At first nobody noticed when the fog started to roll in. A few tendrils of mist gathered around the outskirts of town, swirling lazily in the midday air. Gradually the mist thickened, and isolated eddies flowed together, seeping into the back alleyways. The dogs noticed it first. They could sense that something was different, not quite right.
Eventually the mist flowed out of the alleys and poured onto the town square. The children were entranced – it was like a snowfall made of air. They watched, enchanted, as it flowed around their ankles, while they laughed and ran in circles. Their parents looked on uneasily from shops and doorways. There had never been a mist quite like this before, not in these parts.
As the afternoon wore on, the mist rose gradually higher, settling like a blanket over the whole town, thick as cornmeal soup. One by one the shops closed down and people headed on homeward. Parents rounded up their children, pulling the reluctant youngsters indoors. The good citizens of the town shuttered their doors and windows. Some made a sign of the cross or muttered a few silent words of protection under their breath.
Eventually the town grew still, settling into an air of watchful waiting. And that was when some of the more astute amongst the town folk began to notice the Darkening. But only Grandpa Evans, shut up in his old house on the edge of town, thought to look into the almanac. He scratched his head and double checked his columns. Weren’t no eclipse scheduled for today. He sat for a while and patiently thought it all through, and then thought it all through again. When he was done thinking he opened the kitchen drawer and rummaged around until he found his old leather cartridge case. Then he went out to the front hall and took down his shotgun.