A three year old boy develops a cough and a fever. His parents sever his head and burn his body in a field beneath a hunter’s moon. It was only a cold.
In Ireland, a man finds gold at the end of the rainbow. He steps outside and embraces the only sunrise he has seen in three months. It is the last sun he ever sees.
In the Gulf of Mexico, a woman watches the shoreline from the deck of a stolen commercial fishing boat in the early morning light. She is Captain, First Mate and Crew. The delirium caused by her steadily worsening case of sunstroke makes her think that the people chasing and killing each other on shore are children playing and she wonders why they are up at dawn. She slips over the side of the boat into the gulf waters and never resurfaces.
In the Colorado Rockies a man and his son run for their lives. They climb to get away from their pursuers. The father sends his son ahead, setting off a homemade explosive that sends boulders and large rocks skittering down the steep trail behind them. When he climbs after his only living child he is horrified to find that the boy is being torn to pieces and devoured. He falls from a cliff a few minutes later, breaking every bone in his body except for his head…he can feel their teeth biting into him as the sun sinks into the tall peaks of the Western Mountains. He cannot breathe enough to scream but instead wheezes out his sorrow and four hours later he snaps lividly at a coyote that has come to investigate the smell of death.
In Africa, A woman stares through a single basement window at the midmorning light. The sun touches her face like a lover. When tall shadows cross in front of the glass, she jumps in terror, squeezing the trigger on the handgun she is holding, the one she never learned to handle despite the insistence of her husband. The round enters her thigh six inches above the knee severing a major artery. She dies from blood loss and shock reaching for a sunbeam far out of her reach.
In Australia, a man stands at a window, looking down upon a hospital. Dead men wander in and out of the broken glass façade of the Emergency Room. It’s not his apartment it’s his Doctor’s apartment. He’d come here to get some under the counter morphine and the shit had hit the fan while he was waiting. He watches a man enter the ER, his dangling entrails catching on the shards still sticking from the tall window frame in jagged pieces. He watches the things guts pay out like slippery rope as the overdose of drugs hit his system and he fades into long dreamless sleep from which he never awakes.
In Maine, a man drives a pickup truck loaded with supplies north to Canada, kicking up a cloud of dust as it travels the dry dirt road. Here and there those with less luck than he and his family have stalled out or gone off the road but he keeps moving. The noon sun has burned away any trace of dew and the dust of his movement settles on vehicles that were less equipped for the trip than his. He looks to his wife and teenage daughter just long enough to bounce through a deep pot hole and he loses control of the over burdened and top heavy truck. He and his wife die instantly. It takes 8 hours for his teenage daughter to die, it would have been 16 if they hadn’t found her.
From the top of a three story Brown House in New York City, he loads, shoots, reloads and shoots again. The midday light is perfect, sunlight illuminates the dark streets. Beneath him, they fall, one with each “Crack” of his rifle as he grins almost uncontrollably. Thunder rolls over the congested alleys and thin line of drool forms on his chin as he watches a young man’s head explode into a cloud of red vapor and pulpy chunks of brain.
In Boulder, Colorado, a man stares at a gas mask and a useless rifle. There is a mark in his arm, written in blood, a tooth sticks out of it and he beats his head against the wall until his skull finally caves in and he goes into a coma. Later he will stand up and bluster around the room not remembering anything, but for now he lays there and dreams of an army that never came to help him.
In India, a teenage boy cries inside a corrugated tin storage shed. His sobs are drowned out by the beating of many hands against his hiding place. With every “thump” and “wh-ang” he can feel the walls buckling a little more. When he reaches up and puts his hand against the outside wall, he can feel the warmth of the sun as it beats with unseen fists of its own and he is comforted for a moment.
In Chicago, there is homeless man in a train car. He can see that the sun is sinking lower, the bright lines that had outlined the door of the freight car were dimmer by far than they had been. He sits in the dark, thumbing the flint wheel of the only earthly possession he managed to keep from the days when his life was brighter and full of sunlight. The wheel sparks and a flame gutters into existence, lighting his overgrown beard and grimy, dirt streaked face in ruddy, yellow light. It makes him look orange and almost sinister before the darkness snaps closed over him with a click of the lid. Metallic bangs and thumps echo in the enclosed space from hundreds and hundreds of fists as his tormentors fail to give up on him. Even animals would have tried finding a meal somewhere else by now. The moaning is driving him mad. There is a sound of wet splashing in the darkness, a “glugging” sound as some liquid is forced from a thin metal container, then the near empty lighter fluid canister makes a tinny, hollow sound on the metal floor of the freight car. The splashing becomes a patter, steps as he crosses the dark space to the line of failing light indicating the edge of the door, he can see their shadows against it as they move. He thinks of the concerts he saw when he was younger, when his whole life had been an adventure, playing a gig at Black Rock during Burning Man. The door of the train car slides back with the squealing, grating sound of metal on metal and then the dry sound of the flint wheel one more time. Now he is Burning Man he is a sun, bright against the darkness. He erupts in flame, trying to ignore the pain as he crowd surfs on the dead one last time before his fire goes out of the world.
In France, a child is born perfect and pink and full of life in the darkness. Her first cry becomes her last as she is devoured by her own mother.
In an open field there are Daffodils growing. They were planted there by a Sixteen year old girl named Calli in memory of her father who died of Cancer. They are both dead now, he from the Cancer and she from the “Campion Virus” in it’s initial stage. Calli’s father had brought her here to gaze at the stars far from the light pollution of the city and it had always been here she’d come to remember him after he passed. He used to tell her that the stars were the souls of those who had gone before us and as long as they burned against the darkness the sun would rise and life would continue.
As the sun rises over the tall grass the Daffodils bend towards it’s ever brightening light.