Just as she was about to settle down in her chair with a book and a cup of tea, a lightning strike sounded not 50 feet from her house, effectively shutting down the power with a bang.
"Oh no," she said aloud.
Clutching her blanket around her, Peggy hurried to the cupboard in the dining room where she kept the candles. Opening the drawer, however, she found it to be empty, and then she remembered: she had used the last of her reserves during the previous outage and had forgotten to restock.
"Well, crap." She had been negligent in getting batteries for her flashlights, so those were out of commission, and there was no way she would be going to the store to get some while the storm was ongoing.
Resigned to sit through the rest of the storm in the dark, Peggy skulked back to her chair. The lightning flashed again, this time a bit further away, but instead of instilling fear it reminded her of the box of tea candles she had stashed away in her attic. She quickly ascended the stairs to search.
Upstairs in the unfinished attic, exposed wooden beams hovered just above her head, and a single window flashed with distant lightning, casting eerie shadows for the briefest of seconds upon all of the boxes and sheet-covered furniture. Why did she even have this stuff up here?
Where are those candles? She looked around in frustration. Finally, she found it: the Tupperware box was directly underneath the window, and she could even see a few candles in the dark through the clear plastic container.
As she opened the lid, another flash permeated the drafty attic for a millisecond, but it was long enough to draw her eye to a bit of metal hanging from the windowsill. Upon further inspection, she found that it was an old necklace, its metal chain rusty in areas. Somehow, the rust added to its appeal, and she wondered why she had never seen it before.
The pendant was large, about the size of her palm, and a clear crystal, polished to a fine sheen, was protected by a circle of bronze. She could just make out the finest of geometrically planned fractures in the center. Was it laser artwork, perhaps?
Grabbing a few candles and placing the necklace around her neck, Peggy turned to alight the stairs, but she was stopped abruptly by yet another flash of lightning. This time, it was only a few feet outside of her house, and the sound was deafening. It reverberated throughout the whole house, and she could have sworn that she felt her heart skip a beat.
It was then that she heard noises downstairs. People - several from the sound of it - were downstairs. Music was playing, and there was jovial laughter. She hurried downstairs and found an entire party in her living room, and it appeared to have been going on for a long time.
It appeared to be a costume party of sorts, because everyone was dressed in historical garb: one woman looked like she had been plucked straight out of the 20's with her straight-line dress, and another could have easily been mistaken for a 50's housewife.
"Um... hello?" she said, a bit agitated but unsure if fear was necessary.
The people in the room all turned to look at her, their eyes wide.
"Oh, dear," said the 50's housewife.
"She's here too," said a man with long hair and a tie-dyed t-shirt.
"Excuse me?" she said. "Who are you, and why are you in my house?"
A man in a black tuxedo stepped forward, "Madam, I am afraid that you have ventured into a realm different from the one to which you are used."
Her left eyebrow raised, "I'm sorry, what?"
A young girl who was much too young to be drinking from the champagne glass she was holding said, "She's wearing the necklace," to the woman standing next to her.
Peggy looked down at the necklace. So what? "Who's going to explain what's going on here?"
The party exchanged uncomfortable glances.
"Ok," she said, "if you're not going to tell me what's going on, then leave. Get out of my house. I most certainly didn't invite you in here."
The man in the tuxedo bowed slightly, "Please excuse us. We haven't had a guest in quite some time, so we're a bit rusty in introducing ourselves. I am Thomas Mayberry." He extended his hand genteelly, but she didn't take it.
"Explain," she said, pointedly. "Explain, or get out."
"We can't," the 50's housewife said. "We can't leave. We want to, but we can't."
The little girl, fixated on the crystal pendant around Peggy's neck, took a step forward. "Because of that."
"Looks like you're stuck here too," said the man with the long hair. Again, the uncomfortable glances.
The group began to approach her slowly as a whole, and the man with the tuxedo said, "We hate to do this, but it has to be done. It's time for your initiation."
In a flash of instinct, she ripped off the necklace, and everyone disappeared. She was back in her empty living room, the rusty chain dangling from her hands. Less than 5 minutes later, the necklace was in shavings at the bottom of her garbage disposal.
-- FIN --
Want to see the writing exercise that inspired this Flash Fiction? Go HERE!