The morning it all changed was an ordinary one. Joanna sat out on the porch in her usual chair with her usual cup of instant—one and a half spoons of coffee, two heaped spoons of sugar, and just the right splash of milk. The birds sang their usual tunes in all their usual trees, and the gentle breeze bought along it a medium temperature somewhere perfectly between too-hot-for-her-gown and too-cool-to-shiver in-her-pyjama-top.
“Morning Love!” Called Old-Jim from his side of the picket fence, while collecting his usual paper. He tipped his cowboy hat and winked before pulling the door closed behind him, as he usually did.
All the world was exactly as it should be. The lawn needed mowing and the leaves needed blowing, which Edgar would do once she woke him and he consumed the two eggs, toast, and orange juice she laid out for him. It was a routine that run as surely as the Patel’s opening their recently converted ‘Spar’ shop down the road, consistent, reliable, and dependable.
She now wonders how she didn’t notice right away, and how Old-Jim had missed it too, but when she stretched her arms above her head and leaned back on the chair that had moulded to her shape over years of loyal dedication, she saw that the sky had a black void running right through the middle, like two halves of blue paper had been torn apart from either side.
When she saw it, she choked on her coffee and fell backwards out of her chair, scrambling back to her feet in a panicked frenzy to get another look.
“Edgar! Edgar, come down here!” She shouted. Her voice must’ve reflected the sheer panic that consumed her being, because Old-Jim came running out onto his lawn and through the small gate to meet her, just as fast as Edgar appeared beside her tying the rope of his inside-out dressing gown, huffing and puffing like a man who’d just run a 200m sprint.
He started to ask what was wrong, but the words were silenced as he saw it too. The three of them stood bedazzled on the front porch, captivated by the bizarre and frightening sky-rip. What was it? Where had it come from? What did it mean? The questions batted between the three of them in a blind back and forth, gaining no ground as they went. Once you saw it, it was hard to look away from it. It was entrancing.
Other neighbours had started to rouse by now, and they each stood by their own houses, on their own porches and lawns, staring up at the sky.
It wasn’t like the sky had opened to reveal the universe or anything like that. There were no stars and galaxies to be seen. No planets or satellites or meteorites. It was an absence. A black, gaping, nothingness.
Joanna pulled herself away long enough to look at her husband. He was wearing his absent, dumbfounded look, reserved only for football matches, or when she asked a question he felt was too self-explanatory to ask. He was a dick actually. Why did she put up with him? Come to think of it, as she stared up into the void, she realised she had never loved him. What was love worth, anyway? What was the point? Had she ever loved anyone? Her mother never showed her any warmth, her father made a hollow attempt to shoehorn his way back into her life. Even her brother… what a selfish bastard.
In the next minutes, hours, days, months—how long had it been?—she stared at the sky-rip, deconstructing the fabric of her reality. Life itself was as black and empty as the void that captivated her vision. The delicate warmth, the gentle breeze, the presence of those around her, time itself, fell away into nothingness as the blackness consumed more and more of her vision, eating it’s way out toward the edges with each passing, still moment.
Eventually the blackness would take all of her, and with that her life would be over. She knew it, she could feel it. She wanted it. Begged for it. The quicker the blackness consumed her the quicker her torturous existence was over.
She didn’t know, stood motionless and consumed by the void in her silk gown and years old pyjamas, but those around her were feeling the same. Their false realities upturned and twisted into the truth of all humanity. They were nothing but a cancer on the world. I took from them my warmth, and with it their hope, faith, love, passion, and kindness. They had proven how worthless they were. How much they didn’t deserve the lives I so kindly bestowed upon them.
I gifted them with the tools to thrive, and they refashioned them into weapons of separation and destruction, fighting over who’s right and who’s wrong. Constantly taking from the world without giving back. Consuming, consuming, consuming. Insatiable in their hunger for power and control.
The Sky-rip consumed Joanna’s mind. She, alongside the rest of the world, fell into the limitless blackness, never to be unleashed upon the earth again.
Today’s quick online read took that particular turn somewhere in the middle, and was entirely unplanned. From the very first sentence, the story revealed itself, unfolding line by line right up til the end. I have absolutely no idea how it happened, but I’m happy it did. I’m very happy with the concept here. Let me know what you thought in the comments!