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Colors dance across the night sky, form menacing shapes that look like ghostly figures traversing the firmament, the trees are ablaze with light swaying from side to side. The sleeping landscape comes alive with a rich, red and green hue. Evanescent towers burst forth from stray swells of rolling light. It lights up the room, so print can be easily read as if it were daylight.

"What is that," asked Johnson as the two of them walk out onto the desert landscape. Johnson is a rotund, funny-looking man with Propecia and a penchant for the bottle.

"Those are solar winds meeting Earth's magnetosphere", sneered Oswald. Oswald had an athletic build, severe features, a regal nose and no time for bullshit.

"The Aurora Ballus!", Johnson, the daft fool, cheerfully proclaimed.

"Aurora Borealis, Johnson. And, no, those are northern lights. We're nowhere near the poles last I checked", Oswald admonished the young man. Thinking out loud, Oswald continued, "we shouldn't be seeing lights like that from where we are."

"Want a drink?" implored Johnson, as he raised a small tin flask with what Oswald presumed to be the usual, whiskey.

"You know, Johnson, about half of all murderers are drunk when they kill and about half of all murdered people have alcohol in their system."

"Not thirsty then, Oswald?" Oswald sighed deeply. "Everything okay?" enquired Johnson.

Oswald, eyes transfixed on the heavens above, couldn't shake the feeling that everything was not okay. It felt like a warning. Turning toward Johnson, Oswald shrugged, took out a cigarette, lit it and opened his left hand, then patted the outside of his left hip.

"Should we go back?" asked Johnson.

"I don't know. That shack isn't going to protect us from the radiation. Forget it."

"You're full of shit, Oz. I'm getting back to work".

Johnson walked back to the telegraph hut, and shut the door behind him. Oswald remained outside, smoked his cigarette and stared off at the brilliantly lighted horizon. Drawing his second to last drag of the cigarette, he prepared to toss it.

Suddenly, the hut door burst open and a hysterical, on fire Johnson came careening toward Oswald. Oswald, surprised, yelled, "Drop and roll you sonofabitch!" The son of a bitch obeyed, rolled around and manically ruffled his hair until the last few sparks were out.

"What in the hell happened?" asked Oz.

Rising slowly to his feet, Johnson stood up straight, dusting and swatting the mildly charred fringes of his jacket against his legs, and running his right hand through his singed head of hair. "I don't know," he finally managed. Still breathing heavily, Johnson gradually collected himself and continued, "We was receiving a message from Boston, but before I'd finished recording the whole system was fried and my jacket caught alight" bleated the poor fool.

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16 Dec, 2019
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