Dec.5, 2020. A classic Maine storm rages outside and sometime in the early noon, the lights go out. But this time it’s different. This time, it might be forever. 

I think we all knew this day would come. 

Here’s what happens — and I mean EVERY time — that the power goes out on the LaFlamme estate. 

It starts with screaming. 

“This is it!” I shriek to nobody in particular. “The big one! Grid down! We’ve drilled for this!” 

The hollering continues as I go racing from one end of the house, gathering up all the emergency candles, flashlights, weaponry and food rations stashed for just an occasion. 

“They probably hit us with an EMP!” I announce — to the houseplants if no humans are within earshot. “The lights are gone forever! Cars won’t start! Electronics have been fried in big gadgets and in small! We need to learn to live like primitives! Every minute of every day will be a struggle for survival! I may have to eat some of you!” 

By this point, the houseplants are too stunned by the horror of the moment to respond in any meaningful way. At this I’ll nod with perfect understanding. It’s on me today. Our survival has become my responsibility alone because I knew… I tell you I KNEW that the end of days was near. 

“The prophecy has been realized,” I’ll mutter aloud as I drag heaps of plywood, planks and nails from the basement to cover over the windows. I hated to dismantle my wife’s favorite curios cabinet like that, but it had to be done. She’ll thank me later. 

Said wife usually comes home around the time I’m ripping down curtains in order to board over the windows. 

“What the hell are you doing?” is her typical response, because some people just can’t handle hard realities. 

“Clear those murder holes!” I’ll scream at her “For God’s sake, woman, why are you not wearing Kevlar?” 

In spite of her protests, I’ll continue shoring up defenses around the house, occasionally peering out the arrowslits to see if I can spot the mushroom cloud that is sure to be out there. Can the armies of nuclear mutated zombies be far off? 

By this stage of things, my wife will be poking at her phone in search of information. The poor woman just can’t accept the knowledge that her fancy electronics are no good any more, not with the blast of gamma rays bombarding us from the mid-stratosphere. 

“It says here a car hit a pole up on Scribner,” she’ll say, from the depths of her denial. “That’s why the power is out.” 

At this point, I’ll slap the phone out of her hand, sending it flying off toward the makeshift trebuchet I built out of some floor boards, bed springs and washing machine parts. 

“That’s what they WANT you to think,” I’ll advise her.

Most of the time, the lights will flicker on at this phase of things, casting hard light on my folly, and I’ll have to answer for the terrible things I did to the curios cabinet. But not this time. Not on Dec. 5 in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty. An hour passed in darkness. Then two, then three and clearly this time I was vindicated. It really WAS the end of the world. 

Come the dinner hour, I was down in the basement hunting for bugs to eat — you don’t want to break into the Vienna sausages on the first day. That’s survival 101. Pill bugs and earwigs are perfectly good sources of protein and they taste plenty fine if you wash them down with your own pee strained through a garbage bag. 

“I brought you dinner,” I say to my wife as I ascend from the basement with ear wigs and pee water.  

Still stuck fast in the clutches of denial, she flings these things away and gestures at a fat chunk of meat she has cooked on the grill.  

“Is that…” I stammer. “Is that one of the neighbors?” 

“It’s a sirloin from Save-a-Lot, fool. Fetch me a cucumber from the crisper drawer.” 

The poor woman. She just doesn’t get it. Ruminating over these sad facts, I wander off and work on growing my apocalypse beard. 

As a seasoned survivalist, I was plenty prepared for this Armageddon, you know. I’d been waiting for it. Yet every five minutes, I STILL find myself reaching for a light switch; preparing to warm something in the microwave or seeking the knobs of a wired radio. Just one hour without power reminds us city folk of how utterly dependent we our on the invisible magic juice that buzzes in through the lines. 

I had planned to stay up all night on that evening of Dec. 5, lest the zombies and pillagers try to sneak in through the embrasures, but the solemn silence that falls on a powerless world lulled me to sleep sometime around 4 a.m. 

“Tomorrow,” I thought, drifting off, “I shall begin digging a moat…” 

I had just succumbed to sleep when the power snapped back on, filling the world with eye-stabbing light, the clamor of blaring TVs and the omnipresent drone of a thousand electronic gadgets humming in every corner. 

So, the world hadn’t really ended. Not this time. I wouldn’t have to eat a neighbor or fashion a communication device out of a coconut, sea water and some palm fronds (I saw it on an old TV show). The world was full of power again and what do you know? Maybe we can have the holidays after all. 

Happy New Year, everybody.  

I got you something to nosh on, but I don’t think you’re going to like it. 

When he isn’t doomsday prepping, Mark LaFlamme is a reporter covering the crime beat for the Sun Journal.

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