Author: Mark Joseph Kevlock

Solinsky sat upon the mountaintop and watched his hometown die. As the sun set at his back, the farthest outskirts of the city fell into shadow first. Solinsky had his telescope trained there, upon the edge of town. He gasped to see the first of them fall.

A young boy and his father both collapsed, there in a backyard. An old woman fell dead crossing the street. Lovers on a front porch glider intertwined in an unnatural embrace.

They all needed the sun to live. The rays gave them energy, vitality, existence. The instant the sunlight ceased to touch their skin, they all fell away dead.

The curtain of descending shadow widened to encompass a local bar, a pool hall, a diner. Bodies collapsed. The tomb grew wider. Solinsky could not look away.

Cars struck curbs. One took out a fire hydrant. No shower of water could awaken these corpses. From end to end, citizens succumbed. No one, not even pets, survived the coming of night.

The sun had been their only fuel, it seemed.

Solinsky wept. Then he put down his telescope to go take a closer look at the tragedy. He hopped in his car and raced down the dark side of the mountain, toward what little light was left.

They couldn’t help it. Oh, they just couldn’t stop themselves from dying. Maybe if they had been built differently… But they weren’t. They were as God had made them.

With Saul Solinsky’s aid.

He ran down the center of Maple Street — the only place still touched by the life-giving rays. A little girl — a stranger — ran to greet him. Solinsky held her tight against his chest. The light passed over them. She died. He read no accusation in her final expression, just… discontinuation. Shut off from the good things of life before she’d begun.

“This isn’t right!” Solinsky screamed. “I did the best I could! How could I remember everything? It was so long ago! So long…”

The town was only bodies now, littering the streets. Solinsky turned away. Already the sweepers came: gigantic mechanical arms descending from flying saucers, lifting the corpses clear like bowling pins to be reset in an alley. By the time Solinsky got back to his mountaintop factory, all ten thousand models had been assembled again in endless rows before him. He performed some quick calculations in his head. Then he sighed. There was nothing to do except put them back… and try again tomorrow.