Blackout Part 4
Sarah ran inside the house, passed her parents sitting on the couch reading, and passed her brother staring out the window. He grew more listless, and even the sunshine couldn’t break his fog. When she reached her room, she pulled out all the letters she’d received so far and laid them next to each other. It was definitely the same type of paper, the same handwriting.
“Okay, so it’s just him it seems,” she said to herself.
Sarah took the pager out of her pocket and tried to push the buttons again. As she fiddled, she noticed a battery compartment like the ones on some of her toys. After popping it open, Sarah learned that the device ran on AAA batteries. She frowned at how silly it all seemed. She could feel this pager was connected to the mystery boy, but why was he using something that took the same batteries as her Barbie radio?
Sarah searched through a pile of toys and located the pink handheld radio her mom bought for her fifth birthday. She hadn’t used it in a long time, but she hoped the batteries inside still worked. After removing a pair of AAAs from the back, she inserted them into the pager, hitting every button hoping to find the power.
The display lit up, the glow a dull green. “Welcome” scrolled across in blocky black letters. It took a few seconds for the next set of words to appear, and when they did, Sarah felt goosebumps throughout her body.
“Are you ready to fix everything, Sarah?”
Sarah gasped and quickly turned it off, sliding it forcefully under her bed. What seemed like a game to pass the time now became too real. How did it know her name? Was the strange boy somehow controlling it from another pager somewhere else? Was this all a prank by a bunch of bored teenagers who didn’t have their cellphones and only their parents’ 1990s technology to mess with?
Her mother’s yelling that it was dinner time was a welcome distraction from the whole thing. Sarah descended the steps, instantly getting a whiff of freshly made food, though she had trouble placing what it was. It didn’t smell like canned soup.
As she approached the table, she froze. Serving plates with fresh peas and carrots, a bright salad, and baked chicken covered the surface.
“How…” she asked. “This can’t be from a can…”
Sarah’s mother smiled and said, “No, someone left a basket on our doorstep. It had all of this fresh produce and a gorgeous chicken inside. I think either Eileen or Marcia managed to find a place that still had perishables stashed in cold storage or something. Or they found a farm! There’s fruit for the morning, too.”
“But it’s been so long,” Sarah said carefully as her eyes found the bananas and oranges on the kitchen counter. “Freezers wouldn’t be frozen anymore. Old fruit would be rotten. This stuff looks new.”
“Don’t question a gift, Sarah,” her dad reprimanded as he dished out the vegetables.
“How did you cook it?” Sarah said as she stared at her family as they scooped large spoonfuls onto their plates.
Her mother explained that it was tougher than usual working off an open flame, but she felt like a pioneer. Her father patted her hand and laughed. Her brother shoveled huge forkfuls into his mouth.
While her mother prattled about finding her friends the next day to thank them for the basket, Sarah picked at her dinner. She forced a few bites into her mouth so her parents wouldn’t bother her, and when it seemed like they were satisfied with how much she ate, she ran back to her room.
Against her better judgment, she retrieved the pager and turned it on once again. A message scrolled across the display.
“Did you like my gift, Sarah?”