The tenth of May seemed bright and sunny without a cloud in the sky. The people of Conway didn?t have a care in the world. Their world was nearly perfect and peaceful all the time. The last murder in town had happened nearly three decades earlier. Generally, the most excitement was a brawl between two neighbors. Then "the cloud" appeared and settled in the heart of the small town. Upon first seeing the cloud, everyone within it thought it was merely fog.
Police Sergeant Steve Talbot noticed the change almost immediately when his dispatch radio went silent. It wasn?t the dead silence of occasional static. It was as if it wasn?t turned on. When he heard the sudden silence, he also noticed that the station was becoming dark inside as the sunlight was blocked from the windows.
"Hey, Paul, you want to hit that light switch? Looks like fog rolling in outside."
Paul crossed over to the switch and flipped it several times without response. The room remained dark. "Must be a power failure," Paul said.
"Someone must have hit a transformer. You?d think that people would slow down on seeing fog," Steve said.
"Don?t we have an emergency backup system?"
Steve stared at Paul for a moment as he wondered why the backup system wasn?t coming on. He was about to say something when the radio came alive with static once more. "I guess the generatorís on a timer. Try the lights now."
Paul flipped the switch. One light came on in the center of the room, burning dimly.
"Well, thatís better than nothing," Steve said, "I?ll see if I can raise someone on the radio. You try the phone. Call the power company."
Paul went over to a phone and picked it up while Steve began calling out on the radio. After trying several phones, he said, "The phones are all dead."
"I?m not getting any answer from any of our cars, either. I hope they?re on top of the situation without us. I?m going to check on our prisoner. Listen for any radio calls."
Steve ambled into the back of the station where only one more light bulb burned to show the way, not that he needed it. He?d been with the force long enough to know the layout of the station even in total darkness. Steve looked at their prisoner, a vagrant who?d been caught stealing. The man seemed happy enough to be in his cell if only because it meant that he?d be fed regularly. Steve felt that was the case as the vagrant hadn?t even tried to escape when he was spotted stealing eggs from a henhouse.
The prisoner asked, "Something wrong?"
"Not really. Just a power outage. Probably caused by some driver hitting a transformer in the fog. We?ll just use emergency power until itís fixed."
"Oh, are you sure thatís all it is?"
Steve asked, "Why?"
"I saw things that didn?t look right just before you came in. Did you see anything weird?"
"I haven?t seen anything weird. You on drugs?" Steve asked.
"No. I don?t use them, either. Hell, I can?t even afford drugs."
"Right, thatís what everyone tells me."
"Itís the truth! Anyway, keep your eyes and ears open. Thereís something strange going on around us."
Steve checked the cell door, then left to return to his desk.
George Smather glanced out at the thick, hanging fog, then said, "I don?t think we should expect that shipment anytime soon if the roads are all like this."
Arnold Smather carefully came up behind George with sound as his only guide. "Awful slow morning. Sure wished the shipment would arrive before we get any customers. I hate trying to unload lumber while seeing to half a dozen customers at the same time."
"This fog will sure hold everyone back. Might as well relax. We?ll have plenty to keep us busy later."
"I didn?t think we had any fog predicted for this morning. Nothingís going right today."
"Welcome, Myrna. Doing your shopping early?"
"Yes, Ty. You know my schedule. I open the bridal boutique in the afternoons except on Saturday when I open all day. Anyway, itís not my busy season. Especially with this sudden fog. That won?t come until school gets out and the seniors begin to get serious about each other. So, whatís fresh today?" she replied.
"Well, we had one truckload of fresh fruits already delivered this morning. They looked pretty good to me," Ty answered.
"Ty, everything looks good to you. It just doesn?t look good on you. You ought to put on a clean shirt."
Ty glanced down at himself and saw the stains she was talking about. "I reckon I should. Don?t want to look like a slob in front of my customers. Thanks for telling me."
"If they can find you in this fog, Ty. I almost walked into you."
The gymnasium and swimming pool of Conway High went into darkness as the power went off and the fog blocked the sunlight from windows. Classrooms similarly went dark for the same reasons. So, too, did the front office where the Principal and his administrative staff were located. For a few moments, no one was even aware that the fog swirling inside through windows opened for ventilation was changing things in a way that physics deemed nearly impossible.
Coach Victoria Larson shouted, "Okay, everyone out of the pool! I can?t see where you all are. Right now! I don?t want someone diving on top of someone else! No oneís to use the diving board until we can all see where we?re going! You heard me! Everyone out of the pool! Now!"
Victoria could only hear her students splashing about as they swam toward her voice. On the other side of the pool, she heard Coach John Weaver telling the male students the same thing. His whistle went off a couple of times and then died in mid-whistle.
John cursed, "Damn! Excuse my French, ladies. Hey, Victoria, my whistle just dissolved!"
In astonishment, Victoria asked, "It what?"
He hollered, "I said my whistle just dissolved."
"Coach! I?ve got a problem!"
"Hey Coach Weaver! I?ve got a problem, too!"
John asked, "Whatís your problems?"
"Coach, my swimsuit just disappeared!"
There was a scream from the womenís side at the same time. "My suit! Itís gone! Someone took my suit!"
Coach Larson hollered out, "Whoever took the suit is to return it immediately!"
More screams followed as more girls realized that their synthetic suits were gone from their bodies.
Victoria reached for her whistle only to discover that it wasn?t hanging from the cord around her neck any longer. She hollered, "Quiet down! Ladies, just shut up and move over toward my voice! John! Keep your boys on the other side! We have a problem over here!"
John hollered, "I think we have the same problem!"
"Ladies, find your towels and wrap yourselves in them. Don?t run! This area is slippery. You?ll fall if you try to run! Walk! Don?t run! Find a towel and wrap it around yourself. Once you do that, go to the locker room and get dressed!"
John hollered, "Guys, get your towels and head for your lockers! Now! Move it! Move it! Move it!"
Victoria followed her class into the girls? locker area and carefully made her way in the dark. Every few steps, she bumped into someone either naked or clutching a towel as cover. She could hear others bumping into each other and the walls as she made her way toward her office where she hoped to use a phone to call the office.
Victoria reached her office and entered only to find it not as she left it. Walking through the doorway, she nearly tripped as her feet came in contact with metal rods littering the floor hindering her. When she finally reached her desk, she felt about for her phone only to find a mess of tangled wire and metal pieces in its place. Shouts and crying filtered inside her office as the girls met with frustration in finding their lockers or opening them in the dark.
Victoria opened a desk drawer to fish out her flashlight only to discover some batteries, wire, bits of metal, and a lamp bulb in its place. Unsure of what was going on, Victoria stumbled back out of her office into the general locker area. Making her way through the girls milling about, Victoria knew she needed to reach the office if only to find out what they might be able to tell her of the situation.