Brainpower

Chapter 1

It was a normal day in Allentown, to an extent. President Trump had randomly declared today to be “Me Day”, and Congress unilaterally passed it as a federal holiday. So, to the dismay of many workers, they went home. Jeffrey was surprised to see his father, Ash’s, car pull into the driveway. He had the day off from school anyways, but he didn’t think anything was planned.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, as his dad walked in.

“Trump declared an asinine federal holiday, so I’ll be home the rest of the day.”

“Oh. Fine by me.”

“I’ll get some extra yardwork done. Holler if you need me.”

“Sure thing, Dad!” Jeff went back up to his room. He had just finished a round of Fortnite, so he played a few more rounds. After that, he texted his new girlfriend, Karmi. They had met the first day of college, and really hit it off.

“Hey, are your ‘rents home as well?”

“Yeah, some stupid fucking Trump thing. How’s life?”

“Good. Came in 3rd on Fortnite.”

“That’s great?”

“Come on, I know you know it’s great.”

“Yes, honey, I do. Congrats. Are we on tonight?”

“Well, Dad’s home, and he likes to cook in when he has the time. Tomorrow?”

“Sure thing, babe. I actually need to get this paper done, so I won’t be responding for a bit.”

“No prob. Love you!”

“Love you too!” Jeff logged back on and prepared to decimate some campers. 

He continued playing until supper. Ash had made cavatappi au jus, which sounded disgusting, but actually tasted pretty damn good! After supper, Jeff went back to his room to scroll through social media, while his dad turned on the football game. During sunset, it appeared like the sun was flying towards Allentown for people viewing it. It had happened pretty quickly, so most people just passed it off as a weird optical illusion. 

Something odd happened, though. All electronics shut down immediately. This included everything from flip-phones to smart homes. Ash was still watching the game, specifically a good scoring attempt by his team, when the power shut off. “What the fuck!” he screamed. No other lights had gone out, so it must have been something to do with the TV. 

Meanwhile, Jeff’s phone was also shut down. He had no battery indicators on, so he assumed it just needed a charge. He plugged it in and tried to turn on his computer, to continue liking Instagram selfies. His computer wouldn’t turn on. The charging indicator light was red, so it meant the power was off. Odd, thought Jeff. He took out a Playboy he had hidden for just this occasion, and began reading. 

A loud vibration then echoed throughout the town. Everyone heard it, but it had a specific effect on all the men in the town. They immediately froze in the position they were standing in. For some, it meant continuing an action, like accelerating, or for others, a hilarious balancing act. Ash was looking around at the wires in the back when he froze. Jeff was not frozen for some odd reason. However, the vibration knocked him out, so he didn’t even realize anything was awry. 

The electronics in Allentown suddenly turned back on. It was like someone had flipped a switch again. However, the screens weren’t showing the original image. Instead, it was a pulsating white light, sort of like staring at a light bulb, but different. Ash was scared by the sudden shift in light in the room. He pulled his head out and looked at the screen. He was drawn to it, and couldn’t look away. Slowly, he lost all emotion in his face, until he was slack jawed, staring at the screen. 

The same thing was happening across Allentown. Females and people of both sexes under the age of 18 were unaffected. Their brains didn’t even process the male staring slack jawed at the screen. It was like he had never existed to them. As the men continued to stare at the screens, their eyes changed color, to reflect the light they were staring at.

image

Men who didn’t already have screens in front of them quickly found them. It was not uncommon to see eight men hunched around one screen in Allentown Center. Even the traffic lights were emanating the white light. Female drivers still saw the normal colors, but if they had a male in the car, he was drawn to it. 

Back at Jeff’s house, he finally woke up. He looked at the clock and saw he wasn’t out for that long. He checked his phone, only to find it emanating the white light. He still wasn’t affected, so he assumed the plug must be broken. It was late, but the game would still be on. He went downstairs to finish watching it with his dad. Jeff then saw Ash standing inches from the screen, with the same white light as from his phone. 

“Umm, Dad, what the fuck is going on here?” Jeff walked over to his dad and did everything he could think of to get his attention. It never wavered from the screen. “Fuck!” he said out loud. He then looked out his living room’s bay window, to see if his neighbors were experiencing the same problems. He saw Mr. Kripley staring at his phone while his dog, Fluffers, was trying to escape. His grip was too tight when he was ordered to stare at the screen. He then looked across the street to see Cal Hershwin staring at the TV, just like his dad was. A more cursory glance revealed he was the only 18+ plus male to escape the freezing. 

“What the fuck is going on?” he asked.

Light work done by The Spiral Writer

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