22.7 Future Uncertain
Conradville, the Moon: 21 May 2128
"Four days to go, then, if all our calculations are right," Andrew March said. He switched off the razor and rubbed his hand over his face while staring at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He was thinking he could no longer get away with shaving only once every two days.
Beside him, Melissa pulled her work tunic on over her head. "Still no real idea of what we're in for?"
He sighed and grabbed his jacket. "Wish I could guess a tenth of it. Plenty of idiots running around saying the Earth is going to explode, evaporate or twenty other things far more implausible."
Melissa chuckled, "Yes, but then again, who could have predicted it splitting into five in the first place."
Andrew made a face as Melissa laughed again. But he had known her for long enough now to recognise the manner in which her chuckle was trying to disguise her nervousness.
They were both apprehensive at what the 25th of May was going to bring. If they came through it intact he knew what Melissa planned to do to celebrate. They had been married for nearly two years, and several of their friends and colleagues had asked when they were thinking of starting a family. Her response to everyone had always been to 'see what the future held first.'
And now that future was looming extremely large. Just what state would the Earth be in after all five of its separate parts merged? And, if it came to the worst, what effects would it have on the Moon? Would they even still be here on the 26th?
Through the weakening shield they had already detected tectonic movements on Green and Robot and, to a lesser extent, on Chaos and Paradise. Last night, just as he and Melissa were passing control over to the early night shift, they had seen that impressive volcano on Black spew lava all over the land mass that had once been New Zealand. They had stayed to watch the plume spread as far as Australia. He was expecting the whole southern hemisphere of Black to be clouded over by the time they returned.
"Morning Mel, Andy. The tectonic events are definitely synchronising," Tariq Ghannam announced as they entered the control room.
"Yes, just as you predicted," Anusha Chakrabarti added.
"Hey," Janet interrupted, "I predicted that. Not Brainiac here."
"Sorry, boss," Anusha giggled.
Andrew looked at Anusha. Her hands shook slightly as her fingers slipped across the holographic keyboard. She corrected a mistake and grinned sheepishly back.
"Yes," he said. "We're all just a tiny bit concerned about what's about to happen."
"Don't think 'concerned' even begins to cover it," Melissa snorted as she fired up her own display. "What's the shield doing? Any changes?"
"Down about twenty percent now," came a quiet voice from the other side of the room. Their newest member, Dyani Metoxen, had only joined the team three weeks ago.
"Thanks, Dyani," Melissa said. "Is it a constant decrease or..."
"Accelerating slightly," the girl replied. "If the trend continues, it will disappear at around 02:43 local time on Tuesday 25th."
"Well, that will make sleep just about impossible," Janet said. "How does that tie in with everything else?"
"Matches closely with Andy's time difference calculations, which are currently plus or minus two hours centred on 01:30," Tariq said, scanning a list of figures that hung in the air before him until he swiped them away.
"Knowing when it's going to happen still doesn't exactly help with telling us what's going to happen, though, does it?" Melissa said.
There was a grunt of agreement followed by small wave of air pressure that caused an unexpected breeze around the room.
"Well," said a voice no one recognised, "that's where I may be able to help you."
No prizes for guessing who that might be! Thank you for reading Splinters. Do please vote and/or leave a comment to tell me what you think.
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The Moon colonists watch in fear as an asteroid, far larger than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, plummets towards the Earth. The collision leaves the planet blackened and lifeless. Can the colonists survive their sudden en...