This is not a fiction in the usual sense. It is a description of a dream. I’ve slightly polished some of the transitions and elisions that jumble up dreams, but it’s still going to be somewhat erratic; it is, after all, a dream. That admitted, the reason I’m sharing it is because it had something like a coherent plot, and some fairly gripping imagery. Because the locations used in the dream are familiar to me but not you (probably), I’m adding links.
There is something wrong with the power. The lights in the house are working, but the light they offer is dim and an unspecifically wrong colour. None of the appliances are working, either, which is a matter of some concern in the area of the refrigerator as well as an enhancement of the confusion brewed up by the effect; we can’t get any news from outside the house thanks to dead computers and TVs. The streetlights are entirely dark, which suggests whatever is happening is not confined to our house.
Later: The sun should be up. I am walking up an alley which runs parallel to and north of Victoria Avenue in the Cathedral district, headed for downtown, trying to get a sense of what is happening. The sky is a bright blue-grey, the small patches of thin high haze in it nothing like enough cover to hide the absent sun. The light is that of a full eclipse.
My course takes me through the loading garage of a postal station.† The first people I have seen since I left the house are a handful of postal workers, manhandling three or four duffel-bags of mail each. They are plainly trying to not discuss whatever is going on outside currently, although their conversation touches upon it; they share amazement at how little damaged the mail is by last night’s event, even as they lament the prospects for delivery with none of the trucks working. I have nothing to add to either of these lines of thought, so I carry on along my course toward downtown.
As I near the mouth of the last alley west of the Victoria-Albert intersection, I think to myself that this is exactly the sort of sky one might expect to see a vast eye peering out of. Chuckling at my own foolish fancy, I look up as I clear the building to step onto the Albert Street sidewalk, casting my gaze to where the mid-morning sun should be, south and east, just over half-way between horizon and zenith on this late spring morning.
There is not an eye. There is an oval blackness, larger than the absent sun in its narrow dimension, which seems to lie beneath the dome of the sky. It is obscured by a swirling school of mackerel clouds which in their greyness seem to shine like oil drops on water. These move in a counterclockwise rotation, but they circulate; there is no sense of a sucking vortex to this new strange spectacle.
Moments later, though, all the colour goes out of the sky. The stars appear, and since there is no competition from streetlights at this time of day, they are brilliant to the point that the constellations are, for once, obvious. This development makes me realize, after a few seconds reveling in the spectacle, that I am much too far away from home; if stars fill the morning sky, what wonders and terrors might yet appear, which I should share with my loved ones, and offer them what comfort I can? I dial home on my (functional, a state I don’t question) cellphone. “I’m on my way home,” I say, now filled with dread that I will get there too late. With the sky dark, it is getting cold, and I am dressed too lightly.
Later: I am across the street from our house, which was my grandmother’s house,‡ and my son runs down the steps toward me. There is no traffic, of course, and we meet in the middle of the road. I am busily making an effort at merry enthusiasm, pointing out some of the celestial wonders visible in the skies, when I realize that some of the constellations I’m seeing are southern ones.
Before I can decide whether to point this out to the boy, a bright object shoots over the horizon almost exactly at true north. It mounts briskly, and I think, “Wrong place and time, but if the sun is back, I’ll take it.” Even before the thought has finished, the incandescent sphere has faded to orange, and there is a familiar pattern on it. It is the moon. As is passes from north-west to west, it fades further and folds in upon itself like a spent match, until it is nothing but a cinder, racing away into obscurity.
I draw my son close and hug him as the brief final reprieve from the cold ends under stars which no longer flicker.
…and then, the overarching watcher of my inward state shouted, “That’s enough of that, then,” and kicked me awake. This was followed by an uncomfortable period of reflection, in a state which oscillated between hypnopompic and hypnagogic, as to how a fellow looking the end of the world might best perform acts on euthanasia on his loved ones without access to guns or other specialist tools. Perverse imagination offered horribly vivid counter-arguments to all candidate methods, and thus we got up not merely to calm the importunate bladder but also to break out of a set of thought-tracks along which madness (or at least insomnia) lay.
†A pure invention of the dream, dropped into an entirely residential block.
‡Sold out of the family the year before I married, and it was also not, in the waking world, located here as it was in the dream.
The preceding is ©2017 Dirck de Lint