Monday, June 27, 2005

Last Night, First Night

This is one of my favorite stories although I will admit it could still use a bit of work to add a bit more punch. It was written for January 1, 2000. With all the Y2K hysteria I could not resist something like this. I'm not going to delve into the fact that the millenium really began on January 1, 2001or that there are admited errors in the calendar so that it could be off one way or another by up to several decades. I've read all that and with this story was just going after the popular hysteria about what might happen when 1999 ticked over to 2000. I submitted the story on the 29th of December 1999, just in case my computer wouldn't work as of January 1, 2000 :) (I'm kidding, I was not worried at all and was proved correct, but then I guess it was a 50/50 chance so it wasn't exactly a long shot). The theme was "First Night".

Harry watched with satisfaction as the distant lights of the city began to wink out. He had been right. The radio started hissing with static as the station it was tuned to went off the air. The television followed it. Harry could hear now only the faint working of his generator and the hiss of static from the television and radio. All around the glow of lights on the horizon died and for the first time ever Harry saw the true night with no light pollution from surrounding civilization. Even the cars on the highway seemed to be effected Harry noticed for the first time realizing even those lights and sounds were gone.

He felt  bit uneasy at that. Then he turned sharply as his generator stopped and with it the hiss and light of the television and the hiss of the radio. Out of gas maybe, he thought. Although it shouldn't be, came the answering thought, it ought to have gas enough for hours more. The silence was overwhelming almost oppressive. All Harry could hear now was the faint hiss of the Coleman Lantern in his camp as he stood watching the most stars he'd ever seen before.

When the lantern quit Harry started getting scared, much too late of course by now though. Harry watched the stars with trepidation and was not at all surprised to see a dark stain beginning to spread as star after star winked out. His mind argued that some of that light was millions of years old getting to him and that it was not January 1, 2000 where they were. Still the evidence was there. Feeling afraid of the night for the first time in his life Harry pulled his lighter out of his pocket with trembling hands. It was now so dark he literally could not see his hands, only the few stars that remained. He flicked the lighter and screamed in anger and fear when there was not even a spark much less a flame. The matches were next, most scattering out of the box as he fumbled with it in the dark. Almost all the stars were gone now. Harry was panicking, kneeling, desperately trying to light a match but then he realized he could not even tell if he was striking it or not. Harry focused on the last few stars. Watching as one by one they went out.

Harry realized he was screaming like a scared animal as the last star went out. One tiny part of his brain wished that he'd greeted this with more dignity while the rest of his brain screamed as one by one his senses shut down.

So began the first night.

1 comment:

connielgg said...

I liked this one back when you first wrote it and I still do.