Starganauts

Excerpt from Chapter 1: "Apocalypse"

been lost, or the tragedy of losing all that she had known.  She simply felt numb.  Her clenched fingers loosened limply from Sharko’s.  The room, Nancy, James, the Taylors, and even her husband faded from her mind.  The world felt empty and static.  Only the shuttle’s sudden lurch as it entered the thermosphere interrupted her reverie.

     Kaity blinked, trying feebly to stop the tears that were flowing down her face.   In that single blink, Earth was lost from view.  The exterior of the shuttle burst into flames.  Her last image of Earth was through fire, enveloped in pink, the black object of destruction lingering to deliver its final payload of devastation. 

     She had lost her parents.  She had lost her home.  It was too much for Kaity to bear, and she merely sat, numbed with the apathy of shock.  Fire gave way to shadow.  The space shuttle shot out from the thermosphere, and the end of the world had come.  Their journey into space had begun, and they would be leaving the naked rock which had once been Earth far, far behind.

     Kaity watched in fascinated horror as it wiped out every shred of vegetation, animal life, and civilization in its path.  She gazed, unable to look away despite her heart desperately wishing to.  The wall of death smashed into Vogul Bay, leaving nothing in its wake but bare, stripped earth.  Just like that, her hometown was gone.  The shuttle was climbing away from it, but Kaity could steadily see more of Earth.  She stared numbly as the wave of energy continued spreading.  Details faded from her vision, but as they neared the thermosphere, she saw that every inch of Earth was shrouded in the killing substance.

     There was no time to process the utter destruction happening before her eyes.  Kaity was incapable of considering the true depth of what had

     The Tower’s ceiling hatch retracted. With a roar, the engines kicked in.  The entire space shuttle vibrated, the porthole windows filled with smoke, and then they were soaring upward.  Out of the gantry the shuttle zoomed, rocketing into the storm clouds with such incredible speed that the force pushed Kaity back against her seat.  Her vision blackened slightly.  She reached for Sharko’s comforting hand, fingers clamping on with frightened desperation as they zoomed upward, climbing at an insane velocity.

     The smoke cleared, and from the porthole, some distance away, she could clearly see the black object.  Completely vertical to the ground, it hovered against the fading horizon, ominous and dark.  The pinkish glow was brighter now, and as she watched, a solid beam of energy shot out from the barrel of the object.  It struck earth, sending shockwaves through the ground for several miles.  The energy almost seemed to coalesce right beneath the object, and walls of pinkish plasma shot forth in every direction.  Not an inch was spared as the substance rippled outward.  It enveloped the entire area, growing and moving faster and faster, racing across sea and land, over mountains and under bridges, with equal ferocity.

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