Rebirth

“You might know this, but the world is always in a state of ending”, she said.  I used to bristle up a little when my mom would say this.  However, given my life, I guess I had something much more obscured that weighed on me.  However, I never really understood her sentiment.  Well, until that day…  I mean, the world of yesterday is always ending for the world of tomorrow to begin, perpetually.  But before all that, I saw humanity as both the beast and the hunter, the angel and the devil.  Humanity baffled me sometimes.  I mean, until I was 13 it felt like I lived in a dream world where nothing seemed real.  My life was confusing to me.  I’d been broken, and even been on the wrong side of people’s ethical misgivings more than once.  I was a shell of a being.  Who am I, you ask?  I’m Alira Roe.  And if you guessed it… I wouldn’t be telling this story if I were dead.  I survived the frying pan to only awake years later standing in the fire.  Years, what an understatement.  However, I had also become fire somehow, like a phoenix.  How you ask… The world, the galaxy… No… The whole damned universe is absurd.  I remember being a young boy staring up at the sky in ambivalence.  Ambivalent you ask?  Why?  Because I felt I wanted to die, while at the same time I wanted to live.  I both knew reality, and rejected it.  Born into a world of denial, and treachery.  Imbued with characteristics I couldn’t share, forced to embody values I didn’t believe in.

More than anything though, I had to lie to myself every day, while I cried, begged and pleaded every night.  I know it’s probably not the first thing most people tell you about themselves.  I was a young boy, then I was a young girl, and now I am a woman.  32 years ago before that fateful day, the most wonderful woman brought me into this world because of the seemly most elusive man in the world.  Sometimes when I am dreaming I can swear I’ve seen his face.  I’ll never forget that day 20 years ago…  My mother told me how much I reminded her of Gerard (my dad that is, though I’m still a late bloomer).  She then looked me in the face and said, “We need to have a serious talk”.   At this time I was already kind of starting to buck the system.  I was wearing eyeliner to school, and secretly I was wearing tights under my jeans.  It was the style for some, after all.  I’d be wearing two pairs of pants so that I could pull off the nice clean pair, revealing the hole riddled one beneath showing with the black tights I stole from my mother’s room beneath that.  “I sometimes feel inadequate”, she continued in a very sombre tone, “I feel I am not able to be a father to you, or fill that role.  I am a woman after-all.  I spent years blaming myself for the incident with your father, and wondering what I could have done to cause him to abandon me, and leave before I knew you were on your way into this world”  Her eyes wandered and then fell to a strange red envelope on the table.

Being the rebellions teenager I was, I said “Yeah” arrogantly to my mother.  I was taken back by the fact that she didn’t flinch.  Usually I’d have gotten a wooden spoon cracked across the noggin for that.  This concerned me.  My mom was usually chipper and talking 90 WPS (words per second) usually due to her obsessive coffee drinking.  Luckily she wasn’t like other heavy coffee drinkers, and didn’t have heavily stained teeth or bad breath.  I think she obsessively brushed, and or whitened her teeth.  “I spent years blaming myself for what happened, so much so that all I’ve done these past years of your life is sabotage every romance I ever found.  See, Al?  I didn’t know what else to do, and I loved you too much to risk some of those romances with you in tow.”

“I loved Gerard so much…”, she trails off with an unsteady tone in her voice.  “No man ever made feel that way, not before, not since”, she adds after taking a deep breath to steady herself.

Probably why she stayed single, you think to yourself.  “Mom, I’ve heard this story before, but you never once mentioned any of this”, you reply hesitant about where this conversation is going.  “How could I?  It hurt even saying it… I couldn’t share this with you.  I had to be your mother and father.  I had to be strong.  I thought I’d put most of this behind me.  Well, behind me until this day.” she says as she slowly and reluctantly slides the envelope across the table.

I pick up the envelope and it’s got an address on the cover from an Anne Green, the same last name as my father.  I began to shiver a little bit.  Mom notices this and begins to tear up a little.  I open the envelope and find a letter written very nicely in cursive.  The letter read:

“Hello Freya,

My name is Anne Green.  I know you don’t know me, but I was rummaging through some old things I kept in the attic of my son’s.  I found a black address book with your name, number and smiley faces and stars next to it.  He had all kinds of numbers in them, but Gerard was a very meticulously neat and organized boy.  It was something that drew my attention to the entry more so than others.  I didn’t know he knew you.  Most of the entries were from family, a few friends, and mine and his fathers number.  You were the only woman in there that wasn’t a friend or family member I was familiar with.  I could always tell his mood from how he wrote.  He was excited when he wrote your name and number in his black book.  Mom’s know these things.

So I was wondering, what was your relationship with my son?  Well, I guess in some ways it might seem a little late, but I really would like to know who made my son feel that way.  I… Uh, during that time is his life, we weren’t on best of terms.  But he came by for dinner the week… Okay, so… It’s been a while, and to be honest I’d have contacted you sooner had I stumbled on to this then.  Back almost 13 years ago in 1982, I got a call no mother wants to receive.  The county coroner called me and then sent a squad car out to my house.  Gerard was dead.  He died in his sleep as the result of an aneurism of unknown causes.  He apparently was conscious for a few moments, because the police said that he attempted to grab the phone.  I really miss him, and I hope he was as wonderful a person to you as he was to us.  I really wish I hadn’t held his career choice against him, me or Frankie (his father).  We could have been closer when he passed.  I hope he wasn’t anything to you that will make this harder.  I attached my number to this letter if you need to speak to me.

My sincerest condolences,

Mrs. Green”

That was all she wrote, there was something rigid taped to the letter’s backside.

I’d never met the man, though often pictured what he’d be like off my mothers descriptions. But when I saw the picture with a number on the back of it all of a sudden a drop of water hit the paper.  I was crying, I started crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe for a moment.  I have anxiety attacks thanks to an incident I experienced when I was 10, so it brought on a panic attack and vertigo.  Mom ran into the bathroom to get the Diazepam.  Lets just say, that day was the day my life started changing.  Mom went into counseling and so did I sometimes with her, sometimes alone.  That summer I went to live with my long-lost Grandparents “Mrs. & Mr. Green”, or as they had me call them “Amma and Grans”.  That’s what my cousins called them, mostly ’cause of the oldest one who said “Amma instead of Granma”.  They had no other grand children the age I was at the time, so they spoiled me rotten that summer.  Outside of mom I had no family.  And she worked 13 – 16 hours a day, 6 days a week.  One day Amma stopped me when I tried to leave the house to go to play with the neighbors kids with a kilt and some pretty heavy make-up on.

She stopped me, and pulled me aside.  “Sweetheart, where you going dressed like that?  You going to a concert, or some sort of strange biker gang meeting like that”, she inquired while I stared at the ground playing with lint on the floor with my foot.  I said, “It doesn’t matter, does it?”, hoping her lenient spirit I’d seen all summer would hold.  She said, “Look kiddo… I don’t mind what you are wearing, but I have noticed some “interesting” things about you all summer that has me concerned”, she added leaning in closer to me while punctuating with her fingers.  I started to fidget as I could smell the sweet, minty odor of the sugar-free mint candies she ate all the time to help her not smoke.  “My clothing is how I feel, Amma”, I muttered under my breath half hoping she’d hear it, and half not.  “Al, your clothing is so… Feminine… Strange… I dunno.  I know you’re wearing your daddy’s kilt, but its everything else that concerns me”, she continues, “And if you want my opinion, you look like a sad, lonely isolated child doing everything you can to escape reality”.

“We went through this with your cousin”, she remits while placing one had on my shoulder, and one hand on my cheek.  “Me an’ your Grans ain’t going to judge you, we just want to know what’s going on so we c’n help ya”. You smirk a little thinking of how Amma’s voice gets this odd accent when she talks in her cute, soothing, motherly voice.  Your smirk turns to a frown and your eyebrows furrow.  “No one gets it.  Only one or two I’ve told understand that some days… Nothing, never mind”, you murmur to her near the verge of tears.  “Wha’ baby, tell me… You know you can tell me anything.  I can’t help you if ya don’t wanna tell me”, she says while drawing you closer speaking even softer now.  “That I… That I”, tears starting to roll, “I feel… Trapped, and I can’t breathe.  I feel like I can’t, you know… That I want to… that I want to die sometimes”. I rolled my face up towards hers and blurry through my own tears I see tears rolling down Amma’s face.  She grabs you now with both arms around you over your shoulders and pulls your face into her chest, holding you firmly.  You can feel her whimpered breathing as she just clutches you in her arms.  You can smell the gram cracker cookies she made this morning on her shirt, and still smell the mint as she breathes down over you.

She pulls your face from hers to look into your bleary eyes.  She smiles at you with your face streamed with mascara and eyeliner, and pulls you over to the kitchen table and sits you down.  As you sit, you can feel the gently warmed morning air chilling the tears on your face.  Amma, reaches for the secret stash of cigarillos above the stove behind her, then opts for the mints in her pocket instead.  Still shaken, she sits across the kitchen island from you and pops about 5 mints into her mouth vigorously chewing them as she sips her tea.  “Kiddo, why do you want to die?”, she asks upon a swallowing the mints.  You freeze and tense up moving your eyes to the floor as you can smell the mint bellowing from her statement.  “I… It’s… hard to explain”, you add as you feel something roll out of your pocket.  You turn and look as it hits the floor and rolls over the lumpy sandstone flooring.  Shock then crosses your face.

You look up quickly, wondering if she saw it, but by the time your eyes meet where Amma was she is already heading for the lipstick rolling across it.  Pawing her way back up to the bar stool, she stares down at the item.  She stands it on its end on the edge of the cutting board.  She drinks her tea, while murmuring “Al” multiple times to herself.

Still staring into her tea, then taking a finger to flick out a ground, she says, “What if, lest say, hypothetically… I started calling you… I dunno… Alira?”, finishing as she lifts her eyes up to look at me…  My mouth dropped… I started shaking, half shocked and terrified, half excited at this revelation.  My pulse sped up, and I felt faint, has if I was dreaming.  I slapped the hair tie I used to tie my hair up while doing chores on my wrist, and it made me wince a bit.  I’d never once told anyone, not even my mother.  I was always afraid to burden her, both with my feelings about death, and about well… “That”.  “How could she know”, you murmur to yourself gazing down at your calf-high boots.  You’d decided to yourself long ago, well 4th grade ago, that you’d never let anyone know.  You remember the bullying and the pain of being the femme boy in class, always pushing the boundaries of masculinity.

Amma chimes in, “I know your mom cuts your hair for you, but this summer you haven’t cut it once.  You even wear it in bangs now, and it’s to your shoulders.”  You look up at her much calmer now and begin to speak as she interrupts you.  “I just said the first thing to come to mind, kiddo.  But I have a secret for you that you may just understand.  You’re older cousin Mark whose 19, the one who started calling me Amma… He was born female”, she exclaims tilting her head to the side a bit now.  You gasp to yourself, remembering meeting him when he came home on summer break from college just after you arrived for the summer.  “Mark… Is a female? Or was?  Is that even possible?” you ask.  “When she, pardon he… I mess it up sometimes when referring to the past… When ‘he’ hit 14 or 15 he suddenly demanded that his mama let him cut his hair short.  She allowed it.  A few months later he stopped wearing skirts, and pink, and started wearing male sports clothing borrowed from his dad.  That Christmas he wrapped this ‘special’ gift box” she says trying to recall something. Amma likes punctuating with her fingers when telling stories.

“It was a small box with a lot of tissue paper in it to prevent the letter inside from rattling around”, she continues while still trying to jog her memory.

“Inside the letter was a proclamation of sorts…  She wrote something to the effect of ‘Dad, you know how you always wanted a son, but couldn’t have one?  Well, dad… You do have a son… Because you see dad… I’m a boy, not a girl”, Amma said staring intently at you.  “So, Al… Are you a boy, or are you a girl”, she says gently demanding.  Indeed, everything changed that summer.  It’s self-evident what I told her.  I’d been goth/grunge up until that point, but as everything changed and I became Alira not Alfred.  I stopped wanting to die, stopped wanting to wear black, and started wanting to live.  I started looking like a normal child after that, just not the same gender.  So I stayed on for the fall semester of class… Amma called a family meeting to tell the immediate family.  Mark was there, and he came up to me and gave me a hug. He was 100% machismo incarnate back in those days, so it startled me a bit to see him hug me and tear up a bit.  I was bawling my eyes out and everyone came around and gave me hugs.  Our family had 3 psychotherapists, 1 psychiatrist, an OB/GYN, and a social worker.  Grans got used to it pretty quick.  He thought 12 was “two young” to which I stated, “I’ll be a teenager next week”!

Best birthday in all my life.  Mom took time off to come out, as Grans and Amma took care of my expenses that summer, and it’s a date that I won’t soon forget… First time as in public as Alira, and July 23rd (the day before I’d gotten to watch the Shuttle land at Kennedy Space Center), and the day before that we got to watch the telecast of the Shoemaker-Levy Comet hitting Saturn, or was it Jupiter?  I was a big time space buff back then, still am.  I’d wished that summer would have never ended… But it did.  I stayed until the beginning of the October while my mom tried to find a place to move where I’d be safe.  When I told my mom over the phone, she pretty much just said “I know Al, I’d suspected you were gay or something”.  She still calls me Al, but it isn’t that far off, so I don’t mind.  That same month she found out Minnesota had laws on the book and it was the closest place to Milwaukee with plenty of work available.   My Grans managed to get contacts for me to get treatment when I turned 15 with my mom’s legally written permission through a friend of the family.  Just in time really, my facial hair was just starting to grow and I was suddenly getting taller.  5’6″ ain’t bad though, but high school was still tough.  Always wearing girdles to hide certain things, and always afraid to let people get to close to me, even though none of my girlfriends ever complained, well, ‘cept one. Only dated 3 girls in high school.  Lesbians were still mostly in the closet back then, but better than in Milwaukee.

That semester was permanently engraved in my mind.  Brainerd is beautiful around that time of year.  The colors of the trees in September and some of November is stunning.  I felt like I was alive for the first time, and it felt as though the rest of my life had been a bad dream.  Amma always sent me handmade over-sized sweaters big enough to be dresses for X-mas.  I always wore them on cold days with tights, slouchy socks, and boots… I had another rebellious phase when I was 17, but when I got out of college and started trying to find a way to get surgery, I then started looking to get into the space program at 22.  After that phase, I went right back to that old style out of nostalgia.  College was less “in your face” but far more “intense” to me.  Minneapolis was also too far from mom, but better than the local schools.  The snow blew my mind, and it terrified me to drive the rickety 2 wheel-drive Datsun 240Z my mom gave me as a “college gift” in the Autumn of 2000.  It was rusty, noisy, needed A/C in the summer, needed a new brake system, and quite frankly I had plywood in the trunk to keep shit from falling through the giant rust holes.  But it ran, and it’d start even if it was colder than hell out.  First cars, are always… “fun”.  I wish my memory didn’t have so many holes though now.  I remember about 45% of my life and the holes are… Well… Random.

Indeed, those where the best years of my life… The calm before the storm if it were.  I don’t remember much of 2014 to be honest.  The parts I do well were right before rapture, and the hospital, or what I came to learn was called “rapture” after the fact.  I remember a news story talking about Asteroid detected in space right after my 32nd birthday.  It was a 1001.2m wide class-M asteroid with an unusually low albedo of 0.09 moving through our solar system at a relatively high-speed.  I can’t remember much of anything, accept science numbers, and things I loved a lot, so I am guessing it had something to do with what I studied, which I don’t remember.  3 weeks after it was discovered by Hassan Bhutto at Cambridge it was declared an Apollos type NEO object pair (Near Earth Object) and named 15993 Cambridge A and B.  The object had a 1:525,000 chance of coming in contact with the Earth according to initial observation.  My friend, 59-year-old professor, Dr. Peters seemed somehow spooked by the asteroid, and managed to convince a few colleagues to reclassify it as a class-U.  I looked at it several times through a 500mm I had at home when it was visible.  It was like a dull grey-blue pinprick in the night sky.

By this time I’d watched hundreds if not thousand of interstellar objects, listened to stars on radio telescopes, and I saw no reason as a scientist to regard this as anything other than a run-of-the-mill NEO.  In August current data gave it a 1:900,000 chance of hitting Earth most likely missing by a mere .121 AU.  It weighed an estimated 195 million metric tonnes and was 1.1km by .6km.  It looked like a lumpy dark grey potato.  Never got into NASA, that much I remember.  I cried for a whole month the first time I applied, and I applied 6 more times until I was just too numb to care.  So I buried myself in my work.  Had virtually no social life for several years, and only family and a few friends whom I seldom saw outside of holidays.  I just traveled and worked in the field, I think… I remember Arecibo, where I met Yuzuho Ka, kaaa… hmm… I can’t remember…  I might have had a part-time teaching/tutor position a few times.  I was back in Minnesota when it all happened.  LINEAR (Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research) sounded the alarm in Early September 2014 when data indicated that it was dangerously near to impacting the Earth after having lost it’s satellite 15993 Cambridge B which was headed for an impact with the sun.  56 hours later 151 observatories around the world confirmed the dire potential for Earth impact.  It could pass harmlessly over the north pole only grazing the exosphere or hit somewhere in the Rocky Mountains with an epicenter 150 km SSW of Salt Lake City.  People were panicking, I was finally starting to fear the potential.

Things started getting fuzzy.  Mass disappearances started hitting the press and reports of “Blue or Purple UFOs” which turned out be high levels of localized Cherenkov radiation in the thermosphere and mesosphere, and ball-lightening in the stratosphere. Religious nuts running through the streets, price gouging, hoarding and riots happened on a weekly basis.  The Pope said that they rapture had started as the strange sightings followed by unexplainable disappearances hit 250,000 in the US alone.  A few reports of people being “zapped away in blue light” started to hit the media outlets, but no footage ever surfaced.  The charged atmospheric events were messing with electronics.  Dr. Peters was sure it was some sort of “radiation” from the asteroid’s class-U composition.  People who’d disappeared reported head aches, diarrhea, nausea, memory loss and some even reported seeing “Blue lights”.  All tests for known forms of radiation poisoning came up negative.  October 27th… I remember it clearly as though it was yesterday.  I woke from a normal night of sleep with a pounding headache followed by vomiting and blackouts.  I was laying in the ER, with my wife at the time, Yuzuho… I barely remember her face now, or much about her other than she ate the same mints Amma did, and being Japanese and American mixed that she had blue eyes instead of brown.  We’d been together for a little over a year.  I don’t remember when Grans died anymore, but Amma came to see me at the hospital in New York were I had lived doing something I still can’t quite remember.

I had one good night three weeks in.  I’d been moved to the hospital’s Blue Tempest Syndrome Wing (a section of New York University Medical Center designated for people suffering “Blue Tempest Syndrome”) the name given to the strange disease afflicting patients there.  There was a rumor going around that 3 people had disappeared without a trace since I’d been there.  They said the rooms smelled of O-zone afterwards and police were too busy keeping order with weekly/bi-weekly riots and increased crime rates to investigate.  Me, Yuzuho, and Amma were all sitting there trying to ease our troubled minds.  The asteroid would be passing the moon on Tuesday, and we wouldn’t know if the Icarus Strike would succeed until November 22nd.  The chance of impact was now 1: 150,000 and went on record as the most dangerous NEO on record.  Amma and Yuzuho were like long-lost twins.  They’d constantly offer each other mints, even though they both had them and they came in the one flavor.  They’d of course take the offer.  Amma said, “I know one day you’ll get better and we’ll all look back on this and think of the historic date we almost got hit by a big one.”  “And as soon has you get well Alira, you owe me big time for all the sponge baths I’ve given you these past few weeks”, Yuzuho says.  “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that”, Amma says gravelly trying to clear her throat from scarfing down a mint.

Amma came into the hospital, on November 22nd with Yuzuho, Mark, and a few cousins I can’t remember anymore in tow.  We were all going to watch the Icarus Strike report live on the TV in my room.  They had almost no commercial breaks, and some dumb commercial offering Asteroid Strike insurance.  It was the most peaceful night we’d seen in nearly 3 months.  Everyone fixated on televisions.  There was a crowd of people gathered to watch the Live Broadcast on the Screen in Times Square and at several stadiums with large screens.  The asteroid could only be stopped 14 days before it’s expected impact due to preparation time, and the short notice of the NEO trajectory.  They’d pop in videos in space, and NASA tracking of the specialized warheads.  There was a lot of junk about the project, and all the funding, and politics of building 4 X 50 kiloton warheads, and platforms to get them up their and maneuver them in space.  Yada, yada… Amma had convinced (possibly even bribed) the nurses to let us drink whiskey and soda in the room while we watched it.  A few of the nurses were on Diazepam, other narcotics to calm them down, and some had secret stashes of booze to make it through the day.  Nerves had been frayed.  The number of casualties in the ER had pushed the staff to their limits.  The doctors let it fly and they all had to do a ‘buddy check’ policy to double-check each others work.

Yuzuho, Amma, and my short bald cousin were playing poker with mints as chips, and I was laying on the bed.  I was a little drugged up, but lucid.  My headaches had gotten worse and the nurses were threatening to put me on a feeding tube because I couldn’t keep things down and I was dropping weight pretty badly.  I didn’t feel dread, or fear, or nothing, and I was still fairly lucid.  I guess all that Lortab and/or Valium will do that.  Oh, and just so you know, the syndrome I have causes the retrograde amnesia that fragmented my memories.  This damn Valium makes everyday feel like a fog, aside from the lucid periods between doses, but it’s only low doses since I am also on painkillers.  Anxiety, sigh.  Yuzuho finishes her game and hops up on my bed next to me being extra careful about my IVs.  Even in that state I remember how she always smelled like magazines, scented hand sanitizer, and ink from a ball point pens. She wrapped her arms around me and turned my right side into her body.  It’s the warmest fondness I can recall, and one of the few memories I still have of her.  I’d recognize her warmth in the darkness, and the cordial softness of her usually bra-less chest.  Her hair was cold from placing her head against the window, and it felt nice against my face.  I think I dozed off.

An hour later I woke to the sounds shock, and gasps of terror in the room.  Still in Yuzuho’s arms, I could feel her trembling.  “It has been confirmed by NASA, The ESA, and other cooperating tracking sites around the world that Mission Control in Houston and NORAD lost contact with the telemetry and guidance systems 6 minutes ago due to upper atmosphere ionization from the an unknown source.  I repeat, all telemetry guidance has been lost, and detonation has yet to occur.  The ISS can not make contact with the warheads, and… Wait… This just in… All contact with the ISS has been lost.  Ground tracking indicates its still in orbit and emitting it’s tracking signal.  Apparently the unusual ionization is affecting comms.  NORAD has no confirmation of warhead locations, or status.  Per fail-safes, if the ISS doesn’t receive communication from Mission Control in 2 minutes and 30 seconds, they’ll initiate remote detonation.  This is the longest 2 minutes in human history my fellow Americans”, the news anchor says while apparently beginning to sweat and appear visibly shaken. At 2 minutes and 45 seconds a couple of bright dots appear in the sky and dim a little after a moment.  2 are near the asteroid, one was off from it 1 degree north, and the last one was on the other side of the moon from the asteroid, way off target.

The tension in the air feels like a spiderweb of steel wires wrapped around me, and it feels as though there are rocks in my mouth and we all clench our teeth and hope the mission succeeded.  The light from the nukes has completely faded now, but it’s hard to see anything from the window.  The anchor is leaning on his elbow looking at the large display next to him holding the ear-bud in his ear waiting for news.  Mark, who has a pair of binoculars with his head out the window is looking toward the two spherical plumes near the moon where the asteroid was.  Spindles of fragments begin to emerge from the clouds.  With an exuberant shout, he screams, “THEY GOT THE SON OF A BITCH! THEY GOT IT!”  Yuzuho clutches me blinding my sight from the ecstatic dancing of everyone in the room, and begins kissing me repeatedly and vigorously.  We are both crying in joy.  There is video on the anchor’s television showing what Mark saw with his binoculars.

The anchor still silent, as we all cry and hug each other.  Cheers of joy and happiness could be heard from the other rooms and out the windows of other floors of the hospital.  Amma gets the glasses again, and beings making rounds for with the whiskey concoction for toasts.  Well, everyone but me leaned in for a toast, for obvious reasons.

With glasses raised, the most dreadful words in the history of mankind irked from the lips of the newscaster… “I’m sorry to say…”  Everyone in the room freezes dead in their tracks.  He pauses to catch his breath…  Hand shaking over his face…  He reaches down and adjust his tie and collar and regains his composure visibly perspiring… “We’re going to patch in the Audio from NASA now”, he says while pulling out his ear-bud.  Folding his hands and in front of himself and leaning on them with bated breath as the crackle of NASA chimes in, “…. crackle, crackle, rustle…  That is a confirmation… We have negative impact on object 15993 Cambridge A.  I repeat, negative impact.  The information is still spotty at the moment, but it seems that the detonation did manage to hit the asteroid, but somehow the warheads had crossed the zero threshold or gone otherwise off trajectory prior to remote detonation.  It should not have been possible for them to be that far off trajectory in such a short time.  Flight controllers are using deep space RADAR and LADAR to track the incoming fragments.  The mission to detonate the warheads and divert the asteroid has failed.  Detonation resulted in a negative intercept. ”

The anchor pulls his tie and throws it down on the table, then he unbuttoned his top two buttons.  “You’ve heard it.  It’s my firm suggestion that everyone make final preparations via whatever methods are possible.  We’ll bring you… (He sighs.) Up to date information on impact zones as the information arrives.  BBCN News now returning to your regularly scheduled programming”, he finishes, and the screen goes black.  The previously scheduled sitcom resumes about a quarter of the way through the show.  Amma is in tears, Mark is holding her, and everyone else is in silent shock reeling from today’s news.  I try to speak, but I can’t breathe.  I am already hyperventilating in the throws of a massive panic attack.  My heart is beating so hard that I feel like I’ll explode, and every fast paced breath makes it feel as though my lungs are going to burst.  The pain overcomes me.  I can’t hear what anyone is saying, and it feels as though my whole body is buzzing painfully.  I hear nurses, and see them hurriedly trying to get the syringe into the IV’s insertion point. The last thing I hear is Yuzuho talking in my ear, saying “I love you, I’m here, it’s okay”.  It’s black, I feel like I am flying. Then I see blue light, and I can smell the distinct odor of o-zone.

To be continued…