Power Failure

By on Sep 12, 2011 in Fiction

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5

Power Failure graphic

 “Here it is,” Hazel said.  “Farmer’s Road.  Turn right here, just a ball’s throw down the lane now, the house on the right.”

It was so dark Dan couldn’t see a thing outside the range of his headlights.  He squinted into the gloom but couldn’t find any sign of a house along the road.  He slowed to a crawl.

“That’s it; turn in here,” Hazel said.

“Where?” Dan asked, coming to a stop.  He still couldn’t see anything but the pavement in front and the impenetrable foliage on either side.

“Just turn right into the gravel drive,” she said.

He obeyed, blindly, but soon, as his headlights swept toward the right, he saw the driveway, and then the two-story house beyond.  A white sedan was parked in front of the darkened house.  Whose would that be?  Could Hazel drive?

“Just pull up to the turnaround there in front,” Hazel said.  “Oh, I see we have guests.  How exciting.”

We?  Guests?  Dan felt uneasy for the first time.  Something wasn’t quite right about this scene.  He drove along the crunching stones and parked behind the other vehicle.  He was utterly lost.  They had made so many twists and turns, encountered so many forks along the circuitous route to Hazel’s house, that he had long given up trying to memorize the route.

“Here we are,” Hazel said.  “Shall we go inside?  It’s spooky looking, isn’t it?”

Dan’s stomach churned.  What was wrong with this woman?  But what did it matter?  What he needed to do was find his way home.  “I need to get back, but I’m lost,” he admitted, embarrassed.  But what could he do?  Drive aimlessly around in the pitch dark until the dawn rescued him?

“Come inside.  I’ll draw you a map,” Hazel said.  And then she opened her door and negotiated her way out of the car.  Dan heard a thud as her feet hit the ground.  The door slammed shut.

He had no choice.  He turned off the lights and engine, then got out and followed Hazel.

“Power’s out here, too,” he said, for want of anything else to say.  He felt Hazel’s stubby fingers nibbling at his hand as she tried to grasp it.

“We have plenty of candles,” she said.

“You said you have guests,” he said, “yet it’s dark inside the house.”

“We have guests,” Hazel repeated.  “Of course it’s dark.  The power is out.”

She tugged him along a dirt path that served as the front walkway, taking short, mincing steps, until they reached a pair of rickety wooden steps up to the front porch.

“Careful,” Hazel said.  “Stairs here.”

When they got to the front door, Hazel raised her arm and pawed at the siding.  “Oomph,” she said.

“What’s the matter?” Dan asked.

“I can’t reach the doorbell.”

“I thought this was your house.”  Yes, something was very wrong here.

“Maybe I left the door unlocked,” Hazel said, ignoring Dan.  She pushed against it, and it swung inward, squeaking on its hinges.

“You go first,” she said.  “I’ll follow.  It’s so dark in there.”

The door squeaked again as Dan pushed it all the way open.  Why didn’t Hazel go first?  Didn’t she know her own house?  “Do you have a flashlight, a candle nearby?” he asked.  “I can’t see a thing.”

“Just turn left, six paces into the parlor,” Hazel said.  “You can’t miss it.”

Dan put his hands out in front of him and baby-stepped his way.  He could feel Hazel hanging onto his belt from the rear.  Nothing added up.  What was going on here?  The house smelled old and musty, even mouldy, as if no one lived here.  The floorboards creaked as he stepped along.  “How much farther?” he asked.

“That’s good,” Hazel said.  “Now stop.  Surprise!”

Suddenly there was light.  Blinded for a second, Dan put his hands to his face, then peeked through his fingers.  “What the hell?” he exclaimed, as his eyes adjusted to the shocking scene before him.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5


Russell H. Krauss served as an actuary for a national life insurance company, the last thirteen years as senior vice president and chief actuary, and then established his own software and actuarial consulting practice. He is now retired and lives in Nampa, Idaho, and maintains a second home in the mountain resort town of McCall, Idaho. He keeps busy writing software, fiction, and commentary.