Our eyes were shut.
We’d been living in such a somnambulistic paradise for so many years, our senses dulled by the narcoleptic passage of time. Our every waking moment, we lived in peace and splendor, and yet our avarice for adventure had not waned. We needed for nothing, and still we lusted for so much more. If we’d been more cautious, if we’d opened our eyes, maybe we would’ve realized where the path we took would lead us.
Our greatest wish, our final frontier, lay beyond the black horizon in the atmosphere. Our desire? To touch the stars, to conquer the vast eternity of space. We dreamed of extending our hand and grasping all that was within reach, to delve into the mystery of space and seize control of the riches hidden beyond our sovereign skies. Our fascination with the cosmos had infected us, and we could find no antidote to our greed.
We strove, in an almost voracious fashion, towards our destiny to rule the skies, our determination unwavering. Those of us who left the confines of Earth and ventured into the unknown were regarded as heroes, our names etched into the history of our race. We basked in the glory and fortune, our crusade to the stars consuming us, bit by bit erasing our understanding of what really mattered most. Our desideratum, our passions, had been forever ensnared by our blindness to the whispers around us.
If we’d listened to those whispers, we might’ve been given a second chance, but we remained deaf to the warnings of the mother universe. Some of us, the smarter ones, might’ve known what was coming, only they couldn’t bring themselves to raise their voices. And the animals, too, must’ve sensed the change, must’ve realized something was different, but even they weren’t given a second chance. And we, the ones lost in our grandeur and slendiferousness, our minds not once elusive of the illusion we’d created, did some part of us recognize the subtle ruptures in our perfect fantasy? Was a long-forgotten shadow of our pasts calling out to us – were there words encrypted in our souls, speaking like fractured gleams of a light at the end of the tunnel we’d unknowingly lost ourselves within?
No one knew then, and now, no one ever will.
It surprised us when we finally opened our eyes to see the truth, a truth we’d known for a long time, but we hadn’t acknowledged or accepted. It’d been coming for us, just another celestial creation just like us, but so different in so many ways. Branded into our history was the memory of ones kindred to it, but all the same we’d refused to give it the same respect we gave the ones that came before. The brutal legacy of a falling star was scarred into the bedrock of the Earth, and yet our regard of this wayward celestial firefly was skeletal, virtually nonexistent.
Maybe that’s why, in our hearts, we weren’t really all that surprised when it came, when our legacy was eclipsed by this vagabond, this renegade. The damnation and chaos this vagabond represented, its natural panache and eternal sanguinity, were stupefying enough, but the realization that it had come did not surprise us.
It came from the nether stretches of our imaginations, our deepest fears and our wildest nightmares. We watched it as if in a daydream, as if at any moment we would wake up, but our eyes were already opened. This radiant furnace of rock and hydrogen, an incarnation of Death itself, razed its way through space, its one purpose the truth we couldn’t accept.
The atmosphere seemed to vaporize in the wake of the hellfire huntsman, dematerializing as if it were nothing but a ghost. Fractured glimpses of molten reality transcended our illusion of paradise, our hopes and dreams bursting asunder at the prominence of the cosmic reaper. Our empire of mankind, built with smoke and mirrors, was reduced to less than a memory by the same fury we’d sought to control and conquer. One might call our demise poetic, to rise from stardust and fall to ashes, to be silenced by a fiery echo of the wrath and beauty that began this universe. From fire our world was forged, and to fire it would return.
The ruthless vengeance of space reclaimed us, suffocating our lust and illusions, our time in the universe completing its circle. As our earthling glory and dazzle spiraled away into the void, some might wonder about our fate. Was it mere chance we should end this way, or did something else tip the scales in favor of punishment for our arrogance?
One might wonder, if this was truly divine judgment, why our mother Earth, so caring and innocent, with all her beloved creations, had to suffer for our blindness.
But we will never know.
Our eyes, fervidly opened to reality, are once again closed… forevermore.
I wrote this when I was eleven, if memory serves correctly. It’s one of the first short stories I ever wrote. For those who don’t know, the word ‘nyctalopia’ means ‘night blindness’.