Orbit....A glimpse into the future

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Global warming is now the favorite topic of conversation, and I have embroidered the theme a little. This is how it turned out.

Submitted: December 11, 2011

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Submitted: December 11, 2011

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ORBIT A glimpse into the future.

 

 

DURBAN21st AUGUST 2012.

I tucked Jeremy into bed and kissed him goodnight as I usually do, but I didn`t open the curtains.  Usually I did but tonight I thought I`d leave them closed for a change.My child of nine years was asking too many questions about the moon.  Questions that I found impossible to answer.

“Daddy, why does the moon look so large?” he asked the other night.  I gathered that he remembered when the moon appeared high in the sky, and one could picture the face of the `man in the moon` from the craters hills and valleys that are scattered across the moons surface.

Since the happening, the moon has now filled the entire area of the bedroom window and beyond. Its craters are so clear, that a telescope is no longer required to map its dusty surface.  Huge and dominant, it had drawn nearer the earth every second since the night of the happening.

As I closed the bedroom door Jeremy called me back.

“Daddy.”he asked, laying on his back and gazing up at the ceiling, “The boys at school are saying that this is the end of the world.”

I sat on the bed and took his hand.  “Naa, they are just talking crazy talk Jeremy, try not to listen to them.”  I said, in a vain attempt to assure the lad that all was well.

“Then why….”

The sound coming from the kitchen sounded like sausages frying in the pan.  Could I have left the stove on?  “Hold on Jeremy, I wan`t to find out what that noise is, I think I might have left the stove on.”

“Come back soon.”  he called.

There was nothing cooking on the stove, and the dirty plates, knives and forks from supper were still stacked beside the machine.The noise was coming from the lounge.  Two steps from the kitchen and I could see the `snow` on the monitor screen

and hear the familiar sound that no signal makes.

I changed channels from eighty-five to a hundred and twenty.  There wasn`t a channel

working.  I switched the set off and walked back to Jeremy.

“What was it Dad?”  he asked.

“The telly, there`s no incoming signal, probably trouble at the transmitter.”

“Oh!”

“Don`t worry it will be back in the morning, now you get some sleep, it’s a new day tomorrow.”

“G`night Dad.”

“Good night son.”

 

I didn`t go back to the lounge, I remembered the T.V. set in my bedroom and switched it on with the remote, hoping I`d see a picture.Nothing!

“Damn!”  I said aloud.  “What the heck is happening?”

Of course, I had the answer.  Phone someone, and find out if the problem is confined to this particular area or whether it is a general fault.

I must have stared at the signal Ikon of my cell for almost a minute.  It showed no signal as well!

 

“This can`t be happening,”  I thought, as a moment of panic swept over me.  Jeremy had left his backpack in the den.  He had a cell phone in case of an emergency.  I almost ran to the yellow pack and unzipped its canvas flap.

My heart sank as I saw that there was a no signal Ikon registered on that one too.

This is where I longed for Laura.  She`d been gone for almost two years and her sudden death through breast cancer had been devastating.

“What would Laura have done?”  I thought.

I smiled.  “Probably pour a stiff scotch for me and a gin and tonic for her and mull the situation over until we both fell asleep”. 

She was such a wise lady in every possible way, and would remain unruffled through the worst of circumstances.  Even her own situation, knowing she had just a few days to live left her cool calm and collected.

The happening?  Well, that is what the media called it.  Only three weeks ago, yes that certainly was scary.

I was sitting on the couch and had just had supper. Jeremy, thank Heavens was at his Grandmothers.  I felt a sudden enormous pressure on my chest pushing me backwards into my seat and the sensation of falling was overpowering.In actual fact it wasn`t just me falling, the whole world was falling with me.Earth was busy doing a slow roll.  The newspapers called it, “A slow roll to starboard.”

For five seconds there was an ominous silence, and then the streets were packed with people, screaming  people terrified  of what had happened.  The sound of fire engines and ambulances came next, and then came the wind.

I shouldn`t really call it a wind.  It was a proverbial hurricane.  One hundred and eighty miles an hour and picking up and blowing everything in its path.  Thirty-foot trees, together with roots and clods of earth weighing over a ton flew past my lounge window.  Motorcars, trucks and caravans, even a thirty-foot schooner from the harbor two miles off came flying down Argyle Street.  Bicycles, rickshaws, beach umbrellas,

deck-chairs, tables, chairs.Oh Lord!People, dogs, cats, a donkey had been picked up off the beach and hurled inland.

I was convinced that this was the day of reckoning and kneeled in the middle of the lounge, but all I could say was, “Oh God…Oh God…Oh God.”

Global warming?  You can say that again with a vengeance.  Five hundred billion tons of ice broke off from somewhere down in the Antarctic.  That’s what started the slow roll. 

It was just 5 degrees, but the enormity of the effect it had to our world was devastating to say the least.  We are still experiencing its effect on our moon, (earths one and only orbiting satellite.)  Its elliptical orbit has now drastically changed and made its apogee (Furthest point away) some two hundred thousand kilometers  nearer, and perigee (nearest point) two hundred thousand kilometers nearer. 

Someone was thumping in my front door.  Allan Stuart, my neighbor stood there in a tracksuit and takkies.  “Heard the latest?”  he asked.

“I daren`t ask.”  I said, meaning every word.

“All radio communication is down across the globe.  Something to do with the magnetic field of the moon, interfering with earths magnetic field. Should come back in three or four days, when the moon moves further along its present orbiting ellipse.”

Allan continued running on my front door mat, “Gotta go, thought you`d like to know, bye.”

I watched his blue track suit until he disappeared over the ridge.  Shaking my head I whispered to myself. “What else can go wrong?”  I got the answer some ten seconds later as my eye caught sight of the moon.  No longer was it beautiful.  It hung above my head huge and ominous.  Could it come any closer?Already our tides, once predictable, had become tsunami like in size.  The whole of the Bluff was now under water and marine life was in danger of extinction.  Shipping was almost non-existent.

I showered and climbed into bed only to remember that there were a few landline telephones in the block of flats where I lived.Surely they will remain working.  My Mother and Father were in far off Johannesburg, I desperately needed to phone them and at least let them know that all was well so far.

In five minutes I was out in the corridor and into the lift.  Jenkins, a friend of mine had a land line telephone, and I was pretty sure he`d allow me to use it.

I had difficulty in getting out the lift on the floor above me.  It was packed full with people.

“Whats going on here?”  I asked one elderly woman.

“We are queuing for the telephone in one eleven.”  she said smiling. “I`ve been waiting here for over an hour.

Who would have thought that a land-line telephone would become so popular after years of using a cell?  I got back into the lift, estimating some hundred people were waiting, and more would probably follow.

I went back to bed and slept an uneasy sleep.

 

Jeremy was already at breakfast when I finished showering the following morning.  I stood dressed and ready as he poured milk onto his cornflakes. 

“Dad?”  he said, making my heart melt like butter because he looked so like his mother.

“What`s this thing called the Mayan Calender?”

For a moment I was stunned.A nine-year old schoolboy munching cornflakes asking a question of such magnitude caught me completely off guard.  My first thoughts were where in the world would a kid get such information.  Internet perhaps, he was well into search engines, and used Google daily for retrieving information for his schoolwork.  The Mayan Calendar was the center of controversy in World affairs at the present time because there was a division regarding its authenticity.  Their calendar, similar to our own, using three hundred and sixty-five days to make up a year was purely an agricultural calendar.  Calculated by the ancient Aztec and later the Toltec civilizations, many centuries before Christ.  What was puzzling was the fact that their calendar didn`t go beyond December 21st 2012.The mystery remained for even they had not explained why.

“Mayan Calendar?”  I stammered, my mind reeling.

“It`s just an agricultural calendar that was drawn up by the Aztecs in South America, some hundreds of years before Christ and based on the same three hundred and sixty-five days in a year. Similar to the Roman calendar that we use today.” 

“Smithy say`s that it doesn`t go beyond the year twenty twelve and that the world is coming to an end.”

“Who is Smithy?”  I asked, warily.

“Our science master Dad, he is really clued up.”

“Clued up?”  I retorted.  He is talking a lot of rubbish son, and I for one would appreciate it if you would totally ignore any suggestion that the world was coming to an end. Talk like that can only result in some kind of panic.”

I watched Jerome swallow the last mouthful of cornflakes. “Well he said the world was doing an Icarus, and we are all going to burn.”

“Icarus, who the…”

Then I remembered.  Good Lord!  Now this was taking me back to my College days, some thirty years back.  Icarus the son of Greek God Daedalus, flew too close to the sun and burned his wings.

“I think your Mr. Smith is reading too many sci-fi comics Jerome, Greek mythology

is all fiction.  It just makes a pretty story, and that’s about all.”

Jerome drank the last dregs of his orange juice and ran into the lounge.  It couldn`t have been a minute that went by before I heard him cry out, “Oh no!”

“What`s the matter now son?”

Jereme stood between the two sliding doors that separated the lounge from the dining room with hunched shoulders and tears in his eyes.

“My Neon Tetras Dad…they are all dead.”

”Dead?”

“Yes Dad floating on the surface of the water in the fish-tank.”

What I knew about tropical fish was dangerous, but I got up and took a look at the tank.  Sure enough, there were seven dead Neon Tetras floating on the surface, I removed the light housing and checked the water temperature.  The thermometer showed forty seven Celsius.

“Its what I thought Jeremy, the water is too warm for them, get some ice and put in there before the rest die.”

“Doesn`t the thermostat work then?”  He asked cheekily.

I sighed.  “Yes it is working fine but all it can do is switch off the heater for the water, and a heater for the water is the last thing we need just now.  The ambient temperature in the lounge is around forty, you`ll have to cool it down a mite.”

Jeremy went and cleaned his teeth while I went through to the garage.  I took our two bicycles off the rack.  All right, they are mountain bikes but serve well as transport into town.  There is no telling when the next supply of petroleum will come in, and only special services are able to fill up.All this happened  in three weeks?The mind boggles and one wonders, “What next”.

Stepping out of my flat, the heat hits me.  Seven thirty in the morning and its already 30.C. and the smell of dead marine life pervades every corner.  We cycle down Argyle and into Avondale then turn into Clarence. Jeremy`s school is on 3rd Avenue. The whole area looks like a gigantic junk yard, every space available is now stacked high with smashed cars, trucks, household and garden furniture and everything else beside.  It`s not the junk that is objectionable, it’s the smell of death that hovers above all of that.  All are aware that soon it may be us.

“Pooh Dad, doesn`t it pong?” asks Jeremy.  I fob him off.

“Yeah, it’s the dead fish after that tidal wave came, I guess it will clear away give it a few days.”

A six foot high cut-wire security fence encloses Jeremey`s Primary Education School.

and I am frisked by two security policeman at the entrance.  The days after The Happening triggered a series of child disappearances throughout Zululand.  It seemed like they had disappeared off the face of the earth.  Distraught parents blamed the schools and the Education system at large.  In any crisis, criminals take advantage of the situation, and now adolescence has become a major concern for the Education Authorities.

I kissed Jeremy and gave him a hug then headed for the prefabricated hut that housed the science laboratory.  Smithy, who-ever he was, had a strange approach to the present situation when directed to my child.  I wanted to find out more.

I mounted the five steps into the temporary building and stepped into the laboratory.

A vast blackboard was spread across the far end of the hut.  It showed Earth and her orbit, together with our moons orbit in relationship with the sun.  Like one gigantic time chart depicting our present solar system, and displayed in multi color chalks it clearly showed the position of earth, month by month until December.

I stood, mouth agape at the drawing wishing I had never set foot inside the building,

Earth had become a huge ball of fire mid December and there was nothing after that.

A ginger haired young man startled me as he asked, “Can I help you?”

I turned, “Mr Smith, or as my son says, Smithy?”

The young man smiled.  “It`s actually Smit, Professor Smit of Stellenbosch University, I am a geo-physicist.”

I could have easily lost him among the junior scholars of the Primary School and his introduction left me hopping on one foot.

“Oh! Sorry Professor, I was ill informed.  My son Jeremy is one of the pupils here in the science lab. Do you remember him?”

A smile lit the young mans face.  “Jeremy, of course, he is a star pupil and showing signs of becoming one of our most prominent geologists.”

“Geologists, he is barely nine years old.”

The young man raised a finger. “Age doesn`t come into the Equation when it comes to intelligence Mr…er..”

“Granger, Geoffrey Granger, I`m at Westville.  I teach geophysics.”

His face lit up. “Of course, I remember you.  You wrote a paper on terrestrial magnetism in Saudi Arabia, when was that…”

I smiled.  “A long time ago, but it did help find the oil fields in the Middle East if you remember, those sedimentary basins.”

He clasped my hand.  It was warm and friendly.  “So how can I help you?”  he asked.

“To be honest, I believe you are teaching my son, and probably countless others, information regarding our Earths present position that could be detrimental to their sanity.”

Smits forehead furrowed.  “Sanity?”

“This Mayan Calendar stuff, and you`ve even brought Icarus into the story.  Do you think for one moment that information like that can in any way at all help a science student. Its enough to frighten a kid to death.”

Smit slowly walked towards the huge blackboard, stopping where Earth was shown enveloped by flames.  “Sometimes the truth hurts Mr. Granger.On the other hand, to be fore warned is to be fore armed, I have prepared every one of my students for the worst and at the same time illustrated that science can solve most problems in the Universe.”

“Science?”

“Check the temperature gradient of Earth on this chart.  Its August now, see what it is estimated in October.  68.degrees Celsius. Unless we all go underground, there is not a soul that can survive temperatures of that magnitude.”

I gasped. “Then what?”

Outside in the main school hall I heard the kids singing “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.”  The devastation and death of millions of  souls came to mind.  Was this really the end?

 A lump came up in my throat and I wanted to cry in sheer desperation .

“Why  God …Oh  why…How could you allow this to happen.?”

“Plutonium.”

Professor Smit brought me back to my senses.  “Plutonium?”

“I have it on good authority that calculations have already been made with regard to the placement of an atomic structure that will blast Earth back into its original orbit.”

“WHAT?”

“Ah yes, dear Granger, don`t think for one moment that our boffins are sitting twiddling their thumbs. They have a plan, and providing that there is enough plutonium available, they are Hell bent into blowing this tired old Earth of ours back into its original orbit.”

I remained speechless for several seconds.  “You mean an atomic explosion?”

“Precisely, Granger.  It will be the reciprocal to the disaster that occurred in the Antarctic, and naturally placed within the North Polar region.The equivalent to a hundred million tons of T.N.T.”

I immediately felt quite sick.  “Isn`t there a possibility that an atomic explosion like that could wipe out Earth itself?”

Smit smiled a wily smile. “Isn`t there a possibility that we could all burn to death in less than two months?”

 Cycling back to my flat I bought a newspaper.  They are only published twice a week now.  The headline caught my eye. Drilling begun in Novosibirsk.

I turned to Jeremy who was paging through his homework.  “See that Jeremy, bet you don`t know where that place is.”

Jeremy took a cursory glance. “Novosibirsk?”  he said.  “That’s in Siberia, right up in the Polar Region, its on the river Ob and the last stop on the Trans Siberian Railroad.”

I gasped.  “Who told you that one?”

“Smithy.”

We rode on in silence.  Mainly, because it had become too much of an effort to speak  Afternoon temperatures were in the forties, and I knew that they were scheduled to go even higher. We both showered ourselves down as soon as we got home.  I paged the news and then the adverts.  It was obvious that a form of panic was spreading across South Africa.  An unprecedented terror spelling out the awful truth.

 

“DIE OR FRY.”  As one advert put it. Use EVERSLEEP. The tablet that will ease you gently into the next world.  A morphine coated pill that lulls you to sleep and allows the potassium cyanide to do its work quickly.  Pack of four. R600.00

“Oh God.”I thought.  “I hope it never comes to that.”

 

 

OCTOBER 21st 2012.

 

COUNT DOWN.

Neither myself of Jeremy have ventured out of the flat for six days. People are dying

of heat exhaustion in the streets, and mid-day the temperature is usually around 60.C.

It rained the other night, instantly killing most birds in our area.  A problem, because the bird carcasses are rotting everywhere, and the side walks have become impassable.

Mostly we both lie flat on our backs on top of the bed, and take turns to replenish our water bottle.  Food is also running short, but I have had the presence of mind to buy

essentials that will keep indefinitely.  Sardines and beans have become our main diet.

Not a good combination, but nourishing to a degree.

We had another communication blackout last week.  It lasted three days as predicted and we are due for another tomorrow. 

I am writing this last brief today and will place it in the canister together with some other valuable information and some trinkets (Wedding ring, drivers license, identity document, passport, and last will and testament.)  This canister has been specially designed to withstand temperatures far beyond ones that might occur as Earth, in its Hell driven orbit, nears the sun on or around December 21st 2012. 

Countdown for the worlds most massive explosion has already begun.  Novosibirsk

and four million inhabitants of that area have been evacuated.

All we have to do is wait until tomorrow, zero hour.

Perhaps it was a little late for me to read my bible and especially Revelations last night.  It`s pretty clear to me that we are to be consumed by fire.  I have already given Jeremy full instructions on what to do when the time comes.

 

May God have mercy on all our souls.

 

PS.  I just hope that those EVERSLEEP tablets work…

 

 

Geoffrey Kennell©

 

 

END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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