12:00 P.M. 1 January 2000 six hours after dark
The small TV, propped up on the diner’s counter, is hard to see over the group of bobbing heads but the sound carries through the diner. The screen switches from a repeating public service announcement about staying indoors to the CNN logo. Cheesy ominous music plays while the title “Darkness Across The World” fades into view.
The view changes to that of a reporter, well known day time Entertainment reporter, Brad Johnson, and a busy newsroom behind him. His uniform is a tidy grey with a white shirt and light blue tie.
“Good morning, I’m Brad Johnson, and we are continuing our round the clock cover of what can only be called a complete blackout of the sky. We are still waiting for a speech by the President of the United States and will cut to it the moment it starts.”
“Until then we have assembled a panel of experts from the scientific, religious, and the fringe communities to discuss this phenomenon. My first guess is well renowned physicist Dr Russell Basset. Dr Basset heads up NASA’s deep space research who wrote a book two years ago about studying comet tails. Thank you for joining us tonight Dr, I guess people want to know what’s going on?”
The camera changes to a heavy set man with an unkempt beard and thick glasses sitting in an office. “Thank you for having me on your show Brad, this will be a first and last having a scientist on the entertainment program.” Both men laugh but its kind of forced. “Well, I can say that we are still here, that we haven’t been moved somewhere. We are in constant radio contact with the astronauts in the International Space Station. We are currently waiting on satellite imagery from the Hubble Telescope but according to them the entire planet is covered in some kind of inky black shroud.”
“Fascinating”, Brad cuts in nodding slowly; there is a slight dull look in his eyes. “So what exactly is this…shroud?”
Dr Basset hesitates for a few seconds then shrugs “No idea Brad, no one does. I suppose its possible that some form of gas cloud, or particle field could be moving across the earth, something we couldn’t see with our satellites.”
The camera pans back to Brad Johnson. “Well, if this phenomenon has stumped our scientific community, maybe our next guest can shed some light on the subject. He is Cardinal Myers, the cardinal of the dioceses of Washington DC. Cardinal, is this the day of reckoning?”
The camera changes to an office with book shelves lining the walls and a massive desk covered in papers and books. An older man with white hair, dressed in cardinal red, sits behind the desk.
“Rome has not made an official statement on this phenomenon but I think I can safely say that these are not the events set out in Revelations. There are a clear set of sign, portents, and events which will precede the great war between heaven and hell. For one, there has been no rapture…”
“The Rapture?” Brad cuts in as if the word was spoken in Mandarin.
“Yes, God’s calling of his faithful to heaven to serve heaven. We have had a lot of things happen in the last couple of hours but not that. No, I think for the time being I am going to have to defer to the good Dr Basset on the cause of this unnatural phenomenon.”
“So this isn’t the end of the world?” Brad asks.
The cardinal locks his hands together and sets them on the desk. “I don’t know. I don’t think so, but this could be a test that God has put before us. Maybe it’s a sign to shake us up from our material lives, to return to us the awe and fear of mystery. I would ask that people pray, together, with family and neighbors, don’t face this test alone.”
The camera returns to Brad. “Okay, and now our last panel member. We thought we would cover all bases here today so we sought the scientific answer and religious guidance, but now we turn to the occult. Our next guest in Patricia Newhaven from Boston, Mass. Patricia, what is the occult community saying about this event?”
The camera changes to a living room with dark rich drapes and a large colorful couch. An older woman dressed in a colorful dress sits with a tea cup in the center of the couch.
“Brad, the occult or paranormal community is abuzz with this event. First, this is not a planned eclipse or solar event, at least not on any known calendar. I have talked to several psychics and they all tell me that their senses are off the chart and that whatever is causing this is creating that feedback.”
“So you disagree with Dr Basset that this is some kind of cosmic space cloud?” Brad asks.
“Why yes, this is definitely some form of mystic phenomenon that probably predates our written or even spoken history. There might not have even been humans around the last time this happened or if there were, we might have been too primitive to have comprehended it.”
The camera returns to Brad. “I want to thank our panel. We will be returning to them periodically throughout the day to get additional feedback from these three unique perspectives, but I have one last final question for all of you. What do you have to say in regard to reports of monster sightings?”
The camera first goes to Dr Basset. “I think that in times of high stress, people’s imaginations will get the best of them. I’ve seen some of the same reports and from what I can tell it’s mostly linked to people looting with masks on.”
The camera switches to Cardinal Myer. “I agree with Dr Basset. I think that this event is very frightening and very religious people may unfortunately superimpose their knowledge of scripture into an over taxed mind.” An arm comes into view from off screen and hands the cardinal a small slip of paper. He reads it then looks back up to the camera. “I have been asked to let people know that instructions from the Arch Diocese to read a phone number. It’s a hotline that people can call if they feel that they have witnessed anything out of the ordinary or just need to talk to a priest. Its 1-800-999-5555.”
The camera switches to Patricia Newhaven. “I think that will all of this extra energy in the air, there is a chance that it may unlock certain dormant abilities in us all. It might even give people quick flashes into the spirit world where an untrained mind might see monsters”.
The camera returns to Brad. “Ok, that wraps up this session. Now I am going to turn it over to Chad Michaels who is on location in Iceland where people wonder what all the fuss is about.”
Back in the diner the faces are still turned toward the TV…all except those that turn nervously back to the glass windows and the dark day outside. The young boy, Timmy, seems to have regained consciousness and the young waitress, Cindy, is hovering over him asking him if he is alright. One of the truckers snorts “I hope those kids found there way ok. I wouldn’t want to be out on the road on a day like this.” The older waitress, Martha, shakes her head and sets down her coffee. “If I don’t have a smoke in the next few minutes I am going to lose my mind.”