by Bob Clay
I climbed up the stony hill and sat next to the old man. In silence we watched the Sun, a blood red dinner plate, slide down over the distant desert horizon. The sky turned to a cold steel blue, then darkened until the stars took control of the night.
“I’ve often wondered what they are,” said the old man, looking up at the sky. “How many there are? What purpose they serve?”
“They’re suns,” I replied. “Countless suns like our own, some even mightier.”
He pondered this for a moment. “But they’re so small, how could that be?”
“They are distant,” I told him. “Distant far beyond a man’s imaginings.”
He turned to look at me, a suspicious look in his eyes. “How can that be? How can you know such things?”
I thought about my answer for a moment, feeling his gaze upon me. “This is not my time. In my time children know such things.” He nodded and turned back to the sky. “I suspect you think I’m mad,” I said.
“Or God, come amongst us to witness our doings.” he replied, and laughed, a sharp but resigned laugh.
“No not God. Just a traveller,” I added, but he did not reply.
More stars appeared, but these were a firey red flickering all along the eastern horizon. They grew in number until they even challenged the sky above.
“Enemy camp fires,” said the old man. “And tomorrow you will see something else beyond man’s imaginings, perhaps even beyond God’s imaginings, something even more terrible than the things you have told me.”
“Why fight?” I asked him, knowing full well that by tomorrow I would be centuries away. “Why not fall back into the hills?”
He looked at me and smiled. “Because this is my time.”
Bob Clay lives in Cornwall.