Silence At the Fall of Night

Silence At the Fall of Night
by Deb Houdek Rule

This is the most truly personal story of the collection. Silence At the Fall of Night is science fiction romance written at the time when my then future-husband and I were romancing on the Internet sight-unseen to each other from 2000 miles apart. This was the era on the Internet before there even was a World Wide Web. There were no profile pictures. There were no chat rooms. There were no personal websites and no photographs posted online. There were only people as silent “voices” speaking through plain text. One came to know the pure essence of a person without any of the usual external information. This was how my husband and I came to know each other. During our online romance we exchanged the equivalent of approximately 6000 printed pages of pure text; I have the printouts, Geo saved the text files. Silence At the Fall of Night is this pure relationship, a romance with no sight, no voice, no touching, just pure human contact coming out of the darkness. “Silence At the Fall of Night” was published in the Summer 2000 issue of Terra Incognita science fiction magazine.  ©1993 D. A Houdek (Deb Houdek Rule)

A single letter stared out of the flickering screen.

Huddled in darkness, Melanie hugged her knees to her chest and shivered. Her eyes locked onto the screen, onto the letter that invaded her solitude. Melanie floated unmoving, not really seeing it, not acknowledging its existence.

Only the faint light of the monitors and controls penetrated her den of night. Letting the currents of air turn her, Melanie faced the huge quartz port. Beyond it, the planet hung, enveloped by a blackness broken only by the flare of lightning through distant, silent storms. The blue/white bursts of lightning used to make her cry, trembling with the anguish of horrible memories. No longer. She only saw the darkness that surrounded the light. Darkness. Darkness and silence. Wrapping them around her like a comforter, she watched the globe slip by.

Ten more minutes to the terminator. Ten more minutes to the light. She shuddered.

The letter was still there. She could feel it burning into her back. Not until the first rays of the star crested the curve of the planet did she turn around and face the screen.

It was the letter “R.”

No, not truly an “R.” It was backwards. A backwards “R.”

Read the rest of the story in Stars That Sing the Requiem, short story anthology available on