The first long night had been forty-eight hours. Those who made it through to the dawn that followed discovered their world had gone.
Something to do with the darkness, the original scientific consensus had been, Callie remembered, chewing on the end of her pen as she leaned back, the journal on her knees. Some form of bacterial infection came with the ever-lengthening nights. She’d been finishing up boot camp when the planet had passed through a series of meteor showers. Everyone had talked about it. The fragments had fallen in bands, some tiny, even the larger ones, falling on every continent, of no concern to anyone. The changes had taken time to be reported. Africa, then Europe, had fallen, but it had still been easy to dismiss. Some other place’s problems.
She started writing again, memories flickering. Bravo Company had found the prison, a Victorian-built fortress, empty of prisoners, and had taken it over. It was a hard target, but not impregnable. Nothing was impregnable. They’d lost twenty in the nights before the refortification had been finished. Charlie Company made it four weeks later. There was plenty of room, and at first, the radios had buzzed with survivors, homing in on their beacon, arriving in groups of twos or threes, mostly. Sometimes as many as twenty. Then, fewer survivors had found their way to them. And more attacks came, spreading out but getting more violent, as the night hours lengthened and the daylight hours shrank.
Under military command, the compound was both lifeboat and, well, prison. They could grow their food, after a fashion, using hydroponic tanks and the generators that still provided electricity. They could train newcomers to protect themselves and each other, to some degree. Every person, military or civilian, took duty in guarding the community. They could even pretend, on holidays and holy days, that life might return to something worth living. Well, she reconsidered, some could. Some could not.
Tower watch was the worst. There were four on the cardinal points of the prison walls, each named for their direction. The squat, pentagonal prisms were layered in sheet steel over the original brick and timber structure, the base smaller than the roof, straddling a stone and metal-sheathed wall on thick iron girders. What had once been large glass windows were now covered in roller…