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Sad Science Fiction

By: Danie Reynolds

Fading Embers

“Dad,” My voice cracks. “Dad,” I repeat.

He still doesn't meet my eyes. 

“Dad.” My voice hardens. My words sound harsher than I mean them to, but I don’t change my tone. “You can’t send me away. I won’t go.”

He finally looks up at me. His brown eyes bore into mine, flickering with a bit of sadness, but that’s taken over by the anger in them. “It’s for your own good, Saira. For both of us.” 

My throat tightens, and my eyes prick. “No. You mean for your own good. None of this ever was about me. It’s about you. It’s about you finally getting rid of me. It’s about you finally being relieved of the “burden” that I am.”

He stands up, the wooden chair he’d been sitting on squeaking against the stone floor.

“You’re going to that orphanage,” He said, walking around the table until he stood right in front of me, glaring down with such fury in his eyes that I had to force myself not to step back. 

“You’re going, and if I hear one more denial from you, you shan’t have dinner or breakfast tomorrow. If you continue to rebel, you will know what else I am capable of.”

I did. I knew if I refused again, the hits would come. But maybe that was better than being shipped off like a package to an orphanage. I’d heard what happened in places like that. The headmasters were cruel, what little food they had was spoiled, there were rats and spiders and… No. I refused to go.

“Do what you must,” I said, lifting my chin and meeting his eyes. “I won’t go.” 

“There’s a thin line between bravery and stupidity, girl.” He snarled. “In your case, it’s always ended in stupidity.” Then he raised his hand, and I shut my eyes, leaning against the wall to brace myself.

I waited for a hit that never came. When I opened my eyes, I wasn’t sure I had. It was pitch black, like the worlds' "on" switch had been flicked off. 

The lights flickered momentarily, and my father blinked in surprise, then his gaze hardened, and he pulled back to strike.

But then the lights turned off again, and I ducked as his hand collided with the wall somewhere above me.

I screamed and crawled along the floor, bumping into chairs and tables and sending glass cups and plates crashing into the floor. I got cut, but the gashes in my palms seemed unimportant compared to the matter of getting away. 

I could hear my father somewhere behind me, shouting and muttering in pain. But I never turned back.

I finally found the door, and shoved it open, stumbling outside after locking it behind me. But it was night, and the sky was as dark as the inside of the house had been. Only then did I notice that the stars were gone. The beautiful constellations that usually filled our sky were just...gone. 

Poofed out of existence. Leaving us in complete and total darkness. 

My neighbors were beginning to come out of their houses as well, some shouting, some crying, some screaming. 

A few had candles, but most just stumbled around blindly until they bumped into something familiar.

I approached one with a candle, but before I reached them, several people gasped and stared up at the sky above. 

I turned and gawked at the thing illuminating the sky. 

The stars had reappeared, but they looked like fiery lights now. They blinked once, then swirled around like a kaleidoscope, finally forming a message for all of us to see.

This is it. The last light. The eternal night. Forever. It is at an end. 

Then the stars all formed one giant, blindingly bright ball of fire and light, making us all shield away. Then they exploded, the sound so loud I’m knocked to my knees. 

For a moment, the stars hang there, in an almost beautiful formation, like a tiny galaxy right before us.

But then they fall downwards, and sprinkle upon us as embers, swirling around in the cold night breeze. I catch one on my palm and watch as the tiny light folds in on itself, and then extinguishes. 

I crumple it in my fist and let it fall to the ground as dust. I don’t understand. The stars cannot just vanish. The light cannot just vanish. It can’t be. 

But it is. I turn back around to see, one by one, the candles held by others flickering out. When the last one dies out, everyone is silent for a moment. Then there’s a scream, and everyone begins fighting over the extinguished candles, some holding on to a feeble hope that they can be relit. 

But somehow, I know deep down they cannot. I  don’t know how or why, but the light has truly left us. We are abandoned and are plunged into a darkness that must now become the new normal. 

“Impossible,” I whisper. I sink to my knees, stray pebbles from the road digging into them. “Impossible.” 

I tuck my head to my legs, curling myself up into a ball. How can we survive without the light? How can we survive without the sun and stars, with only the endless black above us? 

How can we?

Then it clicks. We simply cannot. We will not survive. It is at an end. 

I blink back tears, rolling onto my side as I hug my knees to my chest.

The last light. I gasp and draw in a heaving breath. 

Forever.

Then I’m sobbing, wailing, and feeling the hot tears rush down my cheeks, wetting the front of my shirt. 

We will all die. We will fade away, blotted out of the world. It will be as the message said, written in the language of the universe. 

I close my eyes, stopping the tears. But then something softly orange flutters by, and I open them.

An ember. Probably the last one. I stare, mesmerized as the light shines for a few more seconds. Then the ember fades away.

May 06, 2021 23:04

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