The whole village gathered at the shore. Even the Old came, some walked on their own while others were carried to the seaside in palanquins. Whispers seeped through the village that a few of the Old were alive when The Dark Day ended more than 100 years ago.
A mixture of fear and anticipation flowed in with the sea waves. Great bonfires dotted the shoreline, a tower of light was at the ready. When the last of the sun’s rays were extinguished in the blackness, the monolith would be lit. Only a chosen few were given the honor of tending the fires that would keep the village from total darkness.
The youngest were unsure what was about to occur. They would never know a natural sun again in their lifetime. Children born during The Dark Day were sacred. Though many of these children would be born blind, they had a second sight and were able to see what those born during The Light Day could not.
Soon at the confluence of day and night, a century of darkness would flood the world.
“What does it mean?” a child asked her father.
“It means the weight of the heavens is bearing down on us,” he said. “The darkness shall crush the sunlight.”
The more affluent families had suspension chambers and enough money to ensure a perpetual lineage of caretakers would attend them throughout the long night. They would sleep through The Dark Day. When they wake, friends and family will be gone, but they will have eluded darkness.
For the rest of the villagers, greenhouses illuminated by metal halide lamps that mimicked natural sunlight were used to grow food. Homes were equipped with generators to power Fluorescent bulbs and light boxes to guard against black depression, especially in those who will live half their lives during The Light Day and final half during The Dark Day.
“How much longer?” the child asked her father.
“Don’t wish for the darkness, girl,” he said.
“But, the sky is so beautiful, papa,” she said.
“It is beautiful so you won’t be afraid,” the child’s mother said, taking the girl’s hand.
“Pick me up mama, I want to watch,” the little girl said.
“Don’t fill the girl’s head with your false platitudes,” the man said, taking the girl’s other hand. “She needs to know the dread that is about to befall us all.”
The little girl pulled away from her father, letting her mother sweep her up to her shoulders.
From her new vantage point, the girl could see above the heads of the other villagers.
“Will it hurt, mama?” The girl whispered in her mother’s ear.
“No, little one,” her mother said, watching her husband bully his way back through the crowd to stand in the seagrass, far from the edge of the ocean.
“If you listen very hard,” the woman said, “you can hear the sun sigh when it reaches the sea. It’s worked hard and is ready to rest.”
“Can we sing it a lullaby, mama?” the girl asked, resting her hands and chin on her mother’s head.
The two began to sing and soon the voices of other villagers joined in. As their song came to an end, the sun dipped below the horizon and it’s last rays of light dissolved into the ocean.