It was frightening. It gave young children nightmares. It was an open invitation to criminals everywhere. In its shdows, wild animals freely roamed and familiar faces transmogrified.
No one was as they appeared.
People tripped on children’s toys, walked into closed doors, plunged headlong down the stairs. Harmless objects in the light of day often proved fatal at night.
Under its cover, without witnesses, ordinary, law-abiding citizens engaged in lurid, inexplicable activities: they howled at the moon, raged, sobbed, and spoke in tongues.
Some, it was reported, turned into monsters.
For the general health, moral wellbeing and safety of civilized citizens, it was decided that night should be eliminated.
Every dwelling, street, neighborhood, and territory occupied by humans was equipped with motion-activated floodlights that obliterated the shady recesses where darkness loitered.
All that could be seen with the naked eye was categorized according to the level of threat it posed to enlightened society. A scale was developed to measure surprise, ignorance, the potentially harmful, the weird and unrepentant, the unassimilable.
To neutralize the unreliable light of the stars and moon, metal halide lamps, used by fisherman to illuminate the sea at night, were trained on those inconstant spots of light, washing them away in a flood of even whiteness.
The night was emptied of stars, the sky polished into a uniform haze of pale orange%
The night isn’t real, parents told their children: When you sleep, you are always safe. There is nothing to fear. Where did you get such strange ideas about monster in the dark? Did someone tell you a story?
A team of scientists developed a pill that eliminated the human body’s need for sleep.
So much more could be accomplished. Work and schools could remain fully operational 24/7, just like prisons, airports, certain offshore detainment facilities and key government offices.
Without sleep, family conflict was greatly reduced. No more fights to get children to bed or to rouse them in the morning. Those precious hours wasted on sleep were instead devoted to educationally enriching video games.
A few farmers and other special-interest groups protested that they needed night for their crops — something about growing cycles.
Without the habitat of night wild creatures that depended on a cover of darkness had no place else to go.Songbirds, whose bodies were cued to the first light of dawn, sang, until exhausted, and then became extinct.
What could night do? There were few places in the world humans didn’t occupy.
The glow of artificial light seeped into the darkest forest, bombarded the remotest desert outpost, pried open for inspection the deepest depths of the wine dark sea.
For a time nightmares died.
So did dreams.
The little patches of night that remained in distant lands were cordoned off and made into a chain of theme parks where school children could go to experience “Real Night.” Guides explained ancient superstitions such as astrology and astronomy, beliefs people once held about fiery orbs in the night called “stars” and the existence of worlds beyond our own that, although we cannot see, nevertheless exert a powerful influence over every aspect of our lives.
The children didn’t understand what the guides meant by other worlds. Unaccustomed to the dark and unable to see exactly what was in front or behind, they grew uneasy. Small movements startled them, When they found that there was no button to push or screen to manipulate that would take away the darkness and restore the familiar world they had always known, they became terrified of being swallowed, lost forever in the immense gaping mouth of night.
Needless to say, it provoked nightmares. Parents complained. Strange apparitions appeared in the middle of the day.No amount of soothing reassurances about the nature of reality would make them disappear.
Eventually the theme parks were closed down, due to the negative moral repercussions they were having on society. Besides, the encroaching light made them obsolete. Not to mention the irresponsible, outmoded, downright criminal ideas that they gave rise to.
Anyone with common sense and eyes could see that humans had always been alone in the center of the universe.
Inspiration: Our Vanishing Night by Verlyn Klinkenborg, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/light-pollution/klinkenborg-text