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The tenth of May seemed bright and sunny without a cloud in the sky. The people of Conway didn't have a care in the world. Their world was nearly perfect and peaceful all the time. The last murder in town had happened nearly three decades earlier. Generally, the most excitement was a brawl between two neighbors. Then "the cloud" appeared and settled in the heart of the small town. Upon first seeing the cloud, everyone within it thought it was merely fog.
• • •
Police Sergeant Steve Talbot noticed the change almost immediately when his dispatch radio went silent. It wasn't the dead silence of occasional static. It was as if it wasn't turned on. When he heard the sudden silence, he also noticed that the station was becoming dark inside as the sunlight was blocked from the windows.
"Hey, Paul, you want to hit that light switch? Looks like fog rolling in outside."
Paul crossed over to the switch and flipped it several times without response. The room remained dark. "Must be a power failure," Paul said.
"Someone must have hit a transformer. You'd think that people would slow down on seeing fog," Steve said.
"Don't we have an emergency backup system?"
Steve stared at Paul for a moment as he wondered why the backup system wasn't coming on. He was about to say something when the radio came alive with static once more. "I guess the generator's on a timer. Try the lights now."
Paul flipped the switch. One light came on in the center of the room, burning dimly.
"Well, that's better than nothing," Steve said, "I'll see if I can raise someone on the radio. You try the phone. Call thepower company."
Paul went over to a phone and picked it up while Steve began calling out on the radio. After trying several phones, he said, "The phones are all dead."
"I'm not getting any answer from any of our cars, either. I hope they're on top of the situation without us. I'm going to check on our prisoner. Listen for any radio calls."
Steve ambled into the back of the station where only one more light bulb burned to show the way, not that he needed it. He'd been with the force long enough to know the layout of the station even in total darkness. Steve looked at their prisoner, a vagrant who'd been caught stealing. The man seemed happy enough to be in his cell if only because it meant that he'd be fed regularly. Steve felt that was the case as the vagrant hadn't even tried to escape when he was spotted stealing eggs from a henhouse.
The prisoner asked, "Something wrong?"
"Not really. Just a power outage. Probably caused by some driver hitting a transformer in the fog. We'll just use emergency power until it's fixed."
"Oh, are you sure that's all it is?"
Steve asked, "Why?"
"I saw things that didn't look right just before you came in. Did you see anything weird?"
"I haven't seen anything weird. You on drugs?" Steve asked.
"No. I don't use them, either. Hell, I can't even afford drugs."
"Right, that's what everyone tells me."
"It's the truth! Anyway, keep your eyes and ears open. There's something strange going on around us."
Steve checked the cell door, then left to return to his desk.
• • •
George Smather glanced out at the thick, hanging fog, then said, "I don't think we should expect that shipment anytime soon if the roads are all like this."
Arnold Smather carefully came up behind George with sound as his only guide. "Awful slow morning. Sure wished the shipment would arrive before we get any customers. I hate trying to unload lumber while seeing to half a dozen customers at the same time."
"This fog will sure hold everyone back. Might as well relax. We'll have plenty to keep us busy later."
"I didn't think we had any fog predicted for this morning. Nothing's going right today."
Copyright © 2006 David L. Kuzminski