It’s Dark out

“Dear Diary, today the sun didn’t rise. We’re hoping it’s just a temporary thing” ~Writing prompt from Ben Fegan

I got up at my regular time, but it was still dark. This is normal for this time of year, but usually I can see some greyness in the sky. As I sat in my computer room watching the church service, the pastor brought up the fact that although it is after 8:00 AM, we should be seeing some light come through the stained glass windows. He then offered a prayer for our current conditions.

I looked out my window, and there was no sign of a sunrise at all. I contacted my daughter who lives in Pennsylvania and asked her if the sun was up over there. She said there wasn’t even a glimmer. I was starting to get worried. I checked outside again to see if I could see any clouds. Stars. The moon was in the east. I looked at the weather to see if there was a giant storm or some other weather event. The TV newscasters were going nuts about this. The weather channel people were saying that the clouds were still moving, and the storms and weather fronts had changed but not disappeared.

They had people all over the globe reporting the never ending sunset, the perpetual noon, and the day of darkness. Scientists and experts were being interviewed for explanations, and the universal answer seemed to be a shrug and an “I don’t know!” There were people having candlelight vigils, prayer meetings, another run on toilet paper, conspiracy theorists… Not a single person had a good explanation for the phenomenon. Whom do you consult when something so unexplainable happens? Climatologists? Survival experts? Spiritual leaders?

We started thinking like SciFi writers. But people in our family rarely think like anyone else. We needed to know where it was noon on the planet, so we looked at the live cameras online. The best we could figure was that it was “stuck” over the Pacific ocean, not directly over Micronesia, but close. That meant that the ocean was absorbing all the heat from the sun and gradually it would start causing more evaporation. On the other side, the Atlantic ocean and most of the other continents would become cooler. It became clear that soon, the only habitable land would be where it was early morning and early evening. There would be enough light to allow plants to grow, and not so much that they were fried. Those places that were in the dark would soon have no access to the sun’s heat and basically freeze. The plants would die, the food sources would dry up, the water would be caught up in ice, and no one would be able to live without light and heat for very long.

The other thing that nobody considered, except those in the far north, is that days of continuous light can drive you just as crazy as days of continuous dark. The westernmost part of California, BC in Canada, and Alaska would soon be the only areas in the US that could sustain life in North America. Western China, Mongolia, Central and Eastern Russia, all these sparsely populated areas would be habitable for those in Europe and Asia. Parts of Western Australia, SE Asia, India, might be habitable, but places like Hawaii, Eastern Australia, Japan and Korea, would be burnt to a crisp.

Our first priority was to see if there was someplace we could move in order to survive, but we had to find out why the Earth had stopped spinning. How do you restart a planet?! Monday, we decided on Alaska and started loading things into our cars. I took my yarn and needles because with cotton thread and wool, I could make clothes suitable for the weather. We emptied our savings accounts and started driving. Our youngest and his wife and her sister and father loaded up 5 cars and we started our convoy. Our middle son and his family loaded up their cars and the grandparents and kids and started about the same time we did. There were lots of tears because TVs, books and favorite toys and movies had to be left behind. We planned to pick up our daughter and her family in Kearney 3 hours later. But there was an intense argument because so many of the relatives were unable to move due to age and health, and the rest didn’t want to leave them alone. She told us that when a decision was made, she’d let us know. I cried my eyes out because I didn’t want to leave them.

My husband, stoic that he is, reminded me that it would take a long time for the effects to be fully felt, and by that time, we’d have a place to live and possibly room for the rest of the kids as well by the time they got there. I got a text from our other daughter and they were flying to Vancouver which was on the edge of the habitable zone. She suggested that we get plenty of toilet paper so we’d have some currency when we got to Alaska. Gallows humor. They had some friends in Vancouver they could stay with until they could find a place.

It seemed strange that nobody on TV was telling people to move, and when we got on the road, it was nearly empty. This seemed mighty suspicious! We spent the night in Cheyenne, WY. Our oldest boy had managed to get a bus ticket to Cheyenne, but he wouldn’t arrive for another day. It was decided then that my hubby would lead the convoy up to Alaska and I would wait for our oldest and catch up to them later. We figured that the kids wouldn’t be able to travel as long and they’d stop sooner. We agreed to meet in Vancouver.

It has been three days without sun and people were starting to get quite anxious. Finally, an investigative reporter nailed an astrophysicist and asked, “What aren’t you telling us?” He looked down at his notes then stared out past the crowd of reporters. He looked down again and sighed. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it will be one of two things.” He sighed again, then looked past the crowd and nodded. He cleared his throat, and hesitated. Then he sighed again. “We’re either going to get a new moon, or we’re going to be blown to bits.”

You could hear a pin drop.

“About three years ago, a massive asteroid passed very close to Jupiter and disrupted the orbit of one of its moons. The moon broke free and we really thought it would be pulverized in the asteroid belt. It did get hit a significant number of times, but it didn’t break up and continued on its trajectory. Mars is on the other side of the sun at this point, so there’s nothing to run interference between this moon and our planet. Now the moon that is approaching is much smaller than our own, and though it didn’t even have a name when it left Jupiter, it still is of significant size. Should it hit our moon, it would disintegrate it and of course the fallout would be an extinguishing event. If it should hit our planet, it would also be an extinguishing event. If, however it were to be captured by our gravity, it would significantly change our moon’s orbit, our orbit, the tides, and the climate of the planet. But the Earth would resume her rotation.” Just then, the sound system went dead, and 3 heavily armed men grabbed the scientist from the lectern and rushed him out of the building.

We sat there in the motel in Cheyenne just staring at the TV. Then the set went black. We went to the lobby and did a facetime with the rest of our kids, except for the oldest who did not have his phone on. It was decided that since we didn’t have a timeline for whatever event was going to play out, we’d continue to Vancouver and meet up with the rest of the family. We figured that at least we’d get to see the sun one more time before everything went to hell. Instead of leaving me behind to wait for the oldest, we figured one more day wouldn’t change our chances. There were still no urgent messages to move to the light edge, so maybe people would not panic.

We were wrong. You could hear the rioting starting within hours of that announcement. They were looting and vandalizing the downtown areas of all the major cities. “Let’s steal this 72-inch TV so we can watch the moon coming in to destroy us!” That made no sense, but then people don’t make sense. It was 8 AM next morning at least according to the motel clock. It looked like 8 PM the previous evening. We went out to find something for breakfast. None of the restaurants were open and the grocery store was boarded up. We returned to the motel and had the “Hot Breakfast” they advertised. Hot was oatmeal. Everything else was cereal and fruit and yogurt. Even the coffee was only lukewarm. We dug out some cards and played some games and talked and told stories. The next day, our oldest arrived at the bus station and we went to pick him up. He just had the one suitcase and we fit it in the back of the car. Then we headed toward Vancouver. We got stopped at the Canadian Border…no passports.

“You’re kidding right? The world’s going to end and you want to check our passports?”

“Well, sorry sir. You may have heard that the world isn’t going to end after all and then where would we be? Canada all crowded with Americans, that’s what! No, eh, I’m not going to be responsible for that you know. Sorry.”

We noticed a commotion at one of the other entry points. Suddenly 10 cars just zipped through the gate. We weren’t the only ones that noticed, and soon another bunch of cars changed lanes and went through the same gate. Then a second gate went down. We looked at our attendant and he was staring at the line of cars and the gates starting to remain open. “You know, I don’t get paid enough to stay here at the end of the world and then get shot, eh? Enjoy your stay in Canada.” Then he lifted the gate and our little convoy went through. We all tipped him $20 as we drove through. Just then we heard a gunshot and everyone started speeding away from the gate. We went into town to find a place to stay.

Twelve years in Vancouver now. We now have Man in the moon and Boy in the moon. The little one is farther out than our big one but it still messes with our tides. The latest report is that a Day is now 167 hours. We’ve heard that the temperature on Hawaii has dropped into the 100 degree range and things are starting to grow again. Our home state in the Midwest is thawing and believe it or not, the big old trees are still living! Congress is looking to pass a unified time bill so everyone can be on the same page. They expect that it may only be 3 days in committee. Is that Three-167 hour days? I guess we’ll see.

4 thoughts on “It’s Dark out

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