I monitor the solar telescopes as we do here at the observatory every day. Sunspots are on the uptick again. No wonder we keep getting spotty cell phone reception. The radio’s on the fritz, too. Better inform the agencies, let them adjust the satellites to shield them. It’s all just business as usual.
The mother of all solar flares breaches, flinging untold masses of excited plasma into the void. It takes roughly eight minutes for the observatory to detect the big one.
Coming. Right. At. Us.
How do we tell the world that there will be no day after tomorrow?
Our glorious leader moves in secret to the command bunker, as his “special military operation” has backfired spectacularily. The bunker is ultra-secure, deep under the mountains. No weapon of the hated enemy nor his backstabbing rivals can reach him down there. Hidden, no one knows where our leader currently is. But I, the janitor, know.
They had told my sons it was just a training exercise. That they would be home soon. But it wasn’t, and they won’t. The letters of condolence arrived today.
Another little group of hikers has gone missing in the forest. City folks failing the easiest challenge nature can present; follow the path to the rented cabin. The woods can be dangerous after dark. Us locals volunteer for search parties, again.
We walk line abreast, methodically searching. Our dogs rummage for scent between dancing pools of stark flashlight. Can we locate them in time?
A few miles in, the dogs mark the spoor, excited. We find the lost hikers. Cold and hungry, but relieved.
With our sacrifice in hand, the rituals can continue.
Another patient from the dementia ward has wandered off into the woods beyond. One would think they would put up a fence after the first case, but no. It’s cheaper to call in the volunteer search parties.
The woods are dark and our search party is out. We walk line abreast, my dogs rummaging for scent between dancing pools of stark torchlight. Will we be in time?
A few miles in, the dogs mark the spoor, excited. We are in luck! The patient is down, but alive.
Fresh meat for the dogs tonight. We’ll just say she died of exposure.