Revelation 6:13

Written in response to: Write a story inspired by a memory of yours.... view prompt


Contemporary American Kids

“And the stars from heaven fell upon he earth, as the fig tree casteth its green figs when it is shaken by a great wind.”

Thursday Night

6:45 PM

“And now, for breaking news,” anchorman Alec Barlow announced. “We have just received word that the asteroid astrophysicists detected eighty-three days ago, named Tycho-IV, may hit Earth any day now. Jennifer Simon has the story. Jennifer?”

“Good evening, Alec, Angela,” Jennifer Simon reported. “I am live here tonight at NASA’s headquarters to speak with astrophysicist Dr. Bernard Bernard. Now, Dr. Bernard, how many asteroids hit Earth per year?”

“I think the term you’re looking for is meteorite, Jennifer,” Dr. Bernard answered. “The answer is five-hundred a year, by the way. You see, when asteroids reach the Earth’s atmosphere, they start to break down upon entry due to friction with the atmosphere. When that happens, they’re called meteorites. Some are just as big as a one-story house. Others as big as a car. They’re sure to create considerable damage to property in the surrounding area where they land, but it’s not enough to wipe us out like the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago. Or else we wouldn’t be here today.”

“How many of these meteorites have been recovered, Doctor?” Jennifer asked.

“So far, we have only recovered and identified no more than ten,” Dr. Bernard answered. “Some break even further into tiny pieces upon impact, some land in the ocean, others land in the desert and other remote and inaccessible areas.”

“If Tycho-IV, which, I understand, is as big as four football fields, collides with Earth,” Jennifer asked. “What impact would it have on human, animal, and plant life? Would we all die like the dinosaurs did?”

“Devastation and destruction would be massive, sure,” Dr. Bernard explained. “While Tycho-IV is a threat, it is not an extinction level threat. But it has the potential to alter our atmosphere and our ecosystem. Dust and smoke would fill the air, blotting out the sun, choking out plant life. The dust would settle in a year or two, but by then, much will have changed. Many people would die of hunger and thirst. It would be survival of the fittest for those of us who will live to tell the tale.”

In homes all over the country, time seemed to slow down and freeze. Families were glued to their television screens, mouths agape in shock and terror. Dinner plates and glasses crashed deafeningly to the floor in slow motion as wives and mothers dropped them on their way to the kitchen sink. As news stations ended their broadcast, news anchors and reporters urged people to say their final goodbyes, hold their loved ones close, pray for a last minute miracle, or confess and repent of their sins. Other reporters urged families to invest in underground bunkers and emergency supplies like food and water.

Friday Morning

Gregson Residence

6:45 AM

“John, go wake your brother up,” Mrs. Gregson said. “You two are going to be late for school.”

“I can’t, Mom,” sixteen year old John Gregson answered. “I’ve tried twice already. He doesn’t want to wake up.”

“Fine,” Mrs. Gregson said, marching to the Gregson boys’ shared bedroom. “I’ll wake him up myself.”

The room was dark with the blinds closed and Mrs. Gregson flipped the light switch on, eliciting a groan from the young twelve year old Greg Gregson. He pulled the covers up over his head and turned with another groan.

“Gregory Francis Christopher Gregson!” Mrs. Gregson shouted, forcibly pulling the covers back, exposing the boy to the room’s sharp light. “You will leave that bed right this instant or I will drag you myself!”

“But Mom!” Greg protested. “Can I just stay home? The world’s gonna end anyway.”

“Gregory Francis Christopher Gregson!” Mrs. Gregson shouted again, this time, getting little Greg’s attention for good. “You stop this nonsense immediately, wash up, and eat your breakfast! Don’t let me get to one, young man. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six…”

“Alright, alright! I’m up! I’m up!” Greg said, sitting up and getting out of bed.

The Gregsons ate their breakfast and went on with their day like any other day. Mr. and Mrs. Gregson were keen on consistency and discipline. Come Hell or high water, they would stick to routine.

“Told you it wouldn’t work,” John teased his little brother with a laugh, ruffling his hair.

“Shut up,” Greg mumbled, shoving John away.

Lawrence Residence

6:50 AM

The usually loud Lawrence household was quiet that morning. In the stillness, one could hear the clinking of utensils against the plates and the munching of toast and crispy bacon. Even Mr. Lawrence who always talked about the stock market every morning was quiet. Even the Lawrence twins, Arthur Jr. and Arnold, who usually teased each other and their poor younger siblings, Arwen and Armand, were as silent as Death. Their heads were bowed as they concentrated on eating. They looked like Mrs. Lawrence had just scolded them during Mass. They were quiet not because they were still sleepy but because they were scared and felt somber.

“Mom, will there be marriage in Heaven?” little Arwen Lawrence said, finally breaking the oppressive silence. “Father Gabriel said—”

“Shut up and finish your food, young lady,” Mr. Lawrence chided, lowering his newspaper and giving the poor girl the signature Lawrence death glare.

“Yes, sir,” Arwen said, turning back to her food.

Palermo Residence

6:50 AM

Sam Palermo sat at his desk in his bedroom, scribbling away on a notebook. His desk lamp was on. He was so engrossed with the task at hand that he didn’t hear Mrs. Palermo calling.

“Somebody’s up early today,” Mrs. Palermo said. “I thought your Dad and I would’ve had to drag you out of bed again. Time for breakfast. You’ll be late for school. Chop, chop!”

“Coming, Mom,” Sam said, finishing up his writing.

“What was that?” Mrs. Palermo asked when Sam came down for breakfast. “Don’t tell me you were doing the homework you were supposed to do last night just now.”

“No, Mom,” Sam answered. “I got that out of the way. Did it yesterday while eating a snack after school.”

“Then what was that?” Mrs. Palermo said, repeating her question.

“Oh, that!” Sam said. “That was my last will and testament.”

“What for?” Mr. Palermo asked in surprise. “You’re way too young to be thinking about wills and inheritance.”

“In case I don’t survive this asteroid, Dad,” Sam answered and Mr. Palermo chuckled.

“Nothing bad’s gonna happen,” Mr. Palermo said with a laugh and a shake of his head. “Go on and eat your breakfast. The bus will be here in ten minutes.”

After a quick breakfast, Sam brushed his teeth, took a quick three-minute shower, put on his crisp, sharp uniform, and headed back downstairs to wait for the bus that would take him to school.

On the Bus

Enroute to St. Andrew’s

7:30 AM

Not everyone who attended Catholic school was a perfect little saint. Some were just good at masking things. That was especially true on the bus on the way to school. Antics abounded onboard and the bus driver often had to turn in his seat to quiet the rambunctious little imps. They would only quiet down when St. Andrew’s came into view and they would disembark single file, neatly and quietly entering the school’s double doors like sweet little cherubs.

That morning, however, the usually loud bus filled with rowdy boys and girls was unusually quiet. Some sat in their seats, heads bowed, preoccupied with their own thoughts. Some stared straight ahead or out the window in catatonic shock. Others looked up at the sky, expecting the gargantuan meteorite to plummet to the earth at any minute.

Suddenly, Sam Palermo turned around to face Cedric Daly, knelt on the leather seat, and extended his hand for a shake.

“Truce?” Sam asked, waiting for an answer, whether positive or negative.

“Truce,” Cedric Daly responded.

The two had history together. At St. Andrew’s, there was bitter rivalry between Irish Catholics and Italian Catholics. It was more pronounced in the parish high school, but children in elementary and middle school were also prone to said rivalry. In addition to their rivalry, Cedric’s older brother Kurt was the former school bully until he transferred schools and Cedric hated Sam because Kurt hated Sam. In his mind, he was carrying on his brother’s legacy. But now, with the world about to end, Cedric Daly didn’t care a lick about any of that. If he was going to die in this cataclysmic event, he wanted to die with a clear conscience and at peace with everyone around him. So the two boys declared a truce.

St. Andrew’s Catholic Academy

Sister Margaret Mary’s English Class

2:30 PM

For the most part, school went on like normal, or at least students and teachers both tried to act normal for as long as they could. But when it got darker and darker, the children started to panic. It started out with a little bit of graying. Gradually, the hot sun vanished, swallowed by dark angry rainclouds. To the children’s imagination, however, it was the looming shadow of the killer asteroid and they began crying. Some ran in the hallways, screaming. Some were hugging each other tightly. Sister Margaret Mary could no longer do anything. She had tried to calm them down but to no avail. She also tried scolding and shouting above the din. That didn’t work out either.

Sam Palermo turned to his crush Kate and offered her a single rose he had secretly plucked from the school’s rose garden.

“Kate, I know in Heaven we’ll be like just siblings,” Sam said. “But while we’re here on Earth, I just wanted you to know that I like you. I mean I like you, like you—not just like you. I like you infinity times another infinity. And if you don’t feel the same way, I’m cool with that too. I just wanted to let you know.”

Beside Sam, Greg Gregson rocked back and forth, praying fervently.

“Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” he prayed. “Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.”

“Holy Mary, Mother of God,” Arwen Lawrence said, picking it up. “Pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death, Amen.”

Suddenly, a brilliant flash of lightning ripped across the sky, making everyone scream in fright. It was then followed by a deafening boom that shook the ground. And then came the rain. A single splat against the windowpane, and then a steady tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap. A torrent came pouring down, increasing in loudness and intensity, but there was no fiery meteorite the size of four football fields. There was no meteorite the height of the Burj Khalifa. There were no fiery hail raining down to destroy the world, no Sodom-and-Gomorrah level destruction. Children everywhere panicked for nothing. It was just the rain after all.

Author’s Notes:

This story is based on an experience I had in the sixth grade. There was a news report that an asteroid was headed for Earth and that it would be here any day now. Every news channel did some fearmongering and we were all scared. Towards the end of the day, it got darker and darker and we all started crying. It turned out, however, that the darkness was because of the incoming storm and not the looming shadow of the asteroid.

April 07, 2022 05:57

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