The man exhaled a quiet, triumphant sigh; his lungs had long awaited this moment. As the man stood, he instinctively began to straighten his back. He had learned to pleasantly endure, and now almost began to expect, the argument he began to hear as his body realigned itself to the world. No more would he have to subject it to long hours of odd positions and grueling labor, his mind struggling to keep itself committed to such detail. He could finally rest. He had finished the house; his father, had he lived to see this moment, would certainly be proud.
As he dusted off his hands, his wife appeared from inside the home. “We did it,” spoke the man. His wife nodded to him and returned inside the house.
As the man entered the house, rather his home, he sat down next to a radio that was ablaze with unusual activity.
“…nobody knows where or what this even is. Nothing of this likeness has ever been reported or even talked about. This is absolutely something out of legend. Or myth. Or… God knows what.”
“Can you speculate its direction? Where is this thing headed?”
“It seems to be traveling in straight line and…”
A strange curiosity began to creep into the man’s recently forged mental state. The same story was being broadcast on each station that the man could find. Piecing together the scattered reports, the man learned that a strange column of light had appeared out of seeming nothingness. The column of pure, inexplicable light was methodically tracking its way through nearby townships to the north. Estimates placed the column close to 72 feet in diameter, yet acknowledged that the sheer luminosity of the column made it difficult to measure, let alone observe. As the pillar traveled, it engulfed everything in its path, leaving nothing behind but scorched earth and debris in its wake.
An uncomfortable weight pressed the man as he walked outside and to the end of his lane. To the north, the man could barely begin to see outlines of a strange, swirling cloud formation. A line of cars caught the man’s eye on the nearby county road; most made their way north, but a few were seen making their way freely to the south. The southerly cars were made even more peculiar by the belongings that were strapped at every angle to them.
The man returned to his home and began to clean up; the white paint on his hands masked a few of the cuts and scrapes on his weathered hands. The house had welcomed the changes he had brought, but that was not to say that it had not put up some resistance at times. Splinters, scratches, and a bruised thumb adorned his hands. He scrubbed and scrubbed until the last flecks of paint were off of him.
The man returned to his porch, unwilling to glance to the north. The pit in his throat reminded him of the distraction that the world had briefly focused on moments before, but that it was already beginning to grow weary of. There would always be another storm, another catastrophic sampling of nature to be sought out and found.
The evening drew on. The man, tired from his long hours, put on his best suit despite having no plans for the evening. He preheated the oven to warm up some leftovers from the night before. While he waited, the man returned to his porch.
The column now roared one-hundred yards from the man’s home. The man could audibly hear a groan emit from the churning, radiant beast as it methodically crept towards him.
As the man finally addressed the column, he hated it. He began to feel every muscle tighten, every aggressive thought that he had long since buried begin to come forth. Yet the man could not condemn the pillar; a strange attraction could be found within its terror. The man rose from his chair, a blank look on his face. Again, he straightened his back as he had begun to do so many times before. The oven’s timer sang that it was ready.
The remaining travelers that continued to track the light stood in still in their shock. Since their banding together, they had not witnessed anything of this scale, this unsettling inevitability. The light had journeyed for miles and miles and destroyed anything it touched, yet it had never encountered another property or structure. The column now seemed drawn to the home, just as the man now drew himself closer to the light.
The man stood squarely in his yard, tall in his determination. A constant, blank glaze on his face was all that the onlookers could make out.
Slowly, one by one, the onlookers began to wave, to jump, to yell at the man to move, to get out of the way. The man stood undeterred; the blank look was all that he betrayed.
A few onlookers began to move down from their observation point as screams began to quicken in their urgency. No one would be able to reach the man, despite the strength of their legs or lungs.
When all had seemed final, the man raised a fist. Brows furrowed and legs apart, he began to yell, to scream at the column. Spittle flew from his mouth as he raged against the light’s encroachment upon his life. His home, all that he had built, he argued and fought for, challenging the light for each inch of ground it swallowed.
And then he was gone.
The light engulfed the lawn, the fence, the porch, and finally, the home. Room by room, the column screeched. Efficiently, systematically the light left nothing to be pieced together following its aftermath.
The column then began to flicker as it seemed finally satisfied in its task. The dim roar faltered, finally ending altogether.The onlookers took a moment to hold one another, to make sure that they could do all that they could to help each other out.
Then, one by one, they began to disperse. They returned to their houses, their homes, and returned to their lives. No one spoke of the man.