Author : Christopher Kueffner

“I thought you didn’t smoke,” she asked.

“I did, and I quit,” he replied through a bluish cloud, “but it seems an appropriate time to pick up the habit again.”

“Really,” she drew the word out as if stretching it like taffy. “That could very well be the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard from you, and that’s saying something.” 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. “A cigarette after sex is nice.” He contemplated the little pillar of ash at its end. “I’ve found something.”

“Oh?” She absently picked a feather from the bed off of her right breast.



“An asteroid.”

“Oh, come on,” she sniffed. “Ever since that asteroid missed us a couple of years ago, everybody’s talking about asteroids.” 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.

“Well, I found one, nevertheless.” 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.

“What was it called, Aprophis or something?” she asked.

“Apophis was the one that just barely missed us in 2029,” he stopped kissing her body and lay back. “This one is not Apophis; it’s a different one.”

“What, is it going to hit us or something?”

“Well, yes.” He drew another cigarette out of the pack.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“I’m sorry, but I’m not.” He lit the cigarette and dragged deeply on it.

She put the water glass on the nightstand and rested her hand on his chest. “What will it do? They said that last one, Aprophis, I mean Apophis, would have wiped out a big city.”

“Yes, but life on Earth would have continued. This one gives every appearance of being bigger, denser and faster.”

“I thought they were looking out for these things,” she furrowed her brow, “I thought they had all these asteroids charted out.”

“There’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.”

“Around the office!” she blurted incredulously, “You mean other people know about this?”

“Yes. We’ve all checked and rechecked the data. The Director has been informed, too.”

“So the government knows, too,” 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. “You’re not bullshitting me, are you?” Her tone had acquired a bewildered, accusatory edge.

“No,” he shook his head and sat up.

“Well, what are they doing about it?”

“I’m not sure anything can be done. There wouldn’t be much point, other than to cause mass hysteria.”

“You mean they can’t shove it out of the way or dig some shelters underground?” She paced and gestured sharply with her hands.

“Not in six hours, no.” He put out the cigarette. “Would you take that robe off and come here?”

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