Stressful Fiction for Diverting Occasions

The Age of Moss

by Nick Hoins

 

“Which do you choose?”

“What will happen if I don’t choose?”

“You and everyone you know will have nothing.”

“But why?”

“Again, clouds or sun?”

“Clouds.”

“Okay.”

The strange woman walked away. Occo stood on the tablerock, not really moving. An owl hooted somewhere in the dappled sequoias.  Trying to look at the noise, Occo noticed grey clouds moving quickly in from the west. He scrunched up his face to look near the sun and the clouds extended to a solid line down to the horizon.

“No…”

The clouds swept over the sky and Occo felt the warmth disappear from his face.

“It can’t be.”

The billows continued to move until they covered all the sky.

And his face had been marked with the scales, one under each eye. Years later he was still being asked the same questions in interviews.

“What did she look like?”

“How do you think it would be different if you had chosen the sun?”

“Why did she do it?”

“Why did you do it?”

“How could you do this to us?”

There were some who thought he had done the right thing. They made him rich and powerful. He also received daily death threats and hadn’t gone without a permanent security detail in eight years.

“Did you not care for the sun before SAD Day?” an anchor asked him on a talk show. Occo sighed.

“I love the sun. I loved when the sky was clear, intensely. But it’s simple. There was no other way. One option, you get light and heat. Other option; light, heat, and water.  Choose the first, everything dies. Choose the second, some things live.”

“And why didn’t you just refuse, again?”

Occo sighed.

Security behind him, he hiked up to the tablerock for the first time since it had happened ten years ago. He had requested only the captain and the new rookie. An impromptu walk in the woods. Standing on the rock, he tried to look at the memory of the noise of an owl’s call. The rookie’s phone rang and echoed through the canyon.

Occo took out his vitamin gummies and offered some to the guards. Chewing one, the sweet, rough texture of the supplement hit the blistered spot on the inside of his cheek and his eyes felt tired. He bent down and felt the thick moss covering the surface of the stone. It was thriving.

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