The Earth: 29 May 2107
At 15:43:12 GMT there were five minutes left. The asteroid would impact at 15:48:12.
In Argentina the time would be 12:48:12. All over South America eyes looked towards the heavens as if people expected to see evidence of the death that hurtled towards them. But it was coming at ninety thousand miles an hour and they would be dead a less than a second after the first glimpse.
Many viewing the skies from close to ground zero considered themselves the lucky ones. Their death would be instantaneous – for them there would be no waiting for the inevitable after effects: the boiling ash, the tsunamis, the ten-times-hurricane-speed winds or the other expected secondary killing forces that had been tortuously and inaccurately described by the media over the past two weeks.
All about the planet the acceptance grew that the unmentionable had finally dared to happen – Armageddon, the retribution, Ragnarök. Whatever people chose to name it, the result would be the same.
But, as the seconds ticked away, there were some, a tiny few, who dared to dispute the impending fate. In northern India they started the first call. In the Americas, in Africa, Europe, Australasia and the rest of Asia were those who followed up that call. Some, barely a million, were primed but others with no previous experience also felt the calling and responded as well as they could, adding their voices to a strange movement that they felt, more than heard, inside themselves. It was as if their bodies had somehow latched onto a slowly pulsating, rhythmic song and, unable to stop, they found themselves singing along with it. For most, it was a new song, unlike any that had been sung before, the melodies at once discordant, yet subtly synchronised; it filled minds and bodies, and began to work a magic far greater than the combined abilities of all those comprising its chorus. Buoyed up in the song, these few spread the melody beyond themselves, unconsciously straining to ensnare as many others within it as they could.
People grasped at each other, some crying, some praying, some shaking in fear, and some emotionlessly disassociated, as if they were mere observers expecting to walk away afterwards and carry on as normal.
A scant few in those billions, were quiet for another reason – they were tuning in to the strange song that they could barely hear in their heads. But it was compulsive and they fought to hear more, to experience it fully and to join in. Some imagined it to be the final rapture, a message from what they considered to be their god or saviour; others thought it was the Earth itself calling out to them in its final moments.
Maybe it represented some kind of hope.
And then, inevitably, there were no more seconds left.
The Earth: 29 May 2107
Humanity felt itself wrenched apart; a moment of torture, a concussion that thundered around the globe.
And then... silence.
But not the silence of death. People were alive, but the feeling of life had left them; they breathed, but the purpose of breathing escaped them.
Trees still swayed in light breezes, clouds still ambled across a blue sky, fish still swam in the oceans and blood still pulsed in hearts.
Some managed to form questions.
Where was the expected destruction? Where are the clouds of fury?
And the most important. Why are we alive? Why?
Then, as a growing fogginess obliterated reason, they found themselves unable to care.
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