If I Were the Last Man Alive

It was nearly two hundred and fifty thousand years before the birth of Christ. If a calendar were kept in space, it would have been marked with red circle to commemorate the momentous event taking place. The explosion of radiation that accompanied the quasar began its long trek across the empty universe, expanding and strengthening as radioactive material burned.

As the behemoth raged through galaxies, it vaporized all solid matter in its wake. Space metals, unknown on Earth for millennia to come, disappeared in the blink of an eye as the massive wave brightened and grew hotter. At its core, it burned hotter than a hundred suns. The solar, radioactive wave traveled nearly the speed of light, bending the rules of time and distance as it ate its way across space.

A time would come when this star-eating mass would reach its zenith and begin to ebb. During the reign of Nero, the energy field began to draw into itself, curling at the edges as it fought against the gravitational field that accompanied it. By the time an Italian named Columbus crossed the Atlantic, the massive wave was well into its death rattle, contracting into a mass roughly the size of Jupiter. It would evolve into a simple energy field that affected relatively few forms of matter. Metals and most solids, were unaffected. But softer carbon life forms still suffered from its monstrous solar radiation.

When it reached Jupiter it had shrunken to just slightly larger than Earth, still undetectable with conventional telescopes or satellites.

On the day it became visible to scientists on Earth, it was much too late.

6:41AM; Hawaii Time Zone

The 4,200 meter high summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii houses the world's largest observatory for optical, infrared and sub millimeter astronomy. The Observatories at Mauna Kea are an independent collection of astronomical research facilities located on the summit of Mauna Kea, on the Big Island of Hawaii. The facilities are located in a 500-acre special land use zone known as the "Astronomy Precinct," which is located in the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.

The atmosphere above the mountain is extremely dry, which is crucial for infrared and sub millimeter observations, and cloud-free, so that the proportion of clear nights is among the highest in the world. The exceptional stability of the atmosphere above Mauna Kea permits more detailed studies than are possible elsewhere, while its distance from city lights and a strong island-wide lighting ordinance ensure an extremely dark sky. A tropical inversion cloud layer about 600 meters thick, well below the summit, isolates the upper atmosphere from the lower moist maritime air and ensures that the summit skies are pure, dry, and free from atmospheric pollutants.

The observatory is staffed mostly by a cornucopia of university students, representing a virtual United Nations, working out internships on the way to graduation. During the night shift, the telescope arrays pick up breathtaking views of space, providing scientists tiny hints into the nature of deep space.

Once the quasar passed through Mars, it became almost visible to the observatory instruments. The field changed the view of space, once it reached the telescopes but the problem with an energy field traveling at the speed of light, is that it keeps pace with its own shadow. The computer enhanced images arrived on the screens at Mauna Kea Observatory only seconds before the radiation bands.

The event was over faster than alarms could be raised. The dying quasar fully surrounded the planet in under two seconds. Twenty-two minutes later all traces of it were gone. For twenty-one minutes and fifty-eight seconds, every Geiger counter on Earth pegged its needle far into the red, then drifted back to normal.

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Story tagged with:
Romance / Drama / Spiritual / Post Apocalyptic / Novel-Classic /