The person who probably first saw the lights was a backcountry hunter in northern Alaska. Bill Sims was a transplanted New Yorker who had moved to the Inland Passage because that was as far north as his wife would go. It was fine, because he spent most of his time on hunting trips and she spent most of her time in California.
On the night the lights first spilled across the skies, he was settling his camp down for the night. He loved the fact he could go to the hill top and scream his lungs out and nobody would ever hear him except some bear or a wolf. That was the way he liked it. He was so tired of the crowds, the long highways crammed with people and their fuming machines.
As much as he enjoyed the getaways, the unseasonable weather had made this trip worthless. Tramping through mushy tundra, he had spent days with nothing to show for all his skills except sunburn on his cheeks and tired feet. Pausing in the strangely warm night air, he was still in shirtsleeves this winter night, when he saw the noctilucent lights. He’d seen the rare glowing clouds before but these were somehow different.
Captivated he stood by the flap of his tent and watched as they pulsed across the night sky in vivid colors. The glowing glob like clouds seemed to be dancing as they joined, separated, and then joined once more. Was that music he heard? Impossible, he was a hundred miles from the nearest house. He glanced up and stood memorized watching the display. They were so filled with abandon and sheer joy, he laughed sharing their spontaneous happiness. It looked as if there was something alive in the lights.
They reminded him of a film clip he’d seen once of blood coursing through arteries. That was what these look like, huge, glowing blood veins erupting across the inky sky. Then he noticed they were closer, much closer, and they were indeed throbbing as a strange sound, like some faint exotic music followed. As the glowing clouds curved in toward him, his last image was of broad shimmering wings of light opening wide to embrace him.
His screams raced across the northern landscape and just as he had forecast none but a foraging grizzly heard the sounds.
All across the northlands that night the strange clouds passed and in their wake settled an eerie silence. Radio stations were mere static, power grids went black in the blink of an orbiting satellite’s camera eye, and phone calls went unanswered.
Chaos reigned in the cold north all that long first night.
In the dawn’s early light an armada authorities flew in. Worried friends, relatives, and people cut off from their favorite television show or radio call-in program had raised the alarm all through night. So by jeep, helicopter and boat, crews set off at first light to repair what they assumed were simple power outages. Soon, however, they radioed back bizarre tales and within an hour, there was a media blackout.
Entering yet another small community via National Guard helicopter, Sheriff Jeff Blanding had never seen anything like it. It was barely eight and this was the fourth settlement and they had found no living being in any house, outhouse, or storage bin larger than a shoebox. Everywhere there was a total absence of people. "
A taste of one of the 20 stories in THE BONES OF SUMMER: A COLLECTION OF CHILLING TALES by Norman, Oklahoma author Marilyn A. Hudson. Now available on Amazon