|Essay # 2 – In The Dark:
Buzz! Buzz! The alarm on my nightstand started to wake me. With a groan, I rolled over and turned it off. I stayed in bed for a few minutes, enjoying the warmth of it, then willed myself to sit up and walk out of my comfy room. It seemed pretty dark in the hallway, but I took no notice of that, it was 5:00 in the morning, the sun was not expected to rise until about six.
I grumbled to myself under my breath, “Early news, such a brilliant idea, make people wake up before the sun is up to broadcast the news. Who even watches the news at 6 o’clock in the morning?” My excitement at being a news reporter had quickly faded, when, as a new recruit, I was set to broadcast the early news. The very early news.
I shaved the stubble off my chin, and from my face. Then I got myself dressed in the suit and tie. I decided to be rebellious and wear one with bright yellow polka dots. See what people at the station would think of that!
Needless to say, the drive to work was very boring. And to top things off, it was still dark. I came so close to falling asleep and driving off the road that it wasn’t even funny. Finally I arrived at work. It was about quarter to six, and I was pretty pleased that I had made it on time. I strolled into work, carefully straightening my tie, looking all confident and cool about my job. That is, until my boss spotted me. “Mr. Schyler! We run an enterprising business here, and if you do not arrive on time, then you will have to be replaced!”
“Yes, Ms. Jones,” I said meekly. Ms. Jones, my boss, was a very intimidating woman, who towered over everyone that she met. Her hulking body just added to her lovely personality. She was also known for her temper, which was incredibly short for a woman who had once run a Snuggles toy store commercial. She seemed to like only two things: her coffee, which was black and smelled vulgar, and her pet bulldogs, of which resembled her, or vice versa.
It was now about ten minutes until showtime, and I wandered over to the weathermen who were sitting at the computers, and writing out the forecast for me to read. I walked up to one of them, some Chinese guy with glasses who was arguing emphatically about something or the other. “Excuse me sir, is there a problem?” I asked in my best polite get-out-of-my-way voice. The guy turned right around and gave me a weird look. Then he asked one of the weathermen, “Who is this man?”
“Well I can answer for myself, I am James Schyler, the new news reporter for the six o’clock hour.” I said, just a little bit ticked off. The man gave me another look, then he said, “Look, I don’t have time to deal with you, I have much more important issues to deal with then some news reporter with a swollen head.”
Ouch. I have to admit, that one came a little close to home. But I could still defend myself. “Really, well what is your problem?” I asked. The man just ignored me, and turned again to the group of weathermen. “Look, I need to see the head department person here. It is very urgent and cannot wait. The very world is at stake!”
“I am sorry, Mr. Wang, but she cannot see you at the moment.” A weatherman told him. Mr. Wang did not take to this piece of news very well. He became enraged, and color started to rush to his face. What was this guy’s problem?
“Look, Wang, what is your problem, if I am in the mood, then I maybe could pass a message along.” Psshh. Like that would happen. I was waaayyy too scared of Ms. Jones to go near her. It was just sparking my interest on what was eating this guy up so badly.
Wang turned and looked at me. For a second, something crossed his face, probably indecision, then he spoke to me. “Alright, Mr. Schyler, it is of major importance that you tell your boss this: Something is wrong. The earth is being pulled out of orbit, and today, there will be no sunrise. Everyone needs to go back into their houses, and do not travel until word is given.”
I was laughing even before he finished speaking. “Right, and why don’t I tell her that pigs have started flying too, isn’t that right? Who are you anyway?” My laughter died away when I looked up in Wang’s face. He wasn’t laughing.
“Take it as a joke, for right now, but you will see. I am right, unfortunately.”
His face was so serious it nearly convinced me. But not quite. “Look, Wang, the sun will rise in a few minutes, and then we will see who is right.” I brushed the crazy lunatic off.
At that moment, Ms. Jones went into a frenzy. “Schyler, get over here! You are on in 2 minutes!” Someone random shoved the copy of the news into my hands, and I walked out quickly and took a seat at the table in front of the cameras. I heard the countdown, and then I was on live TV. “Good morning citizens of Nashville! I am James Schyler, your 6 o’clock news reporter! If we look out on the outdoor camera, we will see the sun rising over the hills, for what is expected to be a hot, sunny day!” I made this pointed remark specifically to Wang, who was standing near the cameras. But as the focus shifted to the outdoor cameras, I felt my stomach sinking. Outside, where normally the sun would be seen almost fully risen, there was pitch darkness, as black as night. The cameras shifted back to me, and I lost it. “He was right,” I half whispered to myself. Then someone stepped in front of me and started yelling. I stared with amazement. It was Wang! I knew he was a little weird, but this was way beyond normal! “Stay inside your houses, don’t leave them! The earth is being pulled out of orbit, and we are moving away from the sun! We will loose all heat and light then we will-“ Wang’s words were cut off from the newscast as someone turned off the cameras. All I saw was Ms. Jones storming towards me. “In my office, both of you! NOW!”
It was about 7:20. We were in Ms. Jones office, waiting for her to come in. She was busy “cleaning up the mess” I had made of the news. From what I had heard, she was going to pass it off as some kind of April Fools day joke. As a matter of fact, it was April 2nd, but I was not going to be the one to point that out. I snuck a look through the blinds, it was still dark. The panic that had been growing in my stomach was getting bigger. The weirdo, Wang, was actually right. And if he was right, then there was going to be no sunlight forever, and then, we would have no heat, and no light, and then there would be no plants, and then no food, and then-. My thoughts were interrupted by Ms. Jones, who barged into her office, looking scarier then ever, and slammed the door behind her. Even Wang, who had kept silent this entire time, jumped at her entrance. She looked tired, and furious at the same time. “Alright, what is going on here?” Ms. Jones’ voice had lost her usual screaming tone, and was reduced to a sort of weary loud voice. “I spent more than an hour picking up the pieces of a ruined job. We could have been put out of commission for that little stunt. What were you thinking?”
“Well,” I started to say. My plan was to blame it all on Wang, and hope to escape with my job. “Please allow me to explain,” Wang said.
“My name is Yu Su Wang, and I work in the field of astrology. Recently I have noticed that every circuit around the sun was becoming more and more irregular, as well as becoming faster. My reasoning for this is, it is like a ball on a string. The faster you spin it around, the further out it will reach. Eventually the string will snap, and the ball will fly out into the unknown depths. That is what has happened to the earth now at this moment. Our ‘string’ has snapped and we are now set free to wander the depths of space. There is a high chance that we could collide with something and therefore be obliterated.”
I was listening to all this with an incredulous look on my face. I am sure that Ms. Jones was the same way. “So you mean to tell me that our entire existence is going to die?” she asked in disbelief. This was new to me. I had never seen Ms. Jones have such a look on her face. I had seen fury, anger, impatience, grouchiness, the straight-out-death glare cross her face, but never had I seen disbelief mar those features. “So what do we do about this?” I asked. “Just sit back and wait to die?”
“Essentially, yes.” Wang replied. “There is nothing we can do to stop the inevitable. But we can prolong it. When I discovered what was happening to the earth, I immediately informed several colleagues of mine, and we proceeded to come up with some solutions that will prolong our free wanderings. We have already launched several protective shields into the atmosphere, and those will activate on command. We have also started growing many plants in artificial lighting, but these will not last long. We finally, have switched the majority of our outside power to hydropower, as it will remain unchanged for this period of time. I came to Nashville to confirm my theory. This is the first part of the earth that will be feeling the effect of the missing sunlight. I need everyone in this area to stay calm and in their houses, and most importantly, not to panic. Panicking will cause complete chaos. That is why I have interrupted your broadcast, and for that I am deeply sorry.”
Both my boss and I were at a loss for words. Wang also fell silent. His words had been calm and composed at first, almost rehearsed, but as he continued speaking, his voice had gotten louder and louder, and his face had become flushed. My guess was that he had been rehearsing his lines before Ms. Jones had come in. I felt kind of bad for being such a jerk to him before. Who would have thought that this short, thin man with glasses would be the one to save the world?
So, overall, the city of Nashville was pretty advanced when it came to realizing what had happened to the world. I ended up going back on the air, and I was the one to explain to the people, what was going on, and how to remain calm, and what the government and scientists were doing to ‘stop’ it. I did lie about the whole, we have no chance kind of thing, because you have to leave people some kind of hope. And we all followed orders. Soon the grass died, then the insects, then the small animals, and pretty soon most of the food chain was extinct. What people found, though is that the scientists had already thought ahead and had food in reserve. The artificial lighting served to grow plants well, and soon a habitat was thriving, without light! For most other commodities and luxuries that had become a part of everyday life, people found they had to give up. There were many examples of ‘modernized’ people who just gave up all those things and went back to old times. Fire was the source of heat and light, and flashlights and batteries were saved for rare occasions. Electricity was rationed also, because hydropower was not enough for everything. So far, everything is working fine. Wang has become a world-recognized genius, and I have become a sort of world newscaster. Instead of TV, people would listen on radios. I am now the head of a company, and everyone knows the name of James Schyler. Also I have the best help. Ms. Jones is amazing at getting people to do whatever she orders them to do. Some days, or nights, or whatever you wish to call them. I go outside, and look at all the different stars. And only then do I realize how small and insignificant we humans are. We are nothing but a small speck and each of us is alone in the dark.