The Light Watchers

Ten years have passed since the survivors holed up in the ruins of a once-great city and began jumping at their own shadows.  Humanity has adapted to wearing tinted goggles to shield their eyes; the constant presence of bright light and the mirrors everyone wears on their clothing necessitates them. Among the survivors were those who voluntarily combated the darkness, ensuring there was always light present to protect the people. You’ve been tending to the lamps for an equal number of years now, you and a dozen others; without you, the entity that made the darkness lethal would easily claim what was left of society. It’s easy to spot you, the Light Watchers: Your mirrors are always cracked.

You begin your night watch dutifully patrolling the outer loop of the ruins. One of the lamps is beginning to flicker…you swiftly remove the old bulb and replace it with a new one before the shadows even realize. You’ve walked this path so long that you can pinpoint exactly when each lamp will need to be replaced; you’ve done this so many times that the slim, shadowy fingers futilely jabbing at your mirrors no longer fazes you. You wear the many cracks in your “armor” with pride. The announcement drone floats about the ruins repeating its nightly message: “Attention all residents: Please inspect your lamps! In an emergency, contact your nearest Light Watcher!” After a decade, you’ve learned to tune it out. Aside from the drone, the rest of the ruins are completely silen–

You hear the sound of cracking glass behind you.

The new bulb you just installed is shattered.

A row of lights blow out in rapid succession. The shadows are crawling in from the outside and out of the corner of your eye, you see a single tendril of darkness reaching out for the bulb you’re standing under.

The light goes out. You race towards the inner ruins. When did the darkness learn how to snuff out the lamps?! You hear the sound of bulbs breaking behind you–chasing you.

You see the form of another Light Watcher on his nightly patrol. You call out to him; you see him turn as the light a few feet away from the one you currently stand under is extinguished. You hear growling and teeth snapping.

All the light around you is gone, save the single spotlight illuminating your imminent demise. Everything is silent for a moment, then…sirens. You hear faintly the sounds of bulbs bursting. It’s the last thing you hear before the lamp above you shatters.

The Prompt:

“Darkness is a physical presence. Touching it is deadly. Humanity only lives in brightly lit cities connected with brightly lit roads. Your job is to patrol the roads and ensure all the lights are working.”

Source: r/writingprompts

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