I can’t hear them, see them, or smell them, but I know.
It happens every year, on the same day. The skies grow thick with clouds, blotting out the sun before it even has the chance to rise. Darkness hangs over the city all day, and we go about our preparations in the eerie twilight of a dawn that never comes. Then, when sunset would normally approach, a blood moon rises instead. Its crimson glow pierces the cloud cover despite the depth of the roiling mass. Bathed in that bloody light, they come.
Wednesday, 11th of February, 2015.
The birds outside are chirping as usual. Their song is familiar. One of the neighbours is already mowing their lawn. Possibly number fifteen. The sun is bright enough to illuminate my bedroom, despite the closed curtains. My stomach gurgles. There will be no more sleep to be had this morning.
I was ten years old when I first saw it. Or, rather, didn’t see it. It never really made itself visible. That is not to say it was invisible by any means; no, it always seemed like it was perfectly able to be seen but placed just out of my range of sight. Out of eye-shot, if you will.
I loved my wife. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. Her eyes twinkled blue like the sky, her cheeks were rosy pink like a cherry blossom, and her hair glowed red like a roaring fire. Everything about her was perfect. And she was mine.
‘Oliver, I’m booooored!’
I don’t even turn to look at Caprice, instead continuing to half-heartedly throw stale bread at the ducks circling the edge of the pond in front of us. I can see in my peripheral vision, though, that she’s long since given up that activity and is now swinging her legs impatiently at something that I’m sure exceeds the speed of light.
I am in a box.
It is four metres wide, three metres long, and two metres high. The box has a door, a window, and a light. There is a bed to sleep on. There is a cupboard filled with clothes. There are shelves stocked with things to do. There is a computer at a desk through which I can access the world. And there is me.
It’s bright. I try to shield my eyes from the harsh light assaulting them, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t escape it. Everything around me, in every direction and for as far as my eyes can see, is completely white. The landscape is completely featureless. Even the shadow below my feet is barely discernible. I may as well be being illuminated from every direction at once. It’s like some bizarre green-screen setup, before post-production has edited the backgrounds in.