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From the second Mark walked through the doors of the studio, chaos surrounded him. Flustered people flew around the office, some in tears. In his five years of reporting as an anchor for Boston’s largest news station, his body never felt tenser. His heart jumped in and out of his chest as he sat behind his desk. Bright lights poured their color onto him as the producer began to count down from five. As the number one slipped out of his mouth, the red light of the “LIVE” sign switched on.
“We have just received breaking news.” Mark started to read off the teleprompter like a robot. “NASA has just reported that an asteroid may be on its way towards Earth. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.”
The red light clicked off; simultaneously Mark’s mind turned on. He sat still in the chair thinking through his situation, his brain racing.
Thoughts whirled through his head. He asked himself, “Was this the end? Was it all over? Will I ever see my family again?”
Back in his office, he snatched the phone off of his desk and pounded in his wife’s cell phone number. Her voice spoke to him, but she didn’t answer. Her voicemail asked him to leave a message, but before it could finish reciting the message he had heard countless times, he slammed the phone down. He knew she was staying in New York on business, so if the report he had just given turned out factual, he would never see her again. His hand still clenched the phone. A tear slid from his eye and down his cheek. He reached towards his face and brushed it away.
A loud knock on the door suddenly threw him back into reality. The door flew open and Jeff, the producer of Mark’s segment, stormed into the office. Above his head, he held a piece of paper. Without having to ask, Jeff informed Mark that NASA had sent the next report. His eyes scanned up and down the paper, making sure to read every letter. After reading it, his heart sunk. According to the report, the asteroid would definitely hit Earth in a few short hours.
“We need you to do this story now,” Jeff muttered. “We need to warn people. They need to know.”
Mark turned his back towards Jeff. Outside the window, it looked as if someone had hit fast forward. Throughout the streets, the people of the city raced through the confusion towards their destinations with expressions of horror stuck on their faces. In the orange sky of the early fall sunset, another light started to glow.
Mark turned back around, facing Jeff once more. Without saying a word, the two men instinctively walked out of the room and down the hallway towards the studio. Mark took his place at the desk as he had hundreds (if not thousands) of times before, wondering if he would ever do another report from this chair. As if diving into a swimming pool, he took a deep breath before the red light turned on.
“We have just received more breaking news from NASA. The asteroid that we reported about earlier is about an hour or so from impact. NASA is still researching where the asteroid is most likely going to hit, and we will relay that information to you as soon as possible. Depending on the impact site, the damage could be contained to a certain area, or it could create global destruction. With WBTV this is Mark Reynolds wishing you all good luck.”
After returning to his office, he picked up the phone once more and decided to try reaching his wife one last time. Before he could press the numbers of the phone, he noticed the red flashing light of his voicemail. He pressed it down and her voice came out of the receiver. He listened to her every word. Every syllable pressed a knife into him. He missed her so much and wanted to see her one last time.
After the message ended, he turned around and stared out the window once more. The asteroid hung in the sky like a second sun. The fire that the asteroid emitted as it entered the atmosphere lit up the sky. He realized that nobody knew where it would hit. NASA didn’t figure it out in time, the clock had run out.
Above the city, the asteroid burned and grew larger and closer. Mark knew that the impending doom could not take more than a few minutes. The giant rock now seemed to fill the sky. If it did not hit them, it would strike close by; close enough that they would not survive.
Mark threw his office door open, strode out into the hallway, and climbed up a few sets of stairs. From the weather observation center on the top floor of the building, Mark could see the entire city. The rock floating above the city blocked out everything, and he knew that their last few moments on Earth had approached. The asteroid kept coming closer and closer…and that’s how it all ended.