One morning I woke up before the light, and watched, as the darkness surrendered to the little lamp. Lux by lux, the room grew lighter, until it reached its peak intensity.
It’s a strange thing when you wake up early. Sometimes you have the energy to leap out of bed and get on with the day, and sometimes you just want to lay there, even when you can’t get back to sleep. Today it was the latter. I knew that the cycle for the sunrise alarm was only an hour. I had 30 minutes before the room got plunged back into darkness. 30 minutes to stir my stumps, turn the main light on, and get on with my day.
I lay there in a daze and thought about what I would need to do day, who I would need to see. I wondered if anybody else felt like this ever. I wondered about where we came from and where we were going. I wondered about being surrounded by people and yet feeling alone. So alone.
I wondered about wondering, and wondered about that strange sensation when you spend time wondering about a wondering word and the wonderful way in which the word becomes weird because you say it too many times. And wondering about how many times you need to say a word before it becomes weird.
Wondering. Wondering. Wondering.
I tried not to stare directly into the light, because I’ve heard that can be bad for you, but somehow it seemed to swell until it took in my whole field of view.
Somehow I managed to get myself up with a minute to spare. Freshened up, I put on a suit, picked up my data-pad and headed to the cafeteria. Despite my idleness, I was one of the first in my watch to collect a meal, which meant that I could snag my favourite seat by the window.
There aren’t many windows on the ship, but then there’s not really much to see. I still love the view though. The starfield is amazing. And sometimes I think I can see that something has changed.
I stared out at the stars, and wondered about the Earth that we’d come from, and its sun. I wondered about the lamp in my room, and why we still kept to Earth-time. I wondered about the rhythms our bodies craved, so far from home.
© David Jesson, 2019
Early morning light streamed through the vast picture window. When they’d assigned this building to house those of her generation who were without a living mate, she’d been quick to volunteer to occupy the living room. The Guardian had counselled her it was unlikely they’d be able to spare sufficient material to cover the vast expanse of glass, but Miriam had assured them she would make no such request.
The remaining rooms had been allocated quickly thereafter, the occupants all settling in to the new rhythm and routine of living in a multi-occupancy space. Some had found the process relatively painless – like Miriam – others had struggled. There’d been regular spats, some full-blown rows and, even now, grudges were held. The peace was maintained via a complex series of rules and regulations. Miriam herself had been instructed to sleep in nightclothes, for there was no privacy to walk around naked with that expanse of glass. She’d considered it a negligible price to pay in order to occupy her chosen room. Most believed she’d chosen it for the additional space and, while it was certainly pleasing to her not to feel cramped and to have the space to store all the unwanted books she picked up, that had not been Miriam’s primary reason.
Rising, she dressed rapidly, crossing into the kitchen to boil a little water. Returning with her glass of hot water containing a slice of lemon, Miriam mused how she still missed her early morning cup of coffee after all this time. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the ability to brew a pretty decent cup here – they did – but that was not permitted until later, when all the residents could be expected to have risen. Shrugging, she thought of how her more worthy and healthy-living contemporaries had tried to convert her to the hot water with slice of lemon option for all those years. All it had taken to convert her was for the human race to mess up spectacularly.
Returned to her room, Miriam settled back into her bed, tucking the bedclothes around her once more. It was still cold, but she preferred not to stoke up her fire quite yet in order to conserve her wood supply. She also didn’t want another light source to compete with the beauty which was now being delivered through the vast expanse of glass which formed one side of her room. Not for the first time, Miriam thought how it was like having one’s own personal cinema screening. She watched as the sky filled with light. Sunsets hereabouts tended towards tones of pinks and turquoise and the residents often crowded outdoors to witness them, but Miriam loved sunrise. From the growing intensity of light, she could see the point where the sun would rise above the suburban roofs. Sipping her drink, she enjoyed the blissful moment when it crested the roof line. There’d been a harsh frost, so the rising sun caused the icy roofs to glisten in the most magical of manners, before filling her horizon with a glowing golden hue.
As the sun rose ever higher in the sky, Miriam turned her gaze towards their garden, now bathed in a beautiful light. Golden hour she remembered her photographer friends called it, and she could see why. A slight mist was hanging over the garden. It gently diffused the rays of sunlight, adding an ethereal beauty to the orderly rows of vegetation. Not much remained in the garden at this time of year other than root vegetables, yet the golden light brought a certain beauty to the hand-made A-frames and straw mulch spread across the neat rows.
Her hot drink finished, the sunrise and it’s golden hour now over, Miriam remained in bed, making the most of the final minutes of solitude, of the peace and quiet before the house started to wake. This was why she’d chosen her room – for the beauty and for the solitude which came with it.
© Debs Carey, 2019
Half an hour before dawn. The forest is silent, damp with the dew of night. A ground mist is hanging around from the warmth of yesterday. A hand on the shoulder wakens the sleeper. “Stand-to!” Silently he extricates himself from the cosy sleeping bag into the twilight, shrugs into his combat jacket, picks up his rifle and joins the other silent forms as they leave the tent and make their way to their individual positions. The perimeter sentries who have been on duty for two hours in the pitch black of night are quietly relieved by fresh eyes and bodies not chilled. Some make their way to the rallying point, carefully placing their feet so that not a twig snaps, not a leaf so much as rustles.
The blackness becomes paler: it is now possible to tell the difference between the dark and light patches on the camouflaged uniforms, but only if you are wearing it! You only know that you have mates on either side because they have spread their legs to meet yours: tapping boots together lets you pass messages silently. And he waits.
He waits as the first birds clear their throats ready for the dawn chorus. He waits, so still that a rabbit browses not ten feet in front of him, wary but not alarmed. He waits as the dawn strengthens and the full light of a new day penetrates the forest, battling the drowsiness that stillness brings with the imperative for watchfulness.
He waits, and suddenly a whistle sounds “Stand down!” and he thankfully gets to his feet, flexing to get rid of the stiffness that lying still on the damp ground engenders. There is coffee, reasonably hot, from the insulated urn and suddenly the scent of frying bacon. The busyness , the banter of the day begins as people turn to their duties and those coming off watch go to catch up on sleep.
Today it was just a precaution: tomorrow the attack might be real.
© Alan F. Jesson, 2019
And a shout out to J Lenni Dorner who wrote this, based on the prompt.