The sun was doing funny things that morning. I do remember that. At daybreak a wash of purple swept over the landscape, making even the shadows come alive with possibilities that never before existed.
I’d stayed awake all night writing. Words flow easier then. When the world is asleep different channels are opened. Instead of the clogged, bumper-to-bumper psychic noise generated by millions of hypnotized consumers, you find quiet expanses of slow-moving waters branching out into uncharted tributaries of consciousness.
Through my bedroom window I first noticed it was the wrong size, smaller than usual. I’d ignored the purplish hue initially. At dawn it seems the sun can cast any color it wants, ranging from bright yellows to deep blues.
I took my first cup of coffee out into the backyard to let the dogs do their thing. It was then that I really knew the sun was much too small and its color unreal. I sipped from my mug and mused on possible reasons why I might be perceiving the hitherto unchanging celestial orb in such an impossible manner. I came up with nothing that made sense. Our yellow dwarf star had remained largely unchanged since the creation of planet Earth or so we’d been taught in school. I intuited right away that all that talk had been nothing but lies.
The dogs were untroubled by whatever was going on. They sniffed and peed and pursued their typical concerns in the vicinity of the fig tree. When I went to the kitchen to replenish my coffee, they followed me back into the house.
I grabbed the little plastic tube containing the test strips with the intention of checking the quality of water in the swimming pool. The thing fell from my hand unnoticed when I stepped back outside to find the sun was now menacingly large, like a vast ball obscuring a third of the sky. A wave of sickness swept through me. For an instant I felt certain I’d lose consciousness, but I remained on my feet. I steadied myself against one of the wooden posts that supports the roof over the back porch, forcing the morning air deep into my lungs.
“What’s going on here?” I whispered.
The analytical part of my mind wondered why a sight, even one so radically different from anything previously experienced, should induce such dreadful physical symptoms. Xenophobia? Fear of anything strange. Chemicals released from my confused brain were plucking at strings of emotion, composing a tune completely foreign to me.
Where does one turn for answers when the environment jumps the tracks laid by the laws of physics? In my confusion, I opted for Fox news.
The morning news broadcast was in progress when I switched on the telly. The anchor lady who’d always been immaculately groomed and dressed in previous broadcasts wore no make-up. Her hair needed brushing and her eyes were wide. Clearly, she was even more distressed than I was.
“That makes no sense!” she insisted to someone off-camera.
“Just read it as written,” a muffled male voice answered her.
She bit her lower lip, then said, “Washington, D.C. along with most of the eastern seaboard vanished sometime during the night. I … I can’t do this …” Wearing a dazed expression, she stumbled out of view.
A moment later, a man wearing head phones and holding a clipboard stepped into the space previously occupied by the distraught woman. He appeared stressed, but still able to read a teleprompter. “Washington D.C. and the eastern seaboard are gone folks. All governmental buildings from the national level down to the municipal have seemingly disappeared during the night. We have reports that most churches are gone as well. As confusing as all this is, we want to encourage you not to panic.”
As soon as the guy spoke the word ‘panic’ the picture changed abruptly to a shot of a blazing bonfire. In the foreground were five or six rough-hewn stakes. At the top of each was the severed head of a well-known politician. Something told me this shot was not going to mitigate the experience of panic in a positive way.
The screen broke into a shimmer of grainy static accompanied by white noise.
I was about to turn the set off when I noticed a tiny image was gradually getting larger, as if approaching from a great distance. I heard the sound of sitar music and eventually the image of a brown-skinned man filled the screen. I think he was that new age guru guy from India. What was his name? Chop something? He smiled benignly.
“Each of us is a god or goddess in embryo,” he said.
There was a jarring cut to an extreme close up of a mouth filled with sharp teeth. “On your mark. Get set. Go!” the mouth shrieked. This followed by the sound of wings flapping.
The screen went black.
That was something of a relief. I’d wanted the thing to be gone. And with that thought, the TV itself was actually gone.
Okay. I suppose I’m a slow learner. Maybe not the sharpest tool in the shed. It took me a while to get it.
There were no more days, so I can’t say how long it took for the truth to fully sink in. The fact that I’m still thinking in terms of ‘time’ is a dead giveaway that I still haven’t fully gotten it. The fact that I’m telling this as if there were someone to communicate with. That does not bode well.
Now there are no sunrises or sunsets unless I wish it to be so. There are no other people, unless I will them into existence. So far, the results have been disappointing. Maybe I’ll get a handle on that eventually.
I remember when people used to say things like, “The gods must be crazy.” I thought those words irreverent at the time. Now, they ring true. I suppose I am. Crazy. Wouldn’t you be?
By Bret McCormick