The world paused at precisely 23:15.49 GMT when a deafening shock-wave impacted Earth’s distal hemisphere. Those out and about were knocked to their knees; windows shattered; news reports trickled in of a greater than normal occurrence of SIDS; and many of the infirm and elderly suffered fatally under its onslaught. For the most part, aircraft weathered the sonic storm; some sensitive experiments were destroyed.
All resources were brought to bear on the phenomenon. Analysis was applied to seismographs, an epicenter determined—but no cause. Ground crews discovered nothing at the epicenter, and telescopes as well as the ISS reported nothing above. More amazingly, no one claimed responsibility; even the encrypted chatter channels were filled with speculation only. As night fell again, the world braced itself. And at precisely 23:13.26 GMT a second deafening shock-wave impacted the distal hemisphere of Earth, with essentially the same force as the first.
The ISS did not fare as well this second attack, finding itself in the path of the shock-wave—though still no source could be detected. Emergency supplies were shuttled to it immediately, to help re-stabilize its orbit and freshen seams that had been designed for the solar wind and tidal stresses. Now every cryptologist/cryptanalyst and aspiring hobbyist thereof was on the case, with theories ranging from (of course) God’s wrath, to (of course) aliens, to (perhaps more interestingly, if no more plausibly) a pulsar going supernova. The most popularly accepted notion was that the Earth was flying through some fine stellar debris, which would almost account for the clockwork of the phenomenon. One nut-job went so far as to “decode” the signals into human speech—English, in fact. He claimed that the first wave was the phrase: “A one”, the second: “A two-HOO”.
The next night everyone once again braced for impact (with flights grounded, the infirm in elastic hammocks). Nobody bothered trying to replace shattered windows, cellophane and duct tape being the extent of personal damage control. A certain segment of Earth’s population lifted their lighters for the sure-to-come sonic onslaught of God the Rock Star.
At precisely 23:19.53 GMT, the Earth was once more buffeted by a brief sonic assault. The nut-job was able to quickly run his filters to determine for himself, and his followers, that the sound was indeed: “A three”. And at precisely 23:22.17 GMT, the world was cracked in half as if by a giant beak—one half disappearing straight into nothingness, the other half surrendering to forces no thin bubble of habitation was meant to suffer.
How many galactic civilizations does it take to cut straight to the core of a planet? The Earth may never know.
© Kaolin Fire
Kaolin Fire is a conglomeration of ideas, side projects, and experiments. Outside of his primary occupation, he also develops computer games, edits Greatest Uncommon Denominator Magazine, and very occasionally teaches computer science. He has had short fiction published in Strange Horizons, Murky Depths, Crossed Genres, and M-Brane SF, among others. http://www.erif.org/
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