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#1188626 08/05/23 07:15 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
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Photo of Comet Sunafrank, passing over Ohio and Kentucky, 7:26 AM, August 5, 2023, moments before impact at the Georgia-Florida State line.

"Comet Sunafrank", copyright August 5, 2023, by Gary E. Andrews

Scientist Robert Wheeler sees the comet zoom across the morning sky at great speed!

It's traveling north to south, over Ohio, heading for Kentucky, just as he had told them, just as the mathematics had told him.

He runs back the way he came, the stony path through his woods to his home on the Kentucky hilltop!

Coming to the house he sees his wife Janice come out on the deck, drying her hands with a dishtowel!

He knows she knows.

She knows he knows.

She holds open the door so he can run right in and get to the television quickly!

He falls sideways onto the couch, seizes the controller, turns up the volume, sits up and stares, watches the comet impact at the Georgia-Florida State line!

The screen goes blank!

Robert flips to another channel. Another blank, flips and has the live coverage, rerunning already, Lester Holt, stumbling, searching for words.

They're showing the video again, before the screen went blank down south.

Janice is there beside him. He doesn't know when she sat down. He feels her push against him, push under his left arm, feels her clutch at the inside of his knee, his left leg, almost painfully hard.

He squeezes the back of her right knee, the same way, not as hard, hoping she is reassured enough to let him concentrate.

"You warned them," she's saying.

It's not helpful. Yes. He warned them it would impact. The mathematics was confirmed time and again as the comet approached, seven years in coming. Other Scientists debated it, did the math, still debated the possibilities, hoped for a different result, got the same result, each time. Comet Sunafrank would reach this point in Planet Earth's orbit around the Sunstar at this approximate date. You have to give math a little wiggle room.

This comet, Comet Sunafrank, for Iris Sunafrank, an amateur sky watcher in Cork, Ireland, who spotted it in 2013, made it known, alerted Scientists to its existence, was going to impact Planet Earth, and...Hollywood movies to the contrary, there was nothing The Human Phenomenon could do about it.

"We're a sitting duck," Iris said, in interviews, unassuming, smiling, calm. She'd done the math, was asking for professionals to do the math. "I'm just a schoolteacher," she'd say, demure smile, red hair flowing, beautiful green eyes. Robert liked her, liked her demeanor, her self-effacing attitude. She simply saw it, did the math. She was right. The mathematics said she was right, and today, she is right.

Lester Holt needs to sit down, and says so. They show the impact again.

Their Science people are there, a half dozen names, faces, the skeptics now convinced I-told-you-so-ers empaneled alongside the Scientists who... told us so.

The phone is ringing.

"Do you want to talk to anyone?" Janice asks.

Robert stares at the tv. He turns his head toward her but his eyes stay on the screen. Finally, he takes them away, turns his head fully to look at Janice.

There's terror...or...or maybe just sorrow in her eyes, hidden in a relaxed awareness. She's watching the screen, not looking back at him. The phone rings.

They've talked about the result of a comet impact. There's nothing to tell her about the Science of it. She knows.

"Just you baby," he says. "Just you."

She grins, looks into his face, her eyes up at his hair, down across his eyes, his mouth, leans into him, shoves her shoulder behind his to entangle their arms.

He lays the remote on the coffee table, leans back, stretches his legs, puts his feet on the coffee table, disentangles his arm to put it around her shoulders again. For the first time ever Janice doesn't tell him, "Get your feet off my coffee table!"

Janice leans back, stretches her legs, puts her feet on the table. Her grip on his leg is firm now, but not painfully so.

Her hand releases her grip, comes up to scratch an itch on her right cheek. Robert watches a tear escape her eye. She wipes it with the knuckle of her right index finger, lets a gasping laugh.

The Scientists are all trying to talk at once. Well, actually, some are trying to talk over others, some saying, "Let's not panic! Let's wait and see! It may not be as bad as..." They sound panicked!

Others are saying, "There's no question about how bad it will be! The seismic readings are off the charts all over Planet Earth!"

Robert picks out words in the cacophony of voices; Tectonic plates. Tsunamis. Fire. Biomass. Atmosphere in flames.

It's all the talk that's been talked for years. Iris, smiling calmly, said some of it many times, the simple, rational statements of fact, the math. They always tried to get her to used more sensational language. She'd giggle, look down or away, stay calm and refer to the math. Robert hated the way they...minimized her. One reporter even asked, "Do you have a boyfriend?" She giggled. She waved, walked off the road into a field of tall yellow grass, making a trail where there had been none. They didn't follow. There was a 'No Trespassing' sign and that's where they stopped. She became less 'available', slipping out the back door if they were at her house, going into the fields instead of up the road. They were annoying. Tourists came to see her, her house, stole her welcome mat and potted plants in the front yard. Iris just smiled, told it to the sensationalists, who ran with it, went on about her business. She's very pretty. They liked her on the tv networks. She never went to studios. They always had to catch her out shopping, leaving her house, walking her dog on an Irish road. She explains she's just a skywatcher. "I love the sky!" she says, that demure smile, that Irish accent. Robert had fantasies of going to Ireland, being her boyfriend. He glances down at the top of Janice's head. She seems to be breathing like she's napping. She probably is.

They're showing reporters talking to her, in real time today, walking her dog on a road in Ireland, smiling, not wasting her time talking to them, waving them away, walking, wind in her mass of red hair.

Robert can read her lips, saying, "Go be with your families."

Suddenly...they're aware...Janice waking, and Robert, of the trembling Kentucky landscape, dishes rattling on the table, the shelves.

Robert knows the heat will come soon. It will be intense. Millions of square miles of biomass of plants and animals and buildings and highways, the very dirt itself, its carbon content, will...burn. Millions of square miles, incinerated...instantaneously! Was the impact enough to expect ejecta to circle planet Earth and come from the north?

No need to...run...nowhere to hide, no escape. The mass, the velocity, the heat...it was all in the mathematics.

Robert leans to pick up the remote again, mute the tv. He turns and kisses Janice on the right corner of her mouth. Her right hand lets go his leg again, comes up under his chin, closes around his right jaw.

Janice grins at him, that grin, the one she gave him when she walked up to him at college, Athens, Ohio, under the elms, and introduced herself. Robert marvels now as he has marveled many times at the serendipity, a dropped pen, observed, found, returned to its rightful owner, those eyes, that smile...that...gift...a mate.

"Turn off the tv," Janice says.

Robert looks at the remote, turns off the tv.

The End.

Last edited by Gary E. Andrews; 09/27/23 09:05 AM.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
Joined: Jun 2005
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In a few words, you said a lot. You give us fear, terror, history, understanding or lack of, mass indifference and maybe a look into our own future.

I’ve read there are asteroids that cannot be detected that give us almost no time before impact..and they may be massive...Ouch!

Great writing Gary


Joined: Dec 2006
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Thank you. It's a picture of a 'sundog', a reflection of a morning sunrise over the Ohio River at South Shore, Kentucky/Portsmouth, Ohio.
I took it and ran with it.
Now I'm imagining the time after Robert turns the TV off, and he and Janice decide what to do.
Does she go to finish washing the dishes?
Does he invite her to walk back into the woods to look out from the hilltop a while, a short while?
What do they talk about? What do they think? Do they say what they think to each other? Or do they keep some thoughts to themselves?
They know.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com

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