Ed Burrows couldn’t have felt worse.
The balding Director of the NSA had just undergone an intensive surgery to stop the massive internal bleeding. The doctors said he was going to be fine, and that the procedure had gone without incident. He couldn’t forget why he was here in the first place: only thirteen hours before, he had been playing LEGOs with his six-year-old son Daniel on their dining table. He had gotten a call from a good friend of his, George, an astronomer and amateur rocketeer who had said the equivalent of the classic ‘you’d better see this’ line after stating that it was an emergency.
George was a man of science, firm in his ideals, and unequivocally thorough in his studies. He was rarely ever flustered, so as soon as Ed heard his voice he knew it was serious. George claimed that he had been studying an anomalous asteroid that had recently been discovered, and had found conclusive evidence of three key facts. First, there was an object, two miles across, which was on a hyperbolic path that led it into a perfect rendezvous for low Earth orbit. Second, It was emitting forty or fifty times the thermal radiation of any asteroid ever seen, and was perfectly spherical. Third, it was actively slowing down.
These three facts would soon be known worldwide and repeated millions, if not billions of times. George said he didn’t know whom else to call, but he figured that Ed would want to know. At that moment, Ed noticed a silhouette at his window, too large to be on the sidewalk, which gave some kind of hand signal directed upwards. Just a second later, he heard the unmistakable sound of a demolition explosive go off. The ceiling buckled – and caved.
A large piece of a wooden rafter in the roof nailed him to the ground right where he had been standing, and the jagged broken edge of the four by eight lay on his stomach, and one sharp splinter quivered with the landing impact just inches from his jugular. He still had the phone to his ear, but the line must’ve cut off when the explosion went off. He was in excruciating pain, and he couldn’t hear anything at all. With a monumental effort, he dialed the president’s emergency number with the thumb that was still holding his phone, stated his name and position, and repeated the three facts he had learned, as well as George’s cell number into the receiver. Then he blacked out.––––––