Dark Star Rising Prologue

By Lina Darkstar

The night sky was so dark then. It made it easier to sleep, but somehow less restful. More and more often I found myself getting up in the middle of the night, just to go out and stare at the stars.

Is it my imagination, or are there *less* of them...?

I shook the stray thought from my mind. Fewer stars. How ridiculous. It takes billions of years for a star to go supernova and vanish, and it’d take trillions to make a visible dent in the night sky over Townsend, Vermont.

With a sigh, I lay back down on the roof, picking out stars whose names I only half-remembered. There’s the North Star, and then that one close to the moon is Jupiter, and there... Virgo... and Gemini, and that corner is Alhena.

I smiled. Alhena, the glittering gem set in a crown of five dimmer lights. Alhena, my guiding star on the clearest of nights. I watched it amicably, fancying that I could almost see the faintest speck of blue in the very midst of the white light. My eyelids grew heavy. I blinked once or twice, lulled to drowsiness by Alhena’s almost hypnotic twinkling.

And suddenly, between one blink and the next, Alhena was simply not there.

My eyes snapped open, and I stared unbelivingly at the blank spot in the sky where it used to be. Frantically I double-checked, tracing with my eyes the string of familiar reference points to the dim pentagon of small stars that were suddenly dimmer in the absence of their bright neighbor. I stared, stared hard at the hole where Alhena was, and willed it to reappear, to shine forth once again. It didn’t.

Strange. As I look back on this, I have to admit that it never once occurred to me that I might be dreaming. I was always aware that whatever was happening, there was no magical escape, no way to just wake up and banish the nightmares. No indeed- even then, I knew that the nightmares were real.

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