We all cheered when the jets arrived. So fast, but not fast enough. It was all over the news, reports of meteorites striking all the big cities in South America, then it started on the East Coast of North America. Each time the same. Right before sunrise and contrails appear in the sky, fingers pointing in judgment.
Simple, in hindsight. Aliens. Looking back, there couldn’t be any other explanation. No one from down here had any presence up there in space to pull off something this coordinated. Complacent was the word used to describe what we’d become when it came to matters of the final frontier. The aliens didn’t need fancy weapons. All the ammunition they needed floated in orbit around the sun in our own solar system. They were throwing our own rocks at us.
But we hoped it would be different when the jets arrived, three, in tight formation. The two wing pilots peeled off as the lead jet streaked toward the tip of the extending contrail. A missile dropped then shot forward toward the target. As fast as it was, it wasn’t enough. The meteorite raced passed the oncoming missile as if it were standing still.
Our cheering turned to screams. The meteorite charged down. One of the jets, now directly over the center of the city, flew directly up, launching missiles straight toward the cosmic hunk of iron. In the brightness of the flashes we couldn’t tell what happened, but the whole ball of smoke and debris continued on its inevitable course, stabbing deep into the heart of the city. The jets disappeared in the fireball as the spires of glass and metal dissolved in the growing conflagration.
I can’t remember now which came first, after the enormous flash of light, the ground shook, a blast of wind knocked me over, and all sound washed away in the torrent. The devastation extended miles from the city, even as far as the foothills from where we watched the end of the world. While the planet survived, as did pockets of humanity, the world we knew ended that day. All of the big cities around the globe were gone, along with any population center over 50,000 people. Gone. Cratered and busted up by leftovers, the junk from the formation of our solar system.