02-CelestialSecrets-MJKerr

The first real talk of the object in the sky was on Reddit. A budding amateur astronomer in Germany had found the new celestial body in the eastern sky, and had posted a picture of it on a subreddit for space photography. It got shared, over and over, until finally the mainstream media caught wind of it as a feel-good story about a new star being found.

Once it made the news, experts of all sorts came on to talk about the new star. Nothing to worry about, it was actually a very interesting event, nothing weird. A supernova, perhaps, in a nearby solar system. A birth, or a death, of a celestial body. The German who found it unofficially named it Aether.

It likely would have not gone further than that discussion if it wasn’t for the fact Aether was growing larger. Slowly, surely, but anyone who bothered to look up at the sky could notice. When first spotted it appeared like a bright star, no different than any other.

I had noticed it too. At first it had been small enough I could not see it through the light pollution from living in the suburban hell around Toronto. A week after the news broke about Aether I could see it in the east. It was bright, and a week after that, it became as bright as Venus.

Everyone noticed. Anyone with eyes could see this star was growing. The experts suddenly didn’t have answers though they promised they were looking into it, would figure out why Aether was beginning to outglow the planets in our own system. Telescopes all over the world pointed towards it, but whenever someone laid eyes on the object, it only appeared as a blinding bright orb with no definition.

Religious leaders around the world very quickly latched on to this being a sign from their deity. Some though it was Jesus’ return. Some thought it was the start of an impending apocalypse. Some people began to pray to the growing light of Aether, coming to cleanse our world of the unbelievers and unclean. Some viewed it as the coming of something evil. There was the talk of alien invasion and the world ending asteroid.

I didn’t listen to much of it, waiting for the experts to come up with a reason why Aether, by week three, could be seen during daylight, a glowing orb in the east. They stopped calling it a star. They said they had every piece of equipment they had trained on it, but eventually near the end of week four, they had to admit that anything that got close enough or pointed directly at it had its brains fired.

Hubble and the James Webb went dark, the last imagery of the latter being nothing but a golden blinding light. A satellite that had been sent out to go around collecting information on the moons of Jupiter went offline.

It was when the glowing orb began to overtake the moon in size that the world began to actually panic. We lost contact with the ISS. Churches, mosques, synagogues and all manner of religious buildings were overfilled. Preachers of the End Times took up public spaces. Some people tried to go on as normal but whatever that orb was began to play on our Wi-Fi signals, our cell service and we became fractured.

When the orb overtook the moon, the only thing we could be told was it was an object, and it was coming closer, and no one knew what it was, and please do not panic. Government announcements tried to call in for curfews and calm but soon the television signals went, leaving us only with radio signals.

As I record this at the crest of week six my cellphone has been no signal for a while, my television is black and the radio is down to one working station that, as of an hour ago, had put on a repeating signal to remain calm, be with your family, stay indoors. My family lived across the country and I had lost touch with them a week ago. I stayed inside, taking it all in from my fifth-floor balcony.

People have flooded the streets. All eyes are above us. I am looking at the orb right now, which is not so much an orb but a blazing sun. It is one in the morning, but whatever it is has lit the sky up like dawn. Some people below me right now are crying. Some are screaming. I can see couples holding each other, families huddled together, and then people like me, who are alone and taking it in.

I look up at the impending glowing object. I have made my peace with the fact this might be the end, whatever end that might be; divine, alien or just going the way of the dinosaurs.

I prepare to turn my back on it, to pull the drapes closed when the power goes. My radio continues to drone on with its batteries, but as the hum of power goes away, a new hum replaces it. A growing thrum strong enough I feel it almost in my bones. Whatever that buzz is draws me back to my balcony where the low buzz, like a bass guitar striking a low note and letting it reverberate, starts to make everything around me vibrate.

My ears fill suddenly with song, but the noise is not music like what we know, but sounds of conflicting chords. Cacophony that makes me look up at the orb which seems to have taken up the entire sky, the volume of it growing to the point I swear my ears will bleed, but I can’t look away.

And all at once, everyone below me, around me, let’s out a scream as the orb splits horizontal, a line of darkness in that blinding glow, and as it opens its… oh my god. An eye, it’s looking right at –

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