The last time he saw the sun he was still a boy. Before the dark happened he would still have been considered a boy today, but now, in this world, in this life, he was a man. He had to be. There was no other option. Grow up and survive, or don't. There was nothing in between.
The sun was up high in the sky that day it happened. Burning bright overhead. It was summer. It was perfect.
In an instant it changed. Everything changed.
At first they thought it was a regular eclipse. His friends were pointing and laughing with excitement at the show in the sky as the bright spot of the sun became black.
That was the last time he remembered laughter. That was the last time he saw the sun. That was the day the world he thought he knew ceased to exist. The real world was dark. This was the real world.
The scientists and astronomers were frantic talking heads on every channel, as they debated with pundits and news anchors and religious zealots. Every channel was a variation of the same drama playing out on the screen.
No one had a good answer. No one could even begin to comprehend it.
The religious talking heads couldn't understand why we were still alive and well if this was the end. Their messages to their congregations rang hollow because there was no answer that satisfied.
The scienctists had no answers. The years of writing peer reviewed papers and preaching over their own pulpits in classrooms now seemed a waste, because they had been wrong all along.
The people of the world realized that no matter which dogma they had followed, they were left without a guiding light in the darkness that remained.
The only true thing left was the darkness. Someone or something had turned out the light on the world. The game was over.
And the boy who was still a boy had to become a man.
There was no rules left. No laws. No order and no peace.
In the dark was that remained there was only survival.
The day the darkness began he was 8 years old. It had been 10 years of dark, and today he was a man.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
South Florida heat didn't stop at dusk. But that's when he went to work. Poaching isn't an 8-5 career.
The water in the glades was black, but the outline of the gator was a shade darker. 6 foot easy, would have been a good haul. But that's not the one he wants. Today's job was for a certain monster. The one he kept hearing about. The one that was snatching up pets, and other animals. And now it had graduated to people.
That one had to be a lot bigger than six feet. So he kept his eyes peeled as he steered his boat to check the bait he had set out the day before.
Two more gators cocked their heads and moved to the water as he trolled past.
It wasn't them either. 8 footers. Deadly creatures, but these weren't the people killers he was hunting.
He knew in his gut that he would know it when he saw it.
And he wasn't going to stop searching until he bagged it.
The glades were getting thick, and visibility was low, and as his other senses heightened, he began to smell it.
There. On the bank. He saw a silhouette
“Gotcha, ya bastard”, he whispered. With one hand he ignited his searchlight, with the other he brought his rifle up to his cheek.
The smell was so strong now he hesitated for half a heart beat . Something was off.
He could see the gators tail. It was big. Bigger than the ones he saw earlier. He moved the light beam slowly, tracing the outline of the creature
As he brought the beam up to the torso he froze.
A second silhouette moved. Hovering over the body of the gator on the bank.
What kills a gator in the wild? The poacher felt the icy pain of fear for the first time in his life.
His shaky hand raised the beam of light to meet the second creature.
Two wild human eyes glimmered in the light.
The face smiled back into the search beam with red teeth.
And then bent over the dead alligator, and took a bite.