The sky looked like ink, no stars, just black; that’s how it began. We trudged on in spite of it. Grandfather’s heavy old silver flashlight would keep us on the path. It wouldn’t be too much further. The woods were thinning out and the bushes were clearing. We finally reached the gate and opened the front door.
There were no sounds coming from my grandparents as they sat motionless at the dining room table. They seemed alive but frozen. The beam of the flashlight swirled around the familiar home and we saw no signs of anything changed, no evidence of foul play.
We came because of a desperate muffled phone call from them. It was cut short as all the lights anywhere in town disappeared. There was no radio or television report of anything unusual except a blackout warning. They had been occurring frequently since the construction started on a new research facility outside of town.
Our grandparents were alive, as we determined from feeling for a pulse, just unmoving and unresponsive. The receiver from the landline phone was still laying on the table, and I replaced it, as if that small action would suddenly animate them. I felt a slow panic crawling up my spine as I started to realize what could have happened.
Rumors bandied about at the local diner concerning other elderly people found unresponsive in their homes, but seemingly fully recovered the next day. It hadn’t occurred to anyone these incidents happened in sync with the blackouts. This night I recalled the rumors and thought this is what has happened to my own grandparents. I tried to push the panic away thinking they too would be fine in the morning hours. We stayed the rest of the night there at the table with them. Dawn came and nothing changed. We tried shaking them awake but as we did, they slumped down, now lifeless.
The secret research facility now completed, the need for the elderly passed as did the blackouts. The usefulness of the older bodies was now complete. The nights returned with moonlight. The horror of the past months’ events seemed to be stricken from the residents’ minds. The only reminder being the rows of newly heaped soil in the graveyard. The relatively sudden deaths of the older townspeople was accepted as a sad, but natural experience.