The night sky was clear when the last snow fell.

Vern had been inside, reloading the greenbar paper into the printers, when Joe called for him to come look outside.

“Vern! Get out here! You gotta see this!”

He didn’t go. There were fourteen printers to switch and he was only half finished. They were a pain in the ass to load, between lugging the boxes, feeding the connected sheets, and lining up the punch holes. Vern liked to do them all at once, so he could consolidate the task into one big weekly bother rather than a small daily annoyance. Joe was always excited when he could see even a glimmer of aurora and, while Vern appreciated it, he’d seen it before. He wasn’t about to let a few colors in the sky throw him off task.

Joe stopped calling and didn’t push it, but it didn’t matter because before Vern finished the printer he was working on, there was a flicker on the monitors and the power cut out. The lights, computers, and radar screens all went dark. The electric hum the machines whirred down into silence.


It was almost too dark to see. He extended his hands and felt his way around the office. He found the right desk and rummaged around in the drawers attempting to find a flashlight by touch. He did, but when he clicked it, the bulb was a dim brown and wasn’t any help. He gave up and went outside.

Joe was standing a good distance away, looking up. Snow, in large puffy flakes, was falling straight down from the sky.


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