100 Themes 032 - Night

Initially an idea we had for the Manga Jiman competition 2010, I was stuck for inspiration when I came across the plan. The next theme fitted it quite well; originally it was set during the day, but it was easy enough to repurpose, and actually I think it words better this way. I enjoy the idea of the grainy green night-vision goggles with the people picked out in white.

Written in a Cornish pub called something like Cornubia in Gwithian.


“Is it ready yet?”

Jin poked his younger brother in the ribs with a toe. “No. It’s still not done, like the last time you asked me,” he said, not taking the night-vision binocs from his eyes. They cast the desert in ghostly green and the person, five miles distant, might as well have been an ant in the grainy display; the next one, two miles or so, wasn’t much bigger.

“It’s never going to be done. I’m bored.”

Jin sighed and checked his watch, then squatted down beside Lon, who was drawing in the sand with a stick clenched in one pudgy hand. Jin picked up a stick of his own and made a mark.

“Ah man.” Lon threw down his stick in disgust. “How long have we been waiting now?”

“Well, let’s see. How long have we been waiting, here,” Jin said, indicating the small patch of scrubland they were camped in, “Or how long since the Wave started?”

Lon shrugged. “Whole thing, I guess.”

Jin stood up and looked through the binocs again. The distant figure was still standing still, presumably focussing on his own predecessor.

“You were only three when JuarezM4ster started it all off; he was the first one to really organise us into any sort of attempt. He got people all over the world involved; TV, newspapers, infoblinks, the whole net.” Jin looked down; Lon had picked up a tiny lizard and was letting it run over his hands. “You listenin’ to this or am I talking to the air?”

The lizard’s tail broke off the and rest of it scuttled away under a rock. Lon tutted and threw his prize away. “Yeah, I’m listening.”

“When it all kicked off, it was a huge event. They timed it with the lighting of the torch for the 2020 Mexican Olympics and everything. And, here we are, four years later and five hours from home, waiting to carry on the chain.”

“And is it done yet?”

Jin sighed and held the binocs out. “Here, why don’t you take a look. Then you’ll know.”

Lon grinned as he jumped up and grabbed the binocs. Jin crouched behind him and pointed out the direction for him.

“Out on that hill is YesMan20, and you can just about see UltraMax123 further on from him. They’re both off the forum, same as me. Keep watching them.”

Jin moved over to the dirtbike, still warm from the day’s heat, and took his water bottle out of the saddlebag. The water was lukewarm and slightly grainy; he shrugged and drank it, leaving the last mouthful for later.

“Still watching?”

“Mmm-hmm,” Lon said. Jin put the bottle away and took out the netbook instead, flipping it open. The M-Wave forum was still on from earlier, the bright backlight destroying his night vision. No real change to speak of, he noted as he scrolled down the page.

“Hey bro; I want to be second in line,” Lon said, still peering through the lenses.

“That’s fine,” Jin said, closing the netbook.

“No, wait, first.”


“Second, then. I don’t know,” Lon said, taking the binocs away from his eyes.

Jin walked back over to stand next to his younger brother and took the binocs back.

“They’re running late. And, we sorted out who was standing where ages ago, remember? You’re going FIRST because you’re shorter, and I’m going SECOND so that YelterSk3lter can see us clearly.” He looked through the binocs again and held his breath; the furthest person had his arms up in the air.

“Ohhh, here we go, here we go! Quick, get in front of me,” Jin said, moving to look at the nearer person. He heard Lon scuff the sand as he moved, almost at the same time seeing the nearer figure throw his arms up. “Ready, just like we practiced... Now!”

Lon thrust his arms up into the air and Jin quickly followed him. Finally, he thought, it’s about time. He held the pose for a second or two, then relaxed.

“Wow,” Lon said, “I’ve never been part of history before... Oh, the picture!”

“That’s right,” Jin said as they walked back to the bike, “The satellite took our picture as the Wave went through. It’s already on the website.” He pulled the netbook back out and clicked on the link, the screen flashing for a couple of seconds before showing a graphic of the entire planet. The viewpoint zoomed in, a snaking ribbon of photos seeming to garland the world like tinsel. Even as they watched, a new photo appeared, then two more.

“There we are,” Lon shouted, stabbing the screen with his finger. Jin clicked on the photo and looked at himself and his brother, arms up in the air, grinning like idiots.

“There it is, little brother. The longest continuous Mexican Wave, and we’re part of it.” He admired the photo for a moment, then closed the netbook and put it away.

“Yay,” Lon said, then stifled a yawn.

“Home time. Come on.” Jin climbed onto the bike and turned the key, the engine responding with a roar. Lon climbed on behind and put his arms around him and, with a spray of sand, they rode off into the desert night.