Rachel looked up at the glowing moon. Although the sun had set and the night’s darkness surrounded her, she could clearly see her shadow against the pavement. In fact, as she looked up and down the street, she could see the neighborhood as easily as if it was broad daylight. The moon was amazing. She couldn’t remember ever seeing the craters so clearly, or the bright areas that bordered the darker “seas.” She felt like she could distinctly see ridges. The last time she had seen the moon so clearly was in 4th grade when they did a telescope project. The news had been right about this month’s Supermoon, just as it had been right about the Supermoons for the past several years.
She held her hand up to the sky, comparing the size of her fist to the shining orb. She could remember a time when the moon was barely larger than her thumbnail. She smiled at the cosmic coincidences that led to this moment. The moon was in “full moon” phase at the same time that it was at its closest point of orbit to the Earth. Simultaneously, the Earth was at its closest point to the Sun in its orbit, which meant the illumination the moon was receiving was greater than usual. Then there was all that stuff about ozone gasses and greenhouse gasses and cosmic space gasses or something that magnified the moon. Rachel wasn’t sure about any of it, she was a communication major and had already met her 1 science requirement for graduation by taking geology. Astronomy and space were beyond her, but she enjoyed them nonetheless.
She pulled out her phone to take a picture of the moon. She snapped a quick one and debated about putting a filter on it, but decided that the various hues and wisps of clouds that trailed in front of it needed no altering. She quickly posted it to her various social media outlets, coming up with catchy tag lines on each to increase views. Social media was her passion. She had a knack for words that had helped her accumulate thousands of followers, and she wanted to make a career out of it. After only a few moments, she had uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and her blog. She quickly thumbed back through to see what kind of reactions her posts had gained.
On Twitter she had received a reply to her post that said “Why are you so happy, idiot?” Her eyebrow arched and she immediately felt herself getting upset at the negative feedback. The response was attached to a link. At first she didn’t want to support the guy; he was probably one of those Twitter trolls that posted incendiary comments and hoped people would click on his link. But as she looked more closely at the link, she felt the need to click on it. “The Sky is Falling” was the title, and featured largely and prominently was the moon.
She clicked, and the article loaded. It had been posted two hours before, and was a report from the Washington Post. Rachel’s eyes scanned quickly through the document, trained at detecting real news stories from the many fake news stories that flooded the internet. The article was posted on the Washington Post’s website, it involved quotes from the White House Press Secretary, and various quotes from scientists. Now that she trusted the article, her eyes returned to the top of the short article. She read it, and felt a chill run down her spine.
There was no such thing as a Supermoon. For years the news had talked about it, making claims that “the Moon won’t appear this large for another 75 years,” only to turn around the next month and hype up the new Supermoon. There was no combination of orbit or gas that was making the Moon appear larger. The Moon was falling. Literally falling. It was a slow and gradual process; it had been falling for years, but as it got closer its descent would increase. It was the reason for global warming; the closer it came, the stronger its pull of gravity against the earth became, in turn leading to friction above and below the surface. It was the reason for the changing weather patterns; its gravitational effect on the oceans had led to torrential rains, tumultuous storms, and surging waves. But none of that mattered. In a year, the moon would fall into the Earth. Any and all life on Earth would be extinguished. The end was at hand.
Rachel fell to her knees. She had a year, and suddenly everything that she had thought mattered meant nothing. She looked back to the Supermoon, hot tears streaking down her face. It looked so serene, so beautiful perched atop the world. Like a majestic falcon, looking down on its prey.