Enjoy an exclusive guest post from Dave Pasquantonio author of “Death Takes a Halliday” featured in our ON TIME anthology.
The first one was beautiful. This was hundreds of years ago, before the inevitability.
Groombridge 1830, a star about thirty light-years away, exploded, blossoming into a tangle of orange and yellow tendrils.
Some of us were worried. Most of us were not. Our scientists said that no star lasts forever. It caused us no real danger. Eventually, we ignored it.
p Eridani, a binary system, was next.
Some of us said that God was angry and was cleaning up Her mess. Most of us had stopped believing in God and said that the stars were simply old or unstable. But we all looked up at the sky more often, sometimes in wonder, sometimes in fear.
Meanwhile, life here continued. Wars were lost and won. Species were lost and bastardized.
We received a message from what used to be Capella. Our scientists tried unsuccessfully to decipher the message. Some of us said that the message was a warning. Most of us thought it was a cry for help.
Meanwhile, life here continued. We mastered technology, and technology mastered us. We learned from history, and we forgot history.
Recently, our scientists had a breakthrough. They developed a way to see other stars in real time, no matter the distance.
There aren’t many stars left.
Instead, the galaxy is awash in dazzling webs of color from millions of dead stars. To our naked eyes, those stars still shine bright in our night sky, but the light from their demise hasn’t yet reached us.
We also saw Them for the first time.
Wolf 359 was the first star that we watched Them destroy. It was horrific.
Then came Barnard’s Star.
Some of us say that we should reason with Them when They arrive. Most of us think that we should beg Them for mercy.
Alpha Centauri is a group of three stars—Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, and our home sun, Proxima Centauri. Our three stars loom large above us.
Today, we sent a warning toward the remaining stars. We know now that a cry for help will do no good.
Our night sky is a storm of color—blues and reds and oranges and yellows. Some of us say that They are artists painting the galaxy.
Most of us no longer care.
Dave Pasquantonio is a freelance writer, editor, and journalist (and a stay-at-home dad) living just south of Boston. He is a board member at The Writers’ Loft, a nonprofit writing community in Sherborn, Massachusetts, where he runs critique groups for aspiring and established authors. His work for children and adult readers has been published in anthologies and online and print journals, and he’s written nearly a hundred newspaper articles and features. His first novel, The Matildas, was published in May 2020. He’s probably listening to classic rock as you read this. He’s at http://www.davepasquantonio.com.