First Hand Account of the Shanghai Eclipse

Today in Shanghai, the most peculiar thing happened. It may seem odd to you, but it was many hours before I could weave together the clues and manifest a proper theory. Even now, I’m driven to restlessness and insecurity over this event, perhaps driving myself further and further afield in my work responsibilities.

Earlier this Wednesday morning I was bicycling to work, lost amongst my own thoughts and the chaotic weaving of the rickshaws and automobile taxis when I noticed the city getting darker. It was quite a perplexing sight to see a city, which under usual circumstances would be in daylight, suddenly become night. It was as if some celestial body was blocking the rays of the sun!

Needless to say, Smash Mouth was not the proper score for such a moment. I quickly pressed the advance button on my music device. All that glitters as gold was bought a new life by the honest melodies of Everclear.

I stopped my conveyance and looked skyward. It had begun to rain. A single drop of water hit my cornea in a shocking manner. I lowered my head, raised the sleeve of my shirt, and applied adequate cloth to my eye in order to dry it.

With my eye sufficiently dry, I look again at the still darkening sky. By some twist of the odds, another hefty water drop hit my eye again. I repeated the early process of cloth to eye and decided then that it would be unwise for me to tempt fate thrice.

By now the anachronistic twilight had deepened into night. The polluted haze of the distance faded, and the street around me began to disappear. The ground grew dim and the trees black, as did the old lady sitting in a chair picking her nose and the man spitting in the gutter. Fears and fatigue grew upon me.
The street after it had turned to night.

I do not know how long I stood in the darkness.

Suddenly, I was roused by a soft hand touching my face. Starting up in the darkness I snatched at my M16 with attached combat flashlight. Flipping the switch, I saw three stooping creatures similar to the ones I had seen in the daylight, hastily retreating before the light. Living, as they did, in what appeared to me impenetrable darkness, their eyes were abnormally slanted and sensitive. I have no doubt they could see me in that rayless obscurity, and they did not seem to have any fear of me apart from the light. But, so soon as I pressed the trigger and fired six clips of rifled bullets into the air in order to see them, they fled incontinently, vanishing into dark alleys and convenience stores, from which their eyes glared at me in the strangest fashion. I set my M16 on a nearby curb and sat down on the curb nearby the M16. My plan was to stay perfectly still. Maybe then these creatures would forget of my existence.
Looking into the darkness while sitting perfectly still and hoping the creatures wouldn’t find me.

I was afraid of course, uncertain how to navigate to my office through what could have been millions of these creatures. J. had put this into my head by some at first incomprehensible remarks about the Anachronistic Night. At the time, it was a very difficult problem to guess what the Anachronistic Night meant. J. often gave me odd menacing prophecies before I left for work. That morning, I assumed that her recent warning was of the same league as “don’t eat steamed buns while biking” or “make sure a bus doesn’t hit you because you’re listening to The Backstreet Boys.”

Unfortunately, her prediction had come true. It was morning, and yet it was night. The moon was nowhere to be seen. I began to understand by slight degree the reason to fear a moonless night, especially one that happened during the day. Who knew what those creatures were up to, much less their intentions with me. To steady my nerves, I reached through the darkness for my trusted automatic assault rifle. It was nowhere to be found!

A cold sweat washed over me like warm sweat. My stomach was hit with a nervous emptiness as my bowels dropped to the street. One of the creatures had taken my firearm!

Oh wait, no, there it is.

But my quickly found relief turned to even more quickly found despair as I realized that I had expended all my shells mere minutes earlier during my panic in the dark. Drats to the impulsiveness of youth and optimism towards ammunition supply! I threw my firearm into the darkness and it skittered down the street with a hopeless clatter.
My empty firearm resting on the street, useless.

And now I was to see the most weird and wonderful thing, I think, of all that I beheld in that Anachronistic Night. The whole street was as bright as day with the reflections of the sun. In the centre was a bus, surrounded by gridlocked cars. Beyond this was another lane of conveyances, with yellow stripes dashed and writhing from the light, completely un-phased and traveling through the space with a sense of entitlement.

Upon the side-walk were some thirty or forty Chinamen, dazzled by the light and heat, and blundering hither and thither against each other in their bewilderment. It took a moment before the significance of these sights dawned on me. It was no longer dark. I looked at my timepiece. Six minutes had passed since nightfall.

According to the news agency the moon had passed in front of the sun, “eclipsing” it.

At the risk of disappointing the readers who may have been hoping for a more interesting tale, I fear I must agree with the assessment of the large bosomed woman on the television. But while the darkness may have only been caused by the perfect geometry of the heavens, know that I experienced the depths of hell. Part of my innocence vanished during those six minutes. And, as everybody knows now, it has never returned.

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July 22nd, 2009. Categories / China, Shanghai, Writing

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