Two more days passed in a similar fashion; waking, working, sleeping, then waking again. I was busting my tail feathers and managed to make room for the stuff that the Outside kept delivering to the Level 5 warehouse by keeping the entry way cleared as much as I could rather than doing things the correct way. I tried working through lunch the first day to get ahead and Chandler sent a security team after me; it seems I had missed a head count. Like any government job apparently it didn’t pay to try and get ahead through hard work when it made others look bad.
The morning of the next day brought a decided change in the air. A clock was started that showed we had less than 72 hours until impact. We were also told that a planet Earth impact was expected. The hi-res photos showed the cracks and separation even more clearly. This was both good and bad.
It was hoped that some of the smaller pieces of the asteroid would burn up upon entering the atmosphere but some type of spectral analysis – or whatever it is you call it when they check out what something is made of in space – showed that the asteroid had an iron core. The measurement of ten miles in diameter was also confirmed but the breakup of the asteroid would mean that nothing that big would hit. We were instructed from this point forward to keep our flashlights with us at all times and first aid kits were hastily assembled and placed in several accessible locations in the dorm, cafeteria, and rec room.
Unbelievably, to deal with the backload of supplies still to be brought into the bunker, they just started dumping stuff where ever they could find a place to unload inside the facility. Hallways, office spaces, you name it. Basically if it didn't move it was gonna have something piled on, around, or under it. We secured the upper shelves in our warehouse with packing straps and tied down all but the basic necessities in every location.
Forty-eight hours and counting found us shutting down all gas pipes as well as filling large barrels of water. Fire & Rescue equipment was checked and secured as were all personal belongings. What they were doing on the other side of the facility I had no idea at the time. I did take note that the few times I saw a load of stuff relocated to the Level 5 warehouse, the deliverers looked as pale and shaken as we 5's were.
We didn’t get much news about what was going on in the real world. I guess they thought it would only add to the stress our population was under. They did at least reveal that the general public was now well aware of the situation and as could be expected rioting and violence was rampant as people vied to take possession of resources to survive the end of the world. A brief mention was made that many public officials had been killed which I guess was people’s way of finally saying that they messed up one too many times. Would the reaction have been any different if they’d been told a year in advance? Who knows? Humans are a weird bunch and this fact continued to play out over the months following the actual impact.
Twenty-four hours and counting and people started to crack around the edges. I only knew about our area but later found out it was across the board all the way up into the 2’s. A somber Col. Mackey would make announcements ever so often for appearance sake but even she seemed brittle. At twelve hours and counting Mrs. Valdez passed out quite a few tranquilizers; none for me thanks, I prefer movement and activity as my drug of choice as opposed to being so sluggish your brain has time to play sit-and-spin. I managed to sleep lightly but only because I’d worked so hard the preceding days. An unexpected alarm sounded at the ten hour mark and as we watched the clock suddenly sped up and we were down to four hours. There was panic in the air as it was realized that we had even less time for final preparations than expected; but there was also a manic response from many who were just ready to have things done and over with.
In response to the increased emotionalism Major Harper made an announcement over the intercom which basically said shut up and if you can’t shut up you’ll be knocked out and confined to sleeping quarters. Yeah, in the end we had a few of those but most of our group simply became stoic. Besides, we were busy finishing the task of bolting everything down that could be bolted and tying everything else down. Every so often the clock would correct by moving a little slower or a little faster as trajectory and speed estimates were made and corrected.
At the one hour mark another alarm sounded and we were all asked to move to the rec room where we sat on the floor. The intercom system came on and we were told the following: The asteroid was breaking up prior to entering the atmosphere. That would give us two possible effects; one that more pieces would disintegrate upon entering the atmosphere or two, the impact zone could be spread out much farther. It turns out that both were true.
Unusual animal behavior was also noted by security cameras set up outside. Animals that had a hole found it and crawled in. Some animals sought the safety of the cave/tunnel that hid the main doors of our facility. One civilian contractor was a good ol’ boy and opened one of the emergency doors and a lot of animals rushed further into the facility. I heard they were days rounding up all the critters and trying to find some way to house them with the domestic stock on the far side of the bunker complex. Maybe God had a hand in it because many of those animals would not have normally acted the way they did and no one can figure out how they knew to go to that cave rather than the other ones in the area; this was particularly true of the birds of prey that simply flew in and roosted once that door had been opened. To me God had to have had a hand in it; a lot like the animals that were directed to the Ark for Noah and his family to load up. It was a very freaky concept for some of our population to grasp, especially some of the 2’s.
As the minutes ticked down everything became hushed and quiet. At the five minute mark the power in our area went down to emergency which left us more than ever with the impression of being in a cave with a heavy weight above our heads.
Using data that became available over the following weeks and months I’ve pulled together a rough timeline of sorts of what we felt the day of the impact … or should I say impacts.
North America was impacted the most by four large strikes but I only heard the raw data for three of them. The fourth was a piece of the asteroid that fell into the middle of the Atlantic which caused significant damage along the East Coast due to the tsunami it produced.
At 1.2 seconds after the impact of a three-quarter mile across chunk of the asteroid impacted sedimentary rock two hundred miles away the fireball arrives at our bunker. Anyone that was standing outside would have received second degree thermal radiation burns on exposed skin. Some of the deciduous trees surrounding our facility caught fire. Irradiation continued for four minutes and fifteen seconds. If you had been unlucky enough to have seen the fireball it would have been 7.61 miles across.
A two mile across piece of the asteroid landed in the Gulf of Mexico where the water is approximately 2000 feet deep. According to the reports I saw they said that was approximately 600 miles from our bunker’s position. No fireball was witnessed from this impact since it was below the horizon. The impact was so close to the mainland that there was barely any warning before the resulting tsunami washed over the state of Florida and the remainder of the Gulf Coast coming at least thirty miles inland over that flat terrain.
The last piece of any size was a two mile across chunk that impacted sedimentary rock 800 miles away from us. Again, we didn’t get a fireball from this one because it was below the horizon.
About a minute in from initial impact, 64 seconds to be precise, the seismic effect from the three-quarter mile across chunk that struck 200 miles away begins (Richter magnitude 8.2). I’d never experienced an earthquake before. I never knew you could get seasick from one but that is about as close to puking as I came that day; it was like my inner ear had become a gyroscope toy or something. People were shocked and frightened people as the heavy furniture moved around, some because they broke away from where they had been bolted down. There was screaming; oh my gosh was there screaming. I might have done some myself if I wasn’t so busy trying to avoid a couple of overhead light fixtures that decided to fall. When all was said and done we had a lot of small cracks in the concrete and plaster; some were micro-size but I found a great big one in the back corner of the warehouse wide enough to fun my thumb in.
At 193 seconds (a little more than three minutes), moments after we began to get to our feet from the previous rumblings the major seismic shaking arrived from the impact in the Gulf of Mexico. Richter scale not too far from the facility would have read a 9.0 but for us the only way I can describe it was that it felt like several heavy trucks striking the bunker. Things got even more topsy turvy. I made the mistake of being on my feet at that moment and got slammed to the floor so hard the wind was knocked out of me and I bruised my ribs. Everyone was afraid to move after that and a good thing too.
At 258 seconds, barely a minute later, the seismic shaking arrived from the impact that was 800 miles away. It’s a continuation of the shaking we’d been feeling from the other two impacts. Basically what the seismic effect felt like was being the pork chop inside the shake-n-bake bag for over three minutes. This part of the impact is when most of the injuries occurred. In addition to the bruised ribs, I received a bloody nose and black eye when one of the women became hysterical, tried to get off the floor to run for it and was summarily flung into me when she lost her footing. A lot of the women chose to curl up in a fetal position on the floor to try and keep from being thrown around. Even if someone does manage to get a roller coaster up and running again, nothing will ever top the memory of that wild ride for me.
As the rumbling continues (264 seconds) the ejecta, ash and small chunks of rock from each impact, began to arrive from the impact that occurred 200 miles away which also coincides with the ending of the irradiation from that same impact (265 seconds). The stuff that came down was like gravel with an average size of three-quarters of an inch in diameter and when it eventually finishes falling, leaves an inch-deep layer over everything. Any buildings left standing at this point would have lost all of their windows and some would have gotten holes in their roofs.
We were picking ourselves up from the major seismic activity in the dark, not even the emergency lights were on. Thankfully some of us managed to hold onto our flashlights and we started trying to count our wounded and make some sense of the chaos. At that point we’d been dealing with the consequences of the asteroid impact event for a little less than five minutes. Three minutes after that, at 484 seconds, the ejecta from the Gulf of Mexico impact begins to arrive and lays over the coarse debris that is already blanketing the entire area and another half-inch of much finer debris. The filters in our air system were becoming clogged and several shut down but we didn’t know that at the time. It wasn’t until later that we started having breathing problems and it got really warm.
At close to the nine minute mark (576 seconds) the ejecta arrived from the 800 mile away impact and only causes that stuff to pile higher and deeper. The ash was so fine it took days to settle outside and it got into everything that wasn’t completely sealed inside. After it got into the air ducts we never could get rid of it all the way.
At a little over sixteen minutes (976 seconds) after the three-quarter mile diameter 200 miles away chunk impacts the air blast arrived. The wind velocity was 124 mph and was 88dB (as loud as heavy traffic), equal to a category three hurricane. Think of a big sudden puff from an air gun; it was there and then gone. This collapsed all wood frame buildings in its path and shattered all windows between us and the impact crater. It took out 30 percent of the trees on the slopes around the bunker and left the remainder denuded and with some branch damage.
Another sixteen minutes go by giving us just enough time to assume the worst is over, and for some around the world it was, but not everyone. At 1933 seconds seismic activity from the Beijing, China impact of the largest chunk goes unnoticed as barely a rumble beneath our feet. The chunk that hit China was three miles in diameter and for all intents and purposes China as a country really doesn’t exist anymore. Billions of people died … billions … that’s with a B. And that is before everything else occurred.
Forty-Eight minutes after initial impact (2930 seconds)the air blast from the Gulf of Mexico chunk arrived. It is as loud as the nearer impact. This blast took down more trees and caused more branch damage. The max wind velocity is 103 mph which is equal to a category two hurricane.
A little less than an hour after impact (3470 seconds) the ejecta from the Chinese impact reaches us as more super fine ash.
Sixty-five minutes in, or 3900 seconds, the air blast arrives from the 800 mile away impact and is easily as loud as the other two air blasts but there isn’t anything left for it to knock down around us. Any of the trees that were coming down are down … nearly half the forest. The rest of the trees are leafless and have broken branches, torn off tops, stripped bark, or is singed all over. The fires from the original impact that was two hundred miles away was blown out or knocked out by the hurricane winds, the seismic activity, or was snuffed out by the falling ejecta. The max wind velocity in this last air blast is 66 mph; equal to a strong tropical storm but all that does is keep the fine ash in the air for that much longer.
Two hours (7200 seconds) after the big Atlantic impact the largest tsunami wave, roughly 200 feet, comes ashore on the East Coast. There had been waves before this point drawing the shoreline water in and out but nothing the size of that monster. The wave scoured everything it touched because it was full of ejecta and sand raked up from the ocean floor. It came inland as far as twenty miles in some areas, even further if you take into account the water pushed into rivers, creeks, and valleys that allowed for added velocity sending the flooding even further west. Six hours after our side of the Atlantic was hit a tsunami wave between fifty and one hundred feet scoured the coast of Europe completely submerging countries like Holland and Denmark. Back on our side of the ocean, some southern regions were scoured again by the Atlantic tsunami after already being wrecked by the one from the Gulf.
There were other impacts of smaller chunks all over the globe. The meteor had really started breaking up but not enough for the atmosphere to destroying the majority of it. It mostly continued to crumble. The remaining larger chunks hit in places like the bread basket of Eastern Europe, the Middle East setting untold numbers of oil fields aflame, the Mediterranean creating a second Atlantean effect, the Outback of Australia that caused horrific dust storms over the entire continent. I could go on and on.
The very face of our planet has changed. Japan is simply gone, sunk beneath the waves like an Asian Atlantis. The west coast of the US suffered an even worse fate than the east coast had. The seismic activity from the impact event disturbed the Ring of Fire. Half of California fell into the Pacific Ocean and the rest was eroded away by the resulting influx of sea water. When California fell in it sent a tsunami of unimaginable power out and away from it; this pretty much wrote the end for Oregon and Washington State, the west coast of Canada, and a great deal of Alaska that wasn’t already being impacted by volcanic activity. Rumor has it that there was a bunker deep in the interior of the state that no one has heard from. Baja was like a thumb that had been ripped off a hand.
Places like the Falkland Islands, Chili, Panama, Costa Rice; Portugal, Mallorca, Sicily, Greece; Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines; Madagascar, Somalia, Cyprus, and Sierra Leon have simply ceased to exist. Amazingly it appears that Jordan, Israel, and Egypt are still there; whether the people are still there is another question all together.
But we only came to understand how massive and widespread the destruction was as the weeks and months rolled by. The first week after impact our lives revolved around cleaning up the mess within the walls of our bunker, taking care of our injured, and disposing of our dead.