After Dark

As the sun set in, the orange glow fading across the sky, that’s when the voice echoed in across the city.

“The time is 6:30pm.”

I took a deep breath for the next words.

“You now have 30-minutes remaining.”

Tannoys across the entire city, on every street corner, in every building. Nobody could miss the announcement.

“The curfew will begin at 7pm.”

I had exactly 30-minutes to get home, maybe a bit less if I could stop looking at the sky. It’s sunshine delight that last beauty you could take in before this city went to hell.

The travel wasn’t far, a quick walk from the office, down three blocks and round the corner, an easy 20-minute walk, less if I quickened the pace but I always took it easy.

This walk, each and everyday, despite not being the least bit dangerous, always felt like my last so my thoughts were, I’d make it last. Take my time, take in the air before I’m locked away for 12-hours when the sun shines again.

I remember as a child, my parents, the once rocks in my life, ushering me inside, away from the darkness. Taking from playing in the yard and into the house as the metal shutters closed down.

Others pushed past on the streets, always eager, their watchful eyes on the sun as it closed down upon us, slowly disappearing across the horizon.

My guess would be another 10, maybe 5-minutes but despite my apartment being right round the corner, as I came to it I found the shock of my life. I came across the shutters, closed and cold to the touch. The barrier protecting humanity, locking out the very thing it was to protect.

A few of us stood, slamming on the metal and trying to push to get in but nothing.

“They can’t do this.”

One man shouted.

“We still have 7-minutes till curfew.”

He was right, they both were. One woman broke down crying, holding her two children tightly. Another man just started running, a few others continued slamming on the shutters with their last ounce of hope.

My body had froze, staring up at the 60-floored tower before me, my home, my safety and safe guard for life. I’d lived here 12-years and this had never happened, but it wasn’t unheard of.

Sometimes, the rumour was, the government would ask for buildings to be locked up early, say 5-15 minutes early, supposedly the conspiracy theories out there said it was to whittle down people, use them as livestock every now and again, just get rid of a few people here and there so enough food was still to go around, that sort of thing.

The final glint of the sun now evened out to a thin line across the city, in that instance one woman screamed, three also ran off in different directions and I still stood, among the others.

Darkness now looming with just the faint green lights across the city turning to red and the tannoy now echoed,

“Curfew has now begun at 7pm, it will end in 12-hours.”

The voice echoed across the city a few times as we all stood there, backs against the apartment building, taking in deep breaths.

It shrouded around us quickly, the dark, no sun, no moon, nothing. Except the faint huffs of breathing, growling and the whispering voices.

We all knew this was the end when you stay out at after dark.

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