The newsman’s voice sounded bored.
“Incidents of violence erupted in Oregon as crowds viewed the solar eclipse. There are reports of riots erupting as the eclipse achieved totality. There are unconfirmed reports of several deaths.”
“Dave,” Chelsea said. “Did you hear that?” Chelsea’s husband, Dave, turned from where he stood on the bank of the pond. He pulled his eclipse glasses from his eyes so he could see his wife. An inadvertent chuckle escaped Chelsea at the sight of her pudgy husband wearing the cardboard lenses, looking for all the world like a little kid with his cheap x-ray glasses from the back of a comic book.
“The news,” she said. “There’s been rioting or something out in Oregon.
Dave’s expression squished itself into his version of confusion.
“So what? We’re in Carolina. Just because some crazies can’t enjoy a once in a lifetime natural event without fisticuffs shouldn’t bother us. Now stop paying attention to the radio and put on your glasses, the eclipse is starting to get good. You wouldn’t want to miss it because you were busy caring about gossip from across the country.”
Chelsea grimaced and pulled on her glasses. The day was beginning to dim and she didn’t want to miss what they had driven ten hours to witness; she didn’t turn off the radio though.
Safety lenses in place Chelsea looked up. The sun was halfway covered by the moon. It looked like something had taken a bite out of the solar disk. For years she wanted to see a full eclipse but it was never visible within a reasonable distance of her home. She still couldn’t believe she was here.
“Rioting has been reported outside Boise, Idaho. It is unknown if these events are connected to the violence reported in Oregon. I’m receiving reports of – Is this correct? – reports of cannibalism by attackers similar to the Bath Salt drug attacks of several years ago.”
The radio was mere background noise as the sun slowly shrank. Chelsea could hear the increasingly dumfounded reporter detailing eruptions of violence across the country but Dave was right, it was something distant; it didn’t affect them.
An excited murmur was growing around them as the sun shrank inch by inch. The day was growing dark and Chelsea could hear night insects chirping, confused by the loss of the day.
Dave’s arm settled around her shoulders and Chelsea snuggled into his warm bulk. She picked on Dave for his weight gain since they were married but in truth she loved the comfortable softness of him. He was an enormous living teddy bear that was all hers. The smell of cheap cologne and the sound of his excited heartbeat became her sensory world as the darkness covered the world.
“We’ve lost all contact with our west coast affiliates. The last reports were of spreading violence. It appears that some event is occurring along the line of totality but information is sketchy at best.”
Chelsea placed the radio on the ground, there was too much to take in here; she didn’t care about the reports anymore.
“Violence in Nebraska…”
Over three-quarters of the sun was gone.
People were whooping and shouting in excitement. All around Chelsea people were snapping photos and talking on their phones to friends unable to attend. The atmosphere was like a carnival as totality approached.
“Oh my God,” the reporter sounded hysterical. “Carbondale, Illinois is burning. There are reports of massive riots and widespread murders occurring in Carbondale. Our affiliate station, WDAX, reported that massive fires had spread across the city. John? John, can you hear me? I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen we seem to be having technical difficulties with our feed from WDAX.”
A mere sliver of the sun remained. Rays and bubbles of light peeked around the edge of the moon. It was mesmerizing. The small balloon of brilliant light looked like a diamond perched on the edge of ultimate blackness.
“We’ll be able to take off our glasses soon,” Dave said.
“Is it safe?”
“During totality it’s completely safe. Trust me, I Googled it.”
Chelsea and Dave grinned at each other like idiots and each raised a hand in preparation of removing the limiting cardboard goggles.
“Do not remove protective lenses,” the radio squawked. “Violence appears tied to those viewing the eclipse without protection.”
A loud crash and a shrieking sound blasted from the radio followed by static.
Chelsea looked at the hissing radio, brow furrowed.
“Dave did you hear that? Maybe we should keep our glasses on.”
The world turned into night. Gasps and moans reached her ears. Dave’s arm remained around Chelsea’s shoulders but she sensed that something had changed. While the smell of his cologne still filled her nostrils it occurred to her that his heartbeat no longer provided the soundtrack to her world. She pressed her cheek tighter against his chest and listened; silence.
A cold wave rushed through Chelsea’s body. She looked up at Dave, concern building; Dave had been warned about his weight and the risk to his heart.
His face was pointed skyward but his cardboard glasses were absent. His features were slack as he stared at the black eye into which the sun had transformed.
Dave turned his head and looked down at his wife. His irises were completely white and his skin had taken on an unhealthy yellow hue.
Screams reached Chelsea. On all sides, she sensed movement and heard the sounds of fighting and screaming. A low growl reached her; it was not from some distant struggle but from her husband.
Dave’s arm tightened painfully around her shoulders and his mouth opened wide. Drool fell from his lips which curled back in a bestial snarl. His head darted forward and he snapped at her like a dog attempting to eat a piece of meat. She was saved by her husband’s girth. He came up short by six inches. Chelsea screamed and with a surge of strength she didn’t know she had, she broke free of her husband’s grip and ran.
As she ran she passed scenes of carnage. Bodies were torn limb from limb. Throats were bitten open. She could hear Dave pounding along behind her. On all sides the crazed attacked the sane who fell and then moments later rose again and joined the growing masses of the attackers.
Chelsea whimpered, fearing that the darkness would never end.
My original title for this was either Zombie Eclipse or Eclipse Zombies but it was just too obvious and cheesy. My chosen one felt much cooler. Now I’m off to South Carolina to view the total eclipse, I certainly hope it’s nothing like what I wrote. I’ll also be skipping picturefiction next week as I’ll be in a tent in the FL Keys with no internet or computer. Ah how we suffer for our fun… See you in 2 weeks.