Drama Science Fiction

I watched as the children ran, ran as fast as their little legs could carry them. Watched as they turned their faces up to receive the warmth, heard the giggles as they ran carefree into the field. It was a glorious day and though it would only happen for a short time it was looked forward to for months. Even the dirt beneath their feet seemed to want to absorb it. The petrified wood, strewn about from long ago trees, looked more alive somehow. 

I turned my own face up to receive it and felt the tears begin to stream down my face. Stories from my mother’s time began to replay in my mind. Stories of a time full of lush green things, trees and grass, flowers and vegetable gardens. I could only hope to see it for its beauty in my imaginative mind. 

I could feel my spirit lifting, something about its warmth always did that, like it was feeding my soul. I opened my eyes to check on the children, looking for a moment through a blue lens at the world but then the effect lifted and the desolate earth returned to its beaten-down ugly brown. 

I could see the beginnings of the dark sky creeping in over the horizon. I wanted to call the children back but I couldn’t bear to pull them from their joy just yet. Another minute or so and then I would. Their laughter still wafted over to me. It was sheer joy to my ears. 

They ran, jumped, sprinted, spun in circles with their smiling faces pointed up. 

The darkened sky got closer.

They turned cartwheels and flips, chasing each other shouting “Tag, you’re it” when they reached each other. 

The darkened sky moved closer.

I began to feel anxious. I didn’t want this time to end so quickly for them.

The darkened sky moved closer.

I had to call them back now or they may not be able to see to get back. I blew my whistle.

The darkened sky moved closer.

I could see the children's disappointment from way back here. They knew that the time was coming to a close and reluctantly headed back. 

The darkened sky moved closer.

They reached the hatch at the very last bit of light and one by one descended the ladder, sadness on their faces. 

I entered the hatch last securing the lock and descended the ladder myself. The children had entered the interior door and lined up single file along the wall to wait for me. I closed and locked the interior door and led them back down the long tunnel to the classroom. 

The Hour of Light would not come again for another six months. 

Back in the classroom, the mood had shifted. The sad looks on the children’s faces tore at my heart. 

“Miss Andrews?” a young boy named Tommy asked as he raised his hand. 

“Yes, Tommy?”

“Will you tell us about the Hour of Light again? I remember some of it but I can’t remember the rest.”

“Um, sure I can. Does everyone else want to hear about it as well?” Several murmurs and head nods went across the room. 

“Ok, well. When my mother was a little girl they all lived up there.” I pointed to the ceiling, to the earth above our tunnels. “The trees stood upright and strong. They had leaves on them that were green for most of the year until a time called Fall. When Fall came along it changed all the leaves to beautiful, wonderful colors. Reds and oranges and yellows and some even purple!” 

A delighted gasp from the kids. 

“Then something called winter came. And it turned everything gray. All of the leaves fell off and the grass turned brown.”

“What’s grass Miss Andrews?” This time Samantha from the back corner raised the question. 

“That’s a good question. The grass was a plant that grew on the ground as far as your eye could see. It was soft under your toes and kept the dirt from getting between them. You could run in it and lay down on it and look up at the sky. Oh, the sky was so beautiful then, not always dark like it is now. There was sunlight that lit the world for hours and hours every day and then when the sun got tired and wanted to sleep it would say goodnight by painting the sky beautiful colors that spread from one side all the way to the other.” I make a left-to-right sweeping motion. 

Whispered wow’s make their way across the room. 

“Then once the sun went to sleep the dark sky would come but it was different than our dark sky. This one was clear and cozy. The night sky didn’t want us to run from it then so it put stars out that sparkled like diamonds all night long. You could lay on the soft grass even when the dark sky was out and look up at the stars. My mother said it was just as beautiful as the sunlight.” 

“Miss Andrews?” Marybeth looked at her with concern on her face. “Why did Adam take all of that away?”

“Oh, honey. Adam isn’t a person.” I walked up to the board and picked up a marker. I wrote two words on there. ADAM and ATOM.

“This one…” I said pointing at the first word, “is the name of a man. This second word is the reason the sun only comes once every six months. A long time ago, when my mother was a little girl, there was a war. This war raged all over the world. Millions and millions of people fought and died trying to protect what was there's. Then one day, a president decided it was time to end it. He pressed a button and a weapon created with ATOM raced through the sky until it came to its target. There it fell from the sky causing an enormous explosion. The cloud from it rose up to the sky and was so big it could be seen all the way across the ocean. This cloud brought with it a forceful wind. This wind knocked down trees, flattened buildings, and blew the people in its path into dust. The only people who survived were the ones who had tunnels like ours. Those people built cities under the ground, like ours. They found ways to not only survive but flourish. They tried returning to the surface but as you all saw, there is nothing there. Without the sunlight coming longer than the dark sky nothing can live up there. The sunlight helps things grow.”

“But why does the dark sky stay so long?”

“Well, that is because when the weapon sent that forceful wind throughout the world it changed the way the earth moved. It turned it on its side. It used to turn in a circle and the sun would come up every day and then go down every night but with that force, it could no longer do that.” 

“That is sad. I wished that man had never sent ATOM to its target.”

“Me too, Jonathan. Me too. But for now, we will keep learning and growing and maybe one day we will find a way to see the sun more.”

“Yeah, I hope so.” Sweet Tommy again. His little face looked so forlorn. My heart bled just a little more. 

I sighed. 

The Hour of Light would not come again for another six months.

March 19, 2022 15:19

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