• Maelstrom Magazine

Ring of Fire - Austen Dunavant

This went on for months. Every day, he would notice that

For hundreds of thousands of years, the planet had been home to a colony of humanoid beings that had never felt a need to know more than they did. After all, who needs to know what was beyond a world where nothing had ever changed? Each person had a purpose. Each person had a task to complete. Everyone was content with their lives.

At the foundation of this comfort was The Ring, a misty purple loop that surrounded the entire planet. Ever since the early days, It had been a symbol of unity by everyone who laid eyes upon It. This would all change soon. Nothing good lasts forever.

One of these humanoid beings woke up on a morning that seemed like any other. That viewpoint changed when he opened his eyes to the octagonal skylight directly above his bed. When he gazed up at The Ring, he felt a tugging at the edge of his mind. Something was different. But surely that was impossible. He continued with his tasks for the day.

Every day, he would notice that It was changing and the thought went on to consume him. No matter what task he performed, The Ring was always in his mind. And he wasn’t the only one. Millions across the planet also noticed. These people longed for answers. The “Visionaries of The Ring,” as they called themselves, met every night to discuss the latest discoveries pertaining to It. The more time that passed, the more apparent the changes became and more people joined as a result. For the first time ever, these beings sought to know.

Their reports determined that Its cloudy purple appearance was slowly changing to a clearer, scarlet color. They also reported that this new color was formed by asteroids that were clumping together and would eventually break through The Ring and destroy all life on the planet. In order to spread the word, they started a strike from performing their tasks until the planetary government would acknowledge the change.

The government didn’t respond well to this. Due to the strikes, a percentage of the world wasn’t receiving the necessities that they had always had. The obvious decision seemed to be to acknowledge the change in The Ring, but if the foundation of all comfort in the world was changed into the source of imminent destruction within a single night, the civilians would lose all hope for peace; the planet would erupt into chaos. In order to keep the planet stable, a secret military was sent to quietly exterminate all of the “Visionaries of The Ring” within a single night as an alternative.

The next day, all was back to normal. The government never acknowledged the Visionaries and the rest of the people on the planet were happy to be ignorant again. The Ring was scarlet, but according to the government, It had always been scarlet. The people accepted what they said as truth since it was easier to believe what everyone else was saying than what they actually remembered.

Weeks after, the asteroid clump became strong enough to move past The Ring and into the planet itself. All life on what was once a great utopia had been completely decimated. After all, nothing good lasts forever.

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