December 17, 2016. Winter was coming. A cold breeze pierced the air but the sun was still high. Clouds deserted the sky giving no hope for a white Christmas. Although, citizens of Toai City didn’t give up on celebrating: streets were filled with last minutes shoppers, running around, not paying attention to one another. In the middle of the crowd, he stood still, looking up far beyond his sight: Simo Ha, 18, eternel dreamer, stared at the barely visible space that lay above him. The more he observed, the more he felt drown by the darkness of the unknown. Suddenly, a bird flew by in his field of vision, pulling him back to Earth. Simo overlooked his surrounding to situate himself then went on in shopping spree, going in and out of the freezing atmosphere. He belonged to that community that thinks they have plenty of time to find the perfect gift for their loved ones as long as Christmas day hasn’t arrived.
Two hours passed and the night was falling. Lights were turned on, illumanting sidewalks, fake trees and ornements placed on shop signs. As time went by, Simo began to lose faith in finding something special for his parents. His mind shut down and his body went on auto-pilot. He walked away from the main street where all animations happened, his eyes locked on the dark ground. When two strong flashlights blinded him. A hand grabbed and pulled him strongly to the left: Simo’s consciousness resurfaced to regain control. He scanned his arm from his own hand to the one that saved him. ‘Ezekhiel?’ he said. The latter looked at him with frowned brows: ‘What’re you doing?’ Simo froze for a second then realized a car almost ran him over. ‘Wow!! That was a close one. Thanks, man!’ he replied. His friend shook his head before leading the way back to civilisation: ‘You have to stop doing that thing.’ Simo followed him: ‘What thing?’ – ‘Your auto-pilot thing. You’re gonna get kill, one day. Not paying attention, and just…be that vulnerable all the time.’ Simo listened his friend lecturing him with one ear, as they were making their way through the crowd. As the time to go home rang, they stopped by a small park. They crossed the semi-jungle to end up in a perfectly circular clear space. Simo let himself fall on the grass while Ezekhiel stood still. The night was clear. The moon shone brightly amongst the stars. No clouds still. Simo closed his eyes as a breeze passed by and took a deep breathe. When he opened them slowly, the entire forest got quiet. Both nature and humans were in peace.
The next day, Simo woke up in the beginning of the afternoon. His head pounded like a hammer and his vision was blurry. He went downstairs to the kitchen, grabbed some cereals and milk and ate, ignoring his parents. ‘1:00 pm. That’s a record.’ his father said, making his mother giggle. In response to the sarcasm, Simo yawned and focused on his food, shutting down his senses. After few bites, his hearing came back: the television was on a special flash of information. The journalist started her news with an expose about the universe. The dark, unknown and infinite space that fascinates many scientists.
‘Since the discover of the existence of a white dwarf, the becoming of a large star after many years of thermonuclear reactions, in 1783 by William Herschel, scientists kept on scanning different part of space and evolution of stars to understand their caracteristics and behaviours: their temperature can reach 150 000 Kelvin and lower to 4 000 K; their light decrease as they lose temperature. As a white dwarf doesn’t have any source of energy by itself, hydrogen and helium are consumed by chemical reactions at the surface of the small star. The coldest they observed is the white dwarf, named WD 0346+246, and it reaches about 3 900 K. But scientists explain that in humanity lifetime, we will never see a white dwarf attain the absolute zero.
This leads us to six years ago where Joshua Aikon, a scientist considered mad by his peers, uncovers a white dwarf with an abnormal low temperature in our solar system. The scientist kept an eye on its evolution and noted some odd behaviours: indeed, this white dwarf’s temperature decreased exponentially fast. After confirming his observations, Aikon shared his thoughts and fears with few close scientist friends. Those latters kept an eye on the white dwarf and noticed a movement from its original position. Two years ago, they realized that it was attracted slowly by a gravitation force from the sun. From that observation, they contacted the governement to warn them of a potential danger. The latter decided to keep it a secret as to prevent any type of panic amongst the population.
Against all pressure and opinion, one of the initial scientists, that wish to remain anonymous, sent us a folder explaining all of this. He revealed on his latest notes that according the speed of the white dwarf and Earth trajectory, there is a chance of 4% that they collide. According to his calcuations, …’
Simo’s eyes widened like a revelation struck him. He jumped off of his seat, knocking his bol of cereals, disappeared in his room and ran outside his phone to his ear. ‘Zeke! Wake up! Meet me at the park!’ Simo ran as fast as he could. His focus was on the blue sky, trying to catch any sign of the small star. Arrived at the park, Ezekhiel was already there. ‘Wow! You’re fast!’ Simo said. ‘I was already awake when you called. So what’s going on? You sounded…and look over-excited. And what took you so long?’ Simo had a huge smile on his face: ‘Did you watch the news?’ Ezekhiel shook his head. Simo pointed the sky, stars filled his eyes: ‘Something’s coming!’ His friend stayed perplexed and waited for the second part. ‘A white dwarf. A white dwarf is coming!’ Silence. ‘What?… Like a… very small caucasian human?’ Ezekhiel replied. Another silence. ‘What are you talking about?’ Simo asked. ‘What are YOU talking about?’ Both of them looked confused. ‘We’re not on the same page.’ – ‘At all.’ Simo said. ‘No, a white dwarf is coming to Earth. Something from space is finally landing here!’ Ezekhiel felt lost: ‘Alright, let’s start from the beginning. What’s a white dwarf?’ Simo pulled a book out of his bag and opened it: ‘Look! A white dwarf is a star that didn’t go into supernova. It looks like this. They say that it’s surface is hotter than the original star, and it loses its warmth. Apparently, this one has a strange behaviour: it’s moving!!’ – ‘Moving?’ Ezekhiel interrupted. ‘Yeah, by gravity. And it seems that it will hit Earth.’ Simo waited for his friend to absorb all the informations. ‘And so, when will it hit? And what does that mean?’ Simo took the book out of Ezekhiel’s hands and turned the pages from cover to cover. Fast, Ezekhiel thought. ‘Well, from the speed of the white dwarf and Earth’s speed and their trajectories, it will happen next week.’ Simo looked at his friend, his excitment still at its peak. But the latter froze, his look locked on the ground. Terror invaded his head and spread to his entire body. He started to tremble. Until a warm hand land on his shoulder. It took him back to reality. He looked at his friend: he had a huge smile on his face. ‘Don’t worry. According to its size, it will be disintegrated in contact with the atmosphere. It will end up like… that piece of rock.’ Simo got a small smile out of his friend. They kept on talking about space for the rest of the afternoon.
For the next few days, the news were filled with discussions, debates and informations about the white dwarf and the eventual end of the world. Religious speculated it was an act of God and humanity needed to pray for forgivness for all of its sins. Scientists tried to convince the masse that it will barely brush the atmosphere and we will see a trail of light on certain part of the planet. They also predicted this event to happen on Christmas Eve. And politicians denied their knowledge about the situation. Population all around the world were in panic and disbelief. But no protestations happened or were recorded. The world kept on moving but in slow motion.
Every night, Simo dragged Ezekhiel at the park to scrutinize the sky. Simo was the one that mostly talked. As he was sharing his recent knowledge and interest for space to his friend, he felt the latter anxious and scared. Simo tried to reassure him but it didn’t seem to be effective. One the side, Ezekhiel felt skeptic about everything but began to be fascinated as he listened to his friend: ‘Where do you think it will land?’ he asked. Simo took some time to think. then pointed the grass. Ezekhiel was lost: ‘H…Here?’ Simo nodded, a huge smile on his face. ‘Precisely, here?…How do you know?’ he asked. ‘I did the math.’ Simo stood up and stared at the night sky. Ezekhiel looked at him, impressed by everything he learned in the past week. Why you dropped out of school? he thought to himself.
Since they met, he always thought that Simo would go places and be successful in life. But the latter wasn’t motivated by anything school gave to him. So he stopped going and got busy. Ezekhiel received a call every day from Simo to keep touch. And the latter always seemed to be busy but Ezekhiel never knew what he was doing. And he never asked either. He’s going somewhere. A smile appeared on his face.
The next day was Christmas Eve. Humanity was on stand by hoping that scientists were right about the white dwarf only brushing Earth. As the darkness came, people emptied the streets and cherished their probably last moments with their loved ones. Only one person dared to step outside: Simo was leaning over a tree, a book in his hands. He had a pile of books on his right and bunch of junk food on his left. Around 9 pm, as he finished the last pages of his book, something shone bright in the sky. Simo dropped his book and stood up. The fire created by the penetration of the white dwarf into Earth atmosphere grew bigger and bigger as it approached the ground. Simo stepped back a little. A huge deaf sound broke the silence of the night followed by a tremor that lasted four seconds. Smoke rose blocking the view. Few minutes later, Simo walked to the center of the agitation. The closer he approached, the more the dirt got thicker. He crouched near the impact: as he thought, the white dwarf’s size diminished as it went in contact with the atmosphere. It’s so small, now, he thought. Simo’s mind was atttracted by the space object. After his phase of observation, he reached out to touch it. The second his finger fondled the dead star, a wave of energy ejected Simo to ten feet, knocking him unconscious.
To Be Continued