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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Nature · #2264437
WON: Jack remembers the sunset and a lost world
"Back in my day, when we lived on earth. I would go camping in the mountains by this beautiful lake. By the time sunset was approaching, we would have a fire going and a pile of firewood ready for the night. The tents would be up and we would gather, seated on logs, to watch the sun go down," said Jack. The baby in his arms calmed to the sound of his voice and gazed up into her father's eyes.

"As the blues and greens of the light spectrum were filtered out by water droplets or particles in the atmosphere the sky would turn orange and various hues of red. The land would be bathed in these colors, adding its own hues to a unique picture glorifying the Creator. Every sunset was different, every sunset earned its collective gasp.

One time the sun was going down one side of us and the moon was parallel to us and behind us. Between the sun and the moon, at the dying of the sun, we celebrated the day, swapping stories and laughing and chatting together. When the sun slipped behind the horizon we entered civil twilight when only the brightest planets could be seen in the sky and the memory of it was still blood red. At this time the birds would still be singing in the trees and the latecomers were flying back to their nests for the night. We saw a hawk swoop down on a sparrow, this was when the predatory birds were most active.

Then as we entered nautical twilight, the reds would fade and the brightest stars came out in the darker sky. As the horizon disappeared into the black the faintest stars would come out until all was night. We would chat long into the night still warmed by the sun's lingering warmth. moving closer to the campfire as the chill of the night came down on us and finally retreating to our tents to sleep."

Jack looked down on his baby girl now asleep in his arms and gently placed her in her cot. He examined the view out of the thick glass of the window of the moonbase onto the desolate wasteland of the lunar surface. He could still see the earth covered in the grey dust clouds of its nuclear winter. The sun was now rarely seen down there, the surface radioactive.

As he gazed out he noticed that the upper limb of the sun's sphere was slipping beneath the moon's horizon. The sun still bathed the broken lunar surface with light, its rocks cast longer and longer shadows as the sun slipped down.

He remembered the last panicked moments on earth. He and his family were of the lucky few chosen to be among the survivors in the lunar base. Rockets intended for Mars missions had been diverted en masse into the existing lunar base bringing supplies, a rudimentary fuel-manufacture plant, recycling units, greenhouse habitats, and even a nuclear power plant and a tunneling machine.

He reflected on those early days when all had been chaos and construction. The base had expanded rapidly beneath the surface as they had bored a series of tunnels, halls, and rooms into the hard rock. They were using local water ice deposits to supply fuel, air, and water. They were stocked and ready for the next hundred years. That is how long before the more remote parts of the earth would again be habitable and they could return to the surface.

Jack looked again as the sun finally disappeared and instantly all was black.

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