[Eleanor]: 668.Contest entries.Famous First Lines.December 2011

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2011-12-22 02:06:41
Contest Entry
short story
Free for reading
It fell upon our world, not seeming like some type of harsh backlash, but more like we were alone and it was our fault. In the beginning Sabrina noticed a hush that blanketed everything like the first fall of snow, when you wake up to a world of silence and pristine beauty. She reveled in it just as she exulted in that first gift of winter, when she carefully closed her front door behind her and left melting footprints in the white on the sidewalk, her breath wreathing her head with frost.

It was an odd sort of hush. The first sign that something was different was the news broadcasts. Where before they had been full of revolution and war in various parts of the world, there was no mention of that strife. The broadcasters did not say that peace had broken out, they merely left the conflicts and their resolutions out completely. You would never know there had ever been fighting in Angola or revolution in Iran. It was as though these things had never happened, or these countries did not exist. Newscasts became more and more brief as there was less and less to report, until they were reduced to weather forecasts and sports synopses. Then those fell off, too. Sabrina no longer turned on her television, preferring to listen to classical music on the radio when she was knitting the shawls she sold at the local church bazaar.

As time passed, the changes could no longer be ignored or brushed away as nothing important. The world had gone quiet, the only communication conversation between neighbours stopping on street corners, or chatting amicably over back fences. There was still mail, but not every day. It seemed as though there were fewer people around. Sabrina couldn’t figure it out. She didn’t really care much either until one church bazaar day, behind her table with her beautiful shawls laid out for sale, she realized that there was hardly anyone there. She called over an old friend she had known for years.

“Chloe,” she said, “where is everyone? What’s happening?”

“I don’t know,” answered the white-haired woman as she fingered one of the lace edges on a particularly beautiful silk and mohair wrap. “It seems like people have just disappeared quietly and there’s nothing to talk about anymore.”

A thought occurred to Sabrina. “Where are all the children?” she asked. “I haven’t seen any here or in church or anywhere, now that I think of it?”

Chloe looked thoughtful. “That’s true. Usually I hear from my grandchildren once a week, but there’s been nothing for ages.”

“Aren’t you worried?” asked Sabrina.

“No,” answered Chloe, “I’m not. That’s very strange, now, isn’t it?”

The older woman wandered off, shaking her head while Sabrina watched her go, narrowing her eyes and thinking that this was no longer like the first fall of snow, but more like the kind of storm that buries anyone venturing out into it.

It was less than a month later that the first space ships arrived with the aliens who took advantage of the niche the missing people had left. Elderly citizens continued with their daily lives, not really caring or even noticing what was going on around them, and in truth, life hadn’t really changed for most of them. Those whose lives were affected didn’t even seem to notice that there was something amiss, much in the way Chloe didn’t miss her grandchildren. Sabrina said nothing but kept her eyes open.

The snow continued to fall, obliterating all that was left of the old world. The old people died, including Sabrina and Chloe and all their friends. But no one mourned them and the aliens, who were indistinguishable from the people they replaced, simply moved into their houses and took over their things.

Generations passed until the new people didn’t know any longer that they weren’t native to the planet. In fact, they were so well assimilated into the biosphere that when we arrived to hunt down our destroyers and take revenge on the deaths of our ancestors, all we found was a planet full of innocents. We would never have known of the deception our murderers had pulled if it had not been for one lace knitter’s diary, found in a church basement, wrapped in a woolen shawl. But by then it was too late, for the planet had worked its magic on us and we found we would rather rest a while instead of seeking vengeance.

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