The moonlight cascaded onto the midnight hue along the ocean. Navies, blacks, royal blues with hints of white smiled at Noah in a blurry gleam. Tears slipped from his eye rims and danced along his jawline. He’d never witnessed a view so unique.
“It’s only the moon,” he whispered to himself.
Sand tickled between his right fingertips as his left arm wept at the wetness on his face. Though many survived the sun’s fading without explanation, no one knew how long lives would continue absent of its benefits to life. Noah overheard experiments underground taking place to prove nature and previously written science wrong, encountered rushed maps and blueprints for contraptions meant to mimic the sun’s purpose. However, Noah knew life was ending.
Everyone in Aelius were provided warning years prior. The brilliant existence of sunlight was to be obsolete. Yet, not a soul intelligent enough heeded the warnings. All had been taken with laughter and dismissal. The end of the world went predicted time and time again without result. So many drove themselves into a maddening spiral with preparation and anticipation.
Finally, the end had come. Projects to regain human longevity would fail, and the world would die as it had been born…in darkness. With the sun diminished, the following prediction announced a possible disappearance of the moon. Despite the sun dying, still skepticism raged on. They’d made arguments just the same, but thankfully, those people became the lunatics.
However, far too late were efforts in preservation, far too late was a chance of pressing life on. Noah understood evolution could not stand quick enough. Plants and animals of their time required the sun to sustain the food chain. Humans would deteriorate into piles of blind mutants until the world stopped its revolutions.
What was the purpose of the world’s spinning if there was nothing for it to orbit? How would the world keep itself from drifting into nothingness? Surely, it couldn’t! If humans, plants, and animals alike fell one by one, the world would become a barren rock never to be explored or exploited again. The result scared Noah more than expecting death to chase them all down.
He wished for a second chance—to make people listen when believers called for action. In fact, he’d been one of them. Roaming the streets, howling for experimentation before the end came, Noah was cursed and taunted. Every term imaginable for ‘crazy’ rang in his ears during the shouts for help.
“And look at them now,” he declared with a clearing of his throat, “scrambling like eggs on a cool, Spring morning.”
The deliberate ignorance disturbed him most. Reports examined and displayed charts expressing the sun’s decline became a laughing piece of entertainment. All the time spent cackling ridicule and insult could have been spent on preserving life. In case the sun died, in case experts stood true, but no… Nothing happened.
In turn, life was a question mark. What was life expectancy? Was there a life expectancy? Would children show an adaption adults could not? Would children survive long enough just to be studied? More importantly, how long would it take?
Noah allowed so many theories to swirl in his head before the sun’s fall, and he’d gone out of his way to offer them. Still, no budging or acceptance came his way. It was difficult for him to feel remorse toward those who’d taken their lives or murdered families out of mass hysteria. Plenty of chance to make everything alright permitted the lack of empathy, he decided.
With a sigh, Noah stood. The dust trickled down his bare legs and fell from his palms before he got the urge to sweep it away. One more night of peaceful normalcy was the cherry on top of an ensuing misery sundae. When he returned to the inner workings of Aelius, chaos riddled panic would overtake his sight, and he dreaded it.
“Who knew Hell would be a sunless pit of our own doing?” he wondered with a soft laugh. “Fire and burning to death has always been the classic tale.”
“But here we are,” a female voice stunned him still.
“Violette,” he gasped. “I figured you’d be down in that hole. You’ve been working on it since the new rang about the sun.”
“Five years of preparation can see me soon. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve found a way to isolate an ultraviolet farm.”
“Is that so?” he prompted, tilting his head.
“Very much so,” Violette affirmed. “I secured it in the depths.”
“Which is why I’m glad found I you here. You see, my compound lacking in numbers.”
“Well,” Noah remarked, “it could be because you trust no one.”
“Plus, I want experts and people worth my time,” she added.
Noah nodded slowly.
‘Which further leads me into why I went out looking for you. Botanists live with plants, right?”
“Sort of…” Noah cocked an eyebrow. “Why does that matter?”
“For someone so smart, you can be slow. You know that? Anyway, I need your services and expertise. With the plants I was able to snatch up, I need a breeder. You can do that, can’t you? I have a great herbalist who can assist in medical needs and the like.”
“But you need me to keep this charade from dying off into oblivion, right? What’s in it for me?”
“Life,” she stated. “I provide you life.”
“That’s it?” skepticism flooded into his voice. “You want nothing more than me keeping your plants thriving and cataloged? I feel like there’s something deeper in this. You’re more complex than that. Your life is trade.”
“A human life for plant life,” she shrugged. “Given our current state, I’d say they rank equally. Doubly so, we’ve been friends for years. It would be rude to not offer you a space. You tried to warn them just as much as I did. You’re not stupid, Noah.”
“That means a lot coming from you…” he trailed off as he began to consider Violette’s offer.
The woman was just as sharp. She’d constructed the bunker herself. With self-made blueprints, discrete hoarding of canned goods, shipments of materials, it had all been carefully planned. Noah guessed that he’d been the only one to know about it from the beginning. He called the place being located and constructed among fields outside of the city for safety.
Admittedly, he was taken aback by the offer of shelter. Though they’d been friends for several years—nearly a decade—he was the last person he expected to ask him for help. She wasn’t snarky but independent, and her asking for his help inferred her situation being dyer. How could he refuse?
“What do you say? I need an answer quick before someone catches on. You know how people are here. They sniff you out before you know your own scent.”
“To the bunker we go,” he cheered.
Violette gave a slick smile and outstretched her hand. “Then, follow me.”
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Great world building! I like this line as a description of the ocean- 'Navies, blacks, royal blues with hints of white smiled at Noah in a blurry gleam.'