The Bad News
Everyone will be dead in two months.
Carl Borzowski, Science Advisor to the President of the United States,
sat at his government issue, brown metal desk, head in his hands and
tried desperately to think of some way to save humanity. A tall,
slender, good-looking man with thinning blonde hair, devoted to
mathematics, physics and Jack Daniels whiskey since the split with his
fiancée, Monica, he knuckled his eyes and sighed--a long, deep,
weight-of-the-world gust that left him drained. Somewhere in the back of
his mind he realized it had only been twenty minutes since he’d
learned the world was going to die. He wished he could toss back a shot
right now but he never brought whiskey to work.
Carl stared at the retro-style phone on his desk like it had leprosy.
Beads of sweat formed on his upper lip. He knew he had to pick up, but
what if it was Harry calling again, probably confirming the worst.
“Riiiiing!” The tone was intrusive, strident, annoying, jarring and,
above all, demanding. His hand trembled slightly as he reached for the
“Borzowski,” he announced. At least the tremor hadn’t reached his
“It’s Harry Garrison, Carl. I’m sorry, but it’s going to hit.
And it’s bigger than we thought.”
“Extinction Level Event?” Carl asked. Please, no.
“The asteroid is almost twelve miles wide, Carl,” Harry explained
gently. “Extinction Level is putting it mildly.”
“Jesus!” Borzowski whispered.
“I need to see the President, Carl. ASAP.”
Carl stared at the pewter gray carpet, then at the oak-framed photograph
of him with the President. His heart galloped like a Kentucky Derby
thoroughbred. He wiped the sweat off his palms on his pant legs. He
wondered if this was how combat troops felt when bullets started flying,
because he wanted to find a hole.
Instead, he took a deep breath to steady himself and said, “Of course.
I’ll set it up. How soon can you get here?”
The Situation Room
The President, flanked by Farley Moffat, his Chief of Staff, and Morgan
Hamilton his National Security Advisor, walked swiftly into the room and
took his seat at the head of a long, dark walnut table. Arrayed down
both sides were the Secretary of Defense, the Joints Chiefs and the rest
of the National Security Council and Eli Cohen from NASA. At the
opposite end from the President sat Carl Borzowski and Harry Garrison.
The silence was deafening.
The President cleared his throat and said, “Carl, why don’t you
bring us all up to speed.”
Carl Borzowski ran a hand through his thinning blonde hair and rose to
his feet. “Gentlemen,” he began. “I’d like you to think back to
1994 and the concerns raised by the scientific community when Comet
Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into Jupiter. You might even remember several
“impact” movies that were made shortly afterwards.”
Men shifted in their chairs and exchanged uneasy glances as they
realized the direction this was heading.
Carl continued. “For a while we beefed up Star Wars spending, seeking
a solution in case we discovered an object headed for Earth.” He
looked away from them. “We failed to find that solution, but Dr.
Garrison’s Spacewatch Program has found an asteroid that will hit
Earth in about two months.”
Frightened eyes spotlighted Harry Garrison.
“Are you sure it will hit?” Eli Cohens’ words overrode others who
had all tried to speak at once.
The bleakness in Carl’s eyes answered him.
“How big will this…ugh, event be?” Farley Moffat asked.
“Remember the Extinction Level Impact Studies?” Carl replied.
Farley nodded. “The E.L.I.’s,” he said. Eli Cohen covered his face
with his hands. He understood.
“Mid-range, is the best we can hope for,” Carl answered.
Juan Salazar, from FEMA, grunted.
General Roland Mabry, Secretary of the Air Force, caught Carl’s eye.
“Want to refresh my memory?”
Carl gestured to Harry Garrison, who cleared his throat and said, “The
Earth itself will survive…lower orders…possibly a few
“Jesus!” Farley Moffat swore. “Isn’t there something--”
“This is ridiculous,” Morgan Hamilton interrupted, glaring at Harry
Garrison like he wanted to kill the messenger. “You honestly expect us
to believe some…some rock is going to kill us all. Pure Hollywood.”
Dr. Harold Garrison, a small, dark man who, second only to his family,
loved Chicago Cubs baseball and old Marvel comic books, climbed slowly
to his feet. The concern in his eyes, the grave expression on his face
silenced the bickering in the room. “That ‘rock’, Mr. Hamilton, is
a mountain twelve miles wide moving at forty-three-thousand miles per
hour. It’s a cosmic bullet and we’re the bull’s-eye.”
“Yes, Mr. President?” Harry welcomed any escape from the irrational
denial of the National Security Advisor.
“If I remember correctly, an asteroid like the one you are talking
about would cause a nuclear explosion like an atom bomb?”
“No, Sir. Not exactly. But any object that big and that fast is going
to lose a lot of mass when it hits.”
“The force of the impact will convert a significant percentage of the
asteroid's mass directly to energy, E = mc2, a non-radioactive nuclear
explosion of several hundred million, possibly billions, of megatons.”
Stunned silence greeted that statement. Eyes widened among the Joint
“That’s right, gentlemen, an explosion so vast it will make setting
off all the world’s nukes in one place at the same time look like
popping a pimple!”
When the meeting broke up, two hours later, every resource the
government had was being mobilized to avert the disaster.
But all over America a small percentage of the population, dismissed as
crazies by the press and often by their own relatives, had been
preparing to survive what they believed was the coming societal
collapse. Known as Preppers, many had gone back to the land and built
small self-sufficient homesteads, complete with solar, wind, mini-hydro
or other alternative sources of power. They grew heirloom vegetables so
they could save seed and preserved their food by freezing, canning,
dehydrating or pickling it. They kept chickens and other fowl for eggs
and protein, raised rabbits and hogs for meat and goats and cattle for
milk and cheese.
Others, trapped in cities and unable to have large gardens and
livestock, developed container gardens for fresh food. All, whether
urban or rural, stocked up on canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated food
and barrels of water, communications equipment, medical supplies, guns
and ammunition and other useful items. All of them had prepped for the
disasters they thought most likely to occur. Some of them thought they
were ready for anything.
They were wrong.
Excerpted from "The Dying Time: Impact (The Dying Time Trilogy Book 1)" by Raymond Dean White. Copyright © 2014 by Raymond Dean White. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.