(This short story was written on the back of 5 postcards all sent from different places: this explains the breaks in the text.)
Day 26 of the Astral Dawn.
Nathaniel Trimfire didn’t like the sun. Six months a year, everything was fine: his life went on, flowing along a quietness that was cold and grey, just the way he liked it. But then, during the six other months, Earth became Hell. At first he endured, he had no choice, despite his firm conviction that this was not the way he was meant to live.
But the more he grew up, the more he felt like running away.
When he finally reached the age of majority, he had made up his mind: at the end of the lovely grey months, he packed his suitcase and went.
The new office of migratory exploration was waiting for him.
Day 72 of the Astral Dawn.
Nathaniel saw the Tower slowly fading through the clouds with a heavy heart. This Tower had been at the center of his dreams for his whole youth, when his mother pulled his hand everytime they passed by and he wanted to stop.
And now he could see it from up there, right under his feet, through the transparent floor of the shuttle, for the last time. The base was just about to close so they could go through the atmosphere. Since the Sun had started to burn, windows had been sealed on the shuttles.
Nathaniel didn’t really bother: after all, this was the reason why he had struggled to fill all the conditions of the Office of migration.
Away from that damn sun. Finally!
And yet it was rather hot in the cabin… Too hot.
When smoke started to leak from the ventilation above, Nathaniel understood that something wasn’t quite right.
Day 75 of the Astral Dawn.
Nathaniel Trimfire was fuming. He had done everything for this. For nothing. He had complied with EVERYTHING. He had granted ALL their requests. And now he was still stuck to the ground, along with the other passengers of shuttle EXP-612 towards the latest Unknown Place to be colonised. Everything was ready, yet everything had gone downhill due to a stupid problem of temperature. The Office of migratory exploration was superstitious. They never sent the same expedition twice. All those with their names registered on that shuttle would never, ever fly again.
As he stood at the foot of the Tower which used to be at the source of so many promises, Nathaniel was now trying to forget his dreams. Under a steel sun, he had never felt so down.
Then he lifted his head up. So what? He would lead his own expedition.
Day 26 of the Astral Era.
People in the village were laughing, he knew it.
They saw him six months a year, when the sun was away. Nobody knew where he went for the six other months.
Everytime he suddenly disappeared and only came back when the sun was not here anymore. Every year he seemed stranger, madder, whiter… and tougher.
And every year, when he came back, he bought the most unexpected things. Rope, shovels, canned food, filters, picks…
People were talking, children were pointing at him, running after him while giving him names. « Ghostman! »
But Nathaniel Trimfire didn’t care: he went on with his curious business.
Day 3127 of the Astral Twilight.
« Mommy, who’s the man up there? »
Little Nora is six years old and she has never seen the sun. Eyes wide open, she admires the huge statue at the entrance of the Underground.
« He’s Master Trimfire, Nora. Thanks to him, we didn’t burn when the Tower fell. »
« But why does he carry a pick? »
« Because he bare-handedly dug the Underground. The other people all thought he was mad, but he saved us. »
Nora’s face lights up with a broad smile while she stares at the big guy carved into the stone.
« Mommy, for my birthday I want a pick like Master Trimfire! »
« Sure, Darling, sure. Come on, Dad’s waiting for us, dinner is ready. »
Nora went back to toddling beside her mother.
Nathaniel Trimfire had finally taken revenge on the Sun.