Gather dear readers, and I shall tell you a tale. A tale of wonders not seen in an age.
The summer had been a toasty one, great waves of heat cascading down the mountainside and nestling oppressively in the basin below. The great day star beat its furry down upon all that deigned to step foot under its gaze. A sweltering end of summer heat that left cloth to hang like lead and sweat to pool like… something like a swimming pool but sodium to go with the chlorine. Look, sodium was feeling left out, and so tagged along to the pool party. But I digress.
It was hot, ya’ll.
And so before the sun had yet begun to crest the horizon, two adventurers, two seekers of the extraordinary, saddled their 4-cylinder hatchback (look, my metaphors are gonna get weird, and you’re just gonna have to deal) and set off for a point within a 70mile wide ribbon that stretched from sea to goddamn that’s bright shining sea, where clear skies were tentatively promised by besuited prognosticators. The models had been consulted, the darts thrown, the chemtrails read (its a pun you see) and the sorcerers had decried “partially sunny with a 20% chance of rain starting around 3 in the afternoon!”
The rain never came.
Around noon our heroes gathered atop the mountain side where many had come to see the spectacle. The numermancers had consulted their tomes and their charts and all concurred that the stars would align and the great day star would be eaten by the wolf on this day and that the world would be plunged into eternal night.
For about 2 and a half minutes anyway.
And so they flocked to the ribbon, eagerly anticipating the dizzying dance of the spheres, rendered before their mortal eyes. A sign unseen on this continent in this century.
And slowly it began.
A slight crescenting.
A swell of blue sky where burning star had been.
Mind this could not be seen directly. The day star had smote many a mortal for far lesser affronts than to be gazed upon while it wained. But I swear to you, sun went from round to pac-man to crescent moon.
It was a cordial affair for those witnesses on the ground. It was a party. In fact, without special optics to permit viewing for most of an hour one would not know anything was amiss with the sun. It was as bright and sunny as any other summer day. The only consolation was that the air was well rung out upon the mountainside, leaving just the baking heat of the radiant day star.
The mortals cavorted as the sun was eaten away by inches until the world turned uncanny.
It started with a slight dimming. A bluing of the world. As if we had stepped into a badly filmed night scene. You know, where they put a blue filter on the camera and call it “night” but all the shadows clearly say “high noon.” It wasn’t as if a cloud had passed I front of the sun offering some much needed shade, but merely that the light was… lesser. The world greyer. Flatter. But still somehow well lit.
A passing cloud drifted in front of the waining sun. The mortals grew concerned that they would not be able to properly bear witness.
And then, all at once, it happened.
The last rays of the sun caught in the darkness.
Venus stood brazenly in the midday sky.
And a wall of darkness swept across the face of the Earth.
The sun did not “set.” Darkness did not come to gradually settle upon the land like a heavy comforter at the end of a long day. As the sun eclipsed and threw a ring of fire into the sky, a line of night sprinted across the land, sweeping the light clear out to the horizons. It came in moments. Like a tidal wave it crashed down. And at two thirty in the afternoon it was dusk.
It was not night like one typically thinks of night. Not the inky blackness battled away only by the gifts of Prometheus and Tesla. But rather the brilliant nocturnal daylight of a full moon. The crisp evening after the sun has officially set, but a glow can still be seen keeping its nose above the horrizon, fighting for that last breath before it drowns. Automatic lights came on in parking lots. Crickets burst into song. The searing heat of the day already forgotten and the cool sharpness of night swirled around our heroes.
The world stopped.
The mortal witnesses stared in wonder, gasps and oos and ahhs escaped their lips unbidden. Wild cheers of excitement erupted as the last sliver of sun burned away to reveal a brilliant ring in the sky. The stray cloud glowed as if passing in front of the moon at night. Which of course, it was. Sorta. And all around us the horizon glowed with a faux sunset. A golden orange to contrast the blue of this artificial night.
And then, as swiftly as it had begun, the clouds warmed and lit again in a spreading radiance of sunny warmth as the eclipsed ring burst and sweet Luna continued past the great Sol.
Daylight returned as if a dimmer switch had been dialed up, as if some impatient viewer had hit the 4x button on the dawn. The world started up again and we simple mortals returned to ourselves. For it wasn’t until that moment that this one realized that for two and a half minutes he had been elsewhere. Elsewhen.
Fastest two and a half minutes this one has ever experienced.
For hours our heroes must have discussed the marvel of their experiences in deep and sophisticated measures:
“Holy shit that was SO COOL!”
“I KNOW, right?”
“Totally worth the drive.”
The very height of the intelligencia.
But the spectacle was over. The dance of the spheres continued unabated, but not in a way so unmistakably obvious to those who trod upon the ground. Our adventurers returned to their homes, enriched in a way uneasy to describe.
Their day had started with the dawn, revolved around the blotting out of the day star, and ended with the setting of the same. A second, more mundane night had fallen, closing out the day. But what a day to close.
They had Borne Witness.