General Flash Fiction posted February 14, 2016


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Apocalypse

by RodG

Sunday, Monday, Doomsday... Contest Winner 

The smartest man on the planet stared at the grandfather clock he'd fashioned ages ago.  At 2:03 a.m., with high tide at its zenith, the apocalypse would begin.

Clemson Henshaw remained unsurprisingly calm.  He knew his blood pressure and pulse rate had not changed.  These "conditions," as he called them, he'd learned to control as a very young man.  He was fifty-two now.

What he could not control were the thoughts in his magnificent mind.  There was so much to think about.  His interests ranged from archaeology to zymurgy, but he'd been transfixed by space since boyhood.  In recent years his passion for the heavens had become an obsession.

Soon after making billions in a stock market no one understood as well as he, he bought an observatory which overlooked the Pacific coast.  He seldom left it anymore.

His few guests were renowned astronomers and astral-physicists because he had to know immediately any news about space exploration and discoveries.  A recent discovery had been his own.

He'd deliberately leaked the news to his "colleagues" that a ninth planet, far bigger than Earth, existed in the solar system.  But Clemson Henshaw had no ego.  Let others spread the word and claim the kudos.

As the news was heralded world-wide, hundreds of questions and responses followed.

What will they name it?  Where exactly is it?  Has it really been seen?  What does it look like?

An important question appeared periodically:  Is this planet any danger to Earth?

Only Clemson Henshaw knew the truth.  He chose not to share it.
*          *          *

"What you buildin' there, Clem?" his father asked.

"A telescope," said the nine-year-old.

"From what?  We got nothin' to build with.  Scraps is all."  The stoop-shouldered farmer glared at his son.  "You steal them parts somewhere?"

"No, Pa.  Got near everything from that old tractor rusting in the field yonder."

The boy's hands knew no bounds.  He loved to tinker and improvise, a milking machine his most recent innovation.

Father and son stood at the back of the old barn where two milk cows waited.  A book lay open on a pile of hay.

"That book much help?" Pa pointed.

"Yep.  Pictures show me where everything goes."

That evening Clemson Henshaw used his newly-made telescope to show his parents the moon close-up.  His mother's smile rivaled its brightness.  His father grinned.
*          *          *

Midnight.  Twelve long sonorous bongs.

Clemson's fingers skimmed the celestial charts he'd drawn and redrawn of the planet's orbit in relationship to Earth.  A swift glance acknowledged their accuracy.  His fast-moving mind paused on a memorable conversation he'd had with three experts regarding Pluto.

"Too small to be called a planet," they had said.  "We're going to demote it.  The IAU agrees with us."

"No call to do that.  Complicates things.  People who been told for years it's one don't want to be told it ain't so."

"Hmmmph," one scoffed.  "We find another--and we will--what do you think they'll do?"

"Worry," Henshaw muttered.  He didn't explain why.


Off his busy mind raced again.  Needing a distraction, he shambled to the huge window overlooking the rocky cove.  Below, giant waves crashed against great boulders.

"They'll only get bigger . . . day . . . by . . . day."  He whispered, fearing someone on his live-in staff would hear.

"People will blame El Niño.  They always do, but this time . . . they'll be wrong."

He stared at the black heavens laden with stars.

"Nibiru cometh."

Clemson Henshaw returned to his desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out a leather-bound journal he'd been keeping since his discovery of the giant planet's existence.  He read the first entry he'd scrawled months before.

It's there!  Gigantic though it can't be seen yet.  Likely we will never see it with naked eyes before it destroys us.

He flipped a page or two.

Confirmed its orbit will swing too close to Earth.

He began writing an un-dated entry on a blank page.

Speculation #1:  Its gravitational pull will be far greater than the moon's.  Humongous tides . . . soon earthquakes . . . tsunamis . . . volcanos.

Speculation #2:  Earth will survive . . . Mankind is doomed.


Grimacing, he shut the prophetic book. 

Writing Prompt
Write a flash fiction story up to 700 words that involves a doomsday scenario. Anything goes, but the end of the world, or its perception, must be a driving force in your story.

Sunday, Monday, Doomsday...
Contest Winner

Recognized


This picture is a painting of what the Ninth newly-discovered planet might look like. Many scientists say it is mostly gaseous, not solid like the Earth.

I know the title is not original, nor (thankfully) copywritten.

ZYMURGY: The branch of chemistry that deals with fermentation processes, as in brewing or wine-making.

Ninth planet--Google info. Much has been printed about its discovery since the beginning of this year.

IAU: International Astronomy Union which did officially demote Pluto.

El Nino--a condition in the Pacific Ocean which does cause weather patterns to shift, especially in North America.

Nibiru--(aka Planet X). For years a cult has claimed a yet-undiscovered planet would destroy the Earth when its orbit came too close. Some members say that the Apocalypse will happen April 15, 2016.

Disclaimer: This story makes no deliberate reference to the book of the Bible.

word count: 697 (Apple Pages)
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