Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Paul de Denus

Dark Black

The world ended on Saturday evening as Clayton Dill danced and weaved in the sand, a glass of red in one hand and a cool brunette in the other.

I was chuckling at his nonsense, eyeballing Laura Lang, Clayton’s tightly held girlfriend when the block of frigid air dropped and plunged the sunset atmosphere into a deep freeze, the sky dimming ultramarine as the red ball fell over the horizon.

Beach goers who had clustered along the water’s edge to enjoy the fine wine and light conversation stumbled about, bodies stunned and stiffening as if hit by ice-blue electricity, some looking to the water… others to the sun’s last slash of gold glimmering along the rim… then to each other as shoulders hugged and shivered and I heard Clayton drunkenly say, “for fuk-say, sum-one turn on the heat” but I was already down, driven to one knee; the startling slap of Siberian-like cold wrapped my body in an icepack, Laura Lang grabbed wildly for my arm, her brown eyes confused, her fuck-me smile disappearing in panic and she collapsed near Clayton who stared quizzically at the people staggering from the beach.

I stood, legs shaky and unsure - that of a toddler - and lurched for the access ramp into the parking lot, the hazed light receding in diminishing shades with each passing second - faster than my mind could comprehend - but one thought formed clear: the sun has gone out.

My teeth ached from the cold and I nearly passed out as I fumbled with the car keys, my hands like frozen rubber, the white chill touching hot marrow, shocking nerve endings; the fading light turned a deep blue velvet coating my skin like cold molasses, weighing me down and I scrambled to hold back panic wondering if I were having a heart attack.

My limbs numbed, my legs moved in slow motion and my arms swam in the semi-darkness… a darkness that felt alive and lurid like a child’s voice in a well and I wanted to go down the well into the dark where the voice, now spoiled and bleak echoed: the sun has extinguished… come to me… but I held my concentration - thin as it was - fragile as loose cobwebs and I shivered and sped through indigo streets, the look of disbelief on the faces I skimmed by, their feet slogging as if encased in cement, their bodies dimming as the remaining light of day slowly winked out; from above, birds - heavy as bricks - plummeted from the blackened sky onto the street.


2

I found myself home, staggered inside and pawed at the hallway switch; the room illuminated and I felt better almost immediately as if a light had flicked on inside my body and I moved freely then, lurching into every room as my body warmed and my brain cleared, turned on every beautiful light, wondered how long the electricity would last.

In the kitchen, the window over the sink hissed like air escaping from a tire and a memory from childhood bloomed in my head: I bounced inside an inflatable fun house… the structure suddenly losing air and I sank down… into cascading plastic waves… deep and overwhelming… grasping at smooth walls… the dark roof descending. I slammed the curtain over the hissing window and scrambling into every room, pulled the drapes and shutters fast on the rest of the gaping black mouths that now shrieked.

Searching the bureaus and closets, I found two working flashlights, a scattering of batteries - old and new - a half tray of eleven-inch taper candles, several matchbooks and in my bedside drawer, my handgun.

I clicked on the television, only to be greeted with pure static and white snow on every channel and I jumped when my cell phone rang – just the once - but there was no one there, only the darkness of dead air.

There was a fleeting second - only a moment - to ponder that someone finally did something crazy… a terrorist plot maybe… a government mistake… some asshole pulled the wrong switch, pressed the wrong button… and then more frightening, a simpler answer; this was just the nature of things.

I stoked the kindling in the fireplace and let out a child-like cry when it offered an encouraging flame and after several dry logs caught on, I tore into the furniture around the room.


3

According to the battery clock on the wall, it’s after nine in the morning and the sun should be up but it’s not.

It is beyond dark outside … I don’t have to look… through the numbness I can feel it; the house is ice and I can hear the outside skin cracking, falling; I have no power.

The living room windows bulge, the drapes push inward and I wonder if I’m imagining it or if it’s my alcohol consumption zanily taking control of things.

Wrapped in cold comfort, I drift but stay awake – why I don’t know – I should just let sleep take me but I don’t and I’m crying again… calling for anyone but there’s no one home… no one anywhere.

I can’t get my head around what has happened and I slip into a tearful giggle; my head feels swollen, my numb hands form into bent claws and I imagine myself T-Rex with the same damn look on its swollen face when the world disintegrated around him.

The fire is dwindling, the light all but gone; it’s a lost cause as the dark moves in and I fondle the handgun and yawn… Laura Lang leans in next to me and I pull her closer, the handgun too and force a smile knowing the flash in her brown eyes will be the last light of the world I’ll ever see.

© Paul de Denus 2012

Paul de Denus is a graphic artist by day, writer by night. He has been published at Six Sentences (The Love Book, Word of Mouth, and 6S Vol 3), Smith Magazine, Fictionaut, and Espresso Stories.
Paul's writings and self published books appear at his blog: Me, the Other Twin.

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