“Taddy?” Gunther said, in a whisper just loud enough to be heard over the rain attacking the attic roof.
“How long are you going to hold my hand?”
“Shut up,” Taddy said quickly letting go. “Just shut up and give me your flashlight.”
Gunther felt around him. “Wait,” he said. “”I thought you had a flashlight.”
“Mine’s dead, remember?”
“Well, I don’t have one,” Gunther said, trying to force any sign of a whimper from his voice.
“Then we’ve got to go get the one my mom has in the kitchen,” said Taddy, still whispering as if the darkness demanded it. “And we’re going together.”
“Right,” Gunther said. “I mean you’re not leaving me up here by myself.”
“Let’s go then.”
Taddy started to inch his way toward the hole in the floor and stuck a foot down through to find the ladder. Gunther inched with him, keeping a hand near Taddy’s shoulder so he wouldn’t lose touch as much for the connection to comfort, as it was a way to accidentally fall down the hole.
“Don’t push,” Taddy said.
“I’m not,” Gunther insisted.
Once on the ladder, Taddy’s instincts took over. He made the climb and descent in the dark thousands of times and was able to slip down into his bedroom in seconds. Gunther followed with a little more caution, but made it to the floor safe and sound.
“I can’t see a thing,” said Gunther. “This is crazy! I mean, look how dark it is. Where are you?”
“I’m over here.” Taddy clapped his hands and reached out for his friend. Gunther found him and the two began to slip their feet along the floor, inching their way to the door.
A large flash of lightning filled the house, trailing off into the flicker of tiny strobes of light. Any progress the boys made toward adjusting their sight to the darkness was dashed in those seconds of brilliance.
The thunder followed as they were still rubbing the brightness of the flash from their eyes.
“This sucks!” Gunther shouted. “I can’t see. Now I can’t hear. Really … this sucks!”
“Come on,” Taddy said. “There’s a flashlight in the kitchen. We’ll be there in a hot second.”
They continued their careful movements across the floor, to the stairs and down to the foyer. They inched their way to the kitchen, running their fingers lightly across the wall as a way to stay clear on their path.
Taddy reached the cold tile first. He stepped forward and reached out for the chopping block top of the island in the middle of the room. Finding it, he walked himself around to the second drawer where his mom kept the flashlight and any other number of assorted and likely useless odds and ends. He pulled the drawer and pawed around inside until he found it.
“That’s it?” Gunther asked, still standing on the edge of kitchen.
A pathetic, whimper of a glow lazily forced itself from the small light. Bringing recognition to Taddy’s face. He smirked and shook the light. It went dark. He hit it a couple of times and the light came back a little stronger, but not much.
“This is all we have unless I can find some more batteries,” Taddy said. “Or, until the power comes back.
“What about candles?” Gunther asked. “Do you have any candles?”
“Yeah,” Taddy said. My mom has a bunch in the…”
Any word Taddy might have said was murdered by another glaring flash of light. The boys had just enough time to look at each other before the thunder followed.
“Ahhhh!” The boys screamed.
“I wish it would stop doing that!” Gunther pounded on the wall next to him.
“What was that?” Taddy yelled. “What did you do?”
“Nothing,” said Gunther, running into the kitchen. “I … nothing. It sounded like window in the front room. You saw me. I was right there. I swear I didn’t…”
“Shhhh! Shush! Hush! Shut up!” Taddy said, trying to cover Gunther’s mouth.
The boys stood in the faded yellow glow of the sad flashlight, listening hard for whatever it was Taddy thought he heard. After a moment, they turned slowly to face each other.
While they spoke at exactly the same time, it was clear, they each heard something different.