It was on this day, two hundred years ago, that the mouth of the Earth opened. I know, because my great-great-whatever uncle had been there. In fact, he had fallen into the rift, never to be seen again. It has been a rather large point of pride for the Newton family ever since. I mean, wouldn’t you be excited if a member of your family had been at ground zero on the day of, and had actually died there? I don’t know what planet you come from, but here that’s a pretty big deal. The reparations from the government are keeping us fat and healthy even this long after.
Today, we celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of that strange event. At first, everyone had thought it was an earthquake, something apparently not so uncommon at that time. But then the Mouth opened. I think that’s what really alarmed everybody – a huge crevice opening in the Earth, from North to South Pole, as they were called then. It swallowed houses, cars, pets, and a single person, my distant ancestor. How no one else was killed is proof of miracles. There were, however, quite a few eyewitnesses to the following events.
As far as the mosaic of eyewitness accounts goes, the Mouth steamed from the moment it opened. Stuart Newton could be heard screaming for several seconds after the initial fall. A few people reported observing a cloud of red steam immediately after the screaming stopped, but there is no conclusive evidence to prove it was anything other than a bit of dust and people’s crazy overreactions. The steam still geysers out from the Mouth, even two hundred years later. The funny thing is, it’s cold and I’m not talking chilly like you get when you’re not wearing socks. The precise temperature of the inside of the Mouth is unknown, as scientists are yet to develop any kind of technology that can measure the temperature without melting. From what we understand, it is a supernatural kind of cold, a kind of cold that could not possibly be of this world.
I did once know a boy who touched the lip of the Mouth. He screamed when he did so and within an hour had lost several fingers. Worse, the cold seemed to be travelling through him, as by the following day, his entire are was black and gangrenous, thoroughly frostbitten. I did hear a rumor that it snapped off one morning in the shower, but nothing was ever confirmed. Rex was taken by government science types in the dead of night, not even allowed to take his toothbrush. His family is very proud of him, too.
I take a look outside and light my candle in the windowsill. I see my neighbors at their windows, candles lit, watching warily. It is a vigil that we have taken seriously for two hundred years. And before our eyes, we watch the steam gush from the Mouth and a blinding object rapidly ascends.