Amanda Hellswaite was the keeper of the last incandescent light bulb in the world. She was a mighty warrior who lived on a hill in a small thatched hut lit in the woods. The light bulb hung from the ceiling from a simple cord.
Every day she woke at dawn, ate her gruel, cleaned off the light bulb with a light cloth, and then drew her sword and went outside where all day long she would fight off the desperate hoardes who came charging up the hill in search of the mythic light bulb All of them had succumbed to the cheap coiled energy-saving light bulbs whose putrid greenish light had spread a plague of chronic disappointment and general malaise throughout the world. They had forsaken the only light bulbs that had ever made them happy, and for what? To save themselves a few pennies, that’s what, and now they saw their dreadful mistake. But perhaps it was too late. Perhaps.
Amanda had never illuminated this light bulb, because she knew it was the last one. She had stockpiled them in her 20s and 30s, but one by one, she had used them and they had gone out, and now it had been five years since such a bulb had been available on the market. Nobody remembered how to make them. She kept the light bulb on the cord, but instead burned candles. If she needed to read, she went outside, although whenever she went outside she was generally fighting the artless energy-saving barbarians tooth and nail to keep possession of the thing they never used to want, but now were ready to kill her to get.
Did they not realize that only one person could have the bulb? Why not let it be her? Fighting would only break the bulb. Why not just open an incandescent light bulb factory? This was her dream, and yet the question was how to make it happen, since all she had to her name was a single hamster and a half-eaten bag of chocolate-covered pretzels.
She had quit her job as a pilates instructor at the YMCA and fled to the woods when she realized that she possessed the last incandescent light bulb. If she sold it at auction, she might have enough money to open her own light bulb factory. Maybe. But now the problem was getting down off of this hill when nobody was watching, and making her way to Christie’s in New York City, without getting killed in the process. And would she take her hamster with her?
She heard the brush rustling behind her, and she turned just in time to see a man in Dockers and a brown belt and a golf shirt come bursting out of the underbrush, and waddling up the path with his arms outstretched. “Give me the light bulb,” he gasped. “Give it to me!” Amanda pulled a gun out of her belt and fired it into the air and the man went scuttling back into the underbrush.
God damn it, she thought, I gotta get out of here.
Late that night, after she had deflected 16 or 17 bulb-seekers, she lay in her locked cabin listening to her hamster run on its wheel. Runrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrun Squeaksqueaksqueaksqueaksqueaksqueaksqueak. She lay like that for almost an hour. Then another hour.
And then another hour after that.
As the dawn was just beginning to break, and the hamster had settled down into his nest, she stood up. She dragged her one and only chair under the hanging light bulb. She put on a pair of gloves. She stood on the chair and carefully unscrewed the light bulb and placed it in a small box stuffed with tissues. Then she went to the hamster cage and gently lifted the little guy, nest and all, out of the cage, and put him in a slightly larger box with holes cut out of the top and sides so he could breathe. He didn’t wake up. She put the light bulb in a messenger bag, and slung it over her shoulder. The hamster she carried separately, in a large grocery bag with handles.
The dream of a light bulb factory beckoned. She slipped out the front door, locked it, and started down the trail.
So far, so good.