Tell A Tale in 500 Words

A Quiet Stroll in the Evening By Michael Noonan


A short story

(396 words)

I just went for an evening stroll in the country with a friend of mine. We were walking, in a leisurely manner, from the village, down the hill, towards the public house; as we often did on a Friday night. It was a calm, clear, cloudless night. There was a full Moon and a sprinkling of stars overhead. The birds were chirping in the tree branches, and we were both in good humour. We would often talk about the news, politics or sport, on those evening strolls. Though for some reason we began to talk about philosophy and the meaning of life. My friend told me, with quite passionate conviction, that he now believes, as did the philosopher, Bishop Berkeley, that matter doesn’t exist, and that only our sensory experience is real. Of course I took issue with him straight away. I told him that that was all moonshine; and that we can only exist because an external, material world supports and sustains us. It gives us food to eat, and air to breath. It puts the ground beneath our feet. And that we couldn’t exist without it. Nature is our very life support system. He said that only experience and perception are real. And that the so called physical universe is an illusory entity. I was ready to argue with him again, but then I noticed, to my surprise and alarm, that the surrounding countryside, the roads, houses, stone walls, farms, livestock, trees and hedges, even the distant public house, all began to fade away and slowly dissolve into nothingness. The street lamps in the village blanked out. Then my colleague became ghostly and transparent. His voice faded away, until no trace of sound was left, and he too disappeared, into the void. Overhead, the Moon and the stars vanished from the sky. A ghostly calm descended, and everything was enveloped in darkness. And now I can feel that I am beginning to fade away as well; just as my friend had done. I am disappearing into darkness and nothingness. Am I real? Do I exist? Have I ever existed? Have I just imagined all this? Is the whole world just a mere sensory illusion? Without any substance? But what is the point of even asking these questions, when I am now, no more?


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