No one knew where the beam came from. It arced across the sky day and night, this perfect slim ray of pale light. Everyone wondered where it originated. Not on Earth—it passed right by the planet, like a hanging flashlight. Astronomers couldn’t locate an origin in one direction or other. The only thing they knew was that it wasn’t curved around the Earth like the rings of Saturn. It was a beam.
Naturally, some identified the beam as a holy sign, like the rainbow. But what was the signal? The rainbow was to tell humanity that there would be no more apocalyptic floods. But there had been no floods or other such apocalyptic situations. Just the beam.
The vague nature of it allowed people to see it as they chose. To some, it was a celebration of a birth or a wedding. To some it was a direction to follow. North-west to south-east. Mass migrations wound up in Australia, destabilizing the population, the environment, the wildlife. And some wound up in Alaska, going the other way. Some just traveled one side to the other and back again. What they hoped to find along the path of the beam was different for every person.
The speed of light is almost unfathomably fast, but in the scheme of the universe it is a snail’s pace. We look up and see stars that have died centuries ago, only appearing as whole due to the slowness of the visual light reaching our eyes.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Luke Skywalker built his first lightsaber. It was a work in progress. He forgot to build a looping system into the saber, causing the beam to hurtle on in a straight line forever.
“Shit,” he said.
Nobody gets it right on the first try.
Only one prompt category today. “The Beam.” I wrote it in a writing workshop!
And now you know.