It was over. Finally over. We are still alive.
Jean had fretted for days about his work. Had it been good enough? Persuasive enough? It must have been. It meant it had to convince them that risking their lives was worth it. That it could be done. That it was necessary for their collective survival. So what if he had taken a few “creative” liberties. How would they know? Could they even know? What if they knew?
According to the news the mission commander… No wait. Team leader? Drill boss? The Big Chief? Didn’t matter. What ever the hick was titled he hadn’t made it back. The news kept repeating the last radio transmission from the bomb crew. Apparently to his daughter. But wouldn’t they do something like that anyway? Just for the drama of it all and to keep the public in the dark about what had really happened. A fail-safe in case the crew succeeded, but was unable to return. You know; pre record something self-sacrificing and heroic and then just detonate the bomb by remote if the crew was disabled.
The Drill boss (I’ll just call him that) is dead now. His daughter had lost her father plus a handful of close friends, the initial news descriptions of the team had been very specific about that, because Jean had done a good job convincing them. Was it his responsibility then? Had he convinced them to go out there and die?
He got up from his chair, a big old comfy looking monstrosity and looked at his wife sleeping in the love seat opposite him. She was finally getting some rest. When the world is ending, then… No, when the world was supposedly ending and then humanity was given a chance. That’ll take it out of you.
He gave her a longing look and the started tiptoeing across the floor to his office. He booted up his laptop and got out the whiskey. Nothing like a buzz to dull the moral upheaval in his chest. The golden liquid burned his throat, making him grimace and he coughed slightly.
The touch pad reacted to his shaky hand and he selected; Start-> short-cut to folder->work->animation->government.
A popup box prompted for a password. He typed with ease: q-w-e-r-t-y-s-u-c-k-s and tapped the enter key. He grinned even though it wasn’t really funny. Not right now anyway. He selected the file “gvm_traject_alt_asteroid_4(approved)” and after few painful seconds the animation played on his screen.
The asteroid in the video was hulking mass of rock. Like a continent in space, massive and foreboding and heading straight for the animated Earth at a velocity that could only be described as terminal.
He shook his head, closed down the video and went back to the folder and selected the previous file. The file “gvm_traject_alt_asteroid_3(rejected)” played. The difference was immediately clear. The object in the picture was much smaller. Almost comical compared to the previous video. And still, he knew, this wasn’t the truth either.
He closed that one as well and opened the last two named “gvm_traject_alt_asteroid_2(rejected)” and “gvm_traject_miss_asteroid_1(rejected)” and placed them side by side on the screen. He swallowed another substantial gulp of whiskey and clicked play on both of them.
The videos ran and again the size of the asteroids shrunk. They hung there, in space, like the anorexic dwarf cousins of the first one. On one video the trajectory was the same, heading straight for Earth and devastation.
On the other one….. It missed.
And not just scraping by with the potential for hitting the planet. The trajectory was completely clear from Earth’s orbit. Close, but definitely no cigar.
He swallowed the rest of the whiskey, refilled the glass and emptied it again.
He was sure now. This was wrong and he was guilty of something. Maybe not murder since technically he hadn’t sent the men to their deaths, but he was responsible somehow. A determined expression formed on his face.
He highlighted the files, right-clicked and selected “Add to Desktop.rar”. The progress bar appeared and the computer compressed the files. He opened up a browser window and started searching for journalists to email the files to. As an afterthought he looked up Wiki-leaks as well. At least the truth would come out and his conscience would be clear.
Behind him glass tinkled and something slapped him in the back of the head. He seemed to blink with surprise and then sunk limply from his chair. A few mins later his laptop started to make a rough whirring sound. After a while, the smell of melted plastic and burnt wires filled the air. The computer died in a tiny cloud of smoke and sparks.
30 mins later a phone rings in a dimly lit NASA office. A man picks it up, listens to the operative on the other side and smiles briefly to himself. He mumbles something about “No loose ends….” and hangs up.