Author: Kevlin Henney

The first sun set behind the mountains before she turned to look across the plain to the darker sky opposite. A new star had appeared on the horizon. Rising in counterpoint to the evening suns, it scored a white trail across the sky, dividing the world above in two. Then one new star became two, became three…

By second sundown the sky was combed with light, tidy parallels painted up from the edge of the plain, over and down to a ragged leading edge that chased the remaining sun into night.

By the curtain fall of third sundown they had caught up, completing their arc across the sky. The gone embers of suns were replaced by a blue–white glow. It was not the loss of sunlight that chilled her skin.

When had the ground started to hum? She felt it before she knew it. She felt the fear before she could think what to do.

The children? She could have gone back inside to wake them, to take them to the shelter, to tell them everything would be all right, to again wrap the truth in comfort and lies while holding them tight. The false promise that they could outrun everything that had happened to them. Outrun a marriage divided by war. Outrun a war dividing worlds, engulfing family after family, system after system.

The hum grew to rumbling harmonies, the horizon’s glow burst into a false and unstopping sunrise that reached up to swallow the painted streaks and remaining sky, that bled over the mountains, melting them as it flowed.

The sanctuary of this outermost system had fallen. An end approached her faster than sound. There would be no more running.

She would not wake the children. A lasting sleep was the peace she could finally give them.