They arrived all at once, with no warning. Everywhere, in every place, for everyone.
I was lucky, in a sense. It was late at night for me when they arrived, and I was outside and a little tipsy. On my porch, considering a cigarette. Our friends had just left after a pleasant night of wine and cards. My partner was in the shower, most of the indoor lights off or dim.
Before me, our unpaved quiet street. The silhouette of the treeline. Quite dark, except for a few stars peeking through the scattered clouds overhead.
I remember deciding to skip the dart, to save it for a social occasion, or maybe just toss the pack out. And like a reward for this thought, the world filled with a hundred thousand specks of light.
They snapped on like Christmas lights. Floating everywhere, white-blue, small as sparks from a campfire. They drifted though, nice and calm. Like flecks of plant life in a still lake. Startled of course, I think I wisely remarked, “What?” and backed towards the house. I blinked several times. Wondered if I was having a stroke.
They floated on. I heard my partner shout my name.
Later that night, we stayed up watching them for hours. Social media, our family and friends—everyone saw them too. Beautiful and strange.
I was lucky, because that first night was mostly filled with wonder and awe. There were other stories of course, ones that were quite unlucky. I won’t go into details, but I’m sure you can imagine that some folks received this "event" poorly.
This was over ten months ago.
They are still here, every day. Everywhere. During the day they still project their light, fluttering all about like a constant glitter storm. They seem to pass right through everything, although it’s tough to tell if passing through something affects them. Or us.
The world has developed a complicated relationship with our new friends. Of course, the curious and scientific among us went right to work, and have come up quite empty so far. Here’s what I know from following the research.
They do not seem to show up well on normal video or infrared, but you can see them in mirrors. Meaning they don’t interact with light in ways we would expect. None of our sensitive physics-related machinery can detect them. When you close your eyes, they’re gone… suggesting that it’s (probably) not all in our heads. Nothing else about the universe we’ve observed seems to have changed.
Conventional science has been stumped, which of course allows the religious and paranormal theories to run completely unchecked. There’s a growing industry around reading fortunes based on the specks swirling around you. Lots of herbal remedies that claim to make the sparks glow less, or more. Others believe it’s a signal for the end of the world, still others say it’s a sign we’re about to ascend to a new plane of existence.
My partner’s partial to the theory that it’s some kind of weird space cloud that we’re traveling through right now.
As for me? I try to live life as best I can. The world is strange in so many ways, and the sparks just happen to be a stark reminder. I can’t do much about them, same as I never had a say in how gravity works or how hot the sun shines down. I’m already tired with the small talk around it, the constant theories, the mania, and the celebrations.
Although, I will say, I’ve never had a cigarette since.
This short story was inspired by The Ink Well Prompt #51: They're Here. I own the license for the story image. Thank you for reading.