You walk out your house and gaze up at an upset sky. From it, snowflakes fall, as well as chunks of hail, through a thick fog. But the most troubling objects diving from the clouds are the fireballs, blazing red against the world’s canvas of gray. Noise deafening, one falls mere yards from you, bounces, tumbles, skids to a halt…
It rests in a bed of slowly-dying green, each blade of grass touched by fire withering into a brown scrap of straw, thin as the strands of hair on a balding man’s head — a torched piece of scrap metal stinking of oil, once the accelerator from an advanced spacecraft. You look up again, notice what’s missing from your front lawn view — your vehicle of transportation, birthed through the labor of your own two hands, your strained back and bleeding brain. All of the time and effort you poured into planning and constructing the vessel from a mass of equations, a junkyard of material and a life devoid of human companionship. Was it all for naught?
Your neighbors’ spacecrafts all still dominate the air, whales defying gravity with their chambers of levitating air; all are based on your design, copies of a perfect, now wasted, original. Only your vehicle spangles the sky with its innards, nuts and bolts functioning as fireworks. Is this the result of some space propaganda? Has Planet Alpha finally worked up the nerve to confront you directly after they sent a warning on the back of a child?
Neighborhood children are present now, dashing in and out of their homes, playing some twisted game of hide-and-seek with the debris, not counting on what will happen when they’re found. These kids are innocent, not at all like the too-smooth-faced boy that visited you last night. He stood on your doorstep until you answered his knock, no emotion on his face and none in his heart. He placed one finger on your forehead, not blinking his coal-black eyes, and sent you a sign.
Spiraling, spiraling, you fall into nothingness. Not just in the vision the boy pumps in your mind, but in reality; you feel the descent in your weak knees and plummeting heart though you remain where you stand. The boy’s finger leaves you and so does the sensation, but only momentarily. It’s back now, swallowing you whole. You close your eyes from the sight of the devastation before you and get a shock at the dark behind your eyelids. That’s when you realize that nowhere is safe, that you have nowhere to hide.
All of this for the sake of giving your people the freedom of mobility. Not for creating a rebellion, but for being the rebel.
You can only watch your world crumble around you. Watch with wet, wide eyes as a fragment of your own creation finds its way into your chest and sends you to a place far darker than the one behind the screen of your eyelids. Like everywhere else you know cursed without the light, there is no escape. There you stay.
Sierra July is a University of Florida graduate. Advice and criticism from creative writing courses fuel her writing today. She runs a blog that she shares with her growing number of twitter followers and anyone else who stumbles upon it. Follow her @sierrajuly. Sierra’s fiction has appeared in the Fast-Forward Festival.