The narrow streets were filled with people huddled under the street lamps, trying to stay warm. They were not only struggling to survive the cold winter but also to protect the places they called home. In particular, during the winter months, settling under a street lamp was considered equivalent to fighting, noise, bribery, and even murder. Those who managed to claim a spot under the light tried to survive without caring about the incidents that had occurred there before. Neither the security forces nor the authorities intervened, and these people, who made do with limited resources, were incited by various visual or literary propaganda.
Posters were displayed on the wide and long streets where car sounds were no longer heard.
"Protect your light! Your new home and its lights!"
The remaining spaces on the posters were adorned with the advertisements of new commercial entrepreneurs.
"Den the caravan trader! He protects both your light and your goods! Of course, for a small fee!"
The walls were covered with paper that did not burn, stick, or even crumple, and when read with a neutral eye, they were adorned with writings that exposed the cruelty of the people above. However, for most people trying to keep warm outside, they were just "good wishes."
"We are still alive because of you. Let's overcome these difficulties together! Let's protect our lights! The more lights, the more warmth! Let's step into the future together. Let the lights shine on our future!"
Although these things seemed strange and even caused rebellions for those trying to survive, everything became ordinary with the posters being replaced the same night they were torn down, the propaganda papers being changed to prevent them from being used as fuel, and the warmth from the lights being increased. The only goal of the people who had grown accustomed to this was to survive under the lights.
The people who took up residence under the lamps didn't care if their clothes were in tatters and the house-like structures around the lamp were about to collapse. However, the slightest hiss from the lamp would drive them insane, and they would immediately set about repairing the lamp with the items they never let out of their sight. They would try their best to relight the lamps that no longer provided heat and light, scavenging the necessary parts from broken-down cars, old household items, or the black market.
In the past, when money that caused people's deaths fell into their hands, it was used as fuel, and all kinds of wires were used as currency to obtain goods on the black market. People worked in mines, broke down old items, and went to former settlements to hunt for items to acquire these wires.
The size, functionality, and width of one's lamp spoke volumes about their social standing. Everyone knew that those with the largest lamps were the head miners, those with the highest function were the black market traders, and those whose light spread the widest were successful scavengers. Some had installed multiple lamps side by side for show and lived alone under the light of a single lamp with their hired men holding onto the wires.
A Night of Incident
He was working as a guard for one of those show-off types. Standing at the beginning of the wide street, right under the three lamps beside the old metro station, he never let go of the stick on his belt. His eyes scanned the rest of the street, ready for any threat. But he wasn't doing it because he enjoyed it at the late hours of the night or for his master who was sleeping peacefully on the lower floor of the metro. It was the wires that had put him in this situation. All he wanted was five thousand iron wires. Or two thousand five hundred copper wires. Or five hundred gold wires. They were all of equal value, and they could all buy one thing - a new lamp!
All he wanted was a lamp to call his own and an empty space. He had been living at the entrance of this metro station for a long time, and he was treated worse than the street animals. He wanted to get out of this situation and no longer saw cursing his fate or himself as an option.
For a moment, he thought he was the one attacking them. He was confident he could easily take down the first three. But there was something off about the last man. He was quite relaxed and didn't carry any weapon. His hands were a bit larger than theirs, and he had noticed him using them in close combat. Perhaps this man was truly skilled in the "art of punching" that the others had talked about. He had never seen him fight before and didn't want to see him now. He turned his head back to look down the street. Several groups of people had gathered under various sized lamps. Some were eating, some were playing games, and some were openly making love without caring about their surroundings. He tried to look away involuntarily, but couldn't stop himself. Instead, he silently prayed for morning to come as soon as possible.
As soon as morning arrived, his shift would end and other people would come to take his place. Along with him, others would also leave from under the lamps for various jobs and set out on the road. When the next shift started, the inside of the street would be completely different, and others would replace the people he had just seen. He realized that the only enjoyment he got from his work was this. Every evening, new people came to the street, and he had to meet them all over again. In this way, he had come to know more than half of the city.
While he was dreaming about the people he had met or would meet, he heard a small hissing sound. He turned his head and looked towards the source of the sound, which was coming from under the lamps. At first, he didn't pay attention, but when the hissing sound continued at the same tone and interval, he and the other men turned to look under the lamps. He noticed small lights coming from the cracks in the soil where the lamps were embedded.
As he reached out his hand towards the ground, a scream rose from the other end of the street. A woman was looking at her struggling husband on the ground.
"The ground! The ground hit my husband! Help him!"
No one from the group got up to try to help the man. Some even tried to avoid looking at him. Then, another scream was heard. He scanned the street with his eyes and saw where the scream was coming from. The woman from the couple who had been making love was impaled on the base of the lamp. The man was screaming and yelling.
"Don't touch the lamps! Don't touch them!"
The man stumbled backwards, trying to escape the woman who was convulsing, but he tripped and his arm got stuck in the glowing ground. At that moment, he began to share the same fate as the woman.
He quickly turned his head to look at the spot where he was reaching out his hand. Something in the soil was pulling him towards it. The beams of light shining through the small stones were beckoning him.
"It's okay, reach out your hand! Nothing will happen!" it seemed to say.
He pulled his hand back, got up, and turned to shout at the rest of the street.
"Stay away from the ground! Don't touch it! It's electrified!"
All the people on the street quickly stood up and started to flee in a panic. He turned to his men and told them they needed to get their boss out of here. However, the men paid no attention and began to run away, while their boss got up from where he was lying and approached them.
"Idiots! Why are you shouting? What's happening here?"
He quickly ran to his boss and knelt in front of him, offering him a wire he had taken from his pocket.
"Sir, I'd like to speak!"
As his master took the wire piece, he looked around at the noise of the street.
"Tell me, you idiot! It's not the time for the ritual!" the master barked.
He approached his master and explained what was going on while showing the glowing ground. The master had also reached out his hand, but he caught it and pulled him back, warning him of the danger. While the master gathered his belongings to leave, he scolded him.
"You know the punishment for touching me. You owe me twenty wires!"
As the others waited for the master to get ready, he looked at a tall building nearby. The fire escapes were on his side, and he thought he could climb up to get a better view of the other streets. He told the others to stay put and made a dash for the fire escape. He barely managed to avoid the panicked people running around him and began climbing up the fire escape. Just as he had reached the top floor, there was a loud explosion. Instead of looking back, he climbed even faster and finally reached the top.
The rest of the city was shimmering and looking at him, but also screaming in agony. He turned his head and looked at the point where the explosion had come from. A lamp two streets away had been blown up into the air and a huge cloud of smoke covered the area. This was one of the usual situations. Explosions always happened, but the brightness of the ground and the size of the explosion frightened him. Then another explosion happened, followed by a few more. The lamps were exploding with a loud noise and at random. But there was something even bigger that terrified him: the explosions were getting closer to his street.
"Screw the master and the wire! I need to get out of here!"
He turned back and made a move towards the fire escape he had come from, and as he tried to hold onto the iron of the stairs, he noticed the brightness of the ground in the cracks of the metal. When he looked down, he saw that the ground where the stairs were attached was also shining.
"Fuck! If I try to descend, I'll get hit! Main stairs!"
When he had climbed up, he had seen a hatch in the middle of the roof of the building that opened downwards. He quickly went back there and opened the hatch, looking down. As soon as he realized it was safe, he let himself fall down and slammed into the ground floor of the top floor.
He struggled to stand up and looked around the floor he was on. It was an old workplace and it was full of rubble and broken furniture. As he tried to move forward, he felt the ground shaking. The explosions continued and they were getting very close to the building. When he found the stairs leading down to the lower floor, his excitement grew even more. He threw himself down the stairs. The tremors continued and he couldn't stand still as he descended.
As he reached the ground floor, he stepped outside from a large protrusion used as the entrance to the building. With the tremors intensifying, he looked down at the ground beneath his feet. The space between stones and asphalt was sparkling and calling out to him.
"Where are you running to?"
The lights emerging from the gaps between the stones tried to catch him like a rope, but he freed himself and started running towards the open area. The lights underground were following him too. He made the mistake of looking back for a moment. The lights had taken on a shape resembling his body and were coming after him, their only visible feature being a set of smiling lips.
"What are you?!"
He turned his head back to where he was running and noticed the end of the lit area. The surge of adrenaline within him made him step into the darkness with difficulty. When he turned around again, the body following him was right behind him, looking at him.
"You were so close. Why did you run away?"
He lowered his head and noticed that he had reached the end of the light. The body following him was glowing, but it couldn't escape the lights. Realizing this, he lifted his head and smiled.
"You can't go any further, can you?"
"That doesn't change anything. You need light. You'll eventually come to a lamp!"
"What do you want from me?"
"You'll understand when you surrender yourself to me."
As they were in the midst of their conversation, a small snowflake drifted before their eyes. The person lifted their finger and caught the snowflake, blowing it towards the light body. The snowflake hit the body's face and melted away. Another snowflake fell, and it too followed in the same direction. Soon, snowflakes were falling one after another, gradually painting the surroundings white. After looking at each other for a while, he turned their back and began walking towards the darkness. The light body called out to them.
"You'll meet me someday."
Laughing as he disappeared into the darkness, he opened his arms and threw himself into the pitch-black space covered with snow.
Author: Ahmet T. Mengeş
Science fiction and fantasy enthusiast. Game addict. Guardian of vampire mythology. Weird and equally arrogant. Amateur game developer. Very amateur.