“Madam President, there is still time. You and Simon should leave for the Cheyenne Mountain shelter complex now.”
“Thank you for your concern, John, but you know we went over this before,” she sighed. “The Survivor Corp is already in the shelter. The last thing they need is for old farts like us using up oxygen and supplies.”
“The youngsters will still need leadership afterwards,” said her National Security Advisor.
“In the short time that we had, we tried to pick a sampling of the brightest and best as well as the most stable and most adaptable from the Service Academies and colleges as gleaned from their medical and psychological profiles. They’ll do fine, if they survive.”
“I’m glad the Chinese, Russians, and North Korea have their own versions of Cheyenne Mountain,” said the National Security Advisor.
“For the sake of humanity’s survival, it’s best to have more than one basket of eggs,” said the president.
“Yes, hatch, go forth and populate the earth. Or what’s left of it after impact.”
There was a long period of awkward silence and then the President spoke, “John, thank you for your service, counsel, and friendship. But now you should go home to be with Carol. Simon and I will wait it out here. I’ve already told the staff and secret service that they should all go home.”
“Thank you Madam President—Linda. It’s been an honor to work for you. And may God have mercy on our souls.”
Oumuamua, named “scout” in Hawaiian since it was discovered by a telescope atop Haleakala, on Maui, was the first recognized interstellar object to pass through our solar system in 2017.
But not the last. Oumuamua was aptly named. A far larger object was detected by one of the orbiting observatories, coming in at an unusually high velocity from a different quadrant of the solar system than that associated with the approach of asteroids and comets. Once it was determined that it was on a collision course with Earth, there was barely time to mount two attempts to deflect it. The first rocket crashed on impact with the object and the second could not exert enough force to alter its trajectory. Earth would be struck. It was named Kali, Hindu goddess of death and destruction, since it was larger than the asteroid that exterminated the dinosaurs.
The president declared Martial Law as soon as it was apparent that the rock would score a direct hit and the news went public. At first there was some rioting, but people became strangely calm as they realized that this was indeed the end and that nothing could be done. Although there was some settling of scores at first, there was more of a mood to end old feuds and estrangements. In families where members had not spoken to each other for decades, apologies and reconciliations were common. Most people chose not to travel since was no where to go that would be safe, except possibly the Cheyenne Mountain complex, built to survive nuclear war and now the last hope for humanity.
The public was not aware of the Survivor Corp selection process until after it was complete and young people began disappearing from campuses and homes. It was a decidedly undemocratic process. Using health and personality records and profiles and, where available, DNA analysis, a pool of a thousand women and men was identified. Then one by one, they were quietly contacted and, after being sworn to secrecy, fully informed about the mission, and offered one of the positions. If they declined, they were drugged to remove the memory of the interview. A final group of 250 women and 150 men made up the Corp.
Russia and China and, it turned out, North Korea, had also secretly built Doomsday shelters for use in the event of nuclear war. All four governments cooperated to share information about their plans and installations. There was agreement that in the face of humanity’s extinction the time for politics, posturing, secrecy, and self-interest was past. Kali’s impact would dwarf the effects of even the most massive war. Perhaps at least one shelter would survive and with it, with luck, the human race.
“Less than a day now,” she said, standing by the window and looking out.
He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, “All the news sources have gone silent or stopped printing. So we really don’t know if the time or location has changed since the last broadcasts three days ago.”
She leaned back against him, “Does it really matter?”
“No, I guess not,” he said. “Unless someone was trying to time when to take sleeping pills before impact. You haven’t changed your mind about that, have you?”
“No. Not for me sweetheart. But if you want to, go ahead and take them.”
“How could I leave you alone by ducking out?” he said. “No, we’ll face it together. You always were strong. I noticed that about you right away when we met.”
“I thought it was my boobs you noticed,” she said with a smile, turning to face him.
“Well yes, them too,” he said. They looked at each other fondly, holding the memory and each other and kissed.
Finally she said, “I’m glad we got through to your parents before the phones went dead. But what can you say when we’re all going to die except ‘I love you?’”
“Dad totally choked up. He kept saying, ‘We’re old, but it’s so unfair to you young ones.’ That’s so him, always worried about others before himself.”
“They’re not planning to ‘manage’ their passing, are they?”
“No, Dad and Mom talked it over and decided that if this was the end of the world, then they were going to see it happen.”
“They are strong in their faith and that helps.”
“Yes, Mom said, ‘I know you both have doubts, but our faith is strong enough to include you too.’ If anyone can intercede for us with Saint Peter, it’s Mom.”
“And then there’s that song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. No Heaven and no Hell and no religion too. And no more nations, no more war, and now we’re all cooperating. Wonder what he’d think? That it took our destruction to make it happen?”
“No more history, no more civilization, no more cities or people. The whole human race just erased, no trace left, all of us……you and me,” his voice broke. “It’s actually going to happen to us.”
She hugged him. “Come kiss me. We’re together at the end and that’s what counts. I couldn’t face this alone.”
“Love,” he said. “You were always my support and strength.”
“How strange,” she said. “Only two months ago we were making plans for the future and now there is none.”
“I’m so thankful we’ve had this life together. It’s been a beautiful journey,” he said. “I’m sorry about the rough patches when I was thoughtless or mean.”
“Oh sweetheart, for better or for worse we swore, and the worse were just short times and there were a lot more of the betters.”
“You know how much I love you,” he said. They looked out the window. “It’ll soon be sunset. Our last sunset. Do you want to go outside?”
“And then to see the stars. Kali, our destroyer, come from somewhere out among the stars. Yes, outside. I’d hate to be cowering inside, waiting for the roof to fall on us.”
“Maybe this is our Flood, fire this time instead of water,” he said. “Maybe the Universe or God is clearing the Earth because we’ve screwed things up so badly.”
“And Cheyenne Mountain, our Ark. With four hundred Eves and Adams. Perhaps they can make a fresh start.”
“Did you want to make love again?”
“That’s too much like a condemned man ordering his last meal. Last night was so good. Let’s hold on to that. When the sky rains fire, just hold me very tight so we can go together.”
They went to the door, opened it and then, hand in hand, stepped outside to face the sunset.