Friday Five Word Challenge: 10

The other week, Ms Red Pen asked me to come up with the word for the 5-word challenge – the goal is to write a short story that incorporates five (more or less) random words.  The words I chose were: evolve, green, growth, knack, and rope.

Well, it’s pretty funny – I’d been thinking about those words all week, and what did I come up with?  Nada.  Then I read a story and tried to extrapolate that to a moment.


Kathy stared, still dumbfounded by the output.  She double-checked the parameters and ran it again.  Green lines of numbers cascaded down the screen.  The answer was the same.  She knew it would be – this had been the third time she’d reinitialized the calculation.  Fifty thousand miles per hour.  Three-hundred and twenty three million miles.  She blinked and it felt like a rope was tightening around her lungs.  She forced herself to breathe to try and calm herself.

The Pan-STARRS control room was empty but for her on a Sunday night.  Still she looked around.  How long until someone else confirmed her discovery?  A couple of days?  A week?  It didn’t really matter, did it?  She knew that she should call the Director, but she understood how this situation was likely to evolve: the call to NASA, the Pentagon, eventually the White House.  They’d want to keep it a secret.  Could they in this day and age?  Panic would swell and its growth would tax authorities’ abilities to keep order.

Kathy stood up.  Sat back down, heavily.  She’d originally gotten into astronomy because she wanted to study planetary origins.  She shook her head ruefully. Her brother had always said she had a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Well, with a Torino Scale “10” event in – what was 269 days? – nine months, there was no “right” place to be.  For anyone.

She should call now, she knew.  But she didn’t.  It could wait.  She walked out of the lab and into the balmy night air.

16 thoughts on “Friday Five Word Challenge: 10

  1. Very thought provoking. What would you do if you found out something like that? Hmmm… What would you do if you knew that all things would end on a certain day? It would certainly change everything. Everything.

    • Thanks RP — I was really stumped this week and then finished a book that had mentioned the Chixalub impact. That got me thinking about what’s that moment like when you discover the next one is coming.

  2. Do you think the scientists (whatever branch or type) would make it public knowledge? Would it get leaked by someone? What would society look like when the world was definitely doomed. I wonder. Would it be a better place for the remaining days or would it be a worse place? Hmmm… that may actually freak me out more than the impact itself.
    Yep. Thanks for the anxiety, Steve.

    • Did you ever see the movie “Deep Impact”? That was one where NASA types found out there was going to be an “ELE” — or Extinction Level Event. Part of the movie is the plucky investigative journalist that uncovers the cover-up. (The gov’t wanted to hide it to reduce panic).

      There’s also an interesting book called “Children of Men” in which mankind goes sterile. And it looks at a society that knows it’s the “last generation” — it settles into mostly apathy, with an anarchy chaser.

      Good times.

  3. Pingback: Making An Impact | Stevil

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