Author : Christopher Kueffner
â€œI thought you didnâ€™t smoke,â€ she asked.
â€œI did, and I quit,â€ he replied through a bluish cloud, â€œbut it seems an appropriate time to pick up the habit again.â€
â€œReally,â€ she drew the word out as if stretching it like taffy. â€œThat could very well be the most ridiculous statement Iâ€™ve ever heard from you, and thatâ€™s saying something.â€ She got out of the bed and walked over to the kitchenette. She filled a glass with water and drank it, unworried by her nakedness.
The man, also naked, took another drag from his cigarette. â€œA cigarette after sex is nice.â€ He contemplated the little pillar of ash at its end. â€œIâ€™ve found something.â€
â€œOh?â€ She absently picked a feather from the bed off of her right breast.
â€œOh, come on,â€ she sniffed. â€œEver since that asteroid missed us a couple of years ago, everybodyâ€™s talking about asteroids.â€ She sat down on the edge of the bed and handed him the glass. He sipped, looked fondly at her body and handed the glass back to her.
â€œWell, I found one, nevertheless.â€ He stubbed out the cigarette in a saucer on the nightstand. He leaned over and kissed her side where the waistband of pants would normally be. He kissed his way up her ribcage.
â€œWhat was it called, Aprophis or something?â€ she asked.
â€œApophis was the one that just barely missed us in 2029,â€ he stopped kissing her body and lay back. â€œThis one is not Apophis; itâ€™s a different one.â€
â€œWhat, is it going to hit us or something?â€
â€œWell, yes.â€ He drew another cigarette out of the pack.
â€œYouâ€™re kidding, right?â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry, but Iâ€™m not.â€ He lit the cigarette and dragged deeply on it.
She put the water glass on the nightstand and rested her hand on his chest. â€œWhat will it do? They said that last one, Aprophis, I mean Apophis, would have wiped out a big city.â€
â€œYes, but life on Earth would have continued. This one gives every appearance of being bigger, denser and faster.â€
â€œI thought they were looking out for these things,â€ she furrowed her brow, â€œI thought they had all these asteroids charted out.â€
â€œThereâ€™s an awful lot of space out there, and an awful lot of stuff flying around. The prevailing theory around the office is that this is a charted asteroid, but it got close enough to another one for its orbit to change.â€
â€œAround the office!â€ she blurted incredulously, â€œYou mean other people know about this?â€
â€œYes. Weâ€™ve all checked and rechecked the data. The Director has been informed, too.â€
â€œSo the government knows, too,â€ she got up and grabbed the robe from its hook on the bathroom door. She wrapped it around her body and held it close as if it were woven of asteroid-proof cotton. She looked at him again. â€œYouâ€™re not bullshitting me, are you?â€ Her tone had acquired a bewildered, accusatory edge.
â€œNo,â€ he shook his head and sat up.
â€œWell, what are they doing about it?â€
â€œIâ€™m not sure anything can be done. There wouldnâ€™t be much point, other than to cause mass hysteria.â€
â€œYou mean they canâ€™t shove it out of the way or dig some shelters underground?â€ She paced and gestured sharply with her hands.
â€œNot in six hours, no.â€ He put out the cigarette. â€œWould you take that robe off and come here?â€