The End – a short story

Wednesday 24th November 2010

The sky began to rip.

They probably told us it was a supernova or a comet or something, but everyone knew it wasn’t, and nobody knew what it was; and though some of us suspected, none of us would have dared to speak our suspicions aloud, even if we could have found a way to describe them, in case the act of fixing our suspicions into words made them come true.

But they came true anyway.

At first, it was just a small, bright, jagged line, about a moon’s width across. I don’t remember exactly when it appeared or how we all noticed. I don’t anymore remember it not being there. It definitely appeared — suddenly — but it so soon became such an established part of our lives, that the idea of the daytime sky without it would have been as preposterous as the night sky without stars.

It was only visible by day — and the skies were clear blue and cloudless, back then, so we had an uninterrupted view of it for a large part of the daylight hours. Yet we all felt a curious desire to ignore it. The TV reports told us we probably ought not to look at it for too long, as it was bright enough to damage the eyes, but there was no danger of that. No-one wanted to look at it. We would catch glances, of course; see that it was still there, and yes, that it was getting worse, larger, brighter, throwing off sparks now… but then we would look away, and try, pointlessly, to continue with our lives.

For days, the whole planet pretended.

Somehow, I saw it change. I don’t know if I happened to glance that way, or if I was compelled to watch. It’s no longer possible to tell the difference.

The initial bright scar across the sky had lengthened and straightened so that it was now less like a jagged crack or tear in appearance, more like a thin letterbox or slot. I grimly wondered what was about to be delivered to us.

The sparks or meteor streaks or lightning bolts which had been arcing out of it with increasing frequency over the past two days, were now continuous, and all arced in the same direction, anti-clockwise. A mist began to swirl around with them, which soon became thick, dark clouds, all spinning the same way, and too fast, obviously, unnaturally, too damn fast. Then obviously, unnaturally, too damn red. It was big now, spreading out to take up half the sky. We couldn’t try to ignore it anymore.

The crack or scar or split or slot at the centre had been growing dimmer for a while, but now suddenly turned black; yet it seemed all the more piercing against the swirling red vortex around. Worse, at the moment this happened I felt the sudden knowledge, the instant recognition, that I was looking into the eye of a conscious being. Not truly a God, just another lifeform like us, and yet so much more advanced than us that it might as well be a God to us. There was no question of its harmful intent; no hope of resisting. Only death or slavery awaited us now.

The last thing I remember is thinking, though I have no idea why, exactly these words:

“I for one welcome our new evil eye-in-the-sky overlord.”

The eye winked. There was a searing flash, and nothing more.

I didn’t set out to write this as a literary work. This was my dream from last night; in the process of writing it down it started to sound like a short story, so I rolled with it, without spending too much time on it. I really did wake up with that phrase in my head, along with a set of vivid but rapidly-fading images of the sky.