LIGHT POLLUTION • by John Eric Vona

You were a good person once, but from all things good, evil may spring. You duck into the scant shadows around the plant and throw an anxious glance skyward. Only emptiness: the black pitch of night muddled to a deep bluish-purple by the lights below.

You shake your head in… sadness? Frustration? Malevolence? Only you can know, but odds are it’s a mix of them all, as baffling as the indescribable hue of that long neglected night.

A guard passes. You count to ten and spring from your cover. Across the service road and under the fence, you enter the facility. You could be spotted at any moment. Street lamps are never far off, ever, as night yields to a billion artificial bulbs.

It seemed like a good idea to most, even you at first, though not to your father. With him, all things new were suspect.

Most crimes occur at night, so why not do away with the darkness? Almost simple enough to work, right? Let the cities sing with eternal day as modern man conquers the last vestigial laws of nature. Let the factories and stores work twenty-four hour days. Who wouldn’t want the night shift now that they could sleep through the sun’s hot tyranny and work in the cool glow of man-made light? And why should cities have all the fun, when crops can grow faster in a never-ending day? No longer are we slaves to a turning world, but rulers of our universe. Sleep when you want; live when you want. Put a lamp pole every ten feet!

Maybe you learned to pick locks just for this occasion, or maybe you lifted a key from an unwary employee, but you’re inside now. You move forward without pausing to let your eyes adjust. It’s the same degree of luminosity inside as out. How convenient.

Maybe you’re a civil engineer who found a hitch in the system. Maybe you’re a hacker, or a contractor who built in a flaw. Or maybe, no matter how great the society, how tall the towers loom or how loud the coliseums thunder, there will also be a leak in the dam. A fourth of November.

The details don’t really matter. You plant the computer virus or flip the switch, or blow the bomb. The plant is down. The grid is broken. The power dies.

You step outside, sure that in time they’ll find you. You wonder: Do guards even carry flashlights anymore? But those aren’t the lights you care about.

You were once a good person, and when you turn your gaze to the heavens again and this time see the stars, the constellations your father showed you as a child, you’re reminded that you still are. The lights below fade for hundreds of miles, and the lights above gently twinkle awake. The night seems clearer than ever before. You think: from all things evil, perhaps some good may yet spring.

John Eric Vona is a graduate of Florida State University’s undergraduate creative writing program where he studied with fiction writers like Charles Henley, Mark Winegardner, and Elizabeth Stuckey-French. His work has been featured in Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 365 Tomorrows. He lives in Tampa with his wonderful wife, Mary.

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