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Atra Sol (Dark Sun)
I sat in the driver’s seat of my car and stared out at the black, rainy sky. It was the year 2021, and was in the middle of the season formerly known as summer. The summer of ten years ago promised sun, warmth, and general good feelings to any who experienced it. The summer of today offered nothing but empty feelings and despair to those who looked on the sky.
It was nine years ago today that the sky ceased to be a pure blue. Gradually, we all noticed that it had stopped appearing so blue on a daily basis. Nobody thought anything of it until it didn’t stop darkening. It went from blue to grey, and then alarmingly, grey to black. After the sky went black, we all realized what was happening. The atmosphere was dissipating. After that, it was a mad race to figure out what was causing it. Even though it was shoved straight into our faces, we still couldn’t come to terms with our biggest fault. Our carbon emissions had finally depleted the ozone to a degree where we were no longer safe from the sun.
My name is Rain. I am a twenty seven year’s old, with dark brown hair, and striking blue eyes. I like to read, which is a good thing, because socializing is no longer existent, unless one wishes to ask herself about her day. I don’t remember my last name. There’s no need for a last name when you didn’t have to introduce yourself to anyone. I haven’t talked to anyone in five years. For all I know, everyone else is dead. Ever since the sun became our enemy, everyone else had disappeared in a variety of ways. Suicide percentages worldwide soared. People moved into underground dwellings to escape the sun and the storms from the surface. These underground dwellings were eventually ended abruptly. Some with no reason why. In most, generators that were hastily built, failed, and people starved to death. There were also horrific stories of cave-ins. Other people who preferred to take their chances on the surface foolishly stepped out into the sun for a minute too long and were burned to death. Others adapted with new technology: strong UV resistant glass, tints, and housings. Because of the sun, people became estranged from each other. People stopped using phones soon after the sun became dangerous, because the economy collapsed. Ironically enough, the thing that had once meant everything to the human population, the thing that had actually destroyed the world, became as nothing. Money… Truly, I see now, the “root of all evil”, had literally destroyed the world. All government collapsed. There is no need for a government when there are no people to govern. Any left in this hellish world know no fear greater than the sun. I am an exception to this rule – my greatest fear is that I may be the only one left to break the rule.
I put my car in gear and drove to the end of the road, taking a sharp right. I thought back, and vaguely remembered the lights that used to dominate the roadways.
“Who dominates the roadways now?” I thought to myself.
I pulled up to my house and stepped out of the car. I took a glance at the sky and knew that “day” was coming soon. The stars started to dim and a sickly green glow appeared when the sun was rising. I quickly walked inside and closed the thick sun repelling blinds. I turned around and looked at my home.
It was quite roomy for an apartment. An unused T.V. hung on the wall that was opposite a large leather couch. To the left of the couch was a half wall, with a serving bar that connected a small dining area and the kitchen. The kitchen had two doors and one entry way; one door leading to a bathroom, the other leading to the back lot of the apartment. The entryway connected the kitchen with the living room. In the middle of the living room, underneath the coffee table, was a trap door. To this day, I’m still not too sure why an apartment would have a trap door in it. I slid aside the coffee table, opened the trap door, and went down the ladder. I picked this house particularly for this feature. I never would have known the trap door was there if it hadn’t been left ajar by the previous owners. Ever since the sun had disappeared, I had a very uncomfortable sense of paranoia setting in. I thought that someday, I might need to hide from someone, or something. The trap door did wonders to sooth my nerves on this issue. Some flaw in human nature had also left us with an unexplainable longing to stare our problem straight in the face. The sun had taken so many.
I laid down in my bed.
It was an average sized bed, enough to fit two people comfortably .it was the only bed that would let me get a decent night’s sleep. “What an ironic statement” I thought, given the fact that any surviving humans were forced to become nocturnal creatures.
I know for a fact, and am not stating for emphasis, that it is the only bed that I sleep well in, because on days that I was forced to sleep at different houses due to the distance from my home, and the inability to return before the sun rose, I had the same recurring nightmare. I would be standing in a cave, and down the hill from me was a child, near another cave. She stood out on the step of the cave, and watched, transfixed, as the sun rose. I ran down the hill, screaming, but she could not hear me. I reached hher just as the sun was peaking the top of the hill, and grabbed her by the arm. I turned her to face me, and as I laid eyes on her face, I saw that it was black, and had the appearance of burned wood. Empty burning sockets laid where her eyes should have been.
This is when I was always jerked awake. I picked up a book at random from the nightstand next to my bed. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. I had read this book many times and yet every time it still held some charm to me. I read it until I fell asleep.
I stood at the top of the hill, in a cave, apprehensively waiting for the sun to rise,
Hoping that my cave would cover me from the sun’s harmful shine.
There were many caves in this area – it was known for it.
I looked down the hill and couldn’t believe my eyes.
A small girl was standing there, looking in
The direction the sun would rise
I ran down the hill, pulled
I jerked awake suddenly. In my own house? I had always had these dreams elsewhere, but not here. I had to know if they held any such truth. I had to know if I was the last human on earth. I grabbed the Dreamweaver from underneath my bed, and plugged it in. I took the electrodes and stuck them to my temples. I waited and watched as the lights on the device blinked. When they stopped, I pressed the eject button and took the small memory disk from the Dreamweaver, and placed it into my computer. As I reviewed my dream on the computer screen, I checked the local geography maps that were saved into my computer. “Wish the internet was still around, this would be easier.” I thought to myself, missing many more things than just the internet. My mind wandered as image searches ran between pictures of the local caves and the images derived from my dreams. I heard a small, triumphant beep. My eyes flickered back to the screen. “LOCATION MATCH: CAYOHAK CAVES NATIONAL PARK” about four hundred miles from here.
Ten years ago, this would have taken six hours to travel.
Today, it would take a little under three hours. I smiled, and walked out the door and into the garage. I put the dirt bike I had found in the abandoned dealership building into the back SUV and got in the driver’s seat. I turned a sharp left onto the road, and then a right onto the highway. I was soon going 150 mph.
Ever since I had started having the dreams, I had been obsessed with the girl. I was absolutely desperate to find another human being. Was I going crazy? Why would having a dream mean that there were other people? It was far more likely that my subconscious was just projecting the images of my deepest wish into my dreams. Dreams are like a comfort food to the depressed mind.
I looked at my watch. 3:15 A.M. The sun would rise around 6:30. I was cutting it close. I finally found the exit to the caves, and flew off the freeway and down onto a dirt road. I stopped the SUV, and pulled out the dirt bike. I rode the dirt bike for about twenty minutes until I had come to the clearing with the caves.
It was a strange feeling; I had never personally been here, but my dreams, or visions, had produced the images of the caves flawlessly in my subconscious. I thought that maybe the computer was just good enough with our current technology to deduce these assumptions, but this was uncanny. I saw “my” cave, and jogged up the hill to it. I looked around, and couldn’t immediately find the girls cave. 6:14 A.M. I had to hurry.
I was quickly running out of time. I anxiously looked around, but still couldn’t find the cave with the girl. I saw the sun start its rise into the sky. I took one last look, and turned around to walk into the cave. I gave up, distraught. I suddenly had the urge to look at the sun. Just for a minute, how much could that hurt? “mustn’t look.” I said half heartedly as I continued to walk to the end of the cave anyway. I walked outside, and began to feel the sting upon my skin. The girl didn’t seem to be real anyway. Either that or I was far too late. I looked to the left a little. “wait a second..” I thought. “This tree wasn’t here in my dream.” Did I have the wrong cave? I looked a little further up the hill. What was that I saw? A person running toward me?