Tom was sitting in class when it happened. His mind was fully engaged in solving a particularly nasty bit of trigonometry when his eyes started to act up. The white on his paper started to change colour, going from white to pale red. He shook his head, trying to shake the colour distortion away but it wouldn’t go. He closed his eyes and opened them again but that just made it worse.
He lifted his head from the page and looked around. The red haze was everywhere. Everything and everyone around him had gone red, like he was seeing them through red filters. The teacher at the front of the class and his fellow classmates were looking around as well. They saw it too.
The fire alarm went off and the teacher, with a relieved look on her face, guided the students through the motions of their rehearsed fire drill. She made sure that they were in line and ushered them out of the door, into the corridor and towards the fire assembly point.
As they made their way outside towards the parking lot, the red haze got deeper and stronger until red was the only colour there was. Tom looked down and his blue tie was now a shade of red. Once they got outside, they looked up and they saw why. Up in the east sky, a massive ball of light burned bright.
It burned so bright that they could barely make out the afternoon sun. And it was growing. The students and teachers huddled together in the parking lot and watched, some wide-eyed with amazement. Others clenched their teeth in fear as the ball of light expanded and expanded until it was two, three times bigger than the sun. To his right, a girl from a class below Tom started to cry.
The red ball of light stopped expanding and slowly it began to shrink in size. As it shrunk, the red haze started to subside and the sun’s regular glow dominated the sky once more. The red explosion in the sky shrunk until it was nothing more than a dot in the sky and then, just as suddenly as it had come, it was gone. It wasn’t until that moment that Tom realized how everything is actually yellow during the day.
Any hopes of any learning after that was lost. For the rest of the school day all that Tom and his friends could talk about was what it could have been. Some said it was a bomb that exploded high up in the atmosphere. Others believed that it was an alien craft messing with them. It wasn’t until he got home in the evening and watched the news with his parents that he found out it was actually a supernova. They’d watched the death of a star. Tom went outside and looked to the night sky, picked out the constellation of Orion and at his foot, where Betelgeuse used to be…there was nothing.