Only a small child noticed the moment when the night sky blinked out of existence and then back, replaced by an exact simulacrum. A sudden shift, a quiet movement of the world from the real into oblivion. The stars, once real, obviated by counterfeits. And yet no one she told would listen.
She roused her Father that night from dreams of the woman he used to know.
He rubs his eyes blearily, checking the time on his bedside clock. It was far too late to be a parent.
"What's up hun?"
"The world! It's been stolen."
His heart jumped. The madness had her too?
"That's... nice hun, now back to bed."
"Annie, please. Go Back. To. Bed!"
She called her mother, on a number she wasn't meant to know but did. Written on a tearstained napkin crumpled in the trash by the kitchen counter. The final resting place of a domestic lost cause.
She called her Mother. Who languished in a bright room devoid of all substance but light. Who scratched her fingers against the borders of her mind under they bled, red and raw. They said she'd been robbed of her senses. Was insane. But in a senseless world, it was only the 'crazy' who saw behind the façade. Who saw the world spinning, lost, into the dark.
"The world's been stolen Mama!"
"That's nice sweetie. Nice… that you too know." She spoke from beyond a thick haze of anti-psychotics, "Maybe they'll listen to you. Or maybe I'll have a new roommate soon."
She giggled, as if that thought were the funniest joke in the world, then continued: "I see it too, you know. The change the world denies and continues to deny. Piece by piece we've been taken and replaced somewhere else."
The little girl frowned. That's not quite what she meant. But if anyone could understand…
"No Mama, I mean the world's been... I-"
"Wait. Who is this?"
"Annie. Your daughter?"
"I don't have a daughter. Who are you really? Why did you call?"
"Whoever you are, don't you call me again. I know the truth. You can't distract me. I see the faces... so many false faces."
The line went dead.
The little girl sighed. It seemed fate wanted her left alone with her secret. Father and Mother blinded by the madness cursing them both.
Years pass. The little girl blossoms into adulthood, her parent's madness lost in the maze of her own. Each night she obsessively watches the black, searching for the seams in their cage that would reveal the truth beyond. She searches in the night for the face that stole them from their universe. She watches the burning falsehoods. Stars she alone sees as twinkling liars they are.
…As glittering false faces in the sky.