Prologue

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We had an hour's warning when it happened. None of our satellites could detect it until it was too late. Governments told their citizens to seek shelter wherever they could, but shelter be damned for what we were facing.

I don't think I'll ever be able to forget when or where I was when it hit. I was in the middle of giving my high school graduation speech when the police came to deliver the announcement to take cover. The chief of police rushed on stage, took the microphone from my hands and told us that we had less than an hour to secure our loved ones and get to shelter before the meteors hit. There was only a moment's hesitation after the mic went silent that we all began to move.

Mothers and fathers began picking up their children as fast as they could, crying out to the nearest neighbor for help if they had more kids than they had the arms or strength for. Adults eventually began grabbing the children nearest to them, whether or not they were theirs, and took off towards the school. Meanwhile, my fellow graduates and I wasted no time bolting down the field into the school. I remember only pausing long enough to get a vice grip on Johnilyn, my best friend/the salutatorian to my valedictorian, before taking off.

I remember the feeling of adrenaline flooding my system as we ripped down the field. We came close to stumbling as we avoided the onslaught of people rushing past us, but we never stopped until we were well into the gym. Half of my attention was on Johni, who was doubled over gasping for air, and the rest was focused on scanning the growing crowd for my family.
They found me before I could find them. My family as a whole is very doting, so between my parents, siblings, and I, there was a lot of fussing to make sure everyone's okay. It takes a few minutes, but we're all eventually satisfied in knowing that no one's hurt. Rattled, yes, but completely unharmed otherwise.

"Ah, my heart, I'm sorry your big moment was ruined," mom frowned sympathetically. She turns to Johni, whose family arrived when mine did, and reaches out to her to give her a hug. "And I'm sorry your moment was ruined, too, sweetie. I know how hard you two worked for this."

Johni cracked a smile, obviously still a bit frazzled, "well, you know how I feel about public speaking, Auntie A'. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise."

I gave my best friend of many years a dry look before popping her on the arm, "Yes, because the imminent threat of being crushed or drowned to death is such a blessing. The only blessings of today were those scholarships we got--yes and waking up, please don't give me that look, mom."

A sneaky grin curled across Johni's lips, "Oh? I could've sworn that an hour ago you said seeing Antwan decked out in his suit was the biggest blessing God could give you today."

"You're acting like you weren't drooling over Devon so hard that you could've filled an entire cistern."

And so the banter began. The two of us quipped back and forth, mercilessly teasing each other about everything and anything. Our families talked quietly among themselves, leaving us be. It's a commonly known fact that Johni and I use humor to cope with stress and, then more than ever, we needed to laugh until we couldn't think anymore.

Our efforts to distract ourselves only lasted so long. It was a little while longer before the gym doors were sealed, the windows were boarded up, and the principal delivered a short, but sweet speech about what her students mean to her and how proud she is of us. A police officer followed that with an announcement that the impact is only minutes away. The only sounds heard after that were muttered prayers and I love you's.

I don't think it possible for me to forget the moment when the meteors hit. The first one was a ways away and could only be heard, the second was closer and caused the ground to tremor, the third shook the building. I felt the fourth ripple through my entire body. Ceiling tiles shook loose, bringing traces of dirt with it and there were loud cracks heard from all over the building.
Johni and I were curled up back to back, facing away from each other and towards our families, but still touching. I could feel her shoulders quiver in fear. I wonder, still, if she felt mine do the same.

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