Light and Darkness met, as was their wont, at dawn.

Light was effusive, ebullient, cheerful. It brought out the beauty in things, warmed others with its presence. But it was also guileless, intrusive, penetrating. It could not understand those that were not like it, and its radiance knew not tact nor diplomacy.

Darkness was grim, restrained, dour. It masked imperfections, brought all to equality, knew subtlety and grace. But it was also cold, aloof, decietful. It could not understand those that were outgoing, and its cloak of shadows hid both the shy and the evil.

They were lovers as much as they were opposites. Their first child, Sunrise, took after her mother. She warmed and nourished even as she was gentle and tactful with the shadows she rolled back. Their second child, Sunset, took after his father. He cloaked the weak and fearful even as he allowed those with sunnier dispositions time to wind themselves down into sleep.

Theirs was an affair of opposites who could never quite get along. Light and Darkness would always quarrel when they met, but in the presence of their precious children they could, briefly, find in themselves the love and mutual respect that they had always carried.

In time, they bore a third child, Eclipse. It was Eclipse who inherited the transience of shadow from Darkness but the bursting speed from Light. It was Eclipse that had Darkness’s retiring nature but Light’s showmanship. It was Eclipse alone that could bring the parents together at midday or midnight. It was Eclipse alone that renewed their quarrels and exacerbated them.

It was Eclipse alone that could bring about the end of their world.

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“That’s not what I heard,” Kellie said. “I heard that if you’re in Sunset Park at sunset, it lasts for hours. Way longer than it should. But you can only see it if you’re there and never leave.”

“No way,” Randy said. “That wouldn’t work. The earth’s going ’round the sun, so sunset can’t last longer in the park than at school. Doesn’t make sense!”

“I heard it from eighth graders,” Kellie asserted proudly. That put the information firmly into the realm of possibility, if not certainty.

The others whispered among each other.

“Well?” Kellie demanded.

“We’re gonna go check it out,” Randy said. “Tonight. And if it lasts longer than my dad says it should, you win.”

The town was lit with a strange light, the sort that sometimes appears just before a sunset storm. Everything flashed an unhealthy shade of orange, nothing more so than the belfry of the old church.

Even though it’s been all but abandoned when the newer one was built, somehow the sinister twilight had buffed out the cracked and broken facade. It wasn’t a homely visage, or even an imposing one–rather, there was a deep and abiding feel of wrongness about the structure, the exact opposite of what one should feel upon beholding a small-town tabernacle.

Yet Fay had run in there, clear as day, before the light overtook the world, and the belfry had sent clouds of dust through its windows to mark her passage. Who could say what she’d do in her disturbed state?

There was only one way forward: up and after her.

“I was in a park at sunset, and…it was amazing. This pillar of clouds, towering over everything…lit in orange, purple, and red with the waxing moon above. It was like something from the cover of a fantasy novel, only I was really seeing it,” said Koay. “The clouds moved and shifted as I watched–I think they might have been thunderheads for a far-off rainstorm–so that by the time the last rays of light were fading it looked like an enormous art deco locomotive, steaming on a celestial track. I was breathless, speechless.”

“Very moving,” said Detective Haines. “But I don’t follow.”

“Do you know what? No one else noticed. They were all absorbed in their little worlds, looking down at the path or listening to their clamshells–insulated from the reality around them.”

“Now that I can believe,” said Haines.

“Yes!” Koay continued. She’d grown flushed while speaking. “It made me realize that we’ve stopped seeing things, stopped noticing–if I hadn’t been there, looking up when I was supposed to be looking down, that glorious display might have gone unseen!”

“Meaning what, exactly?” Haines wasn’t quite sure what Koay was getting at, but the light in her eyes gave him pause.

“I guess that’s when I decided that I need to make people wake up. To make them notice.”

“At any cost?” Haines said warily.

“Maybe so…maybe so.”