by Anastasia Shakhverdova
I open my eyes, and the first thing that comes to mind is: “Thank God my exams are over. I can finally get some peace and quiet.” I turn on my back and take my time enjoying the warmth of the sunlight on my face. Suddenly I hear my cat meowing and notice the tip of his ginger tail moving towards my bed. I pat the spot next to me and wait for him to jump up. When he does, I begin to pet him with one hand, while trying to reach for my phone with the other. Those notifications aren’t going to check themselves, right? As I scroll through them, the one from my best friend catches my eye. It reads: “HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEWS??? I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S REALLY HAPPENING!”
-Well, this is gotta be interesting, – I mumble to myself, swiping to see the whole chat. The app isn’t loading – the damn WI-FI must be down again. So I try my mobile Internet – nothing again. After trying for several minutes, I give up and decide to get ready for the day. I don’t see my parents or my brother in the house, but they’re probably working in the garden as usual. So I decide to go outside to find somebody.
When I reach for the door handle, my furball friend is meowing at my feet, asking to let him out for a walk. I smile at him and open the door, watching him dash past me and down the porch stairs. The second he steps into the sunlight, his ginger fur turns black, and he disintegrates into a small pile of ash, leaving behind only a shadow. Shocked, I gasp, covering my mouth with the palm of my hand and instinctively take a step back. When I snap out of it, I rush down the stairs, panicked and confused, but manage to stop myself until it’s too late. I can’t take my eyes off his shadow on the ground and keep going through the same questions in my head. What happened? How is it even possible? Did the sun just turn my cat to ash? Am I still dreaming? This can’t be real, can it? And then it hit me: oh, God, where is my family? I desperately look around, trying to see any sign of them, but to no avail.
I run to the backdoor, hoping to find them sitting on a terrace under the roof. But my hopes come crashing down when I swing the door open and see nobody on the other side. I take several calculated steps to observe the garden, avoiding the sunlight. As I peer into the green of the grass, my worst fear comes to life. One after another, I notice three shadows imprinted on the grass, not too far from each other.
I remain motionless, not being able to believe my own eyes. My brain can’t comprehend the situation, so it goes straight to denial. I refuse to accept the reality and doubt if this even is the reality. Maybe I am dreaming or having hallucinations? Either way, I am not ready to process what happened, so I try to get an explanation. I head back to the kitchen and switch on the TV. Yet again, nothing happens. I try a couple of times because the remote glitches sometimes, but then I notice that the usual red light at the bottom of the screen isn’t there – so no electricity either. My last lifeline is calling a friend, which I do, hoping she’ll answer, but there’s no connection.
-No, no, no, no, no, – I whisper in a shaky voice, – What’s going on? What am I supposed to do?
I keep thinking of anything else I can do or try, but nothing comes to mind. And this is where the panic sets in. Tears come to my eyes, and I find nothing better rather than to just let it all out.
After crying and panicking for some time, I pull myself together and start analysing the situation and planning my next move. Obviously, there’s something wrong with the sun. It is now a lot bigger in the sky, it probably melted all of the cell towers and messed with the electricity somehow. And most importantly, it exterminates everyone who steps into the light. Did the Earth’s orbit change course? How would that even happen? Is our ozone layer completely gone now? I don’t have any answers, and I’m not sure I’m going to get any, but I know this: the sun kills, and no SPF can help. Another thing I’m sure of is that I have to try to go out at night and hope to find other survivors and we’ll deal with the situation together.
A couple of hours after sunset, I hesitantly step outside and make my way down the stairs. What if there’s something wrong with the moon too? How do I know it’s safe to go? As I stand on the last step, thinking of testing the waters somehow, I hear something in the distance. At first, I’m not even sure if it’s real, but then the noise becomes more and more distinct. Now I can definitely make out voices coming from the street. Without any more doubts, I run up to the gates and burst through the door, excited to see somebody else and share my misery with them. With a smile on my face and hope in my heart, I find myself standing alone in the middle of an empty street.