She hovered around the kitchen window to squint out at the whiteness while sipping tea and working through the day’s agenda. It was sunny that morning, deceivingly warm looking despite everything outside being covered in snow and the temperature well in the minus. The frozen over hanging trees with the fresh blanket of untouched snow and warming sun all worked together to make a picturesque and isolating sight that briefly held her quiet. She thought it might be the scenery that caused a sudden lightness inside her to rise, that shrouded over the to-do list in her mind, so she continued to stare hoping to stretch it out a little bit longer. It was quiet in her kitchen, too early for the usual barrage of cars passing in front of her house but they would come, and she could conjure their noise easily. In the distance a truck geared down as it turned onto her street. It was Tuesday, garbage day. She should have rushed to empty the kitchen and bathroom bins into the hefty plastic bag but instead she sipped her tea that was at the perfect temperature and continued looking out the window.
At 7:22 a.m. the lights flickered. It pulled her away from the window to watch the clock on the microwave flash zeros right before the power went out, leaving her in the soft dark of a winter morning. She remembered it had been windy during the night. She poured her tea down the drain and rested the mug inside the sink, it took her a moment to notice that the silence of her morning was being replaced with a buzzing, like the hum of electricity. She reached up at the kitchen light to pull at the chain of metal beads hanging down, the ceiling fan above her stopped spinning but the buzzing continued to grow. A repetitive tapping began, the microwave that flashed zeros and the kettle that sat beside it were vibrating against the marble counter top. Knees bent and arms bracing the sink, she readied herself for an earthquake she was sure would follow. But the ground didn’t move, only the appliances. A shriek escaped her as orange sparks burst from behind her and began lighting up the dimly lit space. She pulled the plug from the kettle and before she could reach for the microwave, blue lightning rushed from the outlet.
A booming surge erupted all around her as every device came alive and began spewing bright sparks into the air. The fridge teetered on all its edges as if it dancing a jig. The kitchen light above her sputtered, giving off a soft glow that quickly grew in brightness before bursting and raining down shards of glass. She looked out into her snowy backyard again, a refuge, but was too afraid to move or touch anything. She crouched in the middle of the kitchen, her hands shielding the sides of her face as an orchestra of appliances agonized around her. And then, as if a switch had been flicked, everything shut off and a discomforting fizzle filled the space like her whole house had just been fried.
The heavy burnt stench moved her to get the fire extinguisher. In a haze of smoke and panic she pulled the pin and twirled, threatening every device with a hefty covering of foam if it dared to show signs of life. She coughed as her eyes watered in the powdered air. Everything was toast, streams of black smoke wafted upwards to pool along the ceiling. She spoke aloud as she went along, asking the space around what had just happened.
She wielded the hefty fire extinguisher like it wasn’t hefty at all, as her home filled with foam and her life seemed no longer to be in immediate danger the weight of it became apparent and she set it down. Her chest puffed in and out, sweat was pooling in places, her hands still shook when she received a blow to the back of her head that launched her forward. In quick response, her arms whipped around to pummel her attacker. But her fists met the air in a fury, she could see no one around. Her trembling hands felt around the spot where she was hit on her head, there was no bump and it wasn’t tender to touch. She called out greetings followed by threats of violence and then waited in the fume and silence of her hallway.
A high frequency pulsing slowly began in her ears as she continued to move through her house with the fire extinguisher. At first she thought it was her heart beat but with each pulse the pressure built and built until she no longer worried about the fire or possible intruder. She pressed her palms deep into the sides of her head hoping to supress the pounding throbs beating into or residing from her eardrums that resonated throughout her skull. She dropped to her knees and was taken over by a noise that grew to be so piercing that she crumpled to the floor. The pulsing reverberated so strongly inside her head that her body jolted with each throb that cut her sobs short. Her eyes were open but all she could see was blackness.
She seemed to have fallen asleep or passed out and when she opened her eyes the world had righted. Her heart pounded and she breathed out heavy sobs. She wondered over all the possible things that could have caused what just happened. The pulsing had ended but there was an ache in the back of her eyes that she noticed when she stood up and an unexpected weight to her head. The urge to lie down and rest was heavy on her body and in a way, was comforting. She fought it back and pushed herself forward to find her phone and call for help before something else happened. She slid her shoulder against the wall to keep her upright as she moved down the hall. The daylight from the living room window streamed in and caught her attention. The space seemed filled with light so dense she felt certain it was tangible. Closing her eyes, she stood for a moment in the warmth of the sunlight. Through her window she peered out into the street, eying the line of identically shaped houses that stretched as far as she could see in either direction. Everything looked as it should, except for a man in the street. He was kneeling in the dirty slush just outside his car door, soaked through, water dripping off his coat and back onto the street. The wind had picked up, the wires feeding power and connectivity whipped and then bowed above the streets with each gust. The man faced the grey blanket of clouds with a tortured look, his mouth stretched open, his screams just loud enough to reach her. She turned to find her phone but was pulled down onto her knees, her face guided up towards the ceiling. The slow ache and heaviness that had developed in the front of her head and eyes was now an unbelievably searing pressure. She felt as if her skull would burst into flames just before ripping open. She howled upwards.
She sat still for a while after it had ended, eyes closed, sweating, whispering to soothe herself as she anticipated some other painful phenomenon to take place at any moment. She dissolved into tears when her phone rang. It was her mother. Her voice shouting through the phone over and over, did you feel that, did you feel that, did you feel that? It happened to everyone, her mother said.
She lay on the floor, her phone pressed into her ear lost in the quiet aftermath of the unexpected pain when a sudden whiteness covered her eyes and she could no longer see. She let the phone go, moving her head from side to side frantically, though everything in front of her remained a dense milky-white. Before the panic took over her mind went blank, her thoughts and worries erased in a blink and leaving behind an empty space that became filled with a dark silhouette pouring into focus. She found if she squinted she could see the silhouette clearer, she leaned forward and could see it better still. Oh, it was so beautiful! A vibrant being, boxy, pulsing an array of colours she never knew existed. She watched and felt her body sway and gyrate to the rhythm. Aware that she was in her living room, that beneath her was carpet and wood and a foundation and beneath that the earth, the planet but felt that she was so much further away. Though maybe just further inside herself, travelling somewhere through her mind as if a portal or wormhole was pulling her, showing her how to get out from the inside.
She slept the rest of the day, right there on the living room floor. At some point the vibrant being left her and took the whiteness too. The next day she spent in her bedroom, as dark as she could make it, but it was not at all dark really. She couldn’t have guessed it then but she would never know darkness again. Somehow, she could now see in the dark, or more so it was that the things in the dark were no longer taken over by the darkness. She could see in each object its own light. The edge of her nightstand was the first thing she noticed when she opened her eyes. It glowed a soft teal. She had to reach out to touch it, to feel its familiarly carved edges to know what it was. She brought her eyes closer to it, inside the glowing teal swirled other varying shades of the same colour. It seemed alive. She moved to examine the rest of the table and found it was the same all over. The walls, the floors, the windows, every thing emitted radiant colours. She ran to the window to look into the darkness outside. It was like the aurora borealis was displayed in the houses and street of her neighbourhood.
With her mother on speaker phone sporadically relaying news updates, the two of them intermittingly shared thoughts on what was going on in their bodies and throughout the world. Divine intervention, military experiment and inter-dimensional beings were the top contenders for what caused whatever it was to happen. It was the most time they had been on the phone together. She felt lucky that her mother survived. As time went on and more information came out, she learned that a lot of people died, especially older people. Some brains were simply not able to process the new barrage of colours and shock took over until they passed, or so they said. Others went blind, though not blind in the way we knew before, not blind in darkness but blind in colour, a constant kaleidoscope of colours so encompassing that it blocked out physical objects from view. The young handled it the best, their soft and less formed brains made the transition smoother and much less painful.
The third day she spent mesmerised by the sight of her own body. When viewed in the mirror she was encased in an orb of soft pastel like colours constantly swirling around, bashing into one another and at times absorbing. She noticed that the warmer her body was the more the colours moved and mixed. Nothing seemed to be just one solid colour any more. Things she knew to be black were now deep violets and blues and reds. Things she knew to be white transformed into a canvas of colours she never seen before. The snow outside was now a white opal with pinks, greens, blues and yellows swimming with more vibrancy than the Las Vegas Strip. The icicles hanging off tree branches were a rainbow of new colours dancing together, competing for the lead. She watched a chipmunk run across a neighbours’ fence, a stream of soft colours trailed off its body like fairy dust.
It didn’t take long for governments to inform the public that what happened was a mutation of sorts, a kind of forced evolution. They didn’t say how they came to that conclusion. Human brains, possibly through the high frequency pulses, they suggested, had been re-wired in a matter of hours in what would have taken millions of years of evolution. And that so far as they were aware, from their very limited testing, it seemed to have expanded the spectral capabilities in humans, allowing us to see more colours and possibly not limited to simply colours. What we were told about the vibrant beings that the world collectively witnessed was that they appeared to communicate in flashes of colours, like cephalopods. The very tip of their body resembled a television screen and is believed to be made up of millions of visual receptors that surround a seemingly hard shell encapsulating what scientists think could be their brain. Symmetrical build and upright, like us, everything on one side was the same as the other. Upright because of a thin atmosphere, scientists mused, like ours on earth. Somehow, we were forced to watch as this being stood motionless with its body pulsing iridescent colour combinations. Whether it is a currently existing entity, or some recording sent out long ago, or if it is millions of light years away or from some other dimension or universe, no one is sure. What we think we know is that what happened was probably necessary if we were to ever get the message the being was trying to relay. It understood that whatever else existed out there in the universe most likely wouldn’t be much the same and that some tweaking would be required.