bags here?”
“No way,” her husband said. “We can’t take any chances.”
She nodded. “I’d really love to see the rooms upstairs,” she said as they passed the wood staircase.
“You will…that’s if the house lets us back inside.”
“Oh stop. You’re giving me the creeps.”
“That’s all right. I’ve already got them. We can share.”
Sirus said, “I don’t want the creeps.”
“Nobody wants the creeps, son,” Monty said. “But when you feel them…you pay attention to them. Understand? That’s the animal part of you telling you something’s very wrong. Always trust that feeling.”
“Monty, you just took an innocent remark and made it heavy. Why’d you do that?”
Monty lowered his voice so that Sirus barely heard. “Because our son can’t afford his innocence. Not in this world. We must take every opportunity to teach him to survive. Even the sweet ones. I’m sorry if that’s hard but it’s the truth. We can’t let this house take us back to something that might get us killed. We’ve made it this far. Okay?”
His dark eyes beamed into hers. She swallowed and whispered, “I understand.”
He nodded and then opened the door to the farmhouse porch. They stepped out into the gray as the rain poured in sheets over the eaves.
“That was some downpour. Looks like it’s clearing up.” Monty slung his backpack over his shoulder while Onnie closed the front door and Sirus manhandled her bag along with his own to keep it off the ground as they descended the steps. Monty stood in the rain and shielded his eyes as he surveyed the house. Then he pointed and said, “There’s a utility pole to the left. Y’all stay within sight while I check the connections. Remember what I said, son?”
“If you can’t see me…I can’t see you,” Sirus repeated the familiar phrase.
Onnie made her eyes wide for a split second. She knew the importance of security all too well. Her sister and her family were killed by raiders right in front of her eyes a few years ago, and that’s why they’d left Minneapolis and sought refuge west into North Dakota. Their plan was to keep moving. Never stay in one place too long, or let people know your name. It was safer that way. Nomads made few enemies as long as they kept to themselves. But when she found out she was pregnant again, their plans had to change and here they were looking to stay for longer than a few nights. A few months would give them time to heal and set out again. She hoped this was the place. Watching her husband inspect the utility pole, she glanced at the bedroom windows on the upper floor. There were made beds with clean sheets in there. She didn’t want to see them if they weren’t staying. That would be cruel. As it was, she couldn’t get the clean bathroom out of her mind. There was a clawfoot bathtub in there too…
Then a jerk of a hand caught her attention. Monty yanked at a few wires again. He pulled one up.
“What is it, Daddy?”
Monty stared at the stripped end. His face was cocked up on one end and not on the other. He dropped the wire and stood up. “I don’t know what to make of it. There’s no power going to the house. These wires were never hooked up.”
“It’s just for show?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I think so.” With his hands on his hips, he turned to see where the utility poles ran to the next farm. “I don’t know.”
“What about the water? There’s got to be a pump, right?”
“Yes, and apparently, it’s working well.”
“Is there hot water…no, there can’t be,” Onnie answered her own question. With the tub still on her mind, she could not imagine what it would be like to have a hot bath for the first time in years and her son…he’d bathed in frigid rivers and cold tubs of abandoned houses when they could find one, but he’d never experienced in all his young life the luxury of a warm bath.
He nodded. “I checked in the kitchen. There’s hot running water.”
“So there’s got to be a hot water heater somewhere in the house. That takes electricity or gas, right?”
“Yeah. Want to bet which one?”
“It’s starting to rain again, Mom.” Sirus held his hands out with his small palms up as if receiving a blessing from the turbulent sky above.
“I know it, honey. I can feel the drops pelting my head.”
With another scan of the horizon, Monty led them back into the house and at first when Onnie put her hand on the knob, she wasn’t sure if the door would open for them again. But it did and she smiled.
With her eyes lingering on the promise above the staircase, Monty closed the door with a click. “It’s getting late. Let’s clean up and have a bite to eat before bed.”
She shook her head. “We only have a can of sardines and a few rolls of crackers left, remember.” She looked at her bag in her son’s hands. “And I’m sure those crackers are crumbs by now.
“Then it’s smashed fish heads and crumbs for dinner,” Monty said with a flair that made her smile. She knew he was trying to be more upbeat in front of their son than before. It was always a fine edge, the warning way of life and surviving. One often forgot how the not dying was a gift.
“Are we sleeping upstairs?” Onnie asked as she took the bag from her son.
“I don’t think so. Let’s just camp here in the foyer for the night and see how things go. I don’t want us getting too comfortable. Whoever owns this house could still show up, even though it doesn’t appear that anyone lives here. It’s more like a model home. Maybe that’s it. Some kind of building spec?” Onnie spread a blanket down on the hard tile floor and carefully sat down while pulling their things out for a quick meal.
“Son, go wash your hands in the bathroom,” Monty said and winked at Onnie.
“Why?” Sirus said.
“Because we’re about to eat and that’s what my momma always said when I was your age in a house like this. We scrubbed them under hot water with lots of soap and sang our birthday song twice, so we killed all the germs.”
“You said things are different now after the collapse. Why do I have to wash my hands like that now? Mom wipes them with her special gel.”
Monty looked over his son’s head. “See?” he said with a nod. “If we teach him one way…he’ll forget the other. The one that helps him survive.” Monty gave her a sad smile.
She knew he was right. This place would make them soft if they let it.
To her surprise Monty stood and reached for his son’s hand. “Come on. I’ll show you how it’s done this time, but you do it Mom’s way all the time. Got me?”
Sirus nodded and jumped up to his feet, having caught the excitement from his father.
She watched them, father and son, quick-stepping as she did as a little girl when her mother would call her to a favorite dinner or the promise of a sweet treat, her little legs jumbling in a thrilling skip.
After wiping her own hands with the antiseptic gel, Onnie waved them for a few seconds, fingers splayed out, until they dried. Then she took out the last of their food supply and mixed the sardines in a bowl and then untwisted a half-eaten package of crackers and turned them into crumbs with the oily sardines. It wasn’t enough for the three of them and the smell suddenly made her stomach churn, but they had to eat. And she was eating for two, a fact her upset stomach often reminded her of.
“We’re done, Mom, look how clean. Do I have to use the gel now?”
“No honey. As long as you washed them well enough, which I know your daddy made sure of since he’s a doctor.” She spread near equal portions out on three small cups and handed them out with one silver spoon each.
As they ate Monty said, “You remember that thing we stumbled into before we made it to the house? It was metal of some sort. Only a few inches off the ground. I didn’t get a good look at it with all the wind and rain, but it had odd markings on it. I couldn’t make it out. I’ll take a better look tomorrow.”
“I stepped on it. I didn’t feel any vibration, but it was only for a second. Do you think it’s a generator?”
“Maybe, but the rain’s picked up again and it’s dark outside.” Monty finished his meal in a few bites and then took out the sanitizing wipes from their utility bag and cleaned his dish.
Sirus handed his to his father and said, “That’s because there are only lights on inside the house. There weren’t any lights on outside the house.”
Onnie looked to her husband with a question, but he gave her the same expression and got up suddenly and looked out the side window by the front door. “The boy’s right. I didn’t notice that there wasn’t a porch light. It’s pitch black out there. I can’t even see the barn from here.”
“Okay, this is getting weirder. Who takes the time to install lights inside a house and not outside?”
“That’s just it…they’re not exactly installed in the traditional sense. They’re just sitting there.” He aimed a hand at the table lamp.
“Well, it’s not magic,” Onnie said and put the clean dishes away. “Sirus, sit down and take off your shoes. Time for bed.”
“I’m taking first watch,” Monty said. “You sleep; you’re tired.”
She gave a sigh. “Monty, I know you won’t wake me up for my turn.”
“We’re not going to argue about this. I’ll wake you if I feel like it’s right. It’s our first night here. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll sleep a little in the morning if I feel it’s safe. Go on now. Settle down and close your eyes.”
She tried. She held her son close under her arm and pulled the blankets up under his chin. “Sleep, baby.”
Monty sat in a hard wood chair by the door with his back against the wall. She smiled at him and sent an imaginary kiss his way through the air.
He mocked one back.
She lowered her lids and then turned to her side, her belly too heavy against her spin and the hard tile floor.
“Momma, stop moving.”
“Hush,” she said and snuggled him closer.
And after a few minutes, Sirus whipped the thin cover away from his face. “I can’t sleep with the light on. It’s too bright on my eyelids. How did you do it when you were a kid?”
Onnie began to laugh. “What a predicament. Baby, we turned off the lights when we went to bed as a child.”
“Why can’t we turn off these?” Sirus said.
Which gave Onnie an idea. “Can we unscrew the bulbs?”
Monty went to investigate the lamp. “Nope, it doesn’t budge.” He turned the lamp over.
“Don’t break it,” Onnie said.
“It’s like it’s all one piece, just made to look separate.”
Onnie shook her head. “But you could put it in the kitchen, right?”
Monty rolled his eyes. “I should have thought of that but what about the chandelier?” he said as he walked the lamp down the hallway like he was assigning it a time out.
“I don’t have any answers for that one,” Onnie said. “Do you, son?”
“No,” Sirus said with a huff and pulled the covers up and over his head.
What are Cozy Apocalypse Books?
- No gratuitous violence or sex scenes
- No foul language
- No weaponry lists or zombie gore
- Survival After the Fall
- Forming New Family Bonds
- Thriving After the End