Sauntering through space with a graceful roll, a small rocky icy ball roughly two miles across, maybe more or less, it had never been measured, moved at a lazy couple of hundred thousand miles an hour — it was going so slowly that all the other comets would’ve mocked it had they seen it but thankfully it was invisible to them in the void.
It was going for a stroll — it had no real destination just a want to see the Universe, just a want to see what was going on, and so far that was nothing. Darkness and coldness and not much more, and if a comet could feel boredom then this comet was the definition of bored.
It had heard of gas giants tastefully coloured in blues and reds, oranges and yellows, from a passing satellite — Voyager, it thinks it was called, but the thing had just whizzed by telling an intriguing tale of this ‘Solar System’ thing and had not stopped to introduce and explain itself properly, which was a little rude. Anyway, Voyager spoke so quickly of this thing it called ‘the Sun’, which apparently was a massive fireball, and then it said about some rocky planets that were just like this comet in many ways but much, much bigger, and much different — Voyager said it had come from one, the third one, which was blue and had land and oceans and stuff the comet couldn’t grasp, and all this the comet found very interesting. And then there were these gas giants that looked like marbles, whatever a ‘marble’ was — this comet was going to find out. This comet had made it its mission to find out what the hell was going on.
So far, nothing — it was dark and it was cold, and there were these little pin-pricky things that sort of glowed, but they were so small they weren’t really there at all.
Nothing, that is, until it saw this yellow-brown thing with a big ring around its waist in the distance — it was too far away for the comet to get a real good look at it, but that didn’t stop it from shouting: “HELLO!” It cost nothing to be polite, and the comet did think it saw the thing wave back — “I’LL BE BACK!” And that was a promise, this comet wanted to have a better look at this pretty thing with a ring for a girdle.
And then it was back to nothing.
That yellow-brown thing with the ring was most truly the prettiest thing this comet had ever seen in its long existence — its memories of it filled the continuing duration of darkness, coldness, and those glowing pin-pricks that weren’t really there at all.
In the distance, the comet finally noticed, that one of the pin-pricks was becoming more pin than prick, growing ever so slowly in the darkness. Something tugged at it — a slight tug, just a little pull — but whatever tugged it was lost on the comet, it could see nothing, but its direction had most certainly changed, and very noticeably so — after traveling in a straight line for ages any bend in the road, however subtle, was a thrill.
Soon, the comet careened through the asteroid belt like a very cautious bull in a china shop, and the comet passed through without disturbance — this ‘grand adventure’ this comet was having really wasn’t living up to its expectations.
Now, and at first it couldn’t be certain (it soon got certain) but as closer to the growing pin it got this comet was feeling something that made it bubble and hiss, and it really didn’t like it. No, it really was a horrid feeling — and this glow it seemed to get, and this tail — no, it wasn’t for this comet, none of it. This is not what the comet had signed up for, no Sir, not at all.
Eventually, the pin became a ball — a very big glowing ball — the Sun? Maybe, it was most certainly growing warmer the closer it got. It was white — a beautiful white that paled the beauty of that yellow-brown thing with the ring, and it made the comet swoon ‘cause it was just so tiny against this massive great big ball. But, and this saddened the comet, its sight of the beautiful Sun was short-lived as another turn threw it back out into darkness, back out into nothing — its tail now leading.
All in all, so far this comet had chanced upon only two things — that yellow-brown thing with a ring and then the Sun — and it couldn’t help but think that there wasn’t much going on in this ‘Solar System’ — where were the marbles? Where was that blue rocky planet with oceans from where Voyager had come?
Oh — there it was, dead ahead.
It was tiny — it was so small but really beautiful, like really beautiful, so beautiful it made the comet question all the other beauty it had seen on its journey. There were greens and blues and yellows and whites on it, and — wait —
“WHOA! GET OUT OF MY WAY!” But Earth didn’t move, and then things got warm, hot and very bright, and then this comet hit something wet and hard and became very much non-existent.
The Isle of Wight
“Ah, crap,” he said. Now Conor Ahearn was no astrophysicists, or whatever them space-searching people liked to call themselves, he just liked the word — astrophysicists, thinking it made him feel intelligent. Anyway, when the sky was consumed by a fireball Conor was up on such spacey things enough to realise that it wasn’t good, in fact that it was positively bad, and it really put things into perspective.
Conor rushed home — he wasn’t far, he’d only just left so he’d soon be home.
The City of Portsmouth
“What the —” Sasha Cleburne stopped herself from swearing, but the very act of protecting young little Riley’s ears from profanity seemed futile now, what with everyone else in Palmerston Road cussing to high heaven. The thing in they sky roared — from the heavens above this thing had descend in fire and roared — it was such a deafening sound that she stupidly felt glad that it drowned out the profanity and screaming, but it didn’t take away the sight of panic.
Riley grabbed her — his little hands held her so tightly that it made Sasha’s heart skip. No, her heart stopped in her chest — the only thing keeping her alive was Riley and his look of fear.
“I don’t know —“ Sasha started to say that she didn’t know what was happening, but she did — she knew it was bad. She knew, she just knew — call it intuition — that this was very, very bad indeed. It was worse than bad, it was shit.
They were so close to the sea — they, they, they — Sasha gathered Riley up in her arms and ran.
The English Channel
Ol’ Seadog Turnbull was just minding his own business on the bridge of MS Merry Sunshine, a very nondescript cargo vessel that hauled things between port and port — today, they were soon approaching the Isle of Wight to their starboard en route for Brazil with electronics and other mundane things onboard — when a strange sound made him look outside. The very sight of what he saw made him drop his mug of coffee (actually, brandy), and he vowed never to touch a drop again, especially not this early in the morning.
Luckily, unlike most of his other vows — each he had found very easy to break, in spite of his unwillingness — Ol’ Seadog found this new vow very easy to keep.
The things around him began to rattle as from the clouds a fire fell — it was that very image of fire in the sky, and then the parting water beneath it, that was seared into his mind as the thing dropped into the water and hissed barely a mile away — it may have been much further away, but such things like distance didn’t matter anymore.
He, his crew, and the Merry Sunshine were obliterated by a gigantic wave — vow kept, and his last thoughts were of his wife, children, and home.
The Isle of Wight
Conor barrelled through his front door and got told exactly where he could take himself, back outside and to work. Brienna was unimpressed with his lies — none of them were big lies, but even little ones could do damage, and today she couldn’t stand the sight of him.
“We’re going to die,” he said.
“I know, and you right now if you don’t get out of my fucking face!”
“I’m not in it, and I mean RIGHT FUCKING NOW!” He screamed, and he rarely screamed. “Where are the kids?”
“Up stairs —”
“Get them — don’t get anything, just get them — we’re leaving!”
Fortunately, Eileen and Nya were nosey children and were downstairs before their father had even suggested that their mother should get them.
“What’s going on?” One asked, but Conor was in such a tizzy he couldn’t tell which one had spoken — he couldn’t believe this was happening. He didn’t know what to do — would they be safe at home? Was it best to leave? Where would they go? They were on a fucking island!
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!
“What’s going on?” Brienna was going nowhere until she had some answers. She could read his panic and his fear, but he was a liar and she didn’t trust him today.
“I think it’s a comet — I think this is it! I think we’re all going to die!”
“A comet? You been drinking again?”
“What? No — listen —”
“No, YOU LISTEN!” Brienna blew — last night she’d found out about his little deceits, and this little shit she’d married really needed to know his place. So what if he’d got the money they needed from close friends, he hadn’t told her and she didn’t want them to know they were struggling.
“NO! WE’RE GOING TO DIE! Didn’t you hear that noise?”
“That rumble! I don’t know how to explain it — it was a fucking comet falling to Earth!”
“I heard something,” Nya said.
“Did you look out the window?”
Conor began to pace — “We’ve got to leave,” he said, tried to bring reason to his voice but it was impossible — he looked crazy and he sounded it, too.
“Anywhere — somewhere — higher ground!”
“Because I think it’s gonna hit the sea —”
Brienna looked at him.
“WE’RE ON AN ISLAND!”
The City of Portsmouth
Carrying Riley was really slowing Sasha down, but she couldn’t leave him — she just couldn’t, and she certainly couldn’t make him run — he had tiny legs and at least her strides were getting them somewhere. She didn’t know what was happening, but sometimes knowledge was a bad thing, sometimes ignorance was bliss.
Not right now, though.
Nothing — there was madness all around! It was crazy — the traffic was at a standstill and people had abandoned their cars to flee on foot — that burning thing in the sky had been just above them, barely skimming their heads as it flew overhead.
She hadn’t heard anything since — but that was barely a minute ago and time had lost all importance — maybe, and this was her hope speaking, maybe hearing nothing was a good thing.
Maybe — she was just following the crowd, running from the sea — hoping, just hoping Riley would live.
The Isle of Wight
It was too late — it was Eileen that drew Conor’s eyes out of the window, but that didn’t even need to happen because the sunlight had fizzled away and a great shadow had descended, and their end was obviously here.
“Fuck,” he said.
Brienna came to his side and instinctively held him — his lies were well meant, she thought.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“For what?” He asked. “Loving us and for having a bit of pride?”
“You meant well —”
“We both do —”
They looked at each other — at their daughters — and they had enough time to huddle together in the kitchen, embrace and kiss each other, before — before —
The City of Portsmouth
On the twelfth floor of a council high-rise, sat at his window, Arthur Massey watched as a great wave consumed the horizon — it was much bigger than he’d expected, but then he’d never experienced the end of the world before. His world had ended last year when Ethel had died, but that was different and this most certainly was, and he found that he felt no fear.
Down on the streets there was carnage — cars were crashing and people were screaming, were running around helplessly — and up on his perch there was nothing he could do for them, for him, for anyone.
Arthur just sat and watched.
From the look of the approaching wave, which towered above their heads, and at its speed, their end was nigh. It was very nigh — the Isle of Wight was gone. He had seconds left, but certainly no more.
Upon first seeing the fireball, and then sighting the wave, Arthur had thought to speak to Ethel and she’d told him that there was nothing to fear in death. She’d told him that death happened so suddenly, it was just the dying that took forever, but even that was fleeting.
He watched the wave tear up South Parade Pier and throw it aside like nothing — it was such a fantastic sight, just amazing — Arthur shouted: “I’m coming Ethel!”
And the window he peered through exploded — shards of glass and seaweed hit him as his twelfth story home became awash with water and he was taken from this world.
Down on the ground Sasha was still running, but as the light faded she slowed to a stop. She turned and saw the wave — its crest a thousand miles above her — and she figured there was no more point.
There was a home beside her — door flung upon — and she dived in with Riley, and she slammed the door closed. There was no time to check to see if the home was deserted, but in a minute that wouldn’t even matter — she had at least enough time to drop where they were in the hallway and clutch Riley closer to her bosom.
He was crying — she was crying — “I love you,” she kept saying. “I love you so very much, I love you — I just love you and I love you and I love you —”
Riley kissed his mother and held her tight — his little arms were so strong, so powerful — and Sasha couldn’t hold onto her son any tighter, and she couldn’t give him any more love — she was giving it all, everything; all she had left was to kiss him.
“I love you,” she said.
And then the door flew open and then the hallway was a swirl, and then nothing else mattered.
Nothing at all.
— END —