The thick smoke of Oleander hangs heavily over the camp as Icarus steps out; it has been a long night. He looks over the arrangement of IKEA shelters – they found the housing units in an abandoned factory some years ago. Beige, one-room flat-packed houses out of corrugated metal are arranged neatly in rows going up the rocky hill. A thin layer of pulverised volcanic ash slowly falls and settles upon the weathered surface of the shelters, how much more will they take, he thinks.
They need to rest before their venture into the eclipse, the heat is already unbearable. Most villagers have retreated to the old rare-earth mineral mine at the edge of the village, where they spend the worst hours of the day, at least it’s cool. Zenith has been noticed by a few children on their way there. Eagerly they urge her to tell them the Sun Prophecy; the ancient tale about the romance between Sun and Earth, a story of dependency and exploitation, of hubris and empathy. It is the founding mythology of their fledgling community, and today, on the day of the eclipse, they have the feeling that the continuation will be inscribed.
From the darkness before and after the worlds
emerged an alliance beyond the choices that individuals make
a symbiosis for sustaining life as an act of love and deep longing
if we do not act together we will surely perish, sun and earth say
against the darkness they united under the eyes of the stars
the distant admirer, aloof and far away and the nurturer, humid and full of hopes
in the most urgent of times against a cosmic cold
I beg you to face it with courage for they will be foolish
for they will destroy you as they don’t know any better
until the darkness returns and they will understand how we give and take
how we care, earth says. how we burn and suffer, sun says.
Lost in their thoughts they manage most of the journey to The Farm in silence. Their stride is fast, the sun has almost entirely disappeared behind the moon – the prediction has come true. A soft crunching of dry ground stays with them, as the surrounding mountain ridge disappears in darkness. They are on their way down to the coast where The Farm is floating on a man-made island in the ocean.
The dull shimmer of the solar panels is a strange reminder of a time when saving this planet seemed possible. Being creative, being resourceful, that’s all it would take. Just take the energy from the sun. It’ll be fine; they harvested light, fire, air and water.
Icarus bends the metal mesh of the fencing. Zenith and Pythia squeeze through the hole, moving more slowly now; there is still a strange aura surrounding the place despite its familiarity. They are surrounded by a dull darkness, a glow behind the silhouette of the moon, shiny reflections on their perspired faces. It is still incredibly hot. Previous visitors have left drawings in the dust on the solar panels. You can see the outlines of words.
Clusters of tall knobbly plants thrive along gate entrance 67; their artificial green taint radiates in the eclipse’s light. Icarus, Pythia and Zenith approach in awe and meditatively pull them from the ground. In doing so trying to move on to the next batch as efficiently as possible.
Pythia pulls the largest and most evolved specimen from the ground. She looks at it with great detail. The reverse respiration process has already started, triggered by the eclipse. Translucent green stems grow vertically from the ash, looking closer, strands of veins pulsate moving water to the plants crucial organs. Large pouches droop below the leaves, water gushing in. When one pouch reaches its full capacity the veins redirect the flow to the following pouch. They place them in the moist plastic containers they’ve brought, filled with the smallest amount of precious water to keep the roots alive during the journey.
Just before their tanks are full a tremor travels through the farm. The panels are moving slightly, swaying back and forth. It’s not a strong earthquake but the tremor is constant.
Icarus looks up at the sky, seriously distressed. ‘Shit, is the sun coming back already? Maybe this is a sign?’ At the same moment The Farm’s intruder alarm is triggered, an artificial bird song plays out across the field. They get up, ready to leave, the tanks strapped to their backs. But Pythia appears frozen in her movements, her face blank. She starts to slowly walk towards the nearby sea barrier, which protects The Farm from the ocean. Before they can stop her, she climbs the wall and stands, still, looking out: the sea, the sky, still dark. Without noticing she stops hearing them, far behind her now, inaudible beneath the surf, the horizon, the waves, emerging from featurelessness. The first fragments of sunlight, reflecting on the breaking waves.