continued from previous
He reached deep into his jacket and took out the packet of Black Sky that one of the Revelers had stuffed into his pocket as a goodbye present at the shelter. He held the tiny ziploc bag up to the faint light, looking at the transparent crystals inside. Turning the bag sideways back and forth, he listened to them tumble over each other, sounding like grains of sand. Opening the bag, he brought it close to his nose so he can smell the contents, but there was no odor. Taking a few seconds before deciding what to do next, he placed his little finger in his mouth and then into the packet. Taking out his finger, he observed closely the crystals that had adhered to his skin, holding on as if by magic through invisible threads of moisture. It was about a quarter of what was in the bag – a sensible amount, he thought. He licked the crystals and headed for the kitchen sink. Half a cup of water. Now back in the couch. He waited until the night sky had entered the living room. The weightlessness of the darkness had soon cloaked everything, stifling any noise, strangling to death the slightest remaining ray of light. A comforting vacuum had surrounded John – protecting him, while heightening his senses. He prayed that this would work just as it did last time, as he waited patiently for the EoT to appear.
Five minutes later, and the blue Northern Lights had entered John’s living room. Undulating slowly, sometimes speeding up, they hovered above in the ceiling before heading for the door. The entire door lit up in blue, as if the light had infused into it.
“I knew this was trouble” – John thought, as he grabbed his keys and opened the door. He followed the light down the hallway, into the elevator, and out of the building. It was 10 pm. He followed the mimosa trees along the pavement as they lit up one by one like blue Christmas trees. The blue light crossed the intersection by infusing itself into a cat, waiting for John on the other side. He looked around to see if anyone was watching him. “I’m high as fuck, and I’m following a blue light, great” he thought. He followed on for half a mile, down towards the ocean then further down towards the most abandoned side of the CBD. The light got stronger and stronger, illuminating his way and sometimes creating a shield around him that looked like a bird’s nest. Sometimes John was getting ahead of the light, sometimes the other way round. But in the end, they synchronized into a pace that felt comfortable for both of them.
And then they stopped. They had arrived. The light infused into a large steel door, as John looked up.
“Where the fuck am I?”
Like a drunk twenty-something texting an ex, he did something no one would ever dare to do in this city anymore: he rang the bell. The door begun to open very slowly, as a supernova of blue and white rays began to rush out onto the street from inside the building. John took a step back as he put his hand out to protect his eyes from the light intensity. A human form soon appeared, dressed in an astronaut suit of some sort. Or rather, that was the Blue Sky talking. It was a single-use aseptic suit, very similar to the personal protective equipment that healthcare staff had worn during the pandemics. The plastic bag astronaut looked at John for a few seconds, almost like a confused alien who had just arrived on planet Earth, and was trying to decide on the spot whether they were even interested in exploring this place, this species, further.
The alien reached out for the beginning of a zipper line somewhere in the area of the shoulder. In one, steady-speed motion, they tore through the middle of the suit, splitting the plastic bag in two like a peanut husk – at which point the blue light started spinning like crazy around the alien’s head. It formed a bright neon- blue angel halo around the head, lighting up the face so that John could see.
It was Aspen.
from the upcoming novel A New Earth
to read from the beginning, go here
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books