It wasn’t long before a hole opened up and swallowed several cars on Michigan Ave. Not a sinkhole or some road collapse. Just a hole. Like Wile E. Coyote slapped one of those ACME dots into a canyon wall that the roadrunner sped through. The cars just disappeared, devoured. A wedding photographer in Millennium Park captured her clients kissing when the hole appeared beyond them. She sold the photo for thousands.
And my grandparents and two cousins were in one of the cars. They were on their way home from one of those dinners the whole extended family knew about. An ultimatum dinner. A “What I deserve” and “Who will look after the kids?” dinner. A whole SUV just down, down, and gone. Religious sects and cults contacted my family. Alien enthusiasts emailed me. When something so inexplicable happens, it sets a fire in the chest and head like a cold, and people need to find out why, they have to know. I had nothing to give them. There was nothing to give. The government dropped lights down the hole without finding a bottom. They sent people to drill in from the sides, underneath Michigan Avenue, and they only found rock and cement; what was supposed to be there, but on the surface there was still the goddamn hole.
More opened up all over the world, too, like the planet had become Swiss cheese. One swallowed a building that manufactured infant formula. Another one engulfed a Sequoia that was over 1,104 years old. A slew of people willingly jumped into the holes, bypassing the security and barricades. One man wore wings strapped to his back. They called him The Angel. The public ate that shit up. The last thing people saw where the wings before the darkness ate him, too.
And I? What did I do? I couldn’t stop thinking of words I read in some book or another about being a person who spins on their own axis. Someone who could walk into darkness and not give a fuck where the lights are. I needed a nightlight growing up and God help me, I still have one now. A little lightbulb behind a single stain-glass shape of Saturn, burnt yellow and orange and white. I used to stare at it from across my bedroom. I knew Saturn is all gas but still, I imagined life there. Maybe that’s where my grandparents were, I thought, attending the funeral we planned for them. We laid empty caskets in holes in the ground, holes with bottoms, holes with an exact depth that we could measure, check, and measure again.
What a way, way down, to fall.
I’d like to think maybe they’re waiting for more of us to follow into it, be transported. Trust us, follow us, they might be yelling from the void. A few people have jumped in the hole with that very thought—to follow. There are rumors, they say, that items are beginning to appear at the lip of the holes. A wheel. A shoe. A feather. When I read in a chatroom of conspiracy theorists that a small lightbulb had allegedly been found by the hold in Chicago, I nearly wept for joy. Because maybe the darkness could give back after taking. Maybe it was confirming the lingering question. An affirmation. Follow us, see? We’ll leave breadcrumbs. We’ll leave footprints. See there, there, and there: a still-burning cigarette. A doll in mint condition. A watch. A necklace. And there, see? A light. There, a possibility.
Lyndsie Manusos’ writing has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly’s 70th issue, as well as in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Hobart, and other publications.