On the first night the stars fell, the whole suburb rushed out of their beds and looked out their windows to see what kind of rain had caused a glow on their yards. As their eyes traced the rainfall from the ground up, they saw the night sky, nearly raw in its jet black skin, sprinkling stars on the ground. It seemed like the sky had grown tired of its twelve-hour shift and decided to stop working for a while. Some folks stepped out onto their porch, witnessing the stars— sparklers no bigger than they had seen when hooked up to the sky— sizzling as they feathered down onto the lush grass and concrete roads. They watched this phenomenon in silent awe, and this allowed the suburb to keep its peace.
On the second night the stars fell, the entire neighborhood pulled up lawn chairs in their front yards or stood outside to watch the sky fall once more. Estella, a young lady, was among the neighborhood crowd. She stood in front of her family’s white house in a yellow waterproof coat and matching rubber boots as per all rainy occasions. The illuminated grass danced around her feet and gave the house an ivory glow. Like some of her neighbors, Estella tried catching stars in the palms of her hands, but she was more successful catching them by the tight coils of her dark hair. There, some stars would rest until they gently fizzled out. Estella couldn’t notice the sparklers on her head until some of them caught at the ends of her mane. When they did fall onto the girl’s palms, she noticed their weightlessness and fuzzy warmth. Estella hadn’t yet blown her twenty candles that year, but she felt that this was a grand sign that she would have everything she could ever wish for, if she wished that night.
“Everyone, behold— it is a sign of the last times,” said a young man biking the suburban street with a megaphone in one hand. It was Jericho, Estella’s brother. She ignored his voice because by this point, Jericho had gone around the block three times saying the same thing. Estella paid no mind to him during such moments. Her brother rode his bike in flannel red pajamas and an afro that was flat on the left side, while giving his most important sermon to date.
“The stars are dying and so will our closest star, Sun. We had been warned five centuries ago about the end of the world by the great Nostradamus. After all these stars have hit the ground, and every single one of them has been extinguished, we will witness, in broad daylight, the sun expand and explode.” He said this without knowing whether the sun would actually explode without Armageddon preceding it. Nevertheless, the guy managed to catch the attention of a few curious ears around the block who all gaped at the notion that their sun could actually become a supernova. Jericho was a scientist who had completed a master’s degree in astrophysics not long ago. Recently, he decided to reject most of what he’d learned in school to follow the prophecies of Nostradamus and the ancient theory of a flat Earth.
While Jericho gave the neighbors his unpopular opinion, he also collected stars in a basket fixed at the front of his bike. He planned to examine the stars using a microscope and other fine lab tools stored in his room. It was crucial for Jericho’s status as a conspiracy theorist and researcher to determine what kind of threat could possibly unleash Judgement Day.
A grey kitten crept up next to Estella, making his way around her feet while eating stars on the ground. She stared at the cat for a long time, noticing the clean trail it had traced behind him. The kitten’s path seemed to have begun at a house three doors down from Estella’s. She looked back down at the cat, hoping that her mind would make sense of what she was witnessing. That didn’t happen. Instead, Estella decided the cat was too cute not to bring home. She picked up the cat and pressed him against her racing heart. He would have to be snuck in, because her parents, who didn’t subscribe to a hierarchical system between humans and animals, wouldn’t approve of keeping the cat hostage.
On the third morning, the day sky had chosen to show up clean-cut and working hard to polish its only star, the sun. Estella fed the cat stars she had stolen from Jericho’s collection. Her brother had stuffed some stars in the lower compartment of the refrigerator. It meowed short yum–yums as it feasted, and it slept right after each meal. Estella noticed that the cat matured significantly after every nap. He ate frequently, and with each growth spurt the cat became more and more active— he enjoyed playing with knick-knacks on Estella’s desk, rubbing his fur against her wool sweaters, and jumping from the desk to the bed. As much as she enjoyed his company, Estella wasn’t sure how she was going to introduce her new pet to the family. But she chose not to think about it just yet; her parents were probably busy planning which dashikis they’d wear to the next group sound bath session they were hosting— after that talk on aphrodisiac secrets from Ancient Kemet for #BlackLove enthusiasts at the alternative bookstore, of course.
Jericho barely got any sleep. He just couldn’t wrap his head around this new threat. It wasn’t because he spent all day and night examining samples upon samples of stars under his microscope. It wasn’t because he was tirelessly consulting Nostradamus’s book for a corresponding prophecy. Actually, Jericho had only done so the first two nights of star-fall. He was, in fact, paranoid. So he decided to stand outside the house by the fourth night. He spoke to a small crowd of folks who were dragged out of their beds by the fear he instilled in them at three o’clock in the morning through his microphone. They listened to him preach the prophecies of Nostradamus with exuberance and ease. By sunrise, the scientist lay in bed in a cold sweat, staring at his bedroom ceiling. He thought that surely, eventually, Armageddon would come. So, with that in mind, how could he ever fall asleep?
By the fifth night, there were barely any stars left for the night sky to shake off. A large crowd had formed again on Jericho and Estella’s front yard, but the preacher was yet to come out. He looked out his bedroom window, staring at the bare clouds. He could have sworn the night had swallowed him before he had even realized. In the void, he and the night were one. This dark nakedness gave others the impression that Earth may no longer have any neighbors.
Someone spotted Jericho by his window and asked when Armageddon would come so they could be prepared. The crowd wanted him to come outside. The scientist still had no clue, but he wanted to be a trustworthy shepherd. So he tried to turn around and exit his room, but he remembered that insomnia was resting on his face. If they stood close enough to him, they’d smell the nervousness that flooded his sheets. The thought of his followers seeing him worn out froze his body. So he gave a washed-out sermon from the window, every other word cracking the assuredness in his voice. Looking at the crowd from afar, Jericho’s troubled eyes saw faces growing tighter with anger by the minute.
It must have been Judgement Day on the sixth night. There were no more stars in the sky. Jericho pulled his sheets up to his nose when he thought he had heard faint shouts from outside the bedroom window— someone cursing his name. Every sound sent little zaps to the scientist’s brain, exhausting his limbs.
On the seventh morning, Estella woke up to a young man snoozing at the foot of her bed, where the cat usually slept. He slumbered in fetal position, in a grey sweatsuit and fresh white kicks. Estella left her bed and crouched down to gently shake his shoulder. She really wished she didn’t have the courtesy not to touch his golden, straight hair.
The young man woke up without a problem. He rose his torso up to sit and he locked eyes with Estella, smiling. Her vision began to blur out the room into the background to center in on him. She squeezed the soft, plump carpet with her toes and listened to the static in the air.
“Hi, Estella. Thank you for helping me,” said the young man. “I’m not sure how I was turned into a cat. I was only on my nightly run.”
The young man rose to his feet, barely two inches away from hers. “But, hey, let’s get together sometime. Okay?”
She nodded and watched him leave the room. She then rushed to the bedroom window to watch him step into the morning sun. He crossed the neighborhood street and entered into a house three doors down across for her. Estella sighed a long breath as his door shut. How was she going to introduce her new friend to the family?
Later that night, Estella noticed her brother’s door partly opened while walking in the hallway.
“Jericho, is everything all right?” Estella stepped into her brother’s room.
The preacher sat up with weak limbs, staring at his sister with waterfalls in his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak and the words came pouring out. Through his sister’s warm reassurance, Jericho found the peace he needed to sleep that night.