If you follow my blog, you know that I usually write essays – creative non-fiction stories inspired by actual events. “What It’s Like” is a new experiment for me.
What follows is one of my first attempts at writing fiction. Because blogs are short by definition, I’ve broken this story into 6 small parts. This is Part 1…
What It’s Like
The Earth took his training wheels off only a short few billion years ago. Before then, he followed the other planets through their frenzied orbits, barely keeping out from under their feet. He wasn't the typical middle child, quiet and demure. The Earth was curious and inquisitive, constantly asking questions like:
Why do I have to wear sunscreen?
What if I don't want to eat my vegetables?
Are we there yet?
Despite the endless questions, the other planets liked the Earth. He was innocent and green. He seldom whined or complained about his cold, wet bottom. Plus, he never made fun of Uranus... and that was hard to do.
There were a few years during puberty, when his face erupted in a volcanic mess, that the Earth was unbearable. But that was all behind him now. The Earth had learned to accept that as you grow older, things change. Everything shifts. Pangaea gives way to urban expansion. And no matter how hard you diet and exercise, your doctor is going to continually nag that your rising sea levels "might be cause for concern."
Mid-life was comfortable for the Earth. Covered with a shadow of rain-forest whiskers, he looked rugged and distinguished. He had established a routine, but predictability made the Earth restless. He worried his life was going around in circles, never really getting anywhere. Parts of him felt like the days went on forever and the night would never end, like there was nothing new under the sun.
Then, two days after giving Asia an extraordinary sunset, the Earth heard some unsettling news. He wasn't eavesdropping, of course, but it's hard to ignore a billion voices whispering in your ear. That's why he loved text messages and Twitter. They did wonders for his migraines.
But since terror really is expressed best through the spoken word, the news that a meteor was headed toward Earth was bigger than text messages could accommodate. As soon as the meteor was sighted, television reporters across the world began talking about "the catastrophic event," "our pending extinction," and "the violent end of life as we know it."
And the Earth was listening.
The Earth noticed long ago that the people were always panicking about something. Fortunately, their hysteria seldom lasted long. Before he turned around twice, the drama usually died down. Most of their problems ended as little more than forgotten headlines in a landfill.
The news that a meteor was headed toward the Earth, however, rocked the Earth to his core. The dinosaurs hadn't done a very good job of warning him about the last meteor, a surprise from the black that hit him like a cosmic car accident. One day he just turned around, saw it swerve into his orbit, and thought, "shit, this is going to hurt." And it did. Bad.
And now, according to the people, another meteor was on its way. "Whoever's out there throwing rocks needs to stop," he thought. "I'm too old for this."
Unfortunately, the coming meteor wasn't just a rock, a hardened teenager who had run away from home with plans of crashing on another planet's couch. It was bigger. Much bigger. It was so big that the popular media was at a loss for how to report its true size. Most people had seen enough disaster movies that they were desensitized to phrases like "rock the size of Texas."
In truth, the meteor had quite a bit in common with Texas, an ambitious - and egotistic - American state who dreamed of breaking free to become its own country. But the meteor, a rock several times the size of Earth, had done what Texas never would. It had succeeded in breaking free from its own solar system and had achieved geologic independence. Practically its own planet, the meteor went wherever it wanted, unencumbered by curfews and gravity. And since the its equator was wider than everyone else's, most planets knew not to get in its way.
The idea of a bully pushing its way through the cosmos was understandably stressful for the Earth. He didn’t like conflict. He didn’t enjoy being pushed around and bumped into. He was already self-conscious about his receding rainforests. The last thing he wanted was a new unsightly crater on his southern hemisphere.
Unfortunately, the Earth worrying about a new crater before being hit by the meteor was like a child worrying about a loose tooth before being hit by a train. The meteor wasn’t going to dent the Earth, it was going to destroy the Earth.
Within a few weeks, the meteor would become visible as a small speck in the Milky Way. The speck would grow as the meteor approached, slowing filling the night sky. First the North Star would disappear. Then the big dipper would loose its handle. Within a few months, Orion, Scorpio, and all their twinkling friends would be hidden from view, eclipsed by the meteor’s huge girth.
Several weeks before the big event, when the meteor was finally close enough, its gravity would pull the Earth’s oceans from their beds, gathering them together until they looked like a giant raindrop falling up into the sky.
Then, at the moment of impact, the Earth would shatter like a snowball, barely feeling a thing.
To Be Continued...
To read part 2, click here.