I’m in a dream.
I’m standing on a traffic island in the middle of a city. It feels strange to me but there’s a hint of familiarity about it. Maybe it’s the buildings or the familiar name of chains dotted around me; the coffee shops, fast food restaurants, convenience stores.
I look up at the mirrored glass of the building in front of me and a sharp light streaks through my vision, blinding me momentarily. I raise my hands to my eyes to protect them and turn to find the source of the light. The opposite side of the road is strewn by row upon row of tall, narrow trees with just a handful of leaves stretching from their branches. Behind them the sun is a large sphere of deep orange and yellow, hovering low above the horizon and bleeding colour into the sky around it.
I’m alone. It’s quiet.
There are signs of other people having been here; polystyrene cups of coffee left on al fresco tables, still warm and steaming under their lids; half eaten breakfast rolls – some on tables, some on seats, some on floors – still oozing egg yolks and grease and thick red ketchup.
There are cars and motorbikes dotted along the road but they are stationary; their engines silent. Some are parked normally, others are frozen in motion on corners and in yellow junction boxes. Bikes lie on their sides in random patterns, no riders to be seen.
The long shadows of the trees are falling across the roads and the pavements. The sun seems to be lowering rapidly but the light somehow remains around me. I turn to watch it fall behind the trees and suddenly, it become still again, static and hovering low on the horizon.
I close my eyes to the sunlight and feel the rays wash over my face, as if their warmth is meant only for me. I can hear nothing but the sound of my breathe in the still air. It’s as though the world has stopped and everyone has disappeared except me. The world is so hushed in silence it’s as though I can hear the sun burning and shrinking, so slowly and so far away; millions of tonnes of gases and molecules crashing together and exploding.
I’m watching the sun now, hovering in place just above the horizon, it’s dim light holding sway over the emptiness around me. I’m staring at it and I can’t close my eyes. I can’t blink. My eyes are beginning to water. I’m frozen in place. I can’t move. The sun has me. I’m staying relaxed but my heart is beating harder now and the sun seems to be pulsing in time with it.
I can’t take my eyes off it and even if I could I don’t know if I’d want to.
The sun fades down to a deep blood orange, casting long, dark shadows around me. It steadies for a moment, holding me in that light, bathing me in a wash of blood-light. Tears fill my eyes and stream down my cheeks. The distant sun becomes a hazy blur as my vision distorts.
I suck in a deep breath, feeling my chest rise. The air is thickening, it’s warm and heavy now and hard to inhale.
The sun is shrinking before my eyes, compressing, folding in on itself, but the light remains the same. Within seconds it’s nothing more than a faint red spot, barely visible in the sky. And then the light is gone.
I’m standing in the darkness. Still frozen in place. The heat rapidly drains away from the air and I’m plunged into coldness, my body unable to react to it. I can feel the numbness creeping into my fingers and toes. My eyes beginning to sting as the trickle of tears freezes on my cheek.
And then a rumble. A quiet murmur at first, rapidly increasing. The ground is shaking now and the red spot in the distance is growing larger again, bringing the light and warmth with it as it edges closer and closer, as if the whole world was being pulled towards it.
As the sun grows larger and larger in front of me it’s redness gives way to orange and fades into a pale yellow. The heat is soaring now, I’m drenched in sweat. Still the sun gets bigger and closer. The yellow is almost gone, replaced by only blinding white.
And still I can only stare, until my vision is nothing but light and shadows. There’s a roar in the air around me now. I imagine the trees are nothing but ash now, the car disintegrating, the road beneath my feet melting. I can feel myself sinking and the heat engulfing me.
The whole world is being pulled towards it. And all I can do is…
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