PREFACE: This story is another one of those ideas that I have finally decided to give up on on account of my dissipating energy to revisit old stories. It has been sitting in my drive, waiting to either be deleted or be edited, and instead of doing either, I’ve decided to put it up here to end the story of the story.
I wrote this 7000-odd-word short story within a week sometime in July 2019, forcing myself to put words to paper, hurrying myself before the inspiration left me. I was in my Lovecraftian phase, having just read The Shadow over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, and The Call of Cthulhu in a row, the former being my favourite of them all. Of course, this was all before I really read into H.P. Lovecraft and discovered that he is a racist elitist, which really dampened my interest in his works, and kind of puts a new perspective to his stories. Nonetheless, his prose was elegant and his stories carried a weight unlike other stories that I have read at that time, and I did not expect anything less from someone whose name in itself have become a genre. “I See the Moon” is me trying my hand at cosmic horror. It is supposed to be, in some ways, a take on the fear of the world ending in 2000. The dreaded Y2K. I wanted meteorological and climatological elements to play a big part in it, to try to translate my fascination of the weather and climate of this strange world that we live in. Of couse I am neither a meteorologist nor do I have interest enough to actually do proper research on it, so, naturally, the story failed miserably.
I’ve submitted this story (with, regrettably, minimal edits) to the Writers of the Future contest, a science fictiona dn fantasy and story contest established by L. Ron Hubbard—yes, the founder of the Church of Scientology—but of course, it got nowhere, and I did not really expect it to. It was mediocre at best, and downright unreadble at worst. Still, I like this idea almost as much as I liked the idea of my other story “Synthetic”, and I tried to force myself to revisit it, edit it, refine it, but like I said, I simply didn’t have the energy, and more so the motivation, for it.
So, here it is, a mess of an attempt at cosmic horror/mystery/science-fiction. (Gutter Galley is becoming my dumping ground for old ideas.)
The day I truly began to consider the idea that the world might indeed come to an end, was December 5, 1999. A new millennium was almost upon us, and all anyone could talk about was the end of the world. It wasn’t me to believe in all that when I still had so much to live for. Although, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a certain sense of anticipation at the notion of an apocalypse.
It was the last day of school for the year. There were no classes. How could there be where there were barely any students left? We were let out some time after noon. The sky was still the same as it had been for the past two weeks. It just appeared one morning. There had been no clouds and there was an abundance of stars the night before. I even remembered gazing at the Milky Way before I went to bed, although that might’ve just been one of those things one invents so they have something to say when people ask, ‘Where were you on . . .?’ But when people woke up in the morning and looked up, there it was. The whole expanse of the sky was covered in a blanket of stratus clouds as far as the eye could see, and the clouds weren’t white, grey, or black. Far from it. It was a magnificent display of glowing colours, like God was shining down disco lights on it. And the light that streamed through basked the whole town and the farm hills and valleys surrounding it in a tint of varying colours. It was beautiful to behold, to live under it. Nobody admitted that there might be something sinister at first because it was so exceedingly bewitching, and some even said Godly. The whole town stopped in hypnotised wonder that morning. The people who were still sleeping were woken up, those who were supposed to go away for work stayed, and the people coming into town hurried in. For hours upon hours, and for kilometres upon kilometres, every single person who had the gift of sight looked up to the sky and marvelled.
One person in the whole town claimed to have seen it happen. He was in his late thirties, lived with his old mother and a sister with down syndrome on the edge of the town. There was no doubt he was a hard worker with what he was doing to take care of his family, but he was also a drunkard, and a vile and widely unsuccessful womaniser. I’d been catcalled by him more than once, as have all other girls above a certain age, and he was probably the last person in town whose stories I would give credence to. He was the town’s clown. Any town event wouldn’t be complete without him having a comedic part when the stories were being retold. Nobody ever took him seriously, and it was less than credible in my opinion, when he, of all people, claimed that he had witnessed the happening of the strangest thing the town has ever seen in its history. This time around, however, there was not a single person who did not take him seriously. I didn’t hear the account first hand, or even second hand. It might’ve been closer to tenth when I listened to a classmate’s retelling. Apparently, it happened exactly at 3 am. He had gotten up to take a piss. Braving the chill of the winter, he shivered out of the house in his underpants and planted himself against his untrimmed hedge fence. As he pissed, he looked up at the clear cloudless sky. Twinkling stars abounded the black sky, and a gibbous moon hung high at its pinnacle, basking everything in a cold grey glow. When he finished and was about to head back in, out of the corner of his eyes he saw something and he stopped in his tracks. Low above the eastern horizon there was a mass of something colourful and shiny, and it was making its way towards the town, slowly and steadily. He stood in waiting, forgetting the cold, mesmerised by the strangeness of it all. And before long, it hung over his head, blocking out the moon. It was similar to a small mass of cloud at first, and it might’ve looked completely uninteresting if there were no colours and if they weren’t glowing like there was something within it emitting peculiar lights. And suddenly and soundlessly, the tiny puff of cloud exploded in an array of bright colours, like fireworks. Glowing particles flew every which way except towards the ground, and the particles exploded further on their own, sending waves and waves of hypnotising shades of translucent red, green, blue, and yellow. The stars beyond shimmered like reflections on clear water, and the black sky slowly turned iridescent and radiant. And not a minute could’ve passed until the whole of the sky as far as one could see was covered in that mesmerizing brilliant luminosity. The wind did not chance, there was no thunder, there was no scent, it did not grow colder or warmer, but somehow, the stars, the moon, and the night sky had completely disappeared behind this vibrant new sky. And as I listened to the gasps and sighs of my classmates and stared at the proud smile of the one retelling the story, all I could think of, for some reason, was that nursery rhyme: I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.
There was every cause to mistrust the story, and I was just about the only one who scoffed when I first heard it, but seeing the sombre change in the proclaimed sole witness thereafter made me wonder if it was true. The only thing I knew for sure was that things would never be the same again.
Our town barely had five thousand residents with the majority of the families being farmers and cattle herders, and the tallest building around was the church. The tiny settlement lay on the south side of the state of Manipur atop a small hill with larger hills to the North and the West, thick forests to the South, and vast farmlands to the East. The next nearest town was at least five kilometres to the East, and the only non-residents who stepped on our soil were people passing through to get to the next town or beyond. We had nothing. The next tallest buildings were the small highschool and a decrepit and severely understaffed hospital with one storey each. There were no inns or hotels, no cinema, and not even a police station. Two days after that morning, the number of meteorologists, reporters and journalists, sightseers, hippies, religious fanatics, conspiracy theorists and people who thought the end of the world was beginning (and there was an overabundance of them), outnumbered the townsfolk five to one. The church was full all days and nights, and the school had become a quarter for the growing number of scientists who were doing their research, although they never seemed to make any headway. Some of them lodged in the homes of folks who saw this as a business opportunity, while others didn’t care that it was winter, or that it rained here in winter. They just camped out on the fields, brought their own tents and belongings. Some of those who came from colder regions thought it was the perfect temperature to strut around in shorts and tank tops while others shivered under layers and layers of clothing. Most visitors went after a night or so after they’ve experienced sleeping, walking, breathing, under the ‘rainbow clouds’. But as soon as they were gone, more people would arrive. It was like a revolving door, only, twice as many people came in than left. And in two weeks, three large log cabins were built and served as inns. Our cold little town, which was barely known to a cartographer and barely existed on any map two weeks ago, had become the centre of attention. The phenomenon even made international news.
I loved it in the beginning. I knew it was the closest I would probably ever get to living in a big city. There were all sorts of people with all sorts of ethnicity. We even looked like the minority in our own town. Some of the older folks and the more conservatives grumbled and went on and on about how the visitors were disrupting their perfect lives and bringing with them all sorts of perversions and sinfulness, but the strangest thing I realised in hindsight was how perfectly peaceful and festive it was. Normally, anywhere there was a large collection of human beings, there was bound to be conflict in one form or another. But I never saw anything that would qualify as such. Other than the aforementioned elders and conservatives, everyone was happy and having a good time. The visitors respected the townsfolk, and we welcomed them with open arms. People with different cultures, religions, languages, and class coexisted in harmony. And at school, there were no shortage of guest speakers for every class. Scientists, philosophers, pastors, from all walks of life, came and spoke not necessarily pertaining to the phenomenon. There were conventions of all sorts, musical concerts, and the weeks were one big cultural event. It was utopia. Everyone was kind, and it was unusual.
It was towards the end of the second week that my perception began to change, and it was the dreams that did it. It was around the turn of the month that my sleep first became fretful, and from then on, the dreams increased in frequency and their intensity. I brushed them off, however. They were dreams, and I was far from superstitious, or even that religious, and dreams were nothing more than your unconscious mind doing its own thing. Whatever disturbing dreams or blissful images you might see while you slept had no concrete relation to reality, and I thought talking about dreams was childish, so I kept quiet about them. Even if I tried to describe what I saw, I wouldn’t have been able to. It was abstract-like. There were no forms and shapes that I could effectively describe. I’ve had a similar dream when I was younger and I was sick and my fever was high. I thought it was just a fever-dream, and even though it scared me to death at the time, I forgot all about it when I got my health back. This time, knowing that the dreams weren’t fuelled by fever made the fear I felt as I dreamt much fiercer, and waking up I would be left in a state of sheer and inconsolable terror. I wasn’t sure what brought this on, and I was hard-pressed to admit that it might be the doing of the clouds and the throng in combination. However, my logical mind would soon dismiss that idea since it made no logical sense. Even then, the unease remained, and anxiety would build as I lay in bed at the end of each day. All I had come to want was to see blue skies during the day and the moon and stars at night like before. Worst of all, there was this sense of expectation that was growing bigger and bigger ever since the dreams began, like I was waiting for something, not necessarily bad, to happen. And it felt like it was drawing closer by the day.
There was a different quality to the noisy murmurs among the colourful crowd as I made my way home on the afternoon of December the 5th, but I kept my head down, paying little mind to everything around me. And when I finally walked through our front door and saw my mother and father in the living room, haunched over the radio, with my ten-year-old brothers at their feet in a quiet and uncertain perplexity, I learnt that something significant has happened. The fear that the world might actually come to an end finally seeped in.
Ours was no longer the only place shrouding by those infernal clouds. A whole island in the Philippines, a small town in Washington state of the US, a tiny village in the mountains of Japan, the whole city of Nairobi in Kenya, Kaunas in Lithuania, and a multitude of other random places all over the whole wide world woke up this morning to the spectacular glowing multicoloured clouds covering the whole of their skies, shining complex hues on the lands below. It all appeared in the dead of the night. No cameras caught the clouds blowing in, nobody felt the change in the atmosphere, nobody heard warning thunders, not even fortune tellers foretold what was happening, but there were purported witnesses, and they all told similar stories to the one we’d heard in our town. Regardless, that did not solve anything. And if anything, it only added more questions onto the pile. There was no pattern to it, no scientific reasoning or even astrological significance, as to why those places and not anywhere else. As far as anyone could tell, it was all random. And now that the phenomenon wasn’t localised anymore, governments around the world, even of those countries with normal clouds and skies, have scrambled to find answers for the profusion of questions that were being raised. Balloons were sent up in the air with weather equipment, state of the art technologies were used, and everyone from NASA to your thirteen-year-old nerdy neighbour were scrambling for answers. Planes still flew, radio signals faced no problems. The air above the shroud was as clear as your normal Tuesday. The clouds, some news decided, were no more than a harmless freak of nature, a meteorological decoration in the sky. Days passed, and then weeks, and more and more places around the world has a blanket over their heads. But there were still no explanations and no credible theories. The only thing there was more of were the clouds and wilder and wilder stories and hoaxes and proclaimed messiahs and other rubbish. But it was on the day before the eve of Christmas, which everyone seemed to have forgotten about, that the first real footage had been caught of how it happened. It played on TV every hour of the day all over the world, and it was more or less as we had always known: a small plume of strange colourful cloud blowing in, and then exploding before covering the whole of the sky.
Christmas came and went with very little mention of the birth of Christ, and by the week before the New Year, two thirds of the world has been enveloped. The visitors who came because our little town had something no place else had, has gone. They could be literally anywhere and they wouldn’t escape the clouds. Despite everything, I found it in me to appreciate the irony, and not strangely, I did not feel the relief I thought I might feel when they had gone. Some of them still remained, but their numbers were few. The absence of all the music and the celebrations after weeks of it, felt eerie. It sounded much too quiet and empty. People laughed, sang, and danced weeks ago, but now nobody’s lips stretched into a smile, and all we could talk about was the clouds, how cold it was, or what might happen next. The church was full day in and day out even after the visitors left. My father and my mother went twice a day to pray, and I would go once every two days or so, but I doubted if any of the prayers were heard by anyone, above or below. Some people did not go to work anymore for they would rather spend the remainder of their days with loved ones, and they were now absolutely convinced that at twelve midnight, on the First of January, 2000, the end of the world would commence. In the school auditorium, which was the second biggest indoor after the church, live news played on a projector twenty-four-seven. There was never any good news. People all around the world stared up at the sky and wondered what was beyond those clouds, wondered if an asteroid of the size that wiped out the dinosaurs was hurtling towards earth, or maybe those clouds would open up and flood the world and somewhere some family was building an arc. Some waited expectantly for the stroke of midnight of the New Year, waiting for the global computer networks to crash, sending the world into anarchy, back to the dark ages. There was anarchy. There were mass riots in parts of the world, mass suicides within some cults and religions, stores were looted, there were threats of genocides, human sacrifices were performed, governments failed, and the world burned. Through all of that, the colours in the sky did not fade.
Then the 31st of December came.
Time moved slowly. The only exciting thing that happened throughout the day was the animals. Flocks and flocks of birds of varying species flew overhead below the clouds sometime before noon in no general direction. And not long after that, the dogs howled. They escaped from their homes and just ran out into the wild and never returned. The cows mooed in the barns distressingly before they stampeded with no regard for their young and they ran like the dogs before them. Pigs broke free from their sties, ducks and geese and chickens scattered from their coops. And by afternoon, there was not a quack or a bark to be heard anywhere. Half the town was in church. It felt like the only logical place anyone could head to. The people I used to know to be lively and cheerful all seemed to have been possessed by some grave spirit. There was common sympathy as we shared glances. Nobody ever smiled anymore, and nobody even really talked anymore. The only words that came out of our mouths were prayers and murmurs of thanks when the more level-headed folks distributed tea and snacks. There were some scientists who still came even after the whole world has been afflicted by the clouds, hoping, since our town was ground zero, that they could find answers. But they seemed to have given up altogether, like time had run out. They were in the church with the rest of us.
And then it was night.
My family and I sat together on the pew. It was cold, colder than I’d ever felt before, and despite the bright lights and what colours that streamed through the church’s glass windows, the world felt a dark brooding place. Not even being inside, sitting in full view of the crucifix, singing praise and worship, reading passages from the bible, did not ease the mounting terror of the night. Strangely, I noticed that nobody thought this was the Second Coming, nobody mentioned Christ descending from heaven in shining armour and a long sword in hand, with an army of angels behind Him. There was no reference to the dead rising from their graves, no great war between the forces of Hell and Heaven. There was, however, a great deal of crying, praying, and singing, all mixed and merging into a jumbled unison, like it was some kind of cultic incantation designed to stop the oncoming apocalypse. Even those who did not speak our tongue hummed the tune with tears flowing out of their closed eyes and running down their cheeks, head held up and facing the crucifix, regardless of what god they believed in. At some point I had to get out of the church into the yard to get some air. The inside of the church was filled to its capacity, and those who did not fit inside took their place around the courtyard. Just about every single inhabitant of the town was there, and more and more people entered through the church gate the deeper the night got, people from other towns and villages, in desperate hope that our village was somehow significant in whatever was to come. Bonfires were lit around the place, as if to ward off evil. Out among the jittery throng, I spied one of my classmates. He stood with his family around a fire in the midst of relatives and neighbours I vaguely knew. I used to have a crush on him in what now felt like ages ago. I mused at how childish and inconsequential it seemed now, how little and unimportant we, humans, seemed now. The love we had, the hatred we bore, all the anger, the grief, the joy, the pleasures we felt at one point in our lives were now nothing more than tiny insignificant specks in the face of the universal fear we all felt as we waited for midnight. It wasn’t a fear of death as far as I could tell. It was a fear of the unknown, a fear of something we couldn’t comprehend, something far and away beyond us, beyond human knowledge and understanding, the fear of the realisation that we were absolutely nothing at all after all, the fear of nonexistence.
My knees suddenly went weak and I fell to the ground. Unbidden, hot tears streamed down my face as I sat there on the cold dewy grass, hugging my knees close to my chest, the biting cold offering no relief from the shivers that has ensnared my body. I was given no special attention for many of the people around me were in the same fetal position. Nobody could console anybody. All we could do was empathise and hold onto our loved ones. My parents and my brothers came staggering out when I did not return to them. They found me and got down to the ground as well. Crying, they hugged me. I hugged them back. There were no words to say. None at all.
We stayed out there in the cold the rest of the night, the warm blaze of the bonfires flickering and spewing sparks, its dancing shadows the only liveliness left in this godforsaken sanctum. Brief glances filled with empathy and understanding were shared between people who knew each other in what felt like a lifetime ago, but everyone was more or less lost in their own state of mind. There were very few conversations. And as the night grew even deeper, the praying and the singing and the crying stopped altogether.
The clock struck twelve.
Nothing happened. Everyone held on tight to the people next to them as their eyes darted about expecting the worst, expecting the unknown. And for a fleeting moment, I thought everything was going to be okay, that we had all been building ourselves up for nothing, that the clouds would disappear and then life would go on normally, and by this time next year, we would all laugh about how we had scared ourselves half to death over nothing. For a fleeting moment, I had hope.
First, there was a feeling. It was strong, ominous, and undeniable. The hairs on every part of my body stood up. Despite the cold, I felt a trickle of sweat run down the length of my spine. And then an utter and complete stillness followed. The wind did not blow, therefore no sounds carried. The only noises we could hear are the ones produced around where we stood, like we were in a dome, contained, alone, and abandoned. The fires, that danced before, now burned straight with its flaming tongues licking nothing but the motionless air over them, and the crackling of the charring woods were the only sounds, and they sounded muffled like cotton had been stuffed into my ears. Nobody made a move. Nobody spoke a word. Nobody made a sound. The temperature steadily dropped. It was barely noticeable at first, but our breaths steamed more and more, and the fires lessened in their intensity, and a few heartbeats later, it completely died. The mounds of black ashes hissed and steamed. The smoke rose straight up in the air swiftly, and as everyone looked up, we saw the sky was closer now to us than it was ever before. The colours were more vibrant as the clouds floated downwards as if reluctantly giving in to the pull of gravity. Waves of murmurs washed through the crowd and here and there children resumed their crying. We held onto each other tighter than ever, but our eyes never left the luminous hues over our heads. I felt the still air getting colder still, and then I realised my clothes were damp. I turned about. There were reflective specks of dew on the hairs of everyone around me. Everyone else began to notice it too. It did not take long for the damp clothes to become wet, and while everyone was occupied with perplexity, the clouds had descended upon us. They weren’t clouds at all, or made up of water. They were, it seemed, living organisms. Tiny. Barely perceptible to the naked eye. They reminded me of dandelions, only they weren’t blown by the wind, for there was no wind. They were swimming in the air, wriggling, dancing, and they glowed the most brilliant colours, and it was hypnotising to behold. I wondered how all those tests and scrutinies with all those high-tech instruments never found anything, never reported what the clouds truly were. I held up a hand. Hundreds and thousands of the mist like creatures swam through my fingers, up my palm, and the back of my hand. They attached themselves to the tiny hairs on my skin and seemed to nibble on them. My whole hand looked like I was holding some mystic source of light, and it was beautiful. And I wondered how something so mystifying and resplendent could inspire such fear, such horror.
Someone among the paralysed crowd uttered a petrified screech, and then, as if that was a signal that said it was time to panic, everyone erupted. And then I felt it too. There was a prickling sensation at first, like when your arm or leg was waking up from sleep. There was no pain, and under normal circumstances, it might even be pleasant, but the sensation felt alien and terrifying, and I felt it all over my body. And then it began to hurt. A million needles with razor sharp point were poking at my skin, and then burrowing inside. I felt it swarm underneath my skin, edging their way inward through the fat and muscles to the core of my body. It itched as much as it hurt. I slapped my arms and my body in desperation, I tore at my clothes that were now dripping, but everything I did seemed to make it even worse. It was agony like I’d never felt before. Everyone was screaming. My brothers writhed on the soaking grass in torment, my mother and father, helplessly and hopelessly swiping at the air around their children and doing their pointless best to brush the minuscule creatures from their bodies. I fell down to the ground beside my family, scratching at myself, thrashing for what good it did, but the pain only increased as the swarm grew thicker. With my eyes growing dim and the organisms now thick as a fog on the coldest winter mornings, I could barely see beyond arm’s reach, and the colours were blinding as they flickered and flew. And it was getting harder and harder to breathe, like we were in the midst of a rainstorm, only there was no wind, and all the water was floating in the air, moving at their own pace, and we were breathing it in. People choked as they cried, they coughed and spat as they flailed and screamed.
And then everything stopped. The minute organisms still swarmed all over, but nobody moved. Nobody could move. The pain did not stop. It was searing. I was freezing and on fire at the same time. I could feel the torturous wriggling in my flesh in every part of my body, but my hands could move no more than an inch or so at a time, like I was stuck inside some thick jelly, and so was everyone else. My brothers, I realised to my horror, were no longer awake. My mother and father held their hands tight, quivering with excruciating sobs. They both reached their free hands out towards me. I was on the ground a little more than an arm’s length away. Through the sludge that was becoming of the air and through the agonising pain that came with the slightest muscle contractions, I struggled my arms out and managed to reach out to them, clasping my fingers tight around their outstretched hands. I couldn’t move anymore. We were locked in place. All we could do was bear the pain. My eyes darted around, but they saw little. Still, I realised that the colours were now gone, and everything was white and translucent. A heartbeat felt as long as hours in that inescapable torture. The screamings and the cryings stopped, but there wasn’t silence. There was another sound that began to fill the tiny pockets of space in the midst of the savage organisms. It sounded like crackling, or sputtering, and it was constant and all around and close by. And I didn’t have to wait long to figure out what it was.
Blood oozed firstly from the nose, mouth, eyes and ears of my parents. There was nothing that could be done. Even crying was not possible for I no longer controlled my body. All I felt was the pain and the vivid horror as the red drops did not fall to the ground. The blood formed into red gleaming spheres and they floated in the air. Blobs and blobs poured forth from their orifices, broke up midair, and floated in no general direction. Witnessing the unbelievable terror in my parents’ wide bulging red eyes was as painful as the pain under my skin, yet I could not avert my gaze even at the least. There were no words and no cries. All that came out of their mouths except the blood were weak croaks, and that soon turned into a sickening gurgling sound. And then tiny droplets of red began to form on their skin like beads of sweat, pushing through invisible pores. My brothers, still on the grass, were now soaked in red. Even as the pain multiplied a hundredfold, I was still lucid enough to be glad that they were already gone.
I couldn’t breathe anymore, and all I saw was red. And immediately after, orbs of blood drifted into my field of scarlet vision. I felt my nose running and there was a painful tickle in the canals of my ears. I felt a piercing warmth between my legs, my navel, and my chest, and they quickly turned cold. My whole body was soaked in blood and the texture of millions of the carnivorous organisms. My eyes were still wide open, but soon they did not see anymore. I could not hear anymore and there was no scent that I could smell. All I felt was the white searing pain that commanded all of my senses. And then as the pain grew greater still, my consciousness died.
And then I awoke. I was in my room, on my bed, under my warm woollen blanket. The air was chilly, and yellow sunlight streamed through the thin gap between the curtains. I did not feel like I had just slept. There was no grogginess, no numbness in my tongue, and my eyes did not feel heavy. I could hear faint voices in other rooms, and laughter. My parents and my brothers. I sat up to orient myself. Nothing made sense. How was this possible? I checked myself, fumbling at my face and arms, lifting my clothes up to inspect every part of my body. No blood. No wounds. No scars. There was absolutely nothing. I got out of bed and ambled to the window and pulled apart the curtains. The bright sunlight hit me with its soothing warmth, but comfort was a far cry for all I felt was confusion and unease. There was not a speck of cloud in the sky, and it was a clear blue, fading to white around the low and rising brilliant sun. A soft breeze blew and the trees swayed and a few leaves fell. Through the gaps in our fence, I could see two or three people walking about. There was no crowd. I opened the glass window and the screen and was greeted by the cool air, but the unease did not leave me.
I couldn’t decide what was stranger: the fact that nothing I remembered seemed to have happened at all, or not a single person seemed to remember anything about it at all. I was in a daze for the first few days, ambling about like I was in some kind of realistic lucid dream, unsure of what was real and what wasn’t. It was the first day of the new year, the year 2000. The world hasn’t ended. Newspapers wrote about the New Year celebrations, showed pictures of fireworks, welcoming the new millennia, and mentioned in brief about the fears of Y2K and how stupid the people who preached that the world was ending and the people who believed it might be feeling waking up not to devastation but a brilliant cheerful morning. I did not say anything directly to my parents. I skirted around the subject, asking what they thought of the night before, asking about their dreams, if there was any news of anything strange related to the ‘end of the world’. Nothing. And according to them, I had gone out to celebrate with friends and got home and went straight to bed at around two in the morning. And the past few weeks before had been nothing more than a typical Christmas season, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing worth remembering. Beyond New Year’s eve, I noted that they had a hard time recalling anything, but they did not seem bothered by it, playing it off as something insignificant. They did not even ask why I was asking such questions. Nobody I talked to mentioned anything about the clouds or the throng of visitors. Even the people I shared secrets with spoke not a word about anything I remembered. Some even asked if I was feeling okay, and it was almost painful to force myself to laugh it off. For the first few days, when not a single person but me seemed to have any memory of what I remembered, I tried to convince myself that it was all a dream, that it was all some hyper realistic nightmare or hallucination, and I tried my best to move past it. However, everything felt like a reminder. The normalcy with which everyone around me went on with their daily lives felt like a slight on my memories, like everyone around me was conspiring with the intention to subjugate my sanity. The worst of it was seeing my family alive and ignorant of the things I knew. I saw my mother and father die right in front of my eyes! I felt the pain, the physical and the emotional, and they were real. I swear on my life and everything I love, they were real. The distinction between reality and a dream is not a blurry confusing line. You might not know that you’re dreaming when you are dreaming, but you sure as hell know that you’re awake when you are awake. And then you realise there was something off about the dream once you wake up, and it becomes obvious that it wasn’t real. Well, I woke up, but I did not remember a dream. I remembered a very different reality.
My mother and father, brothers, and everyone I knew died at midnight on the First of January of the year 2000. The people I saw when I woke up, who wore the faces of my parents, were not my parents, the two boys with the faces of my brothers, who were as lively and as loving, were not my brothers. I couldn’t stand to be around them for long. It all felt perverse and wrong when I could remember their deaths so clearly. I forced myself through the rest of the year of highschool, and then I decided to move out. It was all I could do to keep myself from having a breakdown as I told my parents—or the man and woman who wore the faces of my parents—of my decision. I had to be somewhere else, somewhere new, somewhere I knew nobody.
It was almost as if I was trying to relive my memories of the days preceding my world’s end by moving to a crowded city, but I have found a sense of comfort among strangers. I dropped out of college in my second year. I just couldn’t care less about it anymore. I visited home twice in the first year, once in the second, and none after I told them I was dropping out. They believed, in my last visit, that something was wrong with me, not knowing that they were what’s wrong. They acted like I would expect my real parents to act, spoke the words I might want to hear, but all it did was inflame my belief in the falsity of it all. The last time I left, I told them I’d be in touch and not to worry. It has been almost ten years since the last time I left home, a little more than ten since that midnight. I couldn’t remember the last time I telephoned home. I couldn’t bring myself to. I moved four times in the last few years, hardly leaving any trace of myself. I made sure I made no friends. I moved from job to job, never able to grow into one, and the work never growing on me. And during all that time, all I could think of was how all of it was wrong. The world had ended, but how could life still be going on? I tried to find anyone else who might’ve had the same experiences as me. The internet is a scary wonderful place. In my constant running, I seldom had time to learn new things or appreciate anything for that matter, so maybe I could’ve done a lot more with my searches if only I knew more. With no one to help me navigate the digital jungle, my best hope at finding anything close to what I was looking for was rendered useless. All I managed to find were tinfoil hatted folks, the kind of crazies there was no shortage of in the village in the weeks before the new year; and their ‘theories’ of simulations, alternate universes and realities only angered me, left me frustrated. However, I still harbour the hope that there are people out there, somewhere in the world, whose skies were covered in a brilliant display of colourful clouds, people who saw those same clouds descend and destroy the people they love, people whose world ended on the First of January of the year 2000. How could I be alone? If you are out there, then I hope you find this writing and know that you’re not alone. I hope you are doing better than I am. I hope you have found it in yourselves to love the people you woke up to after all the devastation. I truly hope you live.
I escaped death, but death feels like it’s finally catching up to me. Two months since I left my last job. Three weeks and four days since I last stepped out of my apartment. Fifty-two hours since I last slept, and twenty-three hours since I began writing this. I feel a lot better now, since I’m writing not in the off-chance that I find you, but because I’m sure you will find me eventually. It’s a heavy weight off my shoulder. Who could ever believe me except for you and those who have experienced what I have?
Believe me when I say I have tried to move on, to adopt this new life. I tried my damndest for more than ten years. Maybe I’m just not strong enough. It’s genuinely hard to get rid of the destructive believe that your world has ended and you are living in someone else’s, that the people you love and care for are not the same people you loved and cared for. And it’s not just a belief anymore. It’s a fact. A reality. My reality. If you saw them die in front of your very eyes, I wonder if you might do any better than me. And of late, a new notion has been hounding me. Maybe this life I’m living is not really mine. Maybe I have robbed someone of it, and now they are dead like my real parents, my real brothers, my real friends. I feel like an imposter. There is no way around it. I should not be alive. I should’ve died with my family. And I have tried to find reasons why I was alive and not anyone else. I am nothing. A nobody. Why do I deserve this burden of life?
It is almost midnight. December 18, 2012. Soon it will be December 19. The stars and the moon are out. The night sky is beautiful without the clouds. If you’ve seen those clouds and experienced what I have, then you know what I’m talking about; but if you have not, then I hope you take a moment sometimes in your busy life to look up once in a while and appreciate the beauty of the sky. If you did not experience the same turn of millennia that I did, then I do not expect you to believe and I am not trying to convince you, for what gullible person would ever believe such tales? But if the clouds and its colours haunt you and you see the dying faces of the ones you love in your nightmares, then I truly, truly hope that you do not just stay alive, but live. Live for the ones you love. Live for me.