The builder awoke sometime later on that night still sitting in the theater. He must have fallen asleep while scanning the channels for another one of his wife’s interviews. No one had come in to check on him or wake him up.
The television was still on. Sound came through the speakers seeming both loud and muffled to his sleep addled mind. Markoff blinked at the screen but could only make out shapes.
Suddenly a voice said: “Severe impact event.”
At first the builder thought that it was another meteor strike. He rubbed at his eyes until the picture came into focus. It was showed a live shot of the Johnson Space Center.
The woman who had been the one to interview his wife from the night before was shown standing outside the gates of the facility. She held a large microphone and wore a heavy jacket. There was a flower shaped lapel pin on her collar.
“News of this finding leaked late this evening.” She said addressing her audience in a serious tone. “Scientist first became aware of it in late March but have yet to officially notify the public on the matter. They have instead, we are told, been working with agencies across the globe in an attempt to make preparations for what will come.”
Markoff stupidly wondered if the anchor-woman ever slept. She seemed to be on the TV all the time. She had been the one to report on the missile strike by the satellite last year. She’d been standing then in the very same position that she was now.
“Bunkers that were carved into the mountains of Colorado and Northern Virginia during the Cold War have been taking deliveries of food and medical aid at a staggering pace.” She continued. “Unconfirmed reports say that there is a plan to possibly send the President of the United State out to the International Space Station if the impact appears to be headed towards North America. Sources say that NASA has been secretly keeping a rocket ready at Cape Canaveral for this very thing.”
The builder watched her shifting in his seat and giving his neck a crack. Sleeping in the chair had stiffened him up. He was a little mad at his wife for leaving him there.
A man wearing a beige suit with a green tie asked: “Jenna, can you tell us what you’ve seen since you’ve been at the space center?” The reporter was displayed at the corner of the screen sitting at the woman’s desk in the studio.
“Mostly it’s been business as usual.” She nodded. “There has been some activity which might be out of the norm. I can see security guards patrolling the fence line with automatic weapons.”
Stepping aside, she let the cameraman focus on a distant spot in the dark. As he zoomed in the builder could see that there were people with dangerous looking weapons slung over their backs huddled on the lawn.
“Any word on why they’re there?” The man asked.
The camera zoomed in and the woman retook her position before the lens. “I’m sure that it’s somehow attributed to the breaking of this important information.” She said tilting her head back in the direction of the guards. “This has been a closely guarded secret within the organization and my guess is that they’re worried about the consequences of its release to the public right now.”
The man gestured at her in a contemplative way with the open palm of his hand. “Is there any chance that this is false?” He asked.
“Indeed there is.” The woman nodded. “People are tired and frightened about this sort of thing. As you might recall a paper was published just last week saying that it may take the Earth a thousand years to recover from the damage that has already been done by the strikes which have occurred to date. The science in that article has since been disputed but it’s the possibility that keeps the public on the edge of their seat?”
“What is the possibility of impact for the meteor that we’re talking about now.”
She shrugged. “Honestly, I couldn’t tell you.”
The coverage broke down into speculation and hearsay as the man and woman continued to banter back and forth about the meteor. Markoff flexed his muscles wondering what they were talking about. The last asteroid that had struck had put a hole in the South American rainforest twenty miles wide. What could be worse than that?
Whatever it was it had caused NASA to bring out the machine guns. In his former life, Kinkaid had called the folks at the space agency geeks and nerds. Now they were armed.
Glancing down at his watch he saw that it was three-o’clock in the morning. The last memory that he had of the night before was when the news had ended at eleven. He wondered if his wife was still up reliving her moment at the mall.
Stiffly the builder rose to his feet and stretched. He didn’t feel like he could go to sleep again anytime soon. His thoughts were on the renovations that he wanted to make in the area where the bomb had gone off.
If he could get in early with a bid and show the management something bold and new Markoff was convinced that he could remake the old shopping center into something better. The stark lines and clean look may have been popular three years ago when it was built but now there were new materials which could more closely resemble nature. People wanted to be in a place that reminded them of somewhere else.
Slowly he made his way out of the theater room and through the house. He was hopeful that there would be someone to talk to. Some of the lights were still on but otherwise everything was quiet. He found the kids sleeping soundly in their rooms behind unlocked doors.
Myrah, it looked like had passed out while drinking wine and looking over nursing courses in a catalogue for the local community collect. The builder guessed that she had gotten the pamphlet from her friend. He wondered if this newfound interest of hers for self improvement was from Jill’s influence or something deeper.
He remembered the Saab and how his wife had been so obsessed with getting one at the beginning of the year. She had just started working on her designs for the new sign out in front of their neighborhood and she had been so optimistic about turning it into something bigger. She wanted to draw logos for all of the neighborhoods in the area and she was confident that there was a business for such things.
After the unveiling that Myrah had held for her creation back in March that newfound enthusiasm of hers had started to wane. She complained that people drove past the sign but no one ever bothered to ask anyone who had been so cleaver as to think of putting a rabbit jumping over a snake on the surface of the carved stone. Nobody ever called to request a similar design and Myrah didn’t actively seek out customers.
Then again maybe it was a dog chasing a butterfly that she’d drawn on there and grumbled about. Markoff couldn’t recall. He tried to picture it as he went downstairs but couldn’t. The truth was, he never really noticed the thing when he went out anymore.