Barten-Weise 2684

A short story based loosely on a recent dream. . .

The worlds leaders and scientists had known for the past couple of years that our days on Earth were numbered. Barten-Weiss 2684, the benign and nondescript name given to the newly discovered planetoid, had appeared from no where. Astronomer’s were baffled by it’s existence and concluded that it most likely was a small planet that had been flung out into space from another solar system, and had traveled for billions of years across the cosmos before showing up in the far reaches of our own solar system.

It took a few months for Astronomers to plot its trajectory, and another month or so to confirm the results. Eventually the results were indisputable – Barten-Weise 2684 was Earths nemesis. . .

Everyone who knew about this turn of events was sworn to secrecy. Leaders were terrified of the assumed panic that would ensue if word got out that a planetoid, slightly larger than the size of our own Moon, was going to collide with the Earth approximately 28 months from then.

In hindsight, I’m not sure what difference it really made whether they told people then or not – there was nothing anyone could do about the outcome. And a year later a multitude of amateur astronomers discovered the object for themselves anyway. Of course for many weeks after that, the authorities downplayed the significance of Barten-Weise. Some people even celebrated it’s existence as one of the many wonders of the cosmos. They were right of course, but not in the way they had imagined.

From the outset of the “less than truthful” public announcement, a multitude of conspiracies evolved from skeptics around the world. Some thought it was a sign from God, others thought is was Aliens. Some theories bordered on lunacy, while others were unknowingly quite accurate. Finally, about two months ago, the real truth could be kept silent no longer. There was what looked like a tiny new Moon in the night sky each night that was getting larger and larger and Bruce Willis or Robert Duvall wasn’t going to save us from this. . .

Humans are a funny species when they are confronted with their own imminent mortality. Most people were in denial at first, then some began to panic – futilely looking for ways to escape their fate, and others quite surprisingly accepted their fate without much question. People who were never religious, found religion – and those that had been religious, actually found more. There were instances of chaos and unruliness, but for the most part the good things that make us human prevailed – though I’m sure everyone exercised their own fears each and every day. Me, as stupid as it sounds, I was thankful that the end would happen in summer and not winter. At least I could be outside.

All was quiet those final few days in my country neighborhood. Traffic on the road out front had all but ceased, everyone was either holed up waiting for the end, or away visiting loved ones for the last time. I had heard that life in the cities was much harder with more people trying to get in and out one last time, and there were reports of riots as well. I was glad I didn’t live in any of those places. Myself, I continued to do as I always did in the summer. Weather permitting, I went outside and sat under the shade tree with a cold iced tea. . .

Barten-Weise loomed large in the sky on that final day, and even though it was pointless to do so – because no one would ever see it – I took the time to take a photo of it and the Moon together as they appeared in the afternoon sky. After that, I tried not to look at it again.

As I sat down under the tree, I looked around in wonder at how everything around me seemed to be oblivious to what was going to happen. Insects were still flying about, birds were still singing and flying about too, and the cats and kittens were playing just as they had done every other day this summer. I watched butterflies fluttering across an open field and could see that nature was abundant and flourishing all around me. Had I not known what I knew – it would appear to be just another typical sunny summer day. The thought crossed my mind that this is what they mean when they say, “ignorance is bliss.”

I continued to look around and then I wept for the first time in years, loudly and openly. I wept not just for me and all of mankind, but for all of natures wondrous treasures that would cease to exist when Earth became a lifeless liquefied ball of molten rock. . .

I collected myself and walked back into the garage and brought out an entire bag of cat food and dumped it in a large sweeping pile under the tree. The cats seemed curious at first – but then they dove in and ate their fill as they sang and purred in contentment. I figured they might as well live it up today of all days.

As I watched the cats feast, I thought, “Maybe this isn’t the end of life?” Oh for sure, all life would end shortly, but Earth had been a ball of molten rock once before, and life had found a way despite that – so maybe in a billion years it would happen again? I didn’t know. . .

I then looked out over the garden and noticed that the tomato’s needed weeding, so I went back into the garage and grabbed the hoe and started in. I briefly glanced up at Barten-Weise and quickly turned away again – it was getting larger in the sky. Hoeing the tomato’s seemed like a totally pointless thing to do but I did it anyway – for what reason I really have no idea. Perhaps it was my own way to be defiant in death? Maybe it was to celebrate life one last time? Or maybe it was a final act of total insanity in a totally insane situation.

As I neared the end of the row, Barten-Weise began to block the Sun. I looked up again and was struck by the beauty of it all as the Sun disappeared from view and the shadow darkened the Earth. The features on the surface of Barten-Weise became clearer as it increasingly loomed larger and larger in the sky.

In an instant, the air suddenly grew heavy and dense around me. As Barten-Weise entered the atmosphere it compressed the air in front of it causing it to heat up. I lifted my arm up in defense as the sky burst into super hot plasma and everything exploded in flame. The pain was excruciating and searing, but thankfully also brief as everything about me, and all living things quickly flashed away into eternal non-existence. . .

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