(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.
The crow's eyelid flicked black.
It looked down the standing pine stripped of its branches. Nothing moved in the waves of bitter smoke below.
The crow jumped, and it's wings cut into the air. They beat higher over the jagged remains of the taiga.
Wheeling to the south, the bird soared over the hot currents. Skeletal forest ended abruptly, and a bizarre openness fanned into the distance. Acres upon acres of trees fallen into line. The bark was scorched black, and the needles curled into ash.
As the crow flew, the devastation thinned. Frayed and split wood yielded to standing trees once more. An Evenki tribesman bundled remnants of his choum and hauled the drag rope. His red and blistered arms shook. It was a long way to the river.
The bird swept over a rounded summit and down the leeward slope. There, an infant cried by a leaning house. His mother rocked him as the father gathered poles to brace the walls. Below, a fisherman dragged a boat to the dry shores of a lake.
The crow turned, following the ragged edge of the blast zone. It circled down onto Evenki pastureland.
Stealing a place in a squawking storm of wings, its beak ripped meat from a reindeer carcass and snapped it down.
The day was failing, but no stars came.
Only milky orange light, and the yip of wolves prowling down from the rocks and mountain shadows.
Back to Part 4.