Sean bit his lip to keep his temper in check.
"This is impossible," he mumbled under his breath. "It can't be."
But the more he strained his eyes at the phenomena a scant 15 feet in front of him the more it drove its reality into his brain.
Sean felt both angry and confused. He was going to be late for work, and he didn't have time for some weird eclipse that decided to manifest in the middle of the road. He fumbled for his cell phone, never taking his eyes off the immense sheet of blackness in front of his car.
His words were swallowed by the dead silence on the other end of the line. He pulled his phone away from his face, and looking at the screen, noticed it was blank.
Flinging it into the dashboard, he watched as the device separated into several pieces on impact. A series of cracks snaked across the screen and the protective case it was in ripped, exposing delicate components.
"Great! Just freaking great!"
Sean forced himself to settle down. He had to remember his blood pressure. He was stuck in his car, already late for work, with a broken cell phone and some black wall in front of him. Getting angry would do no good.
He tilted his head back and couldn't help but marvel at how the wall seemed to stop just short of where the sun hung in the sky. A stark line stretched horizontally in both directions as far as he could see, effectively creating a black panel that appeared to be painted on.
Sean took a deep breath, wondering what he was going to do. He couldn't go forward (God only knew what it really was) and turning around would mean he'd be late for work even more.
Deciding to get out of his car, Sean approached the wall. He turned the key in the ignition off and stepped out onto the cracked asphalt. The wall stood before him like a great black canvas, void of features or apparent purpose. It choked the landscape with its immensity and defied logic or explanation with its grip on the sanity of all who beheld it.
Sean took a tentative step forward, and then another. As he drew closer to the wall he noticed how it seemed to create a vacuum, a hollow cavity that yearned to be filled. It pulled him toward it.
It hungered for him.
He reached out a hand, coming to within a few feet of the wall. Oddly, other than the feeling of a vacuum, he didn't sense anything else. There was no heat or cold, no sound, not even static electricity. Nothing but a blank slate that shouldn't exist but did.
It was an impossible sheet of night.
With each passing second Sean's thoughts about his job drifted further into obscurity. Suddenly jeopardizing his career just didn't seem important anymore. He stared at the darkness, trying to penetrate it with his gaze. There was depth there, depth that bore straight through the planet's core and tapped into unrealized dimensions.
Sean stepped forward. His legs moved without his consent; time slowed. He felt himself losing control of his body, and try as he might it was taking him where he didn't want to go: the wall.
"No!" he cried, but there was no one around to hear him. He cocked his head back and winced at the bright sunshine on his face. "Please, someone help me!" He moved closer to the wall, approaching its impossible surface.
He noticed that the sun was dipping below the wall, becoming an insignificant dot in the fading sky. Its normally brilliant luminescence was dimming. The wall was absorbing it, sucking it dry as it expanded its dark nothingness.
Sean felt constricted, as if his world, the world of light, was being squeezed into nonexistence. He felt claustrophobic, even though he was standing outside. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine his happy place. In it he was perched on a dock that jutted out into the serene waters of Mullett Lake. It was his favorite place to fish, a veritable hotspot of walleye and largemouth bass just itching to be caught. His fishing pole hung over the side, held lazily in his hands. Occasionally hungry fish nibbled at the bait fastened to the end of the line.
Sean let a smile slide across his face. Even though he was firmly entrenched in his pleasant daydream he made sure he wasn't moving forward. He stood still. He didn't want to get any closer to the wall. He was at a comfortable median, enjoying his happy place and keeping a safe distance from the most likely dangerous anomaly back in the real world.
The fishing pole jerked in his hands.
The wall inched closer.
A plump bass tried to spin away from the water's surface.
Darkness swelled, touching the tips of Sean's feet, then his hands, and finally his torso and face.
The fish broke the surface, the hook snagged in its gaping mouth.
Sean could sense the sun sinking behind the wall. A light chill slipped over him then, one that wasn't unpleasant. It was more of a surprise than anything, and Sean found himself surrendering to its embrace. He knew it was the wrong thing to do, but in some far-off, detached sort of way he wanted it. He needed it.
The darkness enveloped him, slowly, smoothly, painlessly, wrapping him up in its mysterious cocoon.
He opened his eyes and saw paradise.
With tentative but anxious steps Sean felt himself walking toward a body of water. He recognized it. It was Mullet Lake. It was where he loved to fish, and he could already see the walleye and bass practically jumping out of the water.
"My happy place," he said. "I'm in my happy place."
All thoughts about his previous life faded into insignificance. His family, his job, his friends, none of it mattered anymore, none of it existed. The wall had absorbed all of it. The wall had absorbed him. He had been transformed into sustenance, becoming nothing more than a meal for the expanding entity that was engulfing the world.
Sean broke into a trot. He was excited to reach the water's edge and stake out a good spot. He didn't have his pole or bait but was confident he wouldn't need them. In paradise the fish threw themselves at you. All he would have to do is sit and wait for them.
He fell to the ground when his feet dissolved, oozing into the grass like hot wax. His legs quickly followed, and then his torso. His body was melting as the digestion process started, and before long all he could do was look skyward and see that everything was turning dark.
The night was hungry.