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The Void

After the Sunset

By emaPublished 3 months ago 6 min read
The Void
Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

The sand was still warm under my feet. The kids were playing in the sand while my wife packed the beach towels in the bag.

I gazed at the ocean, admiring a glorious sunset. I wished the vacation would never end and I could escape my usual life. I dreaded the return of the anxiety that would assault me, choke me in my sleep, and spawn those horrifying nightmares, nightmares in which I felt like a foreigner in this world.

The sun cast its last rays of fire while I savored the last moments of serenity. People left the beach with their long shadows in tow. The last ray lapped the water and stayed there, suspended between the waves.

The cries of joy of my children chasing each other distracted me for a few minutes. I concentrated on them for a while. As they turned in my direction I waved to get their attention, as we were due to leave soon.

My eyes landed on the sea again. The sun was still there. It seemed like a sudden gust of wind or a foggy patch had caused it, but then I saw my wife taking the beach towels from the bag and laying them on the ground, one after another. The kids were still running but in reverse.

I stood up and looked around. People reversed their course to the beach and settled in their previous spots from a few minutes ago. I almost took my breath away.

The sun moved away from the sea losing its orange color and the light became more intense. The world was going upside down.

I shouted to my family, but they ignored me. Then I noticed a man near me get up and reverse his steps to the kids: it was my own self. It was me half an hour earlier, we were playing together then I left them to go tidy up my things, but I decided to sit and watch the sunset for a few minutes.

I couldn't believe it, while my wife sat on the beach, the boys and I played. But I wasn't with them, I was looking at them a few meters away and everything moved backward like a rewound film.

The sun continued to climb up the sky. I didn't know if it was my imagination, but I knew for sure that I wasn't dreaming. I took out my cell phone to see if there was some general alarm, some natural phenomenon reported by others... but the screen was black. No communications. I remembered hearing something about a reversal of the Earth's rotation. Yes, it had to be this, the sun was going backwards because the Earth had reversed its path. But there was no talk of rewinding time too, but what was going on?

Desperate, I decided to get away from the beach, maybe it was just a hallucination and I needed fresh water, I had caught too much sun. I reached the parking lot, while other people passed by me, all proceeding in reverse on foot, by car, by bike. None of them could see me.

Then a man walked past me and touched my arm:

“Come with me!” - He said.

"Can you see me?" - I answered.

“Of course, it's time, the plan begins” - He declared.

“Which plan?” - I asked.

“What we are here for, you applied ten years ago, maybe you are still confused, it will come back to you on the way, let's go”.

The stranger grabbed my arm and dragged me to a vehicle. He flashed a tablet at me, but the writing was incomprehensible, it was a foreign language. Suddenly, I remembered the same tablet years ago, holding it in my hand and answering some questions concerning the planet Earth.

“What does it mean?” - I asked him.

“It's time to start the plan, we have to document everything!” - He exclaimed.

“Everything what?” - I was more and more confused.

"The Humans!" - He yelled.

I closed my eyes and remembered.

I remembered when I volunteered for a mission. When they explained to me what planet Earth looks like and when they taught me how to behave like a human.

I remembered my first day on Earth when I took Henry's place in his body.

I remembered that I was a foreigner in this world.

The day had come. We had taken planet Earth. We were dormant in human bodies and only we could witness the planet's reversal of rotation. We had discovered a method to travel to the past, but we dared not try it on ourselves, we had to use it on a different world, a different kind of life, humans.

I looked at my hands. I no longer looked like Henry, I had separated from his body at sunset. My fingers were bony again, the skin pale and transparent enough to show the veins and the yellow blood flowing inside.

The sun was getting higher and higher in the sky. People walked backward. I saw my family driving back. Henry with his wife and children. I saw my children born, I raised them! I abandoned the stranger and ran home. I didn't know what to do, I couldn't escape. I watched my family retrace the day.

They all had lunch together on the last day of the holiday. I was there in my kitchen, watching their smiles, but they couldn't see me. Henry was sitting at the table, not me.

The day continued to rewind its time and morning came as they began to pack for the journey. I had suggested doing them in advance and then spending the last evening at the beach. And then dawn came, and they put on their pajamas and went back to their beds. The sun descended on the mountains to relive its dawn, it descended slowly and inexorably to erase this day.

I remembered all the days I felt inadequate, out of place, with no purpose in life. Then I looked at my children and happiness hit me hard and held me close for hours when I thought the world was perfect. And this man who was now walking backward towards his bed, I stole his life, fifteen very long years, fifteen beautiful years.

I could not lose them.

I waited for him to fall asleep. I entered his body again. Shortly after my wife woke up. She got up and went to the bathroom, walking normally. I got out of bed, the mirror reflecting the usual image of Henry.

I looked out the window. The sunrise was wonderful.

We had everything planned, we had to pack our bags and then spend the last day of our vacation at the beach. But I knew I had interfered with the experiment. I had intruded on the timeline. Humans would have relived the same day, but would not have realized it.

I relived the whole day. Luggage, then lunch, then a trip to the beach. I savored every moment, understanding the warmth and value of human life for the first time. The life I had stolen from Henry.

Then sunset came again. The kids played on the beach while my wife collected clothes and beach towels to put in the bag.

I knew I would be punished.

The sun was magnificent, this time it let itself be swallowed up by the sea. The most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. And then just a few reflections in the distance.

Then Henry gets up, breaks away from me, and walks towards his family. I remain seated on the sand and watch him fade together with the faint lights of the sunset.

Then the dark.

I don't feel the sand under my feet anymore, I don't hear the voices.

The Nothing.

The Void.


Thanks for reading!


About the Creator


I invent stories, sometimes they need to be written.

Carpe Diem Tempus Fugit.

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Comments (5)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran3 months ago

    Oh wow, this was such a fascinating concept! Like whoaaaa! I loved how he was watching Henry and had a sudden crisis of identity!

  • Hannah Moore3 months ago

    Oh, he lost everything for one more day.

  • John Cox3 months ago

    Ema, this is not only a mind-blowing story, it is an unspeakably beautiful one as well. Really extraordinary storytelling!

  • Novel Allen3 months ago

    What a great story Ema, pity it is not entered in a challenge. I wonder if I am one of them, I feel like that sometimes.

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