By Mark Antony Rossi
The STORMSTAR-4582 was a next generation ultra-high orbit weather satellite with the unique ability to capture stardust, tiny asteroid particles, meteor scatter, etc. Basically it could collect “weather” information from outer space as well as determine the meteorological trends forming below on Earth.
Like the Titanic, technological arrogance often gets its comeuppance and during the fifth month of the third year of the satellite’s mission its nuclear reactor began failing and there was no crack team of Apollo 13 engineers to develop a rescue plan.
The backup batteries died in less than forty eight hours halting the retro rockets which in turn allowed the satellite to decay in orbit. It was a dangerous game of falling dominoes. A failing satellite plunging through the atmosphere was not a rare occurrence. Most shrugged off the news since these objects disintegrate before reaching land or water.
What the average person did not know was STORMSTAR-4582 was no average sized satellite. This satellite was a massive machine nearly the length of a footfall field. It was launched in components which were assembled in space. A full one third of the satellite was devoted to collection and analysis of the space debris it was designed to capture.
STORMSTAR-4582 was not going to simply burn up in the upper atmosphere. Without power it could not be guided to crash into a white artic wasteland or blue ocean expanse. The satellite was falling fast out of orbit and uninfluenced by anything humanity could say or do. The trajectory was plotted by NASA which immediately notified the government of Australia its outback was going to be devastated by a giant nuclear powered satellite built to survive twenty five years of deep space conditions.
Naturally the Aussies were not pleased and they bitterly complained about having to evacuate an area the size of New York in less than two hours. NASA officials were not sympathetic since the area contained very few people. The joke at Cape Canaveral was they cared more about bouncing kangaroos than hillbilly campers. Whatever the trampled sensibilities the White House felt they dodged a bullet because this crash would harm very few people if any at all. A large military clean up crew and a handful of death benefits should wrap up the matter in a few weeks. The public would soon forget and focus on movies and fashion models.
Their predictions were right on the money. The satellite hit the outback desert like a lightning bolt thrown from Thor himself. It created a giant crater and tossed super heated sand crystals thousands of feet in every direction. These crystals became speeding shards of glass penetrating the air and everything they met. A drunken camper who ignored the initial warnings on his weather radio was hit in the upper shoulder. The power of the impact was such that it knocked him ten feet back. His breathing was erratic, his entire body ached, but there was barely any blood from the wound. The glass was so hot it immediately cauterized the wound.
The US military clean up crew found him drunk, dirty, burning with a high fever. It’s best to call him Patient X. Because he was first of many to become infected with a bacterial disease brought to Earth from the melted remains of STORMSTAR-4582 and the hundreds of stardust samples it collected for three years.
Humanity has been expecting an Alien Invasion for thousands of years. It never expected it would arrive at a microscopic level in such a mundane manner. We always imagined the better missile would save us from the monster. But now to our unexpected horror the better medicine is the best weapon against an extraterrestrial enemy threatening our extinction. The government projects Australia will be human-free in less than two months. All the animals have died except reptiles. Could their cold blood have a defense mechanism?
A medical ship is heading toward the coast to experiment with animals, vaccines and medications to find some answers and a possible cure. Our world has been invaded. Our people taken from us. We will never gaze at the heavens the same way again. Never.
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Mark Antony Rossi's fiction has appeared Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Death Throes, Deep South Journal, Flash Fiction, On The Rusk, The Sacrificial and a few other worthly publications.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
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