Archive for Oort Cloud

Charles’s Job Part III

Posted in Climate Change, Natural Disasters, Risk & Fear with tags , , , on March 31, 2010 by Conor

As the warmth from the water has loosened up his joints, so also did it loosen his memories allowing them to fall back into the vaults of recollection. He opened his drawers and stared down at his clean clothes.

“How about we mix it up today. I’m thinking, gray.” He reached down and picked up one of his three identical shirts, each the color of cigarette ash. As Charles pulled it over his head he walked into the observatory. Every time Charles walked into the observatory, he felt like he was walking onto the bridge of the Enterprise. There weren’t any windows, but three enormous screens covered the walls opposite the entryway. The monitor to the far left was on, but was completely blank, showing only black. The center monitor was cut neatly in half, the lower section a mottled blue, white, and gray, while the upper section was a roiling, gaseous, dark gray and black. This monitor was currently viewing the glacier that sat just above the bunker and also the sky just above it. The far right monitor showed a view of stumps, all black and jagged. Acres of hills covered with these ashy, sharpened shadows of a once lush environment, like the short bristled hair of a cancer patient in remission. He went to the station for the far left screen and selected input four. Instantly the black vanished, replaced by a frothy expanse of water, as dark and ominous as the sky it shared a horizon with. This was the window through which he had watched, fifty years ago, as the four horsemen rode down from the sky upon their flaming frozen chariot. Death decimated the denizens of Earth, from Dijon to Denmark, delivering devastatingly destabilizing vibrations directed through every diameter of the Earth destroying foundations and felling buildings. Pestilence’s particles flew ‘round the earth perforating lungs, plunging people into paroxysms of sputum spewing coughs. Famine salted our earth by shrouding our Earth, fumes and phosphorous flying furiously, full-blown and unfurling from France to Fairbanks. War was late. War drug its well-worn heels, wielding its great weapon of wanton opportunism and willful wasting of life and blood.

The comet, christened Iblis by the astronomer who spotted it and plotted its course, lived in the Haley-family of comets, and was pulled out of the Oort Cloud and towards the inner solar system. Since Charles had been locked down there, he’d had a lot of time to study up on his astrophysics. While he couldn’t do the math, the theories (outside of black holes) made enough sense. Yet, as much sense as it made to him, on all his computer projections and actual data recorded by satellites and scientists in the months afterwards, the chance of it still haunted him. Some passing asteroid, or transient astral body had to swing through the Oort Cloud and pull Iblis out of that silent riot of ice and stone in quiet space to come hurtling into the solar system. While traveling in, slowly moving towards the largest gravity well (Sol) it had to not hit a single other planet, or meteor, or asteroid, or space alien, and transect the orbital path of the Earth at the perfect moment to smash into Europe and hit the special reset button that gets bumped into every few million years. As far as Charles could tell, no one had ever bothered to calculate the odds. For that he was grateful.

The astronomer who discovered Iblis contacted NASA to let them know what he had just learned. In 13 months the planet would be changed forever. Some special group, some committee in some sterile room with calculators and computers and chrome and cold lighting decided that it wouldn’t be possible to save a community of full-grown people. That this cold committee, trained not to feel but only to think, could only guarantee the survival of one grown man for approximately 60 years. That was when they began to build his compound.