The moment of truth

The sun fell from the sky; the stars fell into it. A host of suns, somewhere, to some, if the scientists could be believed. Michael wasn’t about to bet either way.

The probe had gone out seven centuries ago, with power enough to send back one message: yes or no, although not in so many words. There was no back-up. If the lights had gone out along the way, they would only find out now.

The world gathered in shopping malls and city squares, twelve billion eyes fixed on the holography. Michael, who did not want to know, stayed home.

The moment

The forest was dark and there was howling behind every tree. They followed the signs as far as they could, but after the clearing where the axe split the rotting stump there were no more, or else they had been covered by leaves and damp shadows. So it was they came to be there when she returned, and spun the underwater light into a gossamer trapping, and caught them in the moment, and let the moss and the moths and the wolves and the forest creak and growl and grow around them until the next children came to find her.