Six months into the search, there was a crisis. It was funny because they called it a crisis but the real crisis was that we were floating through space looking for a planet to live on. During the day, there had been multiple times when the lights had flickered, ship-wide. People didn’t pay attention to it because they knew that it was just the lights. The ship had been built so that each system worked on its own Red Source supply. The deck and the ship’s helm worked on its entirely own system, completely separate from the rest of the ship, a precaution that they said would keep the helm completely safe.
During the day of the brown-outs, we tried not to think too much of it but it was hard not to wonder why they were happening on an almost regular basis now. Some said it was probably just routine maintenance on the system. It made sense. Six months out in space, it only made sense that the lighting system was probably due for a system analysis and upgrade. Besides, we had to make our preparations for our apartment block 24 hour blackout. We had to make sure that our batteries were charged and that we had enough candles and working flashlights. We always had enough, but it was just routine and with so few things to really work on, we dutifully went through our routine relishing the feeling of normalcy.
After dinner, we returned to our apartment common which was a courtyard of sorts that connected four apartments. Every night, we would sit with our neighbors and just talk. It was nice because we would talk about the different things happening in different apartment blocks, our different jobs on the ark, things you talk about with neighbors.
Callum, who worked in maintenance, was talking about how the brown outs were odd because there was no clear source of them. They had some power surges and had tracked them back to the source but they weren’t sure why they kept on occurring. Padraic was about to ask a question when the room went dark.
Callum stood and walked back to his apartment and came back out with a puzzled look. It must have been a look we all shared because when he looked up at us, he realized that we were waiting for him to explain.
“We’re a two hours early for our blackout.” He said and we all stood, unsure of what to do.
“Should we find out what to do?” Keeley asked. She always was anxious to do something, even when there was nothing to be done.
The intercom beeped in Callum’s apartment and he quickly walked to answer it. We all held our breath, hoping to hear more of it, though I couldn’t hear a single word of it. The ark was built with some impressive sound proofing. It probably could be attributed to the fact that people didn’t complain about living on top of one another as they did in the apartment blocks.
When he returned to the common, he looked even more confused than before. “The lights are out on the entire ship, save the helm.”
We looked at each other, making sure we heard him correctly. He assured us that we had heard right.
I didn’t know what to think. Did they know how to fix it? Before the arks, we had brown outs all the time but that was just because so many people were plugged into the grid, using ten different devices at once. It was never a full-fledged blackout though. I half-listened while they talked about the different things that would probably need to be checked. Callum agreed as he got ready to leave again to go back to his post in the generator room, a part of the electrical network.
We knew he would tell us what he knew as soon as he could. I watched him leave and couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take him and his crew to get things back on. I had hoped to get a few more things done before our scheduled blackout began.
I decided to call it an early night because I didn’t want to use all of my planned activities for the scheduled blackout and then have nothing to do.
When I woke in the morning, I saw that we still had no power. I checked my message center and there was nothing coming through and that was odd because even during the scheduled blackouts, the message center would work. It was as if everything that ran on any kind of electricity was out. After getting some breakfast, I walked out to the common and found Padraic sitting, talking to Callum. I walked over to them to see if they had any news.
“They say they cannot find the exact source.” Callum said. He sounded and looked so tired that there was no question that he had been up all night working.
“Well, will it be back on tomorrow?” Padraic asked. “I really don’t understand how one one knows where it’s coming from. Doesn’t the system have an automatic repair system?”
Callum shook his head. “It does but it must be manually started. We are supposed to identify the problem so we can report it and track them. They didn’t want to make it fully automatic because there was a fear we would miss the weaknesses in the system.”
“I suppose that makes some small bit of sense. But in this case? Can’t something more be done?” Padraic asked, clearly not pleased with Callum’s answer.
“It could be days. Just brace yourself.” Callum warned.
I had heard enough. I turned back around and went back to my apartment. It was so quiet and dark. I climbed back into my bed and sat there listening to the silence. I figured that even if it didn’t come on at the end of the day, I would have enough to keep me busy.
I easily made it through the first two days. It wasn’t hard. I had enough sets of rechargeable batteries that I was able to read and even do some sewing. Day three got a little more challenging when I lost two sets of my rechargeable batteries. Day five was the day I lost the last of my batteries, so did so many of my neighbors. We had water but it was too cold now to take a shower or bathe.
By day 8, I was all set playing space campers. I had read everything in my apartment. We had talked, played, laughed, cried, and everything else in the common which was good but, I still wanted my electricity.
On day 14, two weeks after the power went out, we finally got it back. I cried when the whir of the fluorescent light clicked back on over my head as I sat in the chair in my apartment. It was an amazing thing, to be in darkness, having gotten so accustomed to it, and then to have the light just appear. You could hear the screams of joy coming from the common. I got up to see who was hollering and it was no surprise to see Padraic there, dancing around the small square. I laughed when he pulled me into his victory dance. I couldn’t help but laugh. We had been floating around in the darkest of places, with no light. And now the light was back. We proved we were able to come out of the darkness.
This post was written as part of the January 2013 NaBloPoMo. This month’s theme was energy and Friday’s prompt was “How long do you think you could last in a power outage?” I kept going with my little story about the dead Earth and the survivors who were floating in space. It just seemed like the thing to do. Hope you enjoyed it. I may keep writing this one off the blog and see if I can develop it more and fine tune it but we’ll just have to see!