Blackout

It’s Black Friday so I thought I should share a scary short story. Based on actual events that I entirely embellished. Everyone knows I have a wild imagination.

Living in the North means dealing with erratic weather. Some call it the lake effect but that’s weather-speak for temperamental tumultuous ebbs and flows. Like the other night. The wind was howling and chilling. An icy blanket that rips and snarls; biting and fierce like an angry dog who’s been chained outside. I was driving home from Stratford. My car shook in the pounding wind and my wipers groaned as they tried to remove the driving rain.

It gets dark early this time of year and when the day turns to night there’s an eerie blackness that descends. In urban areas lights are everywhere and total darkness is kept at bay. In rural northern areas the night sky covers the landscape like hotel window coverings. Pitch black darkness where light can’t penetrate. The only lights are in the small towns and distant farmhouses where families are gathering after a days work. I don’t pass through many towns as I prefer the zigzag route that’s the quickest. As I lurch through the blackness I wish I had taken a more civilized route tonight. I turn up the heat hoping that some warmth will take the edge off the stark black road.

About 40 minutes from home I enter into Flesherton; a small hamlet on highway 10 south of Owen Sound. It’s a typical hick town with a bank, hardware store, bakery and a pizza joint. Blink and you miss it. There’s one set of traffic lights at the towns intersection. But tonight the traffic lights are out. It’s the crazy wind I assume. But as I glance around there are no lights on anywhere. No homes or businesses have even a flicker. Nothing. Pitch black.

I continue through the intersection and the blackout is throughout the town and into the countryside. It’s like that hot summer blackout from a few years ago when all of Ontario was plunged into darkness. It’s an ominous feeling that something is wrong. I realize I’m the only car on the road. I check my gas to make sure I can keep going; I’m known to push the envelope especially in the cold. I hate pumping gas. I’m okay. More than half a tank. I can easily make it home. I check my cell signal and battery. Signal is weak but battery is ok. Should I try to call Rudy and let him know I’m getting close? No. Don’t be silly. Keep driving.

I arrive home without further incident. But I can’t stop thinking about the darkness. So I google it. Blackout. Flesherton. Storm damage. Nothing. I’m driving myself crazy. But something doesn’t feel right.

A few days later a news report lands in my feed. I don’t know exactly how cookies work on a computer, but it seems my searches about blackouts was the trigger. The report was vague so I started to search a bit more. There wasn’t much to go on but the google threads bounced me to human trafficking. There is a lot of focus and energy being poured into what has likely been going on for years. I don’t know anything about the dark web and it seems criminal minds will always find a crevice to crawl into and conduct their nefarious business out of the public eye. Now that police and other law enforcement officials have penetrated (seemingly) the online yellow pages for filth, those who would benefit will find an alternative. The internet is scary that way.

The Flesherton incident did not make the google pages I looked at. I needed to find another angle. I thought I would check the hydro websites for power outage information. Sure enough there was a message posted about a tractor trailer that hit a pole knocking out the grid around the area. There was a police investigation. I dive into the OPP sites for more on the tractor trailer. It was there that the connection was made clearly.

A truck from Northern Ontario originating from Timmons was found wedged against a hydro pole just outside of Flesherton. There were no operators of the vehicle on site. When emergency teams arrived at the crash site the truck was abandoned. But EMS heard noise from inside the cargo hold. The back was unbolted quickly and officers were horrified at what they found inside.

Dozens of teens and younger children, some injured from the impact, were huddled and crying in the rig. Emergency workers called for more help when they realized how many there were and that they appeared like they were drugged.

The news story was not released since the children were taken from a children’s aid facility near an Indian reserve. Staff are working on an investigation to piece the details of the potentially heinous crime together. We will never know the full story. It’s just another black out.

Note: the blackout did happen but everything thereafter in my story is entirely fictional.

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