Monday, November 2, 2015

NaNoWriMo: Why the hell not?

So, this morning, I decided to just go for it and jump on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon. To keep myself honest, I decided to post my stuff here on my poor, long-neglected blog as soon as I'm done writing it. Which mean, most days, I'll post once in the morning (after my bus ride into work) and once at night (after my bus ride home). And if I can squeeze out some extra writing time at night after the kids are in bed, or during my lunch break or whatever, I'll post stuff then, too.

So, without further ado, straight from the seat of my pants, is chapter one of my NaNoWriMo novel, Boomtown.


              The world started to end on February 15th, 2013, about 20 miles above the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia. It was a few years before anyone knew it.
              Not that it wasn’t a big deal at the time. It was a huge deal. Thousands of people hurt, buildings damaged, international news crews, scientific panels, the whole ant hill. But it was an isolated event. The Chelyabinsk Meteorite. Come and gone in a flash.
              Meteorites have never been a rare event. If you could put the Earth on a scale, you’d see that it’s steadily gaining weight. Infinitesimal amounts of weight, in planetary terms. Maybe a thousand tons a year. Space dust, space grit, the occasional space rock, and every now and then, the big hunks, like Chelyabinsk. Or the really big hunks, like the Tunguska event, which clocked in at about 1000 Hiroshimas. Or the really, really big, family-sized ones, like whatever the dinosaurs called the left-right combo that hit hard enough to squeeze the lava out of Earth’s volcanoes like an orgy of planetary zit-popping.
              Throughout most of history, we’ve owed the fact that we have history to our big brother, Jupiter, pushing along the flat plane of its orbit like our solar system’s offensive line, sweeping the floor clean for quick little squirts like Earth to zip along, relatively unbothered.
              Chelyabinsk marked a sea change.
              Think about our solar system, and you probably picture this: a big bright sun in the center, and a happy family of eight planets circling around it, with drunk uncle Pluto careening in off in his own lopsided orbit, grumbling about how things used to be back when he was a planet, goddamnit.
              Now, none of what you’re picturing is probably very accurate. If you could see the whole solar system in one frame, the planets would be pinpricks, almost too small to make out. And they wouldn’t be zipping by like rocks on a string. But the model is useful, because the model is, with the exception of poor old Pluto, a disk. A big, spinning disk, close enough to flat to be considered two-dimensional.
              But space is not two dimensional. It’s infinitely three dimensional. And while we spend a great deal of time peering out along the plane of the elliptical, we spend considerably less time looking up, or down, in cosmic terms.
              Most scientists agreed that the reason we didn’t see Chelyabinsk coming was because the sun was in our collective eyes. In hindsight, Chelyabinsk was just the first hit from above, the opening salvo of a cosmic strafing run. A couple of years later, September 7, 2015, another bright flash lit the skies above Thailand. Then again, less than two months after that. Also in Thailand. It didn’t seem like a big deal. Just part of the Taurids meteor shower.
              December 9th,  2015 in Qatar. January 14th, 2016 above Honolulu. Unexpected, yes. But relatively harmless. A bright flash, some barking dogs.
              Then, as they say, all hell broke loose.