Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Sunset

It was hard to tell at first. Some thought they could. Others shook their heads. No one wanted to believe it.

It's happening right now. Look. Look!

No. No way.

Look again!

Really? That's impossible!

Cars stopped all along the streets. People emerged from restaurants, laundromats and drugstores to crowd the sidewalks and parking lots. Soon everyone was squinting at the sun. It could not be denied. The sky was growing darker.

Awed silence gave way to wails and exclamations.

No. No! No!

Where's it going?

It's getting smaller!

What are we gonna do?

Soon a great crimson band stretched over the horizon. Once-bright clouds hung before it in ashen patches.

"It's going to come back!" someone asserted. "It has to come back!"

"It's coming back!" someone else cried hopefully.

"It's coming back!" others repeated. "It's coming back!"

Yet it did not. In fact it was becoming difficult to see. Familiar objects – trees, trashcans, mailboxes, entire buildings – were drawn into the shadows. It seemed as though the world itself were receding with the sun.

People scrambled chaotically. A man got into his car and drove the wrong way with his door still open. Others smashed into parked cars, fire hydrants, the sides of houses. A cacophony of horns and shouts beat against the encroaching gloom.

Those who made it home huddled in terror with their families, on a couch or under covers. The most intrepid among them tiptoed to the window from time to time. What they saw out there confirmed their deepest dread. It was black as ink.

Many others were lost. They wandered the roads, the fields, the woods. If they chanced upon each other they started with fright; some ran away and some attacked, screaming and clawing madly. Some collapsed into each other's arms and fell to the ground, sobbing inconsolably.

Still others gathered around bonfires and threw in everything they could. They broke into spontaneous chants and dances, guzzled looted booze and fornicated violently, indiscriminately. What else are you supposed to do when you're forsaken by the sun?

When it seemed that hope was forever lost, that damnation was complete, a remarkable thing occurred. The faintest, palest glow emanated from a corner of the sky. The people were benumbed by fear, exhausted by their desperate exertions. Could they trust their senses? Slowly, warily, they arose from where they lay, stepped out of their homes, turned bleary eyes away from the smoldering embers of their fires.

They looked around them. Everything they'd once known emerged anew; raw, frail, wet with dew.

Was it the same world as before?