Eden

The first angel appeared in outer space, between earth and mars. The earliest satellite photographs of the “object” made headlines worldwide and NASA confirmed that they were “studying” it and working up a report. The object’s familiar outline excited intense religious speculation and almost overnight an industry grew out of the “space angel” and what it meant for mankind: schlock TV documentaries, tabloid and magazine exposes, everyone from the Vatican to the latest self help gurus and leading atheists chiming in. Was it a blessing, or a sign of the end times? There was some hysteria but the whole circus was expected to die out once the object was identified.

Of course, that never happened. The “object” circled mars a few times and was joined by others. High resolution satellite photographs confirmed their outward appearance. They looked like angels and within weeks close to a hundred of them had congregated around mars. NASA and other space agencies would only acknowledge that the phenomenon was real and that science was unable to determine the nature of the objects without more data. For a full day the angels congregated in space, not moving; and then they left mars behind and started for earth. The circus was far from folding.

Global pandemonium broke out. New religions, religious revivals, reprisals from rationalist groups and the scientific community, arguments without end everywhere. The media forgot everything else. The angels were coming: to save us or destroy us? A few things were known: angels (even the scientific community was calling them that, although they always enclosed the word in quotes – “angels”) were thirty feet tall, angels could survive in the vacuum of space, angels moved faster than the fastest spacecraft. The public ate up and obsessed over every detail, as little information as there was.

Figures for adult baptism exploded, it was impossible to calculate, repentance was on the mind of millions. The “Angel Countdown” preoccupied everyone on earth, ticking off the hours, minutes and seconds to their arrival. They were expected to reach the earth in fewer than thirty days. As they made their journey, they were joined by others of their kind. The final number was something like three hundred thousand but it was difficult to calculate for certain.

An international conference was assembled and protocols for greeting were worked out. I won’t go into any of that because it turned out to be both unnecessary and impossible. Whatever means, technological or spiritual, arranged to attempt communication, when the angels arrived it was clear that they had no intention of taking notice. As they approached, some were sent out in advance and they destroyed all of our satellites. They regrouped and then separated again when they breached the atmosphere; they spread out evenly over the globe and got to work immediately . . .

(C) Vincent Asaro 2014

The complete story will be included in my upcoming short story collection Something In the Dark, to be published December 2014.  For details visit my webpage:

 

http://vincentasaro.weebly.com/something-in-the-dark.html

 

Nothing In The Dark

Greer was crawling through darkness on his hands and knees; he had no idea where he was or how he’d gotten there. He could remember his name and nothing else. He knew he wasn’t dreaming; in fact, he had the distinct feeling that he had woken from sleep and was now wide awake. The ground beneath him was solid and flat. He crawled along for a while and then stood up. He felt a disoriented for a moment but that passed. He turned around a few times but could see nothing in the darkness. He searched his pockets for a keylight or a book of matches but found nothing. He bit back on panic: there had to be an explanation. Perhaps he had been in an accident and was trapped underground; perhaps he was blind. He listened but heard nothing, sniffed the air but detected no scent or aroma of any kind. He felt no warmth of sunlight on his skin, no cool night air. He called out but no one responded. What could he do? Staying put didn’t appeal to him. He started walking but fear of tripping over an unseen object put him down on his hands and knees again and he felt his way over the featureless ground, helpless and lost.

Greer might have been crawling for hours or days, he couldn’t tell. He felt no weariness, no urge to sleep, no hunger or thirst. As he crept along he entertained theories of where he might be, what might have happened to him; but there was nothing to test his theories against; and his lack of memory made it impossible to press beyond the most obvious questions. Fear was the feeling closest to him as he made his journey and he was ashamed to think that it took no more than darkness to make him afraid. It was this thought that triggered his first memory, something his mother had told him when he was a little boy, afraid to put the light out at night, “There is nothing in the dark that is not there in the light.” He stopped moving, hoping that more memories would follow but nothing more came. He tried to picture his mother, to picture himself as a boy: his mind remained stubbornly blank. He went on, for no other reason than that there was nothing else for him to do.

The sensation that he was not alone, that he was being followed, informed his senses slowly. He stopped and listened and at first heard only silence; but the third time he could faintly, but distinctly, hear a low panting somewhere in the dark behind him. He listened until he was certain that it was real. Robbed of sight he did the only thing he could think of, he sniffed the air. An acrid, animal musk tweaked his nostrils. Whatever was behind him, it stayed put until he started moving again. He could hear it coming closer, the sound of claws on the hard ground, tip-tap, tip-tap, and panting underscored by a low growl. Greer stopped again and his pursuer stopped with him. The animal was panting more rapidly now – it was in pursuit. Greer kept moving, rising to a crouch and running, feeling his way forward with his hand, keeping his ear cocked for the animal that hunted him. It had almost caught up to him when it stopped. Greer stopped too but only for a moment. Perhaps he had crossed an invisible barrier and the animal could go no farther; if that was true, then he had the advantage. He pressed on, putting distance between himself and the thing that hunting him.

Greer tripped over something and fell on his face. He heard voices, hissing whispers, and felt a body wriggling underneath him. He scrambled over the body and stood, ready to defend himself; but no attack came. He heard a man’s voice say, “Another one.”

 

(C) Vincent Asaro 2014

 

The complete story will be included in my upcoming short story collection Something In the Dark, to be published December 2014.  For details visit my webpage:

 

http://vincentasaro.weebly.com/something-in-the-dark.html