[Fiction] Friday Challenge #156 for May 21st, 2010
A boy and his father awaken early to watch the sunrise from their mountain campsite, but they begin to panic when the sky remains dark long into the afternoon.
Narrowneck Peninsula struck out like a forefinger into the valley. Sheer on both sides, the valley spread out, flat and thickly wooded until the peak of Mount Solitary rose up from the east. Matt unzipped the flap of the tent and stood stretching in the dark moments before sunrise. The residual heat of summer began to creep out from under the sandstone escarpment, even before the sun had poked its rosy fingers over the horizon.
“Come on, Rob or you’ll miss the sunrise.”
A low grunt sounded from the tent, followed by the rustle of a sleeping bag. Rob dragged himself out of the tent and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
“Stand over here and look towards Mount Solitary. Watch the colours change with the light. The cloud cover is quite thick this morning so it should be something spectacular.”
“What’s so interesting about the sunrise? It’s just the refraction of light through the atmosphere.”
“Stop being so scientific. You always look at the logic and science but never see the emotion and the beauty, but in time you will learn.”
Rob observed the light dim slightly, moving from dark blue to purple before a pinpoint of light broached the horizon. The kaleidoscope of reds and oranges, purples and yellows shifted and played out before him.
“Come on, Rob. You have to be impressed by that.”
“It’s still just science to me.”
The sun moved behind the bank of clouds but the light flickered like a candle wavering in a draught. The clouds boiled across the line of the horizon in scarlet and orange.
“Dad, why is the day not getting any brighter?”
Matt raised a pair of binoculars to his eyes and looked towards the east. “I’m not sure. Let’s head towards Mount Solitary.”
Breaking camp they traversed down the peninsula and across the valley floor. The canopy darkened the valley floor and the birds were silent, moving like shadows in the tree tops towards the west. By late morning Matt and Rob had reached the base of Mount Solitary. Matt scanned the sky but the canopy obscured his view.
“It’s still dark out there and it’s almost lunch.”
“What could be causing it?” asked Rob.
“I am not sure, but I have some suspicions.”
“Not worth putting out there at the moment.”
The ascent to the peak was steep and the pair began after a short break. They toiled up the trail, focused on their footsteps and glancing occasionally at the sky. The sense of twilight sat heavy on Matt but he couldn’t pin his fears to anything secure.
At the peak of the mountain Matt and Rob had a panoramic view. Away to the east lay the metropolis of Greater Sydney. The darkness shifted under a heat haze. A column of smoke rose up, adding to the blanket of clouds across the sky.
“Dad, what happened?”
“It seems like the humans have finally destroyed themselves.”
“But what will become of us robots?”