When Darkness Falls

short stories collection - a compilation of my short stories.

    "You can't <strong>prove</strong> other stars exist!"<br>
We lived in fear. Those in the past cannot understand this fear. Swirling under the sea of anxiety is hatred, a deep abhorrence for the past and all it held. I skittered along the barren floor, my features obscure and hidden by the dearth of light. A hundred, thousand, countless years ago there was light, said the old text. But none was to be found. They warned of a time when no 'stars' would twinkle in the sky, but they were wrong. There were never stars.

What happens when the universe changes, forever hiding information about its past.

"You can't prove other stars exist!"

We lived in fear. Those in the past cannot understand this fear. Swirling under the sea of anxiety is hatred, a deep abhorrence for the past and all it held. I skittered along the barren floor, my features obscure and hidden by the dearth of light. A hundred, thousand, countless years ago there was light, said the old text. But none was to be found. They warned of a time when no 'stars' would twinkle in the sky, but they were wrong. There were never stars.

Several astronomers had begun to question our now common assumption that stars never existed and would never exist. We had only one star and that was ours. It burned so brightly that even during the night the sky shimmered. We worshiped it. It had been studied, ripped apart, and probed. But one thing baffled us, why was there not others like it?

Prominent theorist---in physics, chemistry and other fields---had begun to revise their original hypothesis in the face of endless evidence that no other entity like our star existed in this universe. We had launched probes that went past the farthest planet we had detected orbiting our star. The signal was eventually lost several decades into the venture and at no point had its far-field optics, UV, Gamma, X-ray or microwave detectors picked up anything of note. The sky was silent except for the flicker of energy from a passing comet or asteroid and the glory that was our star.

The paucity of evidence lent credence to many religious zealots who espoused the theory that a god created our star and the lack of any other objects in the sky similar to it prove our uniqueness and greatness. Relics indicated similar religions that punished scientists for claiming that our star was one among many. Maybe those old religions were right, about us being the center of the universe. It might even be possible that we were the universe. Us and our lone star. That made some people go a little crazy.

But something grated at everyone, the past. They told of skies filled with stars, so many of them that they had never cataloged each one. Stars that shone red, blue, white and all other colors therein. Stars that made our star look like a planet. Stars the size of buildings, whose condensed mass held enormous energy. Stars with brilliant clouds of dust that surrounded them and gave rise to names like Firestorm and Mystic Mountain. And stars that collapsed and became black, disappearing from view. But even these last class of stars could be detected and they had volumes of data showing clusters of them in entities they called galaxies. The records were so copious, detailed and exacting that few questioned their authenticity. However, their validity? That was in serious doubt.

Other theories arose about our star system, that we were surrounded by some massive cloud that prevent visual or any other information from penetrating. Or that some hostile force wanted to trap us within our little world and prevent our escaping or finding out about the larger world. Numerous studies investigated the physical requirement to erect such a shield and the results boggled the mind. No civilization, no mater how advanced, could maintain such a machine. Those proposing this hypothesis acquiesced to this reality.

A layman's version of Iris's brilliant yet dull results.

Then came a brilliant young man, Iris Eli II Soclow, from a rather prominent family. His father, the simultaneously renowned and hated Eli Soclow, had first begun to theorize that there were in fact stars, but that for some reason we could not detect them. Maybe they were so far away as to prevent detection with our current equipment. Better equipment would show us stars, many of them. He bet his fortune, and company, on this fact. Iris took the logic further.

While performing a routine check on the distances between stellar objects, he noticed that Neptune, we'd kept the old Roman names that the ancient text spoke of, had moved a little farther from Uranus. The data before he begun measuring showed no deviations, hence no one had looked into this. But, it was no measurement error; I can assure you that our machines are precise down to the atom. No, there was no memory corruption or calculation error---our systems make those pathetic RAID 42+1 systems look like backing up your data on a piece of paper near a furnace. No, what he had found was the answer. He checked the results against Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, and Venus--Mercury had long since tumbled into the Sun after a botched landing by a large probe. In each case, the difference was smaller but inexorable the same. Every planet was moving farther from Neptune. That in and of itself was not mind-shattering. Rather, he also found that each planet was accelerating away from every other planet. In fact, every object that he had been tracking was moving away from all other objects!

That he and his father's theories were all but ignored bothered me. I dug through the archives, it seems such an observation had been made years ago. The implications were...depressing and it had been shunned. Every object was slowly accelerating away from all other objects until not even light was fast enough to reach across the vast distances separating them. I looked at the pitch black night sky and back down at the text. This was pure faith, fantasy really. Only a couple bygone works, the few that had survived the Growth years when we advanced so rapidly and changed so throughly as to banish the old faiths and sciences as works of primitives and lesser animals. But it seems they were onto something. I sent an message to the Scientific to organize a meeting about the matter; I'd spent enough time tauting their false hypotheses to gain some favor.

"And what is the subject on which you have convened this most distinguished assembly of minds?" the old assemblyman bellowed.

"To prove that our star is not the only one!" I yelled, rising to my feet with overflowing confidence and a slight smirk across my face.

"By what postulates, datum and theories do you base such a preposterous claim?" he exclaimed and made a grand sweeping gesture with his hand. He quickly pointed his index finger my way. "What proof do you have!?"

"The ancient texts, the work of Iris and logic!" I responded in kind, laying out each piece of evidence upon the gigantic screen that filled the front of the auditorium where we had assembled. A jumble of old garbled English and German, rows of data, and an intertwined network of nodes filled the screen. No one could make head or tails of it, least of all the old fart.

"You have no evidence, only lunatics work, erroneous data and nonsense symbology! I will have..."

"...But..." I pleaded and began advancing to the next bit of logic that held everything together.

"Do you believe us dimwits to believe this? That you can rewrite the truth by connecting the dots. How can you prove other stars exist!? You've never seen one! Meeting adjourned!"



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