Dying of the Light

It began slowly at first, the barely noticed dimming. What with everything else on Earth plunging toward hell, one could not quite tell when the slow-death began. Perhaps when the oceans fled as vapor back to the skies, or when the trees ossified to wooden skeletons, or when nuclear detonation after detonation scorched the land. Eventually though, it was undeniable, and the when was less important than the what: our sun was dying. Every morning it rose: a little smaller, a little cooler. Earth’s self-immolation would be followed by destruction entire.

                Scientists were at a loss as to what was happening, or how. Common knowledge insisted the sun wouldn’t die yet for another fifty million centuries, and even then would pass by expanding, by boiling the Earth’s oceans if any remained, melting our mountains into valleys, cooking all dregs of life from the surface before lapsing into cool blackness. Instead, it collapsed in on itself, dwindling away into nothing as if a singularity within swallowed it whole. Eventually they stopped asking as it became clear no answer was forthcoming. Regardless of why the sun perished, or how, or when it started, the only fact before them that mattered was that it would happen, and there was no stopping it. Humanity was doomed. Civilization gave way to barbarism, which capitulated before desperation, and then that in turn succumbed to silence.

                And with each passing day, the ball that dragged itself across our sky grew slighter; our world grew colder; the planet-wide desert became a frigid wasteland. The few men and woman that still lived watched, trapped in desiccated, starving flesh, and waited for a night from which they would never wake. Those that cared to, for lack of other nutrients, subsisted on the flesh of others, dining on meals of bone and blood. Survival was not their aim. All knew life was an impossible goal, and yet, our atavistic instinct to feed on one another was all that survived in the face of destruction.

The sun shrank, and so did mankind. With each sunrise our population diminished. Some wondered, though only idly, would any remain for the final sunrise?

                Two in particular watched the sun set on one bleak day, a star barely distinguishable from any other. Icicles grew in their blood. They couldn’t move, they didn’t want to. There remained no food to eat, no water to drink, no warmth to be had. No task left to them but the dying. And they embraced that inevitability with all their hearts. One, a young son, turned to his father and asked, just for the sake of hearing a voice one last time:

“Well, what do we do now Pa?”

His father, himself flesh and bones nigh indistinguishable from their last meal—a henpecked skull that lay discarded and forgotten beside them—did not answer immediately. Indeed he might not have answered at all if the situation did not so remind him of a poem he heard many years ago, its name, author, and meaning all long forgotten. He spoke, his voice thin as reeds, as ice crept up his legs, choking the vision of darkness from his eyes. Finally, here was the end, there would be no tomorrow for this frozen orb.

“Rage, son, rage against th-”

In silence, in the black, on a world with no sky, we lay forgotten like so much frozen detritus. We slip, gently, into perma-night. None endure to mourn our loss.