The Last of Summers

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story in five parts about summers in different times.

Submitted: July 16, 2019

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Submitted: July 16, 2019

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The Last Walk

I’m always amazed that even in the driest of summers the paths in the woods still have puddles. The green leaves of the trees taking the power of the sun for their own growth. In return they give us shade, cooler walking and clean air to breath. What a wondrous, delicate balance there is to nature, and how lovely to have the time to enjoy it.

“Hey old trees, do you know what a wondrous job it is you do?”

Well who can blame them for not answering? I can’t say we’ve treated them as well as they deserve, so let them hold their silence. Perhaps one day they can forgive the vile little creatures that zoom around stepping on their toes and messing up the ground. 

The sunlight seems all the brighter as I emerge into its full glare. Perhaps I should feel suddenly exposed, but how can I with the tall ripening wheat next to me? Dried and ready for harvest it stands as a golden testament to the warmth and life that is given to us for free.

The world of academia calls me on to go and fill my mind with new facts, and seek what I don’t know in the hallowed halls where those who have walked before and studied. The strides they’ve made echoing in the very fabric of the buildings will fill me with the knowledge of ages past, and will I reflect it back for the future generations. If I could shine like the sun that would be enough. 

***

The Change from Yellow to Red

Bigger is not always better, well not when referring to the sun anyway. Many thought we would never get this far; believing that the sun would outlive all of us. It still might, but it won’t be the same anymore.

Still there is time for one last flight around the sights. Holding her hand, I look out of the window over the huge single continent below. It is bathed in the summer sunlight that is getting ever closer. I know we have to leave and though we’ve taken all we can, there is bound to be something left behind.

She is trying to smile at me as we look down on the almost deserted cities. This wasn’t the first time we had been away, but this time there would be no return. It had been a lovely summer though, probably made more precious because there would be no more of them for us here.

It was with that memory in mind that we heard the intercom inform us that our tour of the planet was over and that it was time for us to board the ship that would take to our new home. A place far from our very own star, which was now turning from yellow to red and would soon consume the small blue green planet that continued to circle it.

I squeazed her hand, and the thought of our life together filled me with joy that even leaving Earth could not extinguish.

***

The End of the Sky

I wonder what it looked like when there were lights everywhere in the sky? I have read that on a summer evening like this you could see so many that they appeared in shapes that people gave names to. I once heard tell that there were so many that they appeared as groups known as galaxies. What a sight that must have been.

I count 23; not a bad number, and I’m told there are many out there still faintly glowing, their burnt out furnaces gradually cooling; still giving faint light, but no longer the bright beacons in the darkness they used to be.

Our star too will soon burn out its last energy reserves as they all will in the end. Legend has it that we came from one planet around an insignificant yellow star that has long since vanished, and no one can now recall anything beyond the names Sol and Earth.

The embers are glowing nicely and the smell of food is telling me that it is time to eat. I know it’s very old fashioned to cook on a fire, but you should try it. It just simply tastes better than all the modern ways of cooking. It’s inefficient too which gives me more reason to spend time out here with her, and I don’t move as fast as I once did anyway. It seems fitting to have cooked on a fire before sitting back and enjoying the last summer evening there will ever be beneath an open sky.

It’s been a long road to this star I’m told; our race moving on each time a stellar life came to an end. No one knows exactly how many times we moved, but this is the last of the stars with worlds on which we can live. Now even that has reached its end, and we sit here at the end of the age of starlight.

My love is still strong and I will take this meal to her. We might no longer have the sky above us and the soil beneath our feet, but if she is with me, I will be happy in our new home.

***

It is No Matter

I look out on the world outside our sphere that I’m told is named for a man called Dyson who lived in the ancient times when the star we lived around was so strong that we could waste most of its energy without worrying. It was not the life we now have in the few remaining shells of life around cooling stars that are no longer able to combust. 

Yet there is heat enough, and we have been able to live in constant summer while the glow continues. I’m told that summer is not what it once was, and that if we saw such brightness our eyes would be damaged and our skin burnt. Still it has been home and I’ve been happy. Only in my old age, having lost her, do I feel the loneliness of our small world clinging to the remaining heat and light. Once it has gone, I am told that all matter will be swallowed by black holes, or will gradually disappear as the protons within any loose atoms degrade.

Perhaps I should feel sad at the prospect, but I’m told that evolution still has one last trick up its sleeve, that we will live beyond the need for physical bodies and that our consciousness will reach out into the darkness. That we shall see the universe as it will be for the vast majority of its life. Not in starlight as it has been in its infancy, but in the maturity of darkness and gravity that it is destined to be.

I used to think such tales as nothing more than folklore, but as I stand here looking out at the darkness I can tell now that it’s true. I can feel the change within me. I can hear sounds I’ve not heard before, and see patterns in the blackness. Is it colour, or something else? To that question I know not the answer, but I do know this will be my last material summer, and that only my energy will remain.

***

The Last Tune

How long I’ve travelled, I couldn’t guess and the distances mean nothing. I listened to the songs and rhythms of the black holes as they danced together and collided. They are the longest inhabitants of the universe and their time as stars were like the infancy of my ancestors who lived on a single rock knowing only the microscopic speck of the world around them.

Still it was a short life in the gaze of a star; a star whose life would have flickered in and out so quickly that I wouldn’t have even began a thought. I cannot even conceive of the briefness of the life that would have existed around it.

Do not think of my life as cold, dark and lonely. There is energy from the black holes which is as much light to me as those early creatures would have known. There is a connection between us travellers that is not diminished by distance, though our time apart grows short.

It is time now for us to gather. The rhythms are fading as each black hole evaporates. We watch together the remaining one; the final burst of energy. Ah, to be bathed in it for one last time. With the death of the black holes comes the end of the song. As I listen to the coda, and feel the fading light, sleep beckons me as never before. Will I wake again, or will this be the very last of summers? I will soon find out, and that thought contents me. 


© Copyright 2019 Kevin Broughton. All rights reserved.

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