Submitted Date 03/11/2019

They made their way up the sloping path. The two were in no particular hurry. Jacob was carrying the supplies while Hannah idly followed behind. Tension mounted as the summit came into view.


It took only a few seconds to lay out the blanket and retrieve a bottle of wine from the cooler. The two of them settled into sitting positions quietly, always watching the southern sky from the corner of their eye. For a while they sat without saying a word. Now that they were here, reality was feeling a little more real than it had an hour ago.


Hannah broke the silence. “What is a solar flare, anyway?”


Jacob lit a cigarette in reply. “Some sort of thing the sun does. Astrophysics,” he said. “I don’t actually know. Don’t think anyone does.”


The silence settled back in, its inertia difficult to overcome tonight. It was dark out here in the hills. There seemed to be a trillion stars in the sky. But tonight they felt different; like each was now suspect of being part of an invading army.


Jacob spoke again. He finished his thought as though no time had passed, and neither noticed. “They say it’s the end,” he said.


Hannah nodded in resignation. They were both still watching the night sky. “Did you hear what happened…” she whispered.


“Yeah,” Jacob responded a beat too quickly. “I wouldn’t want to be in the city right now.” He took out another cigarette and lit it with the smoldering remains of the last.


They both turned to look at each other, their gaze meeting at exactly the same second. Hannah smiled a nervous smile.


“I’m—I’m sorry, Hannah,” Jacob said. She shook her head.


He sighed. “I know it’s been hard for us. For you. I’ve… I’ve been bad for you, sometimes.”


Hannah continued to shake her head. “Yeah,” she said, “but I wouldn’t trade it. I mean, we’re here, right?”


Jacob sighed again. “We’re here alright,” he said, looking back to the sky once more. In the washed-out greyscale of the moonlight, they both reached silently for each other's hand.


They sat like that for a long time. Finally both their phones began to buzz and screech in unison. “Guess it’s almost time,” Jacob said.


Jacob looked her in the eyes once more. With a sad smile, he asked, “any last wishes?”


Hannah thought before she answered. “No. Not really,” she said. And then, after a pause, “I wish we had more time. That someone could’ve stopped this evil thing.”


Jacob took a final drag off his current cigarette. “It’s not evil,” he said. “Evil is something people do. This… storm, whatever you want to call it… it’s just something that’s going to happen. Something that happened.”


As he pulled another cigarette, Hannah motioned to get one, too. Jacob eyed her briefly before passing her the pack. They both sat, waiting.


Hannah spoke quietly, still watching the sky for signs. “Were we just ‘something that happened?’”


Jacob laughed without smiling. “That’s—” he said, struggling to think. “It’s hard to say.”


Suddenly, there were colors. A band of light appeared in the sky and immediately spread as far as they could see. Colossal waves of color rippled across the horizon, moving and changing without making a sound. They could feel the heat of the light. It was like daytime—like a sunny day, but with light of every color. All of a sudden. They sat spellbound and unable to draw a breath. It was, without question, the most beautiful sight either had ever witnessed.


“Is it happening?” Hannah asked.


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