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by Mia Brookes
Description: What would you do if you knew that, by this time tomorrow, the world would be destroyed? Two months ago, astronomers identified an asteroid on a collisision course for Earth and, with the help of the military and governments across all of the continents, they planned a strike against it. They failed. Now time is almost up and, 28 hours from now, the majority of the population will face a global disaster to rival the extinction of the dinosaurs. There is nothing to do but await the inevitable; the panicking has been done and reluctant acceptance of what is to come has settled in. On the beach, sitting around a campfire, a group of friends look back over the events that have shaped their lives and their friendships and decide how to use those final few hours. With the burden of worrying about the consequences lifted, the remaining hours present a chance to fulfil dreams and fantasies, to repair relationships and to exact revenge, or just to do the one thing that they have always wondered about but never dared to follow through. That night, they meet again on the beach with their families to watch the final sunrise.
eBook Publisher: Solstice Publishing/Solstice Publishing, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [321 KB]
Reading time: 213-298 min.
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"You tell me over and over and over again, my friend,
Ah, you don't believe, we're on the eve of destruction."
Barry McGuire, 1965.
That song replayed itself in an endless loop in Alex Mackenzie's mind over the past few days, acting as an irritating reminder of what was to come. The man had been right, he thought. He found it almost impossible to believe that the eve of destruction had arrived. Almost. Over the past month or so, it began to seem more real and now that the end grew closer, the only choice was to accept it.
It all started and, some would say, ended, with the terrifying discovery by a lone astronomer, working late at the observatory one night. He reported his discovery to the authorities but they were skeptical. Not entirely without reason; after all, how many times did they receive calls from panicked astronomers, telling them that asteroids were heading for Earth and they actually turned out to be genuine? They had, understandably, felt the need to verify this news with their own people, therefore shielding the general public from news that may well turn out to be a hoax.
It did not them long, however, to discover that David Haskell-Morton had indeed just identified the shape and form of the end of the world. All of those skeptics, who had expected the 'asteroid' to be a bug in the system, or indeed a bug on the telescope, were silenced in an instant.
The asteroid measured approximately six and a half miles across, larger than the one that had delivered a similar fate to the dinosaurs, and currently advanced on Earth at around 600,000 miles per hour. They speculated that something must have caused it to change course along its true orbit, from bypassing Earth to sending it straight for us instead, as it had not been identified as a threat earlier.
Two weeks after Haskell-Morton had dropped his proverbial bombshell, the relevant authorities finally acknowledged that he had been right all along. They informed him of this as though he should be proud of his discovery, as though he were announcing the discovery of a new star that would be named after him or something. It was not though; he had just discovered that in two months time, Earth would be wiped out and the thing that would do this would be known as his discovery. With two precious weeks wasted with their disbelief, those in charge began to make preparations.
There were two options: The first, to prepare the people for the worst, offering survival tips, while the second was to try to take the problem away by either destroying or deflecting the asteroid. They chose the second. They got everyone together whom they thought could help, needing ideas and advice. David Haskell-Morton would head the research team as the top military and scientific minds came together to try and find a solution to their fast-approaching problem.
Meanwhile, the general population went about their daily lives, unaware that the mid-summer holidays and family get-togethers that they were planning were nothing more than an exercise in futility. It was not until a few days later that the wall of silence finally crumbled.
On May 2, at 6:00 pm, there were simultaneous news bulletins on every radio, television and satellite station across the world. Alex watched with his family, as the rest of the world also did; every station made sure that the public saw or heard the same thing.
The Prime Minister of Britain spoke to the camera, an ashen-faced, sandy haired man in a rumpled suit looking terrified beside him.
"Citizens of Britain, and the world. This evening we bring to you some devastating news. A little over two weeks ago, we discovered that we are facing a disaster of global proportions. I am handing you over to Dr. David Haskell-Morton, who made the discovery, to tell you more about what we are facing."
He paused and looked across at the frightened-looking man on his left.
"H-Hello." Dr. Haskell-Morton coughed nervously before continuing. "I am David. I work at the Litchfield Observatory where I am the senior astronomer on the research team." He caught the eye of some of the reporters in the crowd in front of him; those privileged few who had been granted access to report the biggest story of their rapidly shortening lives, and realized that he digressed.
"On April 13th, I discovered an asteroid, as large as six and a half miles across, on a collision course with Earth."
He paused as the reporters gasped, as did everyone else across the world, and wondered briefly if he should perhaps have broken it to them more gently.
"The asteroid will strike us unless we can prevent it, which we are working on at present."
"When will this happen?" one brave female reporter enquired, voicing the one question that no one else dared to ask, fearing the answer.
"At present, we predict that it will hit us at approximately 9:28 am on June 9th," Haskell-Morton told them.
Nobody else asked anything. They were all too busy trying to digest the news that their ears had heard but that their minds were unwilling to accept. They were all silently working it out in terms of weeks, days, and hours. The Prime Minister took over once more, allowing the grateful astronomer to escape once more to his seat, where he huddled down to try and make himself as invisible as possible to the billions of onlookers.