01 July 2005


The man was having a very bad day. Traffic had been unusually congested due to an elephant wandering through the streets, making him very late for work. He had barely managed to clock in and get to his desk before his boss arrived. The boss was always late, and usually never returned from lunch, but being later than the boss would get one noticed for all the wrong reasons. He made it this time, but it was close enough to leave him jumpy all day.
Things weren't any better when he left work. He had to work late to make up missed time from that morning, and had to slowly drive home in the evening traffic. He slowly made his way home, and the traffic lightened as the sky grew darker. By the time he turned onto his street, it was quite dark out, and his frustration had been overwhelmed by fatigue.
He almost missed his own driveway. The landmark he usually reacted instinctively to, a small lamppost jutting upwards out of a cluster of shrubs, was not lit, but stood there, silent as always, and unusually dark. He did manage a sharp turn into the driveway, He went inside the house, turned on the porch light, and grabbed a few screwdrivers in case they were needed.
Back in the front yard, he removed the metal frame around the glass shade, and put the shade itself on the ground next to the bushes. He checked the wattage on the bulb and went back inside. He rummaged through two closets and the garage, but didn't find any bulbs Depressed at the thought of more traffic, he went back to his car and drove to the store.
Traffic had lessened considerably, and he made it to the store quickly. It took him a minute or two to find a parking spot, and he made his way inside the store. The store he had chosen was a local home remodeling store. He had done some shopping there before for assorted tasks his wife had nagged him into doing, and had been left with a generally favorable impression of the place.
Inside the store, an entire aisle was devoted to light bulbs and their fixtures. He went past the regular bulbs, and the long tubular florescent lights, and stopped in front of the bulbs that promised energy efficiency and long life. He didn't really care if they saved any energy, his primary concern was that he not need to replace it for a long time. He found one that promised an exceptional lifespan. It was a thin narrow tube, twisted into the general shape of a regular bulb. He took it to the cashier, bought it, and went home.
The traffic was very light on the short drive home, but he muttered about it anyway, and slammed his fist on the dash to emphasize his imagined frustration. When he got home, he wasted no time putting in the new bulb. It was very dim to start with, but it flickered a few times and lit up the yard very brightly. He put the shade back on the lamppost, and reattached the metal cage that held it all together.
The light didn't really light up the yard anymore. Instead, the shade was a very bright ball which seemed to just hover over his yard. He felt a little proud, having achieved something so visible, and smiled. As he turned to go into the house, the light flickered a few times in quick succession, then a brilliant flash cut through the darkness along the street. He panicked and ran inside.
He called the police straight away. It wasn't anything they could help him with, but he didn't know who else to call. The person who answered brushed him off as soon as he described the problem, so he called the fire department. They told him they could only help with fires, and recommended the police, so he called the police again. This time, he was told a patrol car would come around to cite him for making false reports. He thanked the person, and went outside to wait.
The police car came down the street rather quickly. He didn't know if they could see it from where they were, and soon was certain they couldn't. The police car didn't even slow down until the last second, but squealing breaks were not enough to keep it from falling in. It vanished into the hole, and for a split second, he thought he could see flashing lights coming from the void. He didn't wait outside, but went back inside and tried to call the police again. Outside, a gentle breeze blowing through the night sky tugged at the hole in the darkness, as the light flickered merrily.

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