Shadows crept across the wall.

Richard didn’t see them, at first. He was too sunk in the stark reality of the agricultural reports before him, too chilled in a building built for solar heating.

He buried his face in his hands. Who knew for certain how it had started? A volcano, atomic bombs, a meteorite strike? All had been discussed, but it was impossible to tell rumor from truth. Even the reports, with their sentence of mass starvation, were late and scanty.

All he was sure of was that the sun was gone, hidden behind a pall of dark clouds, and he wasn’t even sure whether those clouds were ash, smoke or water. That, and the fact that without the sun, no crops could be grown.

He threw his head back and opened his eyes, looking upward in some half-remembered impulse toward prayer. His vision started to sweep past the shadows, stopped. Shadows?

The image of tree branches?

Scarcely daring to hope he turned to look at the window, uncovered to let in what little light remained, and saw the sun. Feeble, to be sure, but there, returning. Crops would grow again.

His eyes filled with tears, and everything faded.

Platform-Building Challenge #1 is the following:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count.
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:
end the story with the words: “everything faded.” (also included in the word count) Yes.
include the word “orange” in the story No.
write in the same genre you normally write Yes, science fiction.
make your story 200 words exactly! Yes, if I counted right.

To see the other entries in the first Challenge, click the logo above.