Starganauts

Excerpt from Chapter 2: "Apocalypse"

      Kaity watched in fascinated horror as the walls of plasma swept through the landscape. Their unquenchable fury 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. The shuttle was still climbing away from it. As Kaity’s field of vision increased, she could see more of the world she once called home. The wave of energy continued spreading. Details faded from her vision, but as they neared the thermo-sphere, she saw every inch of Earth shrouded in the murderous substance.

      She had no time to process the utter destruction

happening before her eyes. Kaity was too numb to consider the depth of what was being lost, or the tragedy of losing all she’d ever known. She slouched in the chair, her clenched fingers loosening limply from Sharko’s. The walls, windows, seats, and people—even Sharko—faded from view. The world felt empty and static. Only the shuttle’s sudden lurch as it entered the thermosphere interrupted her reverie.

      Kaity blinked, trying in vain to stop the tears flowing down her face. In that single blink, the exterior of the shuttle burst into flames. Earth faded from view. Her last image of home was through fire, enveloped in pink, the black object of destruction lingering above the planet like an insatiable vulture.

      She had lost her parents. She had lost her home. It was too much for Kaity to handle. The apathy of shock held her captive as fire outside the porthole gave way to shadow. The space shuttle shot out from the thermosphere. The end of the world was complete. Their journey into space had begun, and they were leaving the naked rock which had once been Earth far, far behind.

      Out of the gantry the shuttle zoomed, rocketing into the storm clouds with such incredible speed that the force pushed Kaity against her seat. Her vision blackened. She reached for Sharko’s comforting hand, fingers clamping on with frightened desperation as they zoomed upward. Their craft climbed out of the smoke at an intense velocity.

      From the porthole and some distance away, Kaity beheld the dreaded, 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, pummeling the ground like an impacting comet. The energy seemed to coalesce right beneath the object, and shockwaves of pinkish plasma spread in every direction. Not an inch was spared as the substance rippled outward. It enveloped everything around Shoreside Road, growing and moving faster, racing across sea and land, over mountains and under bridges, with equal voracity.