APROXM: SHORT STORY

SEVERAL SHADOWS

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PREFACE: This was written for an assignment given during an eclipse craze. The line "And then, nothing happened" says it all.



Thousands of pages are flipped through incessantly as a collective of boys and girls alike search through their textbooks for the passage on "eclipses", a phenomenon unknown and uncharted by these rather curious children. There are no words exchanged nor glances shared as all eyes are fixed upon the flurry of leaf and print--that is, until one particular girl makes the grand discovery, crashing onto the shores of exploration and knowledge. A page number echoes across the library, and the wealth of knowledge is shared. There will be no failed quizzes today--that much is certain.


Just behind one particular young child is a gated window--the only method of appreciating nature outside of the very textbooks they studied. Out in this wilderness were important landmarks such as a "parking lot" and "car(s)". In one particular vehicle, which was hurriedly rushing down the gravel pavement, an ageing father and his chattering son played the role of occupants. Discussions between the two rarely involve the subject of solar and lunar activity, but today was a rather particular event. All while heading down the road, the young boy barraged his father with a volley of questions regarding the existence of a so-called "eclipse", like what sort of conditions needed to be met for one to occur and, furthermore, why everything got so dark. His large hand tapping rhythmically on the steering wheel, the father produced no answers for he truly had none, nor did he care to entertain his son's queries with false replies.


Questions did not cease as the two entered town, wherein they sped by human constructs such as the "grocery", "drug store", and "bench full of elderly and their pets". Of the two atop the bench, only one could claim to have certain first-hand knowledge of the impending eclipse--a fact which one of the elderly was all too ready to share with their equal. The knowledgeable elder stated eagerly that his granddaughter, a highly respected member of a government sanctioned research team, warned him that potentially serious consequences could result from today's eclipse. Scoffing at such a ridiculous notion, the other old woman ruffled her dog's fur and claimed that many eclipses had occurred in their lives, yet nothing strange or unusual resulted. Furrowing his brow, the elder seemed adamant on the issue, while the old lady merely continued to shake her tired head.


Perhaps it could be argued that a potential for escape was increased by the geezer's increased involvement in his fevered discussion, or perhaps it was simply because the elder did not keep a tight leash (both metaphorically and physically) on his pet. Nevertheless, he escaped, barking happily into the distance. Being a dog, the concept of an "eclipse" was as unfathomable as the idea of doing one's taxes or drunkenly phoning up an ex-girlfriend, for these ideas were meaningless within the confines of a dog's mental synapses. What was important, however, was the smell of freshly cooked meat off into the distance--specifically, the wilderness.


Beyond the rustling of leaves and chirping of cicadas, a fire crackled within close proximity to a slightly disguised cavern. With raw meat experiencing transformation into deliciousness, it was no wonder that the escaped dog would catch its scent and investigate. Huddled around the campfire and crossing in and out of the cavern were hooded figures--never an agreeable sight. Yet one hooded individual relented to the approaching canine and bestowed upon him a morsel of meat, for which he was most grateful as he happily trotted away in some other direction.


While most of the figures' robes were shades of red, two peculiar figures dressed in purple appeared outside of the cave. All at once, the atmosphere outside dropped to silence and apprehension as the two newly arrived figures gestured for all to cease their merriment and return to the cavern's depths. The time for merriment was at an end, and soon, their prophecy would be realized. Inside the great rocky hollowing of sediment were several living quarters and religious, occult symbolism--the perfect home for the zealot of today's world. Throughout the passages the purple robed figures did lead their party until arriving at the dead center of the cavern: a rotunda of rock with the roof nonexistent--a perfect view of the blue sky above. Chattering dispersed amongst the religious followers as they dropped to their knees in prayer and worship of their leaders, who were busy lighting the great fires for their chosen worship.


All at once, the crowd began to rise in song and ever louder did they grow in volume. Perhaps if they sang loud enough, the reverberations of their meaningless lyrics would rock the cavern to its core and put an immediate end to what was to occur, but this was not the case. Lunar activity reached a fevered pitch as the moon began to assault the sun, and the crowd began to burst into tears of the incoming realization of their dreams. Purple robes, red robes; none of their attire mattered for they were all connected under this total eclipse as one--ready for ascension. As the world observed with pensive interest, the white rock of Earth's orbit took its place ahead of the sun, creating a shadow upon the face of the land.


And then, nothing happened.


And for six more minutes, nothing happened.


And for the children busy researching the eclipse, their studious intentions distracted them from the event outside. And for the father and his son, questions no longer required answers as the child's first-hand knowledge took priority. And for the elderly of the bench, the old woman assisted her equal in searching for his hound. And for the dog in question, he merely felt only a few seconds of confusion resulting from the sudden darkness before setting his sights on his home. And for the religious zealots and order of the cavern, they slowly rose to their feet and examined their outstretched palms, realizing that no supernatural event had occurred and that they had been taken for fools by the elite purple hooded entities before them. Despite the protests of their "leaders", several crimson robes were discarded and thrown to the dirt beneath their feet as they made their exit from the cavern. And then, the moon continued its path beyond the sun, and everything was as normal as it had been just moments ago.