(In 1908, the last major Earth impact from an asteroid or comet occurred in the unpopulated expanse of eastern Siberia. 830 square miles of boreal forests were leveled. In this latest fictionalized history series, we travel back to 1908 to experience the "Tunguska Event." Prior series: X-ray Martyrs and Westinghoused.)
Just joining us? Go back to Part 1.
40 Miles from the Epicenter
The woman folded her hands against her body and tried to breathe quietly. Despite the noises in the distance and rattle in his chest, the baby still slept after she laid him in the cradle.
She joined her husband outside the doorway.
"What's going on?" she whispered.
"It sounds like artillery," he said. "I think the war has started."
She closed her eyes.
The weight pushed her too close to the floor. The pain of childbirth. Perpetual days. An unhealthy child. But she couldn't stand any taller.
"He's asleep?" he said.
Another boom. The window in the room rattled.
Both looked to the crib.
When the whine uncurled from the blankets, she would have cried if she had any tears left for herself.
Another artillery blast. Much closer.
And a higher sound. Wind gusting down the mountain slopes.
"I'll go see," he said.
She returned to the crib and looked down at the little scarlet face.
Brilliant light flashed in the window.
Instinct dropped her body over the child.
The window glass shattered.
Little bees stung her face, and her shriek was ripped away by the whirlwind.
* * *
Down from the cottage by the lake, a fisherman knelt by a boat. As his half-finished knot dangled in his fingers, tendrils of smoke cascaded down from the sky.
Movement drew his attention to the house.
The young father stepped out. An ashen cloud billowed down the last slope of mountain.
The wind hit him.
The fisherman saw him fly, and twist, and disappear in the dust.
The same front swallowed the far shore and barreled forward. The fisherman moved to stand on weakened legs. His skin felt numb and electric.
A black wave raced toward him.
Hurricane wind blasted him, followed by the crush of breaking water.
On to Part 4.
Back to Part 2.