Shifting Sky. Short Story.

I went out on Saturday, which was quite fun, dressed in a costume, I was a hung over cloud with rainbow vomit (picture is here, from my twitter, it’s currently my profile picture.) Only one person was able to guess what I was, I had to explain it to everyone else. Still, it was an enjoyable night. Spent most of Sunday being lazy and watching TV, had lamb for dinner, it was amazing. Cooked in a slow cooker for about 9 hours. It was insanely tender, literally falling off the bone and separating from itself with almost no effort. It was my sisters idea, she recommended we try it and I’m glad we did. Seriously, everyone should try doing this, plus it’s super easy, that’s what is great about a slow cooker, turn it on in the morning before you go off for the day and you return home to a hot dinner waiting for you.

On with the show!

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It appeared as though they were just hanging in the sky. It was still so strange, even after a week of seeing it. No one knew where they came from or why, there was mass panic at first, but people seemed to be getting used to them. Of course there were still the crazies and religious nuts going around claiming the world was ending, but then that wasn’t exactly new either. He sometimes wondered if they had a calming influence. When he first saw them he was transfixed, staring for hours and hours before finally snapping out of it. When he stopped, he realised he was sitting and gazing upwards, and he wasn’t the only one. There were people all over the street, sitting or lying down, looking at them. He was a bit panicky at first, at the thought of being late to work, but that worry was dulled too. He wasn’t the only one late that morning, nor the next. Lunch had also accidentally run long. It was just so hard not to look at them. Even now he caught himself gazing out the window for ten or fifteen minutes, not thinking, not doing anything, just looking. Of course scientists were rushing to find out what the hell they were while world governments bickered and accused each other of hiding knowledge. That seemed to be the worst part, that there was no warning, something that no one really believed. They had to have shown up somewhere at some point on scanners or in photographs, but according to every one and all the governments, they had no knowledge of them prior to the day they appeared.  There was no indication anything was coming, there was no heralding event, no storms or strange flashes of light. Nothing, just a regular day and ordinary night and the next morning they were there. The earliest reported sighting of them was dawn. They seemed to have appeared with the morning light. They gave off no signals, nothing, no equipment could seem to detect them. As far as the equipment was concerned, the skies were empty and clear. They were beautiful though. There were thousands, perhaps millions, of photographs of them, all over the internet. Famous landmarks with them in the background, just sitting there in the sky. But they were moving, it seemed everyone could agree that they were moving very slowly. They did not seem to be falling, they continued onwards, occasionally one appeared closer, but soon it would right itself and join the others at their usual height. Some were large, some were small, there were even a few tiny fragments, visible with only the most powerful telescopes. The weather itself hadn’t changed, though he did think it had been clearer the last few days, not as many clouds, but he conceded that could be because he spent more time looking upwards than before. Nothing on Earth seemed to be really effected by them. They were just there. Of course, it defied everything about physics, gravity has a pull and they must have had some property that was keeping them from the earths surface. There were many theories on it, but not a single one had been agreed upon. It was a strange phenomenon, but he was enjoying it. It made the world better, more beautiful. Across the sky there were thousands of comets, each one a fantastically bright colour, with an equally coloured tail trailing behind it. Every shade of every colour was there, reds, blues, yellows, greens, purples. It seemed so impossible, but it was right there, for everyone to see. Some people were thinking it was aliens, that it was the only possible explanation, how else could it be explained? He didn’t care where they came from. They weren’t dangerous, he knew it from looking at them. No evil creatures could create something that beautiful, if an outside presence made them, they had to be good. They were calming, soothing, shining beacons. What ever they were, they were good. They had to be. He tried to go about life as before, but it was difficult, they were distracting. He had been surprised there hadn’t been more traffic accidents, but perhaps people were walking, just so they could look at them. The roads did seem cleared, there didn’t appear to be as many cars, even at rush hour, the roads were quite empty. At first shops had been mobbed as people tried to buy everything they could, grabbing water and canned foods, but the longer the comets sat there, the less afraid people became. The shops were returning to normal, some people continued to stock up, but most had stopped, almost sheepishly, as they decided they were overreacting. The news reports had been constant at first, but then there was an earthquake and soon after, the comets were mostly ignored, only reported on when something new was discovered about them, which was rare enough.  Life continued on as it always did, the sudden appearance being accepted quickly and without much fuss, they were not getting closer and they weren’t interfering with anything, so they became nothing more than an oddity. Some people still studied them, examining them for every aspect they could think, but most just fell back into their usual routines. He was still fascinated by them, the slowly moving comets, every week or so they had completely shifted, some days he wouldn’t look up, then when he did, it was as though everything had changed suddenly, the entire sky redesigning itself for him. It was like having a new sky every day. Even at night they shone on, casting the world in thousands of hues. It was a very light affect, but enough that on clear nights, streetlights could be turned off. The colour was soft, it wasn’t jarring or too bright, it was so very gentle. The light mixed and changed as they moved, creating different shapes and shades with every passing moment. It really was quite beautiful. There seemed to be a surge of people going out at night, trying to experience the colours. Before the streetlights were turned off, people gathered in parks, in large, open spaces in the countryside, in order to get the full effect. It wasn’t unusual to see people walking around with umbrellas, no matter the weather, trying to block themselves from the light for fear that it could harm them, despite being reassured it could not. He sometimes felt sad on cloudy days, he had noticed it in others too, it was as though something important had been taken away. He sometimes wished the light could come through the clouds, that the light could be filtered and refracted by the falling rain. Sometimes when the clouds were thin, the light would shine through, creating large, moving stained glass clouds. Those were his favourite days. The colour of the cloud would change and shift unexpectedly as the light fell onto the nooks and crannies.

They were beautiful, that was agreed upon by everyone. As the days and weeks and months went by people began to notice them less and less, but a few remained in love with the comets, organising viewing parties, where they could meet and share stories and photographs, compare which areas were the best for watching them. Sometimes it was relaxing to just lie on the grass and watch them go by, it could be almost hypnotic and some found that while in this semi-dreamlike state, they had sudden bursts of creativity, astounding, amazing ideas that could advance technology, or be translated into a work of astounding art. It wasn’t noticed at first, but crime rates began to drop, people seemed to be getting into less arguments with one another and countries that had been at war began discussing tentative peace treaties.

The comets moved slowly across the sky, burning in their bright, beautiful colours, watching, scanning, analysing.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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