The remaining townsfolk gathered on the hills outside of town. The women held their babies close to their breasts and fretted, as women often do. The men, with furrowed brows, congregated in groups, pointed up and discussed ideas they had to know at this point were futile but as men, they needed to feel like they were doing something. And the children did as children do. They played, chased each other, giggled and skipped- not for one moment realizing that something or someone up above them had patched out almost all the sky.
“What now,” someone asked. “What are we supposed to do now?” But what could possibly be done at this point?
“Maybe we should just go. Let’s go,” someone else said, but to where? To the left of them, the sky was black, the earth completely shaded out. To the right, the same. Where they stood was literally the last of the light.
The time for leaving was long ago when mobs of people were passing through town, possessions on their backs, warning of what was coming, of what they’d seen. Some of the townsfolk left then but they had chosen to stay. There was light in all directions then. Why abandon their lives for something they hadn’t seen, couldn’t see even when they squinted their eyes and looked off into the distance? Instead, they went on as best they could, pretending not to be scared and acting as if they didn’t notice that over time the herds of travelers had thinned to small groups and then to merely stragglers and then to nothing at all.
Finally, when the horizon stayed purple even at noon a scouting party was sent out to either find help or information. But neither information nor help nor the party themselves ever returned. So as the darkness rolled in day by day like a curtain being drawn, the townsfolk, piece by piece, began moving their lives into the remnants of the sun.
And they lived like this, as best they could, until one day the wind strangely blew up from the earth instead of across it and with a loud swoosh, the darkness covered everything. The women clutched their babies tighter, so tight the infants squirmed and squealed in discomfort. The men stood speechless, frozen in place, unsure of what to do. And the children did as children do. Caught by surprise, they hollered for their mothers, afraid of what may be hiding in the darkness.
Ferguson Williams is a fiction writer from Socastee, South Carolina whose work has appeared in The Petigru Review, Azure: A Journal of Literary Thought and Literally Stories. Reach out sometime at firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ferg_Williams on Twitter.