Blackout Part 3
Read Blackout Part 1
Read Blackout Part 2
“Hello?” Sarah called out, but there was no one around. She walked toward her neighbor’s yard. Jaxon, the dog, was sleeping in the morning sun. This was the first day in many weeks that the sky wasn’t an overcast gray, and the dog seemed to relish every warm ray. His life wasn’t as disturbed by the blackout as the humans around him.
“You ok, Sarah?” Mrs. Hart, her neighbor, asked as she opened the screen door at the back of the house.
Sarah startled but smiled when she realized who spoke. “Oh, hi, Mrs. Hart. Yeah, I’m fine.”
The little girl moved closer to the older woman and continued, “Did you see a boy in your yard last night?”
“Is your brother missing?” Mrs. Hart panicked. “Oh, no! Well, let’s see…
“No, no, he’s fine,” Sarah interrupted. “A different boy.”
Mrs. Hart looked perplexed and shook her head, adding that Jaxon would have noticed a stranger in their yard. Sarah nodded and walked back to her own house.
Sarah searched for something out of the ordinary. Whatever he was looking for, it had to be an object of some sort. She picked up rocks, turned over trash cans, and even dug a bit into the dirt. After an hour, she came up empty and decided to go for a walk. Maybe she’d see something along the way.
The park was empty, and Sarah found it strange since it was so nice out. She thought for sure more kids would be there with their families considering the sun hadn’t shown in weeks, but the place was eerily quiet. Sarah sat on a swing and swayed gently in the mild morning air. What could the boy be looking for?
Something twinkled out of the corner of her left eye. Sarah turned quickly, hoping to see the boy but was greeted instead by a small rectangular device reflecting in the sun. Sarah walked toward it, and as she got closer, she thought maybe it was a discarded, useless cell phone that someone ditched when charging was no longer an option.
The black metal felt heavy. It had a display screen that seemed to have cracked on impact. On the back of the device was a clip that probably kept it attached to a belt or pants pocket. There were a few gray buttons, but they weren’t labeled with their function. Sarah tried pressing a few of the buttons, but nothing happened. She turned it over to see if there was a power switch somewhere else but couldn’t find anything.
“I haven’t seen one of those in a long time,” a voice boomed from behind her.
Sarah whipped around to find a man about her dad’s age walking toward her. Her stranger danger alert flashed, but she was too curious about her find and wanted to see what this guy had to say.
“What is it?” she asked.
“That,” the man said. “Is an old school pager. I haven’t seen one since I was about 13 years old.”
Sarah turned it over it in her hands. “What does it do?”
The man reached his hand out, and Sarah reluctantly gave it to him. “Well, before cell phones, you could send messages to people so they’d call you back. You’d use these codes and your phone number, and they’d have to find a pay phone or head home to their landline to make the call.”
Sarah didn’t know what any of those items were, but she was smart enough to get the idea. She also remembered her parents reminiscing about how much easier it was to get away with stuff when they were in school because there were no devices or social media to track them.
The man handed her back the pager, saying someone must have tried old school tech in a last-ditch attempt at contact. He laughed and began walking away. “Might as well get a nice walk in on this beautiful day. Haven’t seen sun like this in weeks.”
Sarah stuffed the pager in her jeans pocket and headed home. She checked over her shoulder just in case the stranger began following her. As she approached her front door, she noticed a piece of paper under the doormat. Excited, she picked it up quickly, smiling happily as she felt the weighted paper and read the fancy letters.
“You’ve found it. Now. Let’s move to the next step.”