Science Fiction Speculative

Without light, there is nothing. No life can exist on Earth without the light from our little star, the heat and energy it gives is the base component for life to grow, vital to form those first building blocks for water. 

Then water becomes a soup of micro-biotic life, the soup becomes denser and more complex, finally things grow and exist that can live outside of the soup. 

Light is there every step of the way. Without it, there is nothing. 

There are some things that grow and live from the warmth of vents deep at the ocean's floor, but without the warmth and light from our little star there wouldn't be water for those vents to give life too. 

Without light it's a non-starter. 

When the fall happened, the clouds and plumes of dust covered our atmosphere so densely with smog and dirt and dust until the light from our little star could not reach the surface. 

It isn't just keeping ourselves warm and happy that we need the sun for, it's our food and our food’s food. 

Without plants, crops and livestock there is nothing for us to eat. 

Without anything to eat the sustainable population level plummets. 

We did what we could, working tirelessly in labs powered by wind or tidal energy, to run UV lights and hydroponic bays. 

The equipment was old though, old and salvaged from the ruins of the great cities that had been targets in the Fall, They were inefficient and prone to breaking down. Even when they did work the food they created was minimal, almost useless on the scales of a species survival. 

The drastic changes in weather hadn't helped either, it was impossible to stand on the surface unprotected, with hurricane winds and heavily polluted rain lashing at every inch of exposed earth. 

Our blue home was a grey scab that couldn't stop itching itself. 

Thinking about the numbers involved, how many people must have died was beyond individual comprehension. At the time of the fall the population had been estimated to be 8.7 billion. In pod Charlie-23 there were twenty of us, to begin with, ten men and ten women. 

In the first year that number fell drastically. Some of it was illness, but there were several suicides. 

I could not blame them, the weight of our task was so monumental that at times I was unable to breath. 

There were eight of us now. Closer than any family but still strangers in a way. 

Our bunker contained a number of important seeds and fungus which would be vital in rebuilding Earth's ecology.

We grew a little food, used our old and poorly optimised technology to synthesise what we could not grow. 

The worst times were when the equipment that gave us power, our turbines and wave machines broke down. 

It meant going to the surface for repairs. 

It was dangerous, dark and terrifying. 

Whenever it happened we drew straws to see who would go. 

The part of me that I hated always prayed that it wouldn't be me that had to go. 

That was how the others had died, the ones not taken by illness or their own hands. We never found any bodies, they just didn't come back and the machines were either fixed or not. 

If they were fixed then we could go on living our desperate, trapped little lives, if it wasn't fixed we drew straws again and prayed that it wouldn't be our turn. 

At first we had contact with other shelters but this quickly proved to be too difficult and dangerous to maintain. 

There were times when I thought that we were the last people on Earth and that it didn't matter if we did or didn't survive the end of this terrible ordeal. That humanity was already over, it ended in the Fall and we were just its final breath.

A thirty year eclipse, three decades of darkness. That was what they had estimated as the timeframe for the dust to settle and the sun to return to the surface. 

For light to come again and life to return with it. 

I had stopped counting after two years. I think some of the others might still be keeping a tally, but I found it too difficult to differentiate day and night, Monday from Wednesday. I worked when I was awake and ate when I was hungry and fucked when I was horny and slept when I was tired. 

I knew that I was growing old, older than I had thought I would ever get. My mind was still sharp but my body ached in the cold and my knees creaked whenever I stood up. I wondered often if I would live to see the light of our little star again. 

When I was working on one of the UV farms tweaking the wiring on one of the batteries to try and give it something resembling efficiency, I had been an engineer before, a specialist in electronics that worked for a space agency. I had been chosen for the bunker because I was unmarried and had no children or immediate family. An ideal candidate. 

I was interrupted by one of my bunker mates. A woman who always looked tired but never seemed to sleep or rest. Jane was her name. 

"Patrick, you have to come and see this." She said, Her voice was light with excitement and happiness. Sounds that were strangers to me. 

"Just a minute." I said. 

"No, not just a minute now! You have to come and see this." She insisted. I sighed and tried to ignore the complaint of my knees and lower back as I stood. 

She led me up through the bunker, past our cots and the galley into the observation room. It doubled as a meeting room, it was where they gathered to draw straws. 

"Fuck." I said. 

"No it isn't that, it's something good." Jane said. 

The others were all there. They were staring at one of the small screens in stunned silence. 

"Let him see." Jane said. The others moved around me, smiling, crying and clinging to one another. 

The screen was one of the external camera feeds. It was normally dark as there was no source of light. Light was everything. 

It wasn't dark now though. Once, or twice, every few minutes there was a beam of sunlight breaking through the dust and clouds.

The process of light and life returning to our little grey scab of a planet had started. 

I felt tears of joy run down my cheek.

I squeezed Jane's hand and smiled at her. She was weeping too. 

"Let there be light." I said.  

March 23, 2022 09:35

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Nic Lyons
18:34 Mar 27, 2022

An original idea! Nicely done. This story could benefit from an edit at the beginning of some of the exposition.


Jordan Williams
19:49 Mar 27, 2022

Thanks Nic! I appreciate the feedback


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