Two Seconds From Forever

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Fire in the Sky

At first glance, I thought the light falling from the sky was some sort of optical illusion brought on by a combination of my in-flight meal laboriously digesting in my belly, and the double-shot of night-time cold medicine I’d gulped down just before the dinner. The sky outside my window suddenly transformed from the darkening purple of a typical mid-west twilight, to a beautiful albeit terrifying burnt orange. I watched the clouds at fifty thousand feet part like waves split by a speedboat, as an enormous fireball cut through the earth’s atmosphere, plummeting toward the ground far below my flight. For a moment, I was lost for the words to comprehend–let alone describe–what I was witnessing.

“The end of everything as we know it,” the stranger seated next to me muttered; his voice calm like a lazy stream.

“What do you mean,” I asked absently, watching the fireball streak through the low ceiling of storm-clouds. “What was that?”

“That, my friend, was World-War-Three begun. They actually pushed the button.”

My heart imploded. I stopped breathing, and my dinner lurched up my esophagus. “It can’t be. We’re America! No one attacks us! I’m not re–”

‘Not ready’ is what I wanted to say, but never spoke another word on that side of life’s veil. The flash was blinding, deafening and silent.