So here we are, 1300 InMon and 3WordWednesday inspired words, completed for #FridayFlash, the two stories Impact and Down on the Planet’s Face have been merged into a short story, instead of two pieces of flash fiction. I also added the final paragraph/scene shift to try and tie the whole thing together. I hope you enjoy it…
The mission had been a success. They were the first Americans to walk on the moon for almost forty years, touching down at the Sea of Tranquillity. They had seen the flag implanted there by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, had carefully dodged their footsteps, now seen as precious artefacts in the history of humankind. David and Commander Jefferies had stood, amazed at the blue disc that hung heavy in the sky before them, gazing across those relics of a time when spaceflight had been the ultimate risk. They had placed a heavy plastic cover over the footprints, protecting them from ‘accidental’ Chinese landings. The Chinese flag could be seen flying not far beyond the American one, still stiff against the deep black backdrop of space. He had been tempted to knock it down, but the Commander had forbid it, there was enough tension at home without the Moon becoming a new battleground. The lift off had gone without a hitch, and they headed home. Home to be greeted without the tickertape parade awarded to those first pioneers.
“So this is it then?” David looked over at his Mission Commander, sitting on the other side of the cramped confines of the cockpit that had been their home. Commander Jefferies turned his head slowly, reluctant to tear his eyes from the porthole. He opened his mouth as though he was about to speak, but could only let out a dry rasping. The computer screens flashed green, still showing that blinking green message, the transcript of the radio transmission received not half an hour before. The Commander stood, although he had to hunch over, still shaking his head, making his way toward the airlock. David let him go, staring forward at the view screen showing the Earth’s blue face. It was so close, seemingly near enough to reach out to, near enough to grab in both hands.
The radio broadcast had been a shock to them both, careening as they were through space, halfway between Luna and Earth. The radio had crackled into life, and that was surprising enough; that they had resorted to such ancient technology. And then the message was delivered. There were resigned to the fact that there was nothing they could do about it. Two days from home. Seven days of food and water, maybe nine if they tightened their belts and the rations. Oxygen enough for ten days. The message still blinked on the screen.
There was a hiss as the Commander opened the airlock. He gave David the thumbs-up as he drifted passed the viewer. David closed his eyes, muttering to himself. He set his alarm; he needed some sleep. The asteroid would impact at around six am. He would have an bird’s-eye view. And he didn’t want to miss the fireworks.
They were right. As usual her parents had been right. Waking up was worse. Much worse. Worse than the heaving vomiting up of an empty stomach at three a.m. It had felt as though the whole world had been drunk last night, prowling the streets. That the whole world was out wantonly looting, burning, killing, raping. Following their leaders. The police who had been there were greeting any protestation or call for protection the same way as they had met those shop owners lying overpowered and broken beneath their feet, with their pistols drawn and ready to contend with any challenge to their own lawlessness. The thought of their mutually assured destruction brought with it a measure of equality to humanity. The equality of the lowest common denominator, the madness of an animal forgotten, left rabid and caged.
She had been out all night even though her parents had begged her to stay at home. They had tried to insist that she spend the night on her knees, with their congregation. Prostrate before the unseeing, uncaring eyes of their God. She had spent the night on her knees, but not with them, not in prayer. She had been out all night, revelling in the rioting delirium of her world. Aflame with the impotent frustration of having to face Death the world burned, as if united in its last chance to control its fate. We would destroy the Earth before the Earth could explode through the collision. She had been out all night, determined to live her last hours engulfed in this frenzied danse macabre of civilisation crashing beneath its own weight. She had been out all night drinking; spent the night on her knees, worshipping before the Porcelain Throne, worshipping before the Altar of Her Lust. She had been out all night collecting men.
He stood before television cameras lecturing his people as his authority diminished before the writhing scrum of journalists still desperate for that final headline, before the camera’s unseeing eye. He too exhorted her to pray for forgiveness for her sins, to beg for the One God to grant the people of Earth his merciful deliverance. She had turned away from those screens preaching his message, looking for another drink, another way to spend five minutes without the weight of the world on her shoulders. Someone threw a billiard ball across the crowded bar, the television’s screen exploding as though instructing them what would be.
It was difficult to admire the President and his one-size-fits-none response to the impending crisis. It was without difficulty that you saw the truth hiding behind the shallow wall of his hypocrisy. He too had been caught in a whore’s embrace; he too had been desperate to once again feel the warmth of another woman’s body. Found and filmed while in a cheap, cockroach infested motel room on the interstate, dedicating himself to her while his wife and children were lay sleeping. The news spread fast, along electric wires and Wi-Fi networks, the Internet directing his sin to those few people who still cared enough to watch the news in this world doomed to die.
The gunman was useless. He sunk a bullet in the President’s arm and one in his thigh, just above the knee, his flesh puckering as the bullets punctured his flesh. He crumpled to the floor, blood soaking into the threadbare carpet. Acting as God’s righteous angel the would-be assassin had failed, in his attempt to enforce some of his God’s vengeance for the sins committed against a code now rendered useless and forgotten. The Secret Service agents stayed true to their duties in these dying hours and sent a bullet through his temple to hasten his heavenly reward.
They had been right. Waking up was much worse, although she still smiled at his soft touch, his half-awake eyes following hers as they stared into the sky, the window framing their angel of death. The screaming wind heralded the Earth’s destruction as the asteroid ripped into the atmosphere and they fucked under its shadow as the sky burned. Their world was doomed, as the chaos swarming on the planet’s face reflected on humanity’s final and least noble hour. There would be no tomorrow.
He remembered how his mother used to hold him tight against her when he was a little boy, how she would pull him close to her chest and nestle her nose in his hair. How she would protect him whenever anything went wrong. He remembered her whispering into his ear that everything would be alright, that Mummy would take care of it, and that there was nothing to be worried about. Commander Jefferies floated away from the ship that had been his charge as the confines of his exo-suit held him tightly, promising to protect him in the same way that she had always done. He floated past the porthole and saw the frantic look on his fellow astronaut’s eyes, still hiding in his cage, denying the future. Jefferies gave David the thumbs up as he drifted toward the Earth, before pushing off from the walls of the ship flying headfirst to join the rest of his species.