Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on certain days.
For people in the United States, they remember September 11th, 2001, an attack that shook a nation.
In the United Kingdom, everyone remembers March 19th, 2022, the day their last and perhaps greatest Queen passed away in peace.
For the people of South Korea, it was December 1st, 2019. The day that the Kim regime of their northern antagonists and brothers collapsed and chaos gripped a peninsula.
Each of them a worthy note in history, but never truly impactful in the great string that was existence. After all, everything that lives must eventually end, but not something anyone ever really likes talking about. Even planet Earth, shining blue oasis in the void, was doomed after a few billion more years.
At least, that’s what was supposed to happen. But on June 9th, 2023, that all changed.
That day had a lot of names assigned to it when it happened: “The Day of the Second Sun”, “International Illumination Day”, “A Day Against All Odds”. Those were the nicer ones. The more common ones were simpler; “Doomsday”, “Ragnarok”, “The Second Coming of God”, and such. But it was a day that no one could deny as fiction. A day that everyone on Earth could remember.
On that day, which had been predicted for decades, the massive interstellar rock known as Comet X381977, or “Martha’s Comet”, slammed into Jupiter. It was supposed to be a moment of scientific marvel, as humans had never seen an object the size of our own Moon crash into the massive gas giant. NASA gathered up its pennies and got its highest-end probe, the Aldrin 1 in place weeks before hand to gather every tidbit they could, and they weren’t alone. The Russians, the European Space Agency, the Chinese and the Japanese all had something in orbit around the gas-ball in time. And they weren’t wrong, it was a scientific jackpot. It was data that careers and lifetimes would be built upon.
And then Martha’s Comet hit, and in less than an hour, the planet we knew as Jupiter was gone.
At that moment and in the days that followed, the world was both in awe and panic, as suddenly, there was no such thing as night. Whatever that rock was made out of, it succeeded in igniting Jupiter’s atmosphere into a second star, an act that was thought impossible by science until it happened anyway. All those years studying the many moons of Jupiter, all those theories about what may be possible to mine or even colonize just on the other side of the Asteroid Belt was gone, flash fried and melted or sucked down into an interstellar furnace.
But the most damning impact of all hit us only a month later, and it was a double whammy. The uppercut was the frightening theory that the Van Allen belt, that nurturing blanket of radiation that helped shield the Earth from the never-ending barrage of solar power, was being shoved away. Now everything that was in orbit, from communications to geo-location was going to feel the wrath of extra radiation and solar particles they were never built to deal with. The mere prospect of losing the internet was a world-wide blender of economic crashes, destruction and deaths.
And that wasn’t even the worst part. The real nail in the coffin came from the simple fact that Jupiter, as large as it was, was never meant to be a star, and so never had enough fuel to sustain such a reaction. Even a month later, it was already measuring a few hundred kilometers bigger and a few hundred degrees cooler, not to mention the shifting reddish tint. In just five years, humanity would have a front row seat to watch the Earth get swallowed whole, even though it would be a burnt up rock long before then. And all that assumed the change in gravity didn’t pull the Moon down on our heads.
So, we faced a choice of such magnitude that nothing that had come before it even seemed relevant: Do we come together as a species and try and save ourselves from certain death, or was the human raced damned by its own stubbornness and inability to cooperate and overcome even basic ideologies?
The real answer should have been obvious: Both and Neither.
This is the start of an idea that will likely be a NaNo entry someday. Somewhere between “The Martian” or “Interstellar”, the story of if and how we can save ourselves from extinction, and the real level of what it would take to get some people to actually talk to each other.
I hope you all enjoy.