Ernest Wood

Leaning back, his eyes close as more of his spine is greeted and supported by the old armchair. With the still warmth of summer hanging lazily about the body, the mind races from this world to another, far far away.

A long-forgotten colony, just out of Earth’s modern signal range, appears as a mostly orange marble, which swirls with just a few storms tugging this way and that as it grows steadily larger, taking up more and more of the panorama of the mind’s eye.

A liquid with an oily surface weaves snake-like through vast orange canyons, the cliffs of which appear to hold the only grey shapes on the planet. The buildings seem to fit well with their surroundings, where some grey tops appear protruding from the cracked cliffside. As a grouping of these become focussed upon, a couple of grey enrobed figures appear; their windswept animations becoming ever more distinct as they grow to fill the view.

“Is the child comfortable?”
“Yes, I checked on them earlier. Very much asleep by now.”
“Good. That’s good. It is known that we must all be comfortable when it comes.”
“It is.”
“Let us find our space with the others. Our time is near.”

The figures disappear from the receding view of the orange rock. Something blurs in front and everything swims for a few moments before it steadies to a stop just back from the inhabited cliffs and shimmering rivers.

A flash. And everything is gone. The vision quickly backs away as the marble is stripped of its colour; thrown in a tail-like stream away, following the rapidly expanding light and heat of a quintillion nuclear explosions from the death of the rock’s star.

Ernest jolts forward, eyes wide open, as he gasps for breath and rushes from the chair to the cottage window. He stumbles, briefly forgetting about the piles of books and periodicals that form little towers in the otherwise tidy but well-filled living room.

There, in the blue of the mid-afternoon sky, above the proud old oak and ash of the secluded forest, a pin-prick of light was forming. Ernest gripped the windowsill with his trembling hands and stared, fixed on the new supernova knowing that the deadly gamma radiation would not be far behind the light that began to land on his retina.