From Chapter One…
The six core members of Denver Association entered the underground complex and laid claim to the rooms designated to them. Leo called for a meeting at 2:30pm. They met in the complex’s kitchen. Leo, Barbara, Tim, and Wes stood around a marble island. Charles and Rachel sat on stools nearby. They shared a small glass of red wine.
“I am ready to start this journey with all of you. I hope you found your rooms as you’d like?” Leo asked.
“Yes. Just as expected,” Charles said.
“Enjoy yourselves this evening. But indulge lightly. We truly celebrate after the strike,” Barbara said.
Charles raised his glass, “To us.”
The party in Leo’s garage was well underway when the Denver Assoc. ascended to ground level. Attendees were enjoying the reduced price of drinks and the quick rate of entry. Leo walked into the garage, greeted the first wave of guests, and headed to the bar to serve drinks for a while. The TV in the back caught his eye. Actually, it caught everyone’s eye.
“Reports are coming in from the National Observatory that a large asteroid is probably going to strike Earth in mere hours. NASA is flustered and confused that they haven’t seen it before,” A female reporter said. Her eyes spoke of absolute fear.
The bar went silent. The DJ stopped the music and looked at Leo. For a moment, Leo expected absolute panic. Leo whirled his fingers to get the music going again. The DJ nodded and searched for an appropriate track: “It’s the End of the World as We Know it” by R.E.M. A group of women quickly ran outside. Leo heard several car doors close and the squeal of tires as moms left for home. A few guys followed suit, but the majority of people remained, satisfied to finish their visit to the bar. They would have some time after.
Leo checked his watch. 4:15pm. T-minus 4 hours until a world restart. A tap on his shoulder had Leo turn around surprised. A woman, not much older than him, with auburn hair and spectacles looked at him with glee.
“Are you Leo?”
“I am. And I have the displeasure of not knowing who you are.”
“My name is Andrea. My father was Dr. Martin Nomed.”
Leo felt his knees cave in. He steadied himself against the edge of the bar and twitched out a smile.
“You worked for my father, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did.”
Leo could see a shimmer of pure hatred under those spectacled eyes. He told his mind to be calm, but a repressed image floated up.
10 Years earlier…
The observatory at Mount Hope was renowned throughout the world for its always current equipment and experienced scientists. Doctor Martin Nomed was currently in his fourth year as the lead scientist. Throughout his career, Dr. Nomed had already identified several space objects that potentially could alter history. During many of his studies, Dr. Nomed had found bits of crystals and other matter that shifted the timeline of the universe’s start a billion years. He always wished he could touch those crystals.
“Professor!” Leo called.
“In here, my boy! I’ve found another asteroid. This one is huge!” Dr. Nomed said.
Leo approached the work station, admiring the doctor’s tenacity for research.
“May I see it?”
Dr. Nomed stepped aside, “Please look!”
Through the enormous telescope, Leo could clearly see elements of the asteroid. It looked beautiful, shining like an angel. Leo backed up.
“I’m afraid, Leo, that this piece may be headed for earth.” Dr. Nomed took his seat.
“What do your calculations tell you?”
“This event will destroy the entire North American continent and rain dust and ashes on the rest of the planet!”
“What can be done?”
“NASA can try to destroy it or push it off course, but I fear that is unlikely. An asteroid of this size is unstable. It has a 1 in 5 chance to hit the earth.”
The next week, Dr. Nomed called Leo to his office.
“Will you read over this article for me? It’s about Denver,” Dr. Nomed said.
Leo took hold of the paper and perused through the well written article. It was filled with scientific jargon Leo would never know, but he focused on the phrase Impact from this object would create an incredible shift in the world we know today.
“Very well written, sir.”
“I’ll be posting it at the end of this week.”
Leo left the office. “No, you won’t.”
“Can I offer you a drink, Andrea?”
Leo turned to the bar selection.
“Sure, tequila. And maybe an explanation?”
Leo nearly dropped the bottle as he turned.
“Tell me my father’s last words before he died.”
“He said to me, ‘this event will change the world for the worse.'”
“That’s the last thing he said to you?”
Leo nodded, pouring Andrea a shot of tequila.
Andrea took the glass, tilted it back, and felt the cool fire burn down her throat.
“So what are your plans now that the world is about to end?” Andrea eyed the bottle.
Leo poured another shot. “Enjoy the party. That’s all there is.”
Andrea took the shot. She wiped her mouth. “Too bad my father didn’t see it coming.”
“Too bad.” Leo replied.
“Hey there, bartender. Can I have a refill?” Barbara asked.
“Jamison?” Leo smiled. He jerked his eyes towards Andrea.
“Jamison,” Barbara nodded.
“You must be Barbara,” Andrea said, “Leo told me so much about you.”
“Oh, did he?” Barbara smiled.
“Well, not really, but he didn’t have to. I researched everything I needed on my own. Must be in the genetics. Thanks, Dr. Nomed.”
Barbara suddenly felt very drunk. She looked at Leo, who was clearly very upset.
“I heard about this underground bunker you have. There’s two options for you here. Take me down there with you or I tell everyone here about it. Enough food for a hundred people?” Andrea smiled.
Leo felt for the pistol below the bar.
“Why don’t we talk about this someplace quiet? I can barely hear you,” Leo said.
“So you can knock me off like you did my dad?” Andrea said.
Barbara squeezed her eyes and opened them wide. She lost the drunk vision, and was now only frustrated that plans were running askew. She looked around at the partygoers. She pulled the knife from her waistband and held it at Andrea’s gut.
“Don’t you want to know who told me about your plans?” Andrea grinned.