The autumn equinox is the point when there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Occurring this year on September 22nd, this celestial event marks the end of summer and the three-month slide into winter. In many places, changes take place before our eyes. Forests and hillsides blaze with fiery oranges, reds, and golds. Gardens overflow with fat melons and trees sag with heavy fruit.
Ancient pagan holidays once celebrated the autumn equinox with festivals commemorating the harvesting of foods meant to sustain them through the long and cold winters. Today, our pumpkin and harvest festivals are joyous occasions and some of the last outdoor events until spring. We plan road trips to see the autumn leaves and gather together to can food and make yummy fruit pies, jams, and jellies.
In a world where there are no seasons to mark nature’s changes, would we lose the need to celebrate or simply lose the reason behind it?
For days, Norma considered the implications of the last meeting she had with President Pike. She fully understood his position, but it wasn’t any easier to accept. Pike mentioned eight people in Cheyenne who knew about the Drive. He included himself in the list and was fairly sure he deemed her a threat as well.
She went to the gym to work out. Exercise usually helped clear her mind. Forty-five minutes later she had showered and slipped on a fresh toga. Now sitting at her desk looking over old files about the war, the knot in her stomach returned. The perpetual computer calendar indicated the twelfth of December. Before the appearance of the Drive, she wouldn’t have given it a thought. December was just a random month in a random year. There were no seasons inside Cheyenne; the years and months were marked off like the minutes on a clock, one no different from the one preceding it. After the Hand of God had waged its holy war, the council had banned all religious holidays. Now, only two things marked the passage of time in the underground city: the election of the legislature, held once every four years on the first of January, which was also the beginning of their new year; and the annual fitness testing. On his or her birthday, each citizen was required to submit to physical and psychological screening.
Norma’s test was coming up on December fifteenth, but she wasn’t worried. At forty-five, she was in better condition than ever. She worked out in the gym two hours a day and practiced martial arts and yoga regularly. Her mental acuity was kept sharp by her security duties. Monitoring Cheyenne was like playing so many detective games as she tried to understand the lives and motivations of its two-hundred-and-five citizens. But now her detective games had taken on a sense of urgency.
Today she sat in her office watching a pre-recorded video of three men playing a strategy game called Risk. Invented sometime during the twentieth century when the world was divided up into just under two hundred countries, the game was an old one. She envied them. Her job didn’t allow her friendships like theirs. The game they played looked interesting, something she would have enjoyed playing. She perused over the rest of the mess hall, listening to bits and pieces of conversation. None of the flagged words were heard, with the exception of the men playing Risk, where words like army and attack were an intricate part of the game.
As she listened, she noticed that air of excitement again. It was subtle, nothing she could put her finger on…
Enjoy the beautiful fall colors this year.