The Dark Times
Chapter 1

Christopher Thomas was startled by the loud noise at his bedside. Of course, it was his alarm that he keeps forgetting he sets for sometime around six O'clock.

"Just another week to crap down the shithole", he thought as he slowly reached a finger over to first smash the snooze button, to mute the horrible buzz in his head. He was drinking the night before with friends, and he could feel it as he sat up. It felt like sleeping had done absolutely nothing; he was still tired as hell. Low energy aside, he began to get dressed slowly in the outfit he randomly picked last night while half asleep. It was nothing special, really.

Downstairs, Christopher made himself a Cream Cheese bagel. It was quick, and he had to be ready within the hour. Melanie Thomas, Christopher's mom and general caretaker for the household, still hadn't got home from work yet.

"Probably caught in traffic again, Chris thought. "Working in the daytime has its advantages."

Back upstairs, Chris brushed his teeth, washed his face and shaved. This done, he had time to kill. For the next thirty or so minutes, he checked tweets, checked emails and his Facebook, of which there was nothing interesting. He chilled outside while he waited for his transportation to arrive.

Christopher sat in the front row, first seat closest to the exit. As it turns out there was another person occupying this spot. That was fine with him; he rarely talked to anyone. He had what looked like a small portable computer. He was typing on it.

"Hey," Chris said. "No one sits in this spot usually. You new to this school?"

The kid looked in Christopher's general direction. Christopher noticed he didn't make direct eye contact.

"Hi," he said. "Name is Mike. Yours?"

"Oh. Sorry, it's Chris. Christopher, to be exact."

"Thanks. Yes, I am new to this school," he said. "This is my second week here, although it still feels like the first for me."

"Ah, you should be good next week. For most students it takes them two weeks to adapt, even though the school administration thinks it'll take them one because of the "elaborate" program they thought they created."

"I hope so. It's been a non-stop battle with teachers and students. Students think I'm worthless, teachers insisting I not walk around and do things independently. One student thought blindness was contagious. It does get tiring after a while. It's not just the bullying, though."

"Well, I'll do anything I can to help", Chris said. "Personally, I don't know how anyone could live blind."

"Thanks. Trust me, I don't think I could live sighted either."

"Watch out, dude! It's a one way la..."

Any screams heard by the driver were ignored as he tried to concentrate in what was a very panicking situation. One minute he was seeing a white flash, the next his vision appeared to be totally gone. Suddenly, all concentration was gone as the bus was rear-ended by another bus at full speed. Drivers were screaming over the CB radio as whatever this flash was took effect. Headlights served their uses, and they were missed right about now. But everything ended painfully as the driver of bus twenty, which was the bus on which Mike and Christopher were happily engaged in a conversation, flipped on its side and was hanging over a ditch...

The driver's neck twisted at an odd angle and he eventually lost consciousness.

Christopher I felt like I was lying in a bed. The only thing I could register having any feeling was my feet. Everything was starting to come into focus, starting with sound.

I heard voices, most of which sounded like they were in panic. I didn't know where I was, although bets are that I'm in a hospital bed in intensive care. When our bus flipped, I had pain the likes of which I've never dealt with in my entire life. I thought I had died right on the spot. Scratch that; I thought my spirit in me departed briefly before coming back.

The hall outside Christopher's room was busier today than it had been since the hospital opened thirty years ago. Christopher was not the only one admitted into the hospital. Michael, his bus partner, lay next door with a nurse checking in every fifteen minutes or so. Christopher and Mike had the least injuries. Mike sat by the window, and since the bus flipped on it's side, Christopher put an arm around him and they both held the top of their seat for dear life. Christopher recovered quickly, but there were some bruises due to the speed the event happened. Unfortunately for Christopher, things are going to be a lot harder to live with. They always are if you're just losing sight.

For Michael, on the other hand, living blind for 16 years was great, but as the both of them will find out, these are dark, dark times. One must be prepared. No one, including the government, is prepared when they step outside any longer.

"Are you serious"? I asked in relief. "What are you saying? Are you saying that I'll be out of here by tonight?"

"Yes," my day nurse said with a monotone voice. "Although good news always comes with bad," she continued sadly.

"Oh, and what is this bad news?" I wondered aloud.

"Ever wonder why you didn't get your vision back?" she questioned. "You won't. It's why you're here now, and is why your school bus got rear-ended. The bus driver went blind and died. He is not alone, however, because thousands of people are also now blind."

"No shit?" I have to admit this is confusing. "So how did this all happen in the first place?"

"Anyone who was outside saw this white flash of light. You could also see it by looking through a window, but the results were bad, judging from conflicting news reports on what people have seen. There were also lots of deaths today in the thousands, most of which are of course drivers."

"Damn," I said sadly.

"The problem with this light was, of course, if you looked directly at it, as in directly up, you have more chances to become totally blind. Those that got the opportunity to avoid it did, and managed to keep their sight. Some people still have vision, but it's not twenty/twenty or what everyone would classify as 'normal' sight."

"Thanks Nurse Melissa, but I'm tired and I still have pain, if not being injured. I'd like some rest please. Don't need the TV. Oh, and before I forget, please stop coming to my room and get someone else to take your place. You're odor is disturbingly strong and disgusting."

"You're nose is getting better. It's an advantage to being blind," she said calmly.

"I think I'll throw up in your face right now," I chided. "I can see my hearing is better too. I'm not in the mood for mindless shitty talk about how f$%ked up outside is right now. I want to set this thing back and fall into different dreamscapes. Bring up a spray or whatnot to get this smell out of my room and I'll personally tell you're boss, if I can find him, to give you a raise." I continued, "If you don't, I'll keep pressing the call button until someone other than you appears and gets the job done. Take me off of your list of patients that you have to bug on a daily basis because I've personally had enough. Thanks."

She walked out speechless, which was what I intended. The room, however, made me want to puke. I picked up my remote, held the back button to make the bed go flat, and attempted to sleep.

When this story gets more text, you will need to Log In to read it