Glancing out the window from her office, Jenny was exhausted, wishing she could go home to see her newborn and her loving husband, Ronald. Jenny’s days are normally really slow, going from her elementary teaching job to waiting tables at a local steakhouse. But at the end of the day she always had a smile on her face driving home to see her family. Her favorite part of the day was lying on the couch with Ronny and watching TV. Their favorite thing to watch was the news and see what happened in the world that day. Today, Jenny was even more anxious to get home and watch the news because she heard of a recently discovered toxin that China was secretly releasing into the air. The toxin was getting caught in the troposphere and blocking any light from getting to the ground. Once Jenny found out she called Ronald right away, to tell him about this crazy discovery. Ronny was startled and began to worry about the future, but Jenny remained quite calm. Later that night after her shift, Jenny hurried home to her family so she could put her little sweet Conley down for bed at a reasonable hour. After Conley finally went to sleep, Ronald and Jenny layed down on the couch and turned on the news. Once they saw what was going on, Ronald was freaked out and started shaking. For once, Jenny felt weird about this and didn’t have a good feeling inside. The reporter at CDE Inc. was in China and could not see a thing. It was pitch black and people were being crazy running around and blindly robbing homes and stores. It was extremely unsafe and was spreading fast. By the tone in the reporter voice you could tell she was unsteady and worried for what was to come. Jenny was feeling more and more worried by the second, and started inching closer and closer towards the TV. Suddenly the TV became static as it went onto a public service announcement about the harmful rays China was releasing into the world. The announcement was urging people that soon the rays would be spreading through the earth's atmosphere and if it came into the United States, it would cause panic and the crime rates would exceed above the normal rates due to the fact you are unable to see what would be going on. Jenny for once didn’t enjoy the news and couldn’t watch because of the fear building up inside her, so she scurried to find the remote and turned off the TV. She sat down and tired to calmly talk with Ronny about what they would do in the worst casinario. Ronny suggested that first thing tomorrow he would take Conley with him to stock up on food, lanterns and matches. Jenny agreed that they couldn’t be too prepared and it was best to prepare now before the stores started selling out of everything.
The next morning, Jenny got up early to get a headstart on her day. She was up all night tossing and turning so she decided that she would prepare a list for Ronny’s trip to the store. As she was making the shopping list her stomach started to churn. How were they supposed to have a newborn and protect her in a time like this? She pushed the feelings and fear aside and continued with her list. She wanted to make sure that Ronny remembered to buy diapers, wipes and extra baby formula. Who knows how long they would need to be prepared for. Just then, Conley woke up and Jenny rushed to get her. As she picked her sweet baby up from her crib she couldn’t help but quietly sob into the tiny bundle of blankets that swaddled her baby.
At work, Jenny was quickly able to tell which children in her classroom knew what was going on and which children were sheltered from the danger that was happening overseas. Jenny did her best to keep her students focused and calm throughout the day but by recess, she was emotionally exhausted. When she stepped out into the hallway she could tell that the other teachers were feeling the same way. Mr. Clark, a science teacher gave her a silent nod. Jenny really thought he was pretty weird. He hardly spoke to anyone, ate lunch alone and seemed to come to school in the clothing that he slept in because he was always a wrinkled mess. He was constantly doing experiments in his classroom, many of which were smelly and loud and distracted her classroom. She finally caught a glimpse of her best friend coming down the hall. Lori was tall with blonde hair and expecting her first child next month. Jenny and Lori became fast friends since they started teaching here. Jenny motioned to Lori to follow her into her classroom. Without saying a word, they both sort of fell into each other’s arms in a hug. The panic and fear was really taking its toll. They tried to make small talk as they sat there eating their lunches around Jenny’s desk but their conversation kept turning back to how they were preparing. Just then, an alarm sound came over the loudspeaker followed by the Principal’s voice announcing that all schools would be closing at the end of the next period. Jenny quickly picked up her phone that had been on silent mode all morning and noticed 4 missed calls from Ronny. She immediately called him back. Ronny was in a panic. The toxin had spread faster than anyone had expected and the last light was expected by the end of the week, less than 3 days from now.
Jenny’s next period was full of worried questions from her students, and Jenny just didn’t have the heart to tell them what was going to happen. Jenny was constantly looking at her phone and worrying about her family that she loved so much. She sat down and read a chapter of their class book just like she always did after recess. The period went by fast and soon everyone was on their way to their homes. When the busses pulled out of the school lot the children looked at her from their windows. The freight in their eyes was breaking her heart but Jenny never wanted to be home more than she did in this moment. In the blink of an eye, Jenny was home, on the couch and in Ronny’s arms sobbing. They just held their baby girl and looked at her for the remainder of the night. Soon it was nightfall, the skies naturally got dark and the moon was shining ever so bright. It was pretty clear that Jenny nor Ronny were in the mood to even turn on the TV, so they decided to go ahead and rest up. Just before Jenny went to bed she glanced at her phone and noticed that there were multiple reports exclaiming that even when the sun came up in the morning, there wouldn’t be any light to show for it. She was wide awake now and had woken up Ronny, too. They put the news on as quietly as they could so that they wouldn’t wake up the baby. The toxin had spread faster because it was designed to move faster in the dark. As soon as the sunset, the toxin moved three times as fast as anyone had expected. There was nothing that anyone could do to slow it down or stop it.
Jenny was constantly waking up thinking that it was in the middle of the night. She was having nightmares and dreaming about all that could go wrong with a blackout. Jenny finally woke up and noticed that Ronny wasn’t in their bed, so she decided to go to the kitchen to find him.
Ronny was in a surprisingly good mood. He and Conley were in the middle of their normal morning routine of coffee and music in the kitchen, this time, they were dancing to candle light. It brought a small smile to Jenny’s face, too. Since last night, there wasn’t any new information on the toxin leak and they really couldn’t do anything to change the current state of the universe so they did their best to have a normal day. The United States government had issued a state of emergency and all schools and federal businesses were closed. Temporary laws were passed in each town and curfews were set to keep the roads safe and to keep people from breaking laws during the darkness. Weeks of darkness turned into months of darkness. Jenny was getting restless and feeling badly for her students. She still had her key to the school that she taught at so she went over to get some things from her classroom. She grabbed some lesson books so that she could put together some fun learning activities for her students that she could email to the parents. When she arrived to the school she was greeted with pitch black hallways and complete silence. It was creepier than any horror film she had ever watched but she used her flashlight to navigate to her classroom. She heard a funny sound coming from Mr. Clark’s classroom next door but shook it off. She was the only person there and was obviously imagining things! She grabbed her supplies and as she turned to leave her classroom she almost ran right into Mr. Clark. She screamed!
The two teachers had a short conversation about why they were both there but Jenny thought it was odd that Mr. Clark choose to stay at the school instead of ever going home. He seemed like he was hiding something behind his back and was holding his phone to his ear through their entire conversation. All the more reason for her to quickly get home, Jenny rushed to her car with a lump in her throat.
When she got home she was greeted by Ronny. He was rocking Conley on the front porch with a big smile on his face. He looked like he had just hit the lottery when he told her that the latest report was that someone had come forward with a way to combat the toxin. The craziest part of the news was that the combatant came from an elementary school science teacher. Jenny quickly thought about Mr. Clark and how strange he was acting but there was no way that that guy could have solved any of the worlds problems by exploding the science lab and smelling up the hallways.
It took about a week for life to return to normal. The light came back slowly as the toxin was eliminated and within 7 days, the full light had returned. Jenny woke up that morning and got ready for work. When she walked downstairs to the kitchen she saw Ronny and Conley listening to music and dancing while Ronny drank his coffee. From the doorway, she smiled the biggest smile! Ronny caught her watching them and brought Conley over for a kiss goodbye. It was Jenny’s first day back to school and she was eager to see her students.
When she pulled into the school she was surprised to see all of the major news stations in the parking lot. A large sign above the entrance to the school read, “THANK YOU, MR. CLARK!”