Hal looked up. Above, the sky was almost entirely clear. The sun shone, warming the earth, burning Hal’s skin. Not that that much mattered.
Around him, others were looking up to the sky as well. Hundreds – maybe thousands, he had never been good at estimating groups – were staring skyward, waiting. Business had almost entirely stopped. No one was sure if it was out of the futility of continuing, or simply a break given for people to be with their families. The stock market continued – some traders making a few extra dollars – but everywhere else had ceased some days previously.
Like Hal, they now stood looking up to the sky.
Hal remembered the announcement: a large meteor – or perhaps comet, or asteroid, the media used all three interchangeably, despite cries of the error in that – on its way to earth, a collision course. Too large to stop, though maybe with a concerted international effort of cooperation.
As governments bickered about who was preventing what, humanity’s doom approached. Cults everywhere were vindicated. Rapture was proclaimed. Insurance rates skyrocketed, then plummeted as people gave up. Everywhere, humanity was filled with a mix of fear and futility.
Hal watched it all take place. His life in payroll meant he had no impact on the goings on involved with the impending apocalypse. He simply made sure everyone was paid on time, then clocked out to watch the show.
Now he stood on the street with his fellow humans, staring up at the sky. Someone cried out, and everyone looked to where she was pointing. There, a small dot in the sky. They watched as it grew larger, and larger, and some stopped, turned to their companions, hugged or kissed passionately or proclaimed feeling and were rejected or just sought solace in a friend, a coworker, a stranger.
Hal just kept watching, wondering where the thing would land (some said in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, some said Africa, some said Antarctica). He wondered if they would actually survive this, despite the claims that no one would. He wondered if he should have beans for dinner, or cook up all his fresh vegetables, eat them while he could.
Hal watched the rock grow larger, and wasn’t sure if he should care.